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This newsletter features water projects in Savu and traditional ceremonies in Kalimantan, an upcoming creativity workshop we are offering in Bali that is now open for registration, and the two workshops in batik and African indigo that we have already held this year.

Field Notes

Dry landscape in Savu with no rain in two years

We have four new Field Notes for you: 

One about Savu and Rai Jua, and then three about Dayak Desa culture from the same au thor, Lius, our Dayak Desa field staff who lives in Kalimantan working with traditional weavers.

Tri Hita Karana: An 8-day exploration of Balinese creativity

Date: 8 June to 15 June 2017
Space limited to 6 participants in shared accommodations at Umajati Retreat

This June we will continue our ongoing series of residential workshops and retreats. At the Threads of Life Dye Studio in the Bebali Dye Garden you will explore the roots of Balinese culture through hands-on workshops that delve into the resilience of Bali's unique arts, crafts and ritual practises. Guided by members of the Threads of Life team, the 8-day retreat draws its insights from two decades of fieldwork helping indigenous communities across Indonesia maintain their cultural heritage. 

The week's journey includes a full-day class in batik and natural dyes, half-days of bamboo basket making, Balinese cooking, introductory classes in gamelan music and offering making. Participants will also experience two walking tours through the rice paddies and to village temples, a demonstration on the myriad of uses of the coconut tree, and a lecture on the cultural history of the archipelago as seen through the textile arts.

This retreat is inspired by an ancient archipelago-wide philosophy that in Bali is articulated as Tri Hita Karana, or the Three Causes of Happiness. The three inter-related causes are the maintaining of harmony amongst people, harmony with the divine, and harmony between people and nature. In practice, this philosophy is expressed through the island's community life, through ritual practice, and through material culture; with the material culture offering this retreat its gateway to understanding.

Exploring Batik

At the start of February, we hosted a natural-dye batik workshop with the groundbreaking artists, Agus Ismoyo and Nia Fliam, of the Brahma Tirta Sari batik studio in Yogyakarta, Java. They brought their remarkable blend of deeply embodied tradition and contemporary expression to a week-long workshop of batik and natural dye work at our Ubud studio. 

Participants were pleasantly surprised when the expected coaching in the subtleties of wax application and batik surface design were supplemented by exercises and visualisations grounding the batik work in a felt experience of our link with the natural world. 

As Agus Ismoyo put it, "A Western-trained artist would go to draw the sea with many sheet of paper, and sketch the sea over and over, letting go of unnecessary detail until they could express the essence of the ocean. My training would be to go to the beach with one sheet of paper, to dive into the sea until I felt myself and the sea were one, then come back and be the ocean painting itself. What I look for in this workshop is ways to teach people how to let go of assumptions from whatever training they have so that they can embrace the approach to creativity that we are offering." 

The workshop drew both international and Indonesian participants for a wonderful cross-cultural experience. Agus and Nia will be back in Bali at our studio for a second workshop between 18-22 September 2017.

Mali in Bali

Throughout the start of March we hosted two very popular workshops with Aboubakar Fofana, a fiber artists from Mali in west Africa, who maintains both the regions remarkable fermentation vat indigo process and its mud dye tradition, and teaches both alongside more conventional natural dye processes around the world.  Drawing industry professionals, artists and hobbyists alike, two-week and one-week workshops explored what it takes to get a good indigo blue and a deep black through practice exercises and personal creative projects. 

"In Mali a master dyer must be able to dye twelve shades of indigo, from the most ephemeral light blue to the deepest midnight indigo," says Aboubakar. "The skill is in the layering of colour and in managing the concentration of the dye vats." Aboubakar's installations, artworks and wearable art were an inspiration to participants, each of whom developed their own creativity working with him. 

Besides this, Aboubakar and the Balinese dye team at the Threads of Life studio enjoyed a remarkable collaboration rooted in their shared animistic relationship to the dye processes, and look forward to Aboubakar's return visit sometime in the future. 

Best wishes,

W illiam, Jean and everyone 
at Threads of Life and the Bebali Foundation
From our social feeds to yours:

The attendees' creations from our Indigo Retreats held in March 2017 

Participants explored mud dye techniques along with indigo led by teacher Aboubakar Fofana. 

Beautiful shades of indigo and experimentation with resist dye. 

Cochineal and morinda provided the deep reds.
Umajati Retreat
"Quiet paradise near Ubud."
--TripAdvisor, 2016

Winner of TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence 2016

Surrounded by tranquil rice fields, Umajati is a lush garden property hosting two elegantly converted 100-year-old Javanese teak wooden homes that provide 21st century living in 19th century houses. 

Umajati is just 10 minutes north of Ubud and offers daily, weekly or monthly rentals.
1-bedroom house: USD 190 p/night
2-bedroom house: USD 245 p/night


>> 10% discount for direct bookings: visit