We make handcrafted distinctive clothing for women in small quantities using traditional methods. Each piece is ethically made by families in their homes and small workshops.  We are dedicated to the makers and you.

HAND BLOCK PRINTING is a craft as old as printed textile.

The village of Bagru in Rajasthan continues to practice the art of wood block printing.  Block printing is the process of carving a pattern on a wooden block, dipping the wood block in dye and stamping it onto the fabric.  They use natural vegetable dyes and mud resist techniques to print on cotton, linen and silk.  Minor mistakes and imperfections make it a unique part of the printing story.

Printing began here about 450 years ago. There are 300 families from the Chippa community who carve, print and dye fabrics by hand. Printing is usually done in homes and small workshops to provide income for the whole family and keeps people employed within their own environment. Traditionally, this work was done by men and these skills have been passed down the generations. The numbers of artisans continue to decrease as cheaper chemical and machine alternatives make it hard for them to survive. Younger people are moving on to more profitable careers in cities.

We work with families who use a variety of printing methods.

WOOD BLOCKS can be as small as an inch or as large as 35 cm.

The design is transferred to a smooth block of mango wood.  The block maker carves the designs by hand with incredible precision using small chisels and drills.  Each color and design requires a separate block.  It can take two days to a week to make a block, depending on the intricacy of design. The blocks are soaked in mustard oil to prevent warping before it is ready to be used for printing.

Each region has its own unique motifs and patterns that tell the story of their surroundings.

Our prints are inspired by “a line is a dot going for a walk” and flight.  

NATURAL DYES from flowers and ores are used to produce red, green, ochre, gray and black.  Alizarin (root of the Indian Madder tree) is used for red and Kashish for brown dye. Black is obtained from iron and sugarcane juice. Horseshoes sit on coals for a period of time, then brushed of rust and put into cans with water and sugar cane juice. They are left like this to ferment for months in order to yield black dye. Ground myrobalan seed powder (harda) is a natural mordant.  Mordants are used in combination with natural dyes to fix a dye to the fibres and improve colour fastness.

The colours are dependent on the quality of the plants, the water and skill and knowledge of the master printers. Slight colour variations within print runs occur because they are printed at different times or seasons.

PRINTING starts with stretching and pinning the washed and dried fabric on a long padded table. The printer dips the block into the tray of dye, presses it onto the fabric, and taps the block firmly.  This process is repeated until the pattern completely covers the length of fabric. It takes precision to line up the blocks to make a continuous pattern.

After the printed fabric is dried, it is placed in a large copper pot of water and natural ingredients to complete the process.  The block printed colours take on the vibrancy of the dye colour only when they are boiled with these natural ingredients.

Dabu printing is a method of printing with a paste that resists dye. The resist paste used here is a finely sieved mixture of local clay, gum, lime and ground wheat chaff. This mixture is freshly prepared before each printing and poured into a tray that has layers of fabric and hessian.  The printer sprinkles sawdust on the printed fabric to prevent smudges. Afterward the hot sun dried printed cloth is dyed in a vat of indigo dye.  The mud resists the natural indigo dye.  When the dyed cloth is removed from the vat, it turns blue, when the air breathes life into it.

Once the fabric has been dried and washed to remove the resist paste, the result is a white pattern on a coloured ground.

WASHING is done several times during the process and the cloth is dried in the blazing desert sun.  Everywhere you look, fabric is laid out in large fields, on rooftops, and hung from buildings.

INDIGO is a distinctive deep blue dye obtained from leaves of the indigofera Tinctoria plant. India is one of the oldest centres for indigo dying in the world. The word indigo means from India. The indigo is ground into a powder and soaked with lime, molasses and water and left to ferment in an underground vat for 20 days. When the fabric is dyed in this indigo vat, it appears green in colour. It turns blue only when the air breathes life into it.

The intensity of blue depends on the number of times it is dipped in the deep dye vat.  These indigo vats are replenished with stock liquid to help them last longer.  Much of the indigo we see today is a synthetic chemical indigo, which is a cheaper and easier to use alternative.

FABRICS

We use 100 % pure khadi cotton, silk and linen.

KHADI comes from the word khaddar – a term for hand spun, handwoven fabric made from cotton, silk or wool fibres.  It has a characteristic uneven texture which is part of the process, using yarn that has been hand spun then woven on a loom by hand.  It is comfortable to wear in all seasons.

It is a symbol of social equality, empowerment, dignity and hope.

When khadi was revitalised by Gandhi in 1918, it was life changing for many villagers of rural India.  They produced their own raw materials. Everyone in the family and village could participate – by growing cotton, spinning yarn and weaving. The process of weaving khadi is simple. It requires no electricity.  It is entirely done by hand.  Cotton is grown, harvested and cleaned. It is then hand spun into yarn on a spinning wheel and woven on a handloom. It is a self-sustaining and reliable source of income.

LINEN is made from the cellulose fibres that grow inside of the stalks of the flax plant. It is one of the oldest cultivated plants. Linen clothing is lasts longer because of its fine, strong flax fibres. Linen can be worn in any weather as is light and absorbent. It washes and dries easily and becomes softer with each wash.

MUSHRU is woven with silk and cotton on a pit loom to make a cloth that has a rich, smooth satin surface and a cotton inner, making it both luxurious and comfortable. This type of weaving is on the verge of being lost because it can be made on power looms in factories with similar results and in less time, effort and cost.  With a declining market, Mushru weavers use cotton staple instead of silk or substitute synthetic silk to keep costs down.  Mushru is woven only in the small towns of Patan and Mandvi in Gujarat, India.