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Looking for New Hobbies? Here are 6 Indonesian-Inspired Crafts for You to Recreate!


Who says staying at home can make you dull and uninspired? Spending less time outside gives you a chance to explore yourself, learn new skills, and find new hobbies that can expand your knowledge and help you gain insight into the beauty of life. For those who love to work with their hands, Indonesia has so many handicraft traditions that you can learn easily from home because it doesn’t take months to finish and you can find all the materials on e-commerce sites or at online shops.

We recommend these 6 Indonesian-inspired crafts for you to have a more creative time at home.

1| Jumputan

The name “Jumputan” comes from the Javanese language, which means to pick up with the tip of fingers. Jumputan technique is very popular in various regions of Indonesia such as Palembang, South Kalimantan, Java, and Bali. Unlike batik, the process of making Jumputan fabric is fairly easy because it does not involve canting and wax.

You can recreate this type of craft by using simple materials such as white pieces of fabric and food colouring material. To experiment with colours, you can also use a natural dye like turmeric powder, which produces a yellow hue, as shown in the picture below.

Simply boil the turmeric powder in water and prepare the white cotton fabric. Use plastic ropes or rubber bands to tie knots wherever you like on the fabric.

Then soak the fabric into the turmeric water for about 1 hour. Check and make sure all the parts that you want to be yellow are submerged. Pick up and rinse with cold water to clean turmeric residue, then untie the fabric. Hang and let dry before your Jumputan cloth is ready to use!

2| Batik

Widely recognized around the world, the signature cloth of Indonesia, Batik, is a fabric that is painted using canting and liquid wax so that it forms high artistic-value paintings on a cloth. On 2 October 2009, UNESCO designated Indonesian Batik as the “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” because of the unique technique of development of the motifs and the culture related to Batik.

Batik comes from the Javanese words amba and tik, which means “to write with dots”. As its name suggests, Batik is made either by drawing dots and lines of the resist with a spouted tool called “canting”, or by printing the resist with a copper stamp called a “cap”.

Originally, batik was made on a white cotton material called Mori. Nowadays, batik is also made on other materials such as silk, polyester, rayon, and other synthetic materials. Batik motifs are formed with liquid wax by using a device called “canting” for fine motifs or a brush for large motifs to make the waxy liquid seep into the fibres. The cloth that has been painted with wax is then dyed with the desired colour. After several colouring processes, the fabric is dipped in chemicals to dissolve the wax.

There are various types of batik around Indonesia, such as Megamendung, Parang Rusak, Sogan, Gentongan, and Kawung. Diverse motifs usually depend on the characteristics or beliefs of each region. Batik is increasingly being used as formal clothing and is also being applied to various home decorations, such as sofas, wooden furniture, carpets, pillows, and so on.

You can recreate batik motifs on paper or a digital drawing pad and use the print for creating merchandise. 

3| Wayang

Wayang is a native Indonesian shadow puppet performance that is growing rapidly in Java and Bali. This show is also popular in other areas such as Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula, which have several puppet traditions influenced by the Javanese and Hindu culture.

There are many types of wayang in Indonesia: Wayang Kulit (wayang that is made of leather), Wayang Wong (performed by actors, instead of puppets), Wayang Gedog (similar to Wayang Wong, but the actors wear a mask), Wayang Golek (wayang that is made of wood with 3D appearance), Wayang Klitik (a small wayang that is made of thin wood), and Wayang Beber (performed using scroll paintings). At the Pentingsari village in Yogyakarta, you can even learn to make Wayang Suket out of grass!  You can also take a virtual tour of the Wayang Museum in Jakarta through the Google Arts & Culture website and discover more than 4,000 kinds of Wayang and puppets. 

On 7 November 2003, UNESCO designated wayang as the Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity from Indonesia.

You can recreate your very own wayang-inspired craft using a piece of thick paper and colouring tools. Cut the paper to a size of 5 cm x 20 cm, then gently tear the edges manually. Draw a wayang figure and colour it in with watercolours. Punch a hole on top, add a string, and your wayang bookmark is ready. Inspire your friends to make one, too!

4| Gerabah

Gerabah is Indonesia’s traditional pottery. It is the craft of making objects with clay that are shaped and burned to be used as tools useful for human life.

It is believed that Gerabah has existed since the Indonesian prehistoric times, precisely after humans started learning how to farm. Archaeological sites in Indonesia have found many pottery artefacts that functioned as household utensils or were used for religious ceremonies and burials. The simplest form of pottery is handmade, featuring asymmetrical shapes and fingerprints. Nowadays, modern pottery is made using rotary wheels.

Before being shaped, the clay must be processed through several stages. A special ingredient called kaolin is also required. The clay is shaped with hands or a rotary tool. 

The shape of the object depends on its usage, i.e. whether it’s going to be used for cooking (pots), storing water or rice (jars), storing drinking water (jugs), or for decoration (jars and flower vases).

You can recreate this pottery craft using the air-dry clay that can be easily purchased from online craft stores. First, do research on what you want to make, create a design, and try your hands on small-sized pieces if you’re a beginner.

Here is the method of making a simple white bowl with a leaf pattern. Prepare your clay; mold it gently by hand to give it the desired shape. Then add some lines for the leaf texture and let dry for around 24 hours. Paint it with acrylic colours if you like. Have fun!

5| Anyaman

Anyaman is the traditional Indonesian art of arranging fibers together to form rigid objects, usually baskets or furniture. This traditional handcrafted art originates from Malay culture. The fibers used in making Anyaman are often sourced from materials derived from plants, but plastic can also be used. The material used can be sourced from any part of the plant, ranging from the core of a sugar cane, rattan, to the overall thickness of the plant.

Other materials popularly used for Anyaman are reeds and bamboo. The frame is usually made out of a stiff material. Then a flexible material is used to fill the frame. The final product is lightweight but strong, which makes Anyaman a sturdy and flexible kind of furniture that can be easily moved anywhere anytime.

You can recreate this craft and weave yourself a simple coaster. Make a small square with cardboard and then prepare 2 kinds of ribbons to weave. Weave a simple crisscross pattern, then trim the edges, and your coaster is ready!

6 | Carvings

Since the 19th century, Indonesia has been known as a civilization that adapted the art of carving into their daily lives. Jepara is widely known for its furniture and carvings that are famous throughout Indonesia.

In the traditional art of carving, images are formed on wood, stone, or other materials by making kruwikan (hollows) and buledans (convex parts) and a beautiful picture is created with these images.

You can practice this art on materials other than wood, such as coconut shell, paper, soap, candle or even fruits!

Are you inspired to create any of these traditional Indonesian handicrafts? Who knows? Maybe you will find some new hobbies to keep you busy while you #StayatHome. Once you have finished making a craft, don’t forget to share it on social media to inspire your friends and other people around you. Make good use of your time while you stay at home and contribute to making this world a better place.