Have you ever seen something on television and thought to yourself “I have got to have that”? And no I’m not referring to Ginsu Knives or ‘The Official Snuggie’. Well I have, and it eventually led us to a trip on another beautiful Caribbean island.
Some time ago, while watching The Travel Channel, I came across a show that in part highlighted the unique art of Batik fabrics. They were introducing the work of Caribelle Batik at Romney Manor on the island of St. Kitts, and I had to get there to learn more about this unique work. While on a quick day trip to this beautiful island, we made a stop at Romney Manor a priority for our agenda.
Batik is an art form that dates back thousands of years to its beginnings in Indonesia. To create the beautiful works, hot wax is poured upon the raw fabric to create an outline of the desired image. What follows is a sequence of baths in subsequent rich dyes and more wax until the coloring process is complete. Then the entire cloth is boiled for up to 45 minutes to remove the wax. The cloth is then hung to air dry in the warm Caribbean sun. The finished batik cloth is absolutely beautiful and was one of the main reasons we set this island as a destination.
The grounds surrounding Caribelle Batik are the well-appointed garden of the Romney Estate. Romney was established in the 17th century and in 1834, contrary to the instructions of the British Parliament, Lord Romney declared his slaves free men. Romney Estate therefore became the first estate in St.Kitts to free their slaves. Today the central focus is an enormous 350-year old Saman tree, 24 ft in diameter and covering ½ an acre. The tree quietly presides over the activity of the present day Romney Manor.
We found the grounds, and Caribelle Batik to be a wonderfully rare experience and one we look forward to again. To learn more about the art of Caribelle Batik and Romney Manor go to www.caribellebatikstkitts.com
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