How are our products made?

The textiles on this site are all made from 100% cotton unless otherwise stated. where the products are printed the cotton is machine loomed to achieve a fine and tight weave which will then provide the best surface to receive the printed designs.

The designs are printed using wooden blocks on which a part of the pattern is carved. The number of blocks used in one design depends upon the complication of the design. the blocks can be used to form the pattern by directly impressing the coloured dye on the cloth in the correct place or by impressing a dye resistor on the cloth and then dying the cloth as a whole and leaving a pattern where the resistor has been. The methods of creating the patterns are varied and often very complicated and below you can read about the various techniques used. The printing is all done on by hand thus creating and the dyes are mixed manually thus creating  unique pieces.

Our woven items are all loomed by hand and the pattern in them is created using various techniques which are described below.

The weavers are highly skilled and though they do follow patterns many of them rarely seem to actually refer to the patterns while weaving. 

REGIONAL PRINTS

AJRAK

This is a particular style of printing associated with western India and the Sind region of Pakistan from which it probably originated.

Our production comes from the Kutch region of Gujurat ( recently devastated by the earthquake) and from the western end of Rajasthan: just two small family units who have been Ajrakh printers for several generations.

Ajrakh is a combination of printing with line blocksand by applying colour by dipping after resist printing; the colour palette is usually limited to alizarin red, indigo and black. Designs containing red and indigo are resist printed separately for each colour and dipped twice; the whole process involves 13 stages; they are inevitably more expensive to produce but the result is a wonderful depth of colour not achievable with surface printing. We have managed to add a dark green which is achieved by a further dipping in a dye made from pomegranate shells and also a version of pale gold.


BAGH

A small remote village in central India in which two families produce these magnificent geometric compositions. Hand block printed with great precision and imagination they have mastered the art of juxtaposing a wide variety of design elements. The printers are accustomed to working with red and black natural colours only. Whilst the colour palette is very limited they take extra care in the cloth preparation and finishing which involves 15 separate process stages. The tangible results are good print definition, good solid colour and a pleasing supple handle to the cloth.

Some of the special composition prints in our range, which are built from a series of very small blocks contain over 1300 separate block impressions in a double bedspread.

 


BAGRU

 

BALOTRA

 

KALAMKARI

 

IKAT AND TIE DYES

Bagru is a small but immensely productive village near Jaipur contains a large community of printers. The skills of the Bagru printers were patronised by the Jaipur court over 200 years ago, they are probably the best known and most easily recognised designs in our range. The Bagru printers are the most accessible to the outside world and have been exposed to a variety of outside influences and have adopted many different styles into their wide repertoire using their own traditional techniques. These are among our simplest and most inexpensive prints and can be produced in relatively large quantities.


Balotra are a series of Dabu prints from Rajasthan. Dabu is an old form of resist printing where the designis block printed with a mix of natural gum and sawdust. The printed cloth is then fully immersed in a large cauldron of dye, usually indigo or the local "home brew" black. The cloth is dipped several times until the desired shade is achieved and then dried. The resist is then washed off to reveal the undyed part of the cloth as the pattern. Some colour penetrates under the resists and results in the characteristic veining perhaps more usually associated with resist printed Batiks


Kalamkari is originally a Persian word meaning "drawing on cloth". Whilst the technique probably existed several centuries before, the style as weknowit today emerged from the great craft schools that sprang up under the patronage of the Moghul emperors about three centurie ago. The style much favoured by the Moghul courts was adopted by the printing communities on the Coramandel coast of south east India and most of the production is now hand block printed by a small number of family groups in and around the old fishing port of Masulipatam.

Whilst block printing is a much faster method of production than hand painting each piece it is still laborious and involves the use of a large number of blocks for each design.

The intricate designs, the elaborate borders and the innate understanding of balanced composition has given Kalamkari a well deserved place in the evolution of printed design. It is a popular idiom and one of the most widely imitated styles of Indian printing. Real Kalamkari is however rather more subtle than most of the imitations. Contemporaryproduction retains much of the original fine detail and only vegetable dyes are used. A bewildering repertoire of nuts, bark, roots and flowers combined with the unique character of natural vegetable indigo gives the Kalamkari printer his own special palette of colours and we have given our printer every possible encouragement to continue producing fine quality workmanship.


 

 

 

These are both forms of tie dyeing but the application of the basic technique and the finished results are very different.

IKAT – is the commonly used word to describe a method of yarn resist dyeing and the basic process is known to have existed in India for at least 1500 years. Bundles of yarn are tightly bound with threads or strips of rubber to cover the areas that will eventually form the pattern. After tying the yarn is fully immersed in a dye bath where the dye penetrates the exposed yarn and leaves the protected areas undyed. For multicolour effects the process is repeated. When rinsed and dried the ties are removed and the yarn is fed on to the loom in a strictly controlled order ready for weaving. This basic process is simple enough but is extremely time consuming; a well controlled pattern requires great skill and attention to detail. Once set up, the weaving of a warp Ikat is simple and fast. Although there are virtually endless pattern opportunities working with a tie-dyed warp the maximum effect of this technique is achieved by tie-dyeing both warp and weft. This doubles the amount of tie-dyeing and slows down the weaving as the weaver has to adjust virtually every weft insertion to ensure a good pattern alignment.


BANDHANI- is the Indian word for the more basic form of tie-dye. Small areas of plain cloth are tightly bound with cotton thread; the cloth is then immersed in a dye bath and after drying, the ties are removed to reveal the pattern formed by the contrast between the dyed and undyed areas. This process is one of the oldest and widely practised methods of applying pattern and colour to textiles. Examples have been found in South America dating back to the first century BC and there is some evidence that the method was practised in Asia several centuries before that.

Like many techniques there are interpretations and much of the current production is very specifically produced for the Indian home market. We started working with a small family unit with a view to developing a selection of patterns that we think will have wider acceptance. This is probably the most labour intensive of all the products in our range and our prices have to reflect the costs of this intricate work.


APPLIQUE and EMBROIDERY

All of this work is carried out by the womenfolk of various villages in Gujarat and western Rajasthan. Working at home and surrounded by children, chickens and goats this is a very real cottage industry.all of the work is hand sewn and the applique pieces are all hand cut.

 

DURRIES

The word durry is a phonetic approximation of a Hindi/Urdu word describing a woven cotton rug or mat.

 

They are all hand woven and traditionally use the tapestry style of weaving where the pattern is achieved by colour contrasts in the weft.

A wide variety of designs and qualities are possible and consequently a huge variation in prices. This sometimes seems surprising when they are all classified as durries. Costs vary according to weight, quality of raw materials, intricacy of pattern and of course size.

It is very easy and tempting to make cheap durries; however the market is very saturated at this level and we have concentrated on design, quality and good colouring. We use only fast colours, the best quality yarns available and highly skilled weavers.

Our " top-end" durries are in terms of quality and consistency as good as any to be found on the market and are exclusive to The Indian Collection.

At the other end of the scale are our low cost simple designs which have great texture and represent great value.