Her new home was at a small village called Kampung Serada, where everyone wore batik every day.
It got Haniza to begin taking notice of batik’s beauty. Batik is still commonly worn in Malaysia, but most people wear fabric with machine-printed motifs using synthetic dye. But Haniza wasn’t just interested in batik’s motifs and colours; she was also curious about the traditional process of making batik.
She was intrigued mostly by batik terap, a traditional method of making batik by block printing with copper moulds.
“I like batik terap because it is a piece of wearable art made by hand. It is interesting how elements of nature (sun, rain and wind) play an important role in batik making,” she says.
But Haniza found that her interest in learning was not quite enough. Her biggest hurdle was convincing veteran artisan batik makers to pass their knowledge to her, an “outsider” in their midst.
Another challenge was that there were only a handful of craftsmen in Kuala Terengganu who knew how to make batik terap.
“Rather than teach the younger generation, sadly, some batik makers prefer to keep their skills to themselves. Luckily, I met another group of batik experts who were willing to show me the ropes,” recounts Haniza, who also turned to the Internet and books to learn about block printing in batik.
When she started making batik terap, Haniza understood why it is a dying craft.
An intricate art
Haniza decided to make it her mission to revive and reinvent batik terap, but she stumbled almost immediately.
She simply couldn’t get the hang of making batik terap, making mistake after mistake every step of the way.
“When I first started, I ruined 50 sets of batik cloth. I was very disappointed and almost gave up. But my husband, neighbours and family members encouraged me to persevere,” recalls Haniza who persisted till she mastered the steps of block printing batik. She also began experimenting with dyeing fabrics and batik canting, another form of batik making where a pen-like tool is used to apply wax on material.
As batik terap is handcrafted, the challenge for Haniza is to maintain consistency.
“The amount of hot wax on copper moulds must be precise to avoid blotches. It takes constant practice to perfect the art,” says Haniza who has gone from printing batik on her kitchen table to starting her own artisan batik brand, Nysakapas, in April. She has two workers and they work to produce pieces of batik terap fabric, as well as ready-made traditional and contemporary apparels.
Haniza uses batik cotton, known as batik halus, to make batik terap.
She shares her Nysakapas products and her batik making on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. Apart from selling Nysakapas materials at her workshop and through social media, Haniza also takes part in bazaars. A piece of two-metre cotton Nysakapas material retails for between RM50 and RM80.
“Through batik making, I have discovered nature – how we are always moving and needing nature every day. I live in a small village where the natural surrounding complements batik making in such a beautiful and spiritual way,” says Haniza, who is exploring eco-friendly ways of making batik.
To change the misconception that batik designs are old-fashioned, Haniza incorporates modern twists to her designs. She hopes to make batik more meaningful and acceptable to the current generation.
The first batik terap mould that Haniza designed is her Chinoiserie-inspired Isobel with kuntum (blooms), bintang (star) and ranting (branches). Another mould is Sheru (sea shells in Japanese) and Almas (diamond in Arabic).
The Azah mould was designed for three friends diagnosed with cancer. Part of the proceeds from Hanizah’s Azah collection is channelled to aid cancer patients.
Besides batik terap, Haniza also does batik canting, using a pen-like tool to apply hot wax in the batik-making process.
For inspiration, she turns to natural elements in her backyard, like dried coconut shells, gushing rivers and waterspouts.
She also mixes both methods, batik terap and batik canting, to show a diversity in pattern making while applying techniques.
Haniza has also started conducting batik canting classes at her workshop in Kampung Serada.