Baobab Batik


This project provides rural women of Swaziland an opportunity to earn a sustainable income and achieve a better life for themselves and their families.
A modern interpretation to the ancient art of batik through innovative design, new techniques and the use of different mediums produces a range of original and vibrant textile accessories. They now employ up to 32 women, many of whom are single parents and are HIV positive.

Members of SWIFT (Swaziland Fair Trade) & COFTA (Co-operation for Fair Trade in Africa), they are committed to providing a superior product, whilst providing a pleasant working environment that gives a sense of belonging to its artisans and their products are recognised locally and internationally.

This generates a sustainable income for Swazi women by providing job opportunities, life skills and training, whilst also supporting the development of the handcraft industry through mentoring and collaborating with smaller artisans.

Central to this projects core values are compassion and respect for one another. By instilling a sense of pride and love for the batik into the artisans, as well as providing a pleasant working environment, the group is able to produce a truly beautiful and unique products.

Production Techniques

The batik process can take up to 9 hours for an extra large batik and has distinct stages:

1. Cutting and wetting the fabric, ready to be dyed.

2. Depending on the design required, the fabric is dyed with various colours to produce a sunset etc. The dyeing process is done on a table and then placed outside to dry.

3. The artisan responsible for making the batik (called the waxer) will start tracing the design on the cloth.

4. The waxer applies melted wax onto various areas to accentuate the background features of the design e.g.. sky, shapes of the mountains. The whole piece is then dyed again with deeper shades of dye and the process is repeated with more wax applied to expose the whole shape of the elephants, trees, mountains etc.

5. The fabric receives the last black dye and is then placed outside to dry.

6. The batik undergoes a special treatment for 30 minutes and is then rinsed, neutralised and immersed in boiling water. This process eliminates excess wax and sets the dyes permanently onto the cloth.

7. The batik is then ironed and given to the seamstress transform into the individual products, e.g. wall hangings, cushion covers or clothing.