Cloth & Textiles
Bali has basically 3 indigenous textiles: Endek, Gringsing and Tenun Ikat. That being said most of the swaths of cloth and fancy printed apparel on sale in Bali are really Batik and native to Java, not Bali. FYI, the intricate designs on Batik cloth are made by applying wax to the fabric prior to dying each time another color is added.
Inasmuch as Endek is really only popular with the Balinese it is not mass produced - so it is quite safe to say that any endek you purchase will have been hand made. It is a laborious affair. The horizontal threads are laid out and pre dyed with a desired pattern in a tie dye type of operation ( the fabric may be dyed several times with different colors ). Once dyed the threads are dried then woven into the vertical threads on the loom. These vertical threads are only one color -usually black. It is not until the weaving is complete that one knows for sure the quality and clarity of the designer's work. This is just a rough idea how the process works, it's actually much more complicated than this with several people - men included - to make just one bolt of cloth. The finished bolt is about 20 feet long by 3.5 feet wide. It takes about 10 days just to weave one bolt of cloth - so think of the value !
Now, if you think that's tricky try it with both the vertical and horizontal threads at the same time. Imagine a weaver must come up with a design then "tye dye" both the horizontal and vertical threads separately 2-3 times depending on the number of colors used. Even the slightest miscalculation when dying the yarn or a mistake by the weaver and months of work are lost. This is basically how Gringsing is produced in the Balinese Village of Tenganan - one of two or three places in the entire world capable of producing this extraordinary textile. As mentioned many times in paradise-bali.com this is one of the best souvenirs available to visitors to Bali.
The third cloth, tenun ikat is also popular in Bali. Like endek the horizontal threads are dyed and woven into a solid vertical thread on the loom. The difference is that the patterns are solid colored blocks or simple crossing patterns. This cloth is also mostly produced by hand and is very popular in fashionable circles for clothing, home furnishings and accessories.