Let me tell you a story of a local company, a backyard business and cultural heritage that existed 27 years ago on the basis of practicing passion.
My mother in law, Rosliza Muhammad, a passionate artist that makes a living by drawing beautiful arts on a piece of natural fibrous cloth. Back in 1989, she graduated from UiTM Shah Alam with a Bachelors Degree in Textile Design majoring in Fibre Arts. Being the protege of the Malaysian Batik guru, Wan Nong Ahmad, she is privileged with first hand, eye-opening experience for 5 years, right after graduation. Inspired and driven by passion in arts and design, she ventured into the field of Batik.
Batik is a traditional method, a Malaysian cultural heritage of apparel design using the art of wax drawing, known as ‘menchanting’ or in Kelate’s word, ‘nyating’. Instead of using pen and pencil like drawing on paper, chanting is the tool that uses wax as the ink when drawing on a cloth. But why wax?
When colouring on paper, you can decide where the colour goes by controlling your hand. Now, imagine what will happen when a few drops of pen’s ink dropped onto a shirt - the colour of the ink will spread irregularly, forming an uncontrollable pattern.
So, the key feature of chanting is to be able to draw something on a cloth while creating a dye separator. In other words, the line that you draw (nyating) using chanting will act as a barrier for the dye solution, preventing it from mixing in between the lines and making it possible to colour the design in a controlled manner.
Wax, a material that carry hydrophobic characteristic are being used to enable a colourful drawing on natural fibrous clothing. As an engineer, I find this very interesting, not only in such scientific application embedded in the arts but also considering the Malaysian heritage, where the birth of Batik dated way back in 1911.
Have you ever wonder why Batik is synonymous with the ministers and royalties? Batik, also known as resistance technique (i.e. wax as the dye resistor) in textile technology, uses reactive dye in the colouring process. This type of dye is chosen because of its properties that works very well with natural fibrous cloth. Noticed the word natural here? In the olden days, there’s not much interest in synthetic materials and one of the high end natural materials for clothing, which still remained at the top rank until today, is silk. The compatibility of Batik process with silk, combined with the bespoke artisan design makes Batik a symbol of elegance. The way I like to describe it; traditionally luxurious.
Lizza Creations established by Rosliza in 1994, in the 4th year of her marriage, flying on her own after 5 years under the wings of Wan Nong Ahmad. With full support from my father in law, they embarked on the journey of producing commercial arts in the form of apparel and preserving the heritage of Malaysian culture up until today.
Years after years, Rosliza has created thousands of exemplary Batik pieces. Having a proper background in textile design, the knowledge and passion are reflected in the products; such that they are very well appreciated by the purists and enthusiasts who are able to distinguish between a great and a mediocre piece of Batik. As of today, Lizza’s pieces has been worn by many including ministers and royalties, from Malaysia all the way to Singapore and Brunei.