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Happy Galungan and Kuningan! February 10th marked the Balinese festival of Galungan and this past Saturday was Kuningan. This period marked one of the high points of the Balinese ceremonial year, a time of establishing balance and worshipping the ancestors. A fitting time to send out our first newsletter of 2016.

The year begins with lots of work to address the El Nino induced drought across eastern Indonesia. Articles describe fieldwork in Savu and Timor that brought income to weavers whose subsistence farming was compromised, and indigo cultivation in Timor that seeks to extend the weaving season for this year. 

On a brighter note, there are success stories from Kalimantan, and news of a new permanent educational display at the Threads of Life gallery. But first, a piece with links to a dynamic panel discussion from the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival.
Threads of Life at the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival

In October 2015, we participated as we usually do in the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival. We gave a public lecture, held a textile exhibit at the gallery, and William participated in panel discussion with Lucy Siegle, a sustainable fashion advocate and columnist with The Guardian. Read about and hear William and Lucy's interesting dialogue:

Indonesia's Eastern islands: Dry and drier

Our field team returned from Timor and Savu at the end of December. There had been very little weaving as there had been no rains yet. Women have had no time to weave as they are walking long distances, along with the rest of their family, to collect water both morning and evening. Over the past months the distance they heave walked has gotten further and further. Precious water cannot be used for making dyes and so the women could only weave textiles that had already been dyed. Our visit was important as the textiles we purchased will help them through this hard time. Pray for rain!

We are also beginning to work with farmers to plant Indigo on hectare scales in Timor. At the start of January, we took seed to four communities. The most enthusiastic farmers have wives who weave for us, and see the possibility of extending their weaving season and income stream into the dry season after the indigo they usually collect in the wild has died back.
Lius from Kalimantan in Bali

Our end-of-year meetings always give us a chance for field staff living off Bali to come and join us. Lius from West Kalimantan was in Bali to discuss achievements and concerns he has about the work he has been doing with Dayak Desa weavers.  L ius has worked with the Bebali Foundation dye team continuously to understand the red dye process and to become an expert dyer himself. He has achieved beautiful results this last year, both in his own work and what he has facilitated from the weavers. There is still work to do, especially with all dye resources diminishing as more and more forest is converted to palm oil plantation. Lius has also focused on the fine art of basket making. The number of basket makers has increased over the years as Threads of Life buys and sells more and more of these classic Dayak baskets. We expect to continue to work with these artisans and at the same time make sure that natural resources are not exhausted.
Threads of Life New Display

Threads of Life has re-designed the display in the gallery on Jalan Kajeng in Ubud after fifteen years. The educational space as you enter now has videos playing that show the processes of picking cotton and spinning thread, making ikat, dyeing, and weaving by the various techniques that appear on Threads of Life textiles such as sotis (supplementary weft), buna (supplementary warp wrap), and niasa (slit tapestry). We will continue to refine this display to provide our guests with more information so people can better understand what is involved in creating these masterpiece textiles.
Best wishes,

W illiam, Jean and everyone 
at Threads of Life and the Bebali Foundation
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A clan elder wearing a Tais Keut Bati standing in front of her traditional house in Timor

Creating a batik stamp in Yogyakarta

Aplonia from Soe showing baskets decorated with textiles she has woven

If you aren't near Ubud, you can find a great selection of our textiles at Jenggala in Jimbaran

Savu elder

We share stories like these above, new textiles and images from our field work on Instagram. Follow along, you can find us under  @threadsoflifebali.
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