Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas at malkha

Christmas at malkha came a day late as the principal carol singer Sagari Ramdas was away till then. We sang some of the best known carols: Hark the herald angels sing, O little town of Bethlehem, Away in a manger, etc, and ended with The Twelve days of Christmas & Jingle Bells.
Christmas cake & a hot cinnamon tea were served - this was a great success, introduced to most of the guests for the first time. The ingredients: powdered cinnamon, cloves and coriander.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wishing everyone a very happy Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

.. can't get enough of Kolkatha's lively sidewalks and of the peoples' unashamed love for the desi way of life & for the past... where else in India or the world will you see in 2011 a photographers' window display like this one, displaying faded sepia images but promising an upto date 'one minute digital portrait'?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Concurrent with the Sutra seminar & event in Kolkatha was a mind-blowing exhibition of exquisite batik, here are some pictures

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Check out rediff business of December 5... a profile of Kannan 'the Indian engineer behind the world-famous malkha fabric'. The wonderful pictures that go with the article, except for Kannan's portrait, are the work of Saravanakumar of Ecotone.

Thanks Shobha Warrier, but must disclaim some of the hyperbole...it is not ...yet... world famous, or known to 'all major designers the world over', but yes, it is well liked by some of the major Indian fashion designers.

And though small quantities have been exported to France & Italy, as far as we know it has not yet reached 'Norway, the United Kingdom & the United States' except through some individual buyers. A little to Japan too.

Malkha will be available in Chennai at the Dastkar exhibition at Kalakshetra Foundation, Tiruvanmiyur from January 20-29.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Just a few of the many shrines

Thursday, November 24, 2011

ohhh Kolkatha

Kolkatha has undoubtedly the richest street life of any city in India. On the pavements there are shrines, shopping, food, hair-cuts, newspapers, water hydrants, hundred-year old trees, sleeping dogs, flowers, fruit & vegetables.

Here and in the following blog are pictures from from the pavements of Rash Behari & Camac.

In the second image from top left you may just make out the sign for the Cartier outlet across the road.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Well in spite of the Kolkatha exhibition location Rabindranath Tagore Centre, Ho Chi Minh Sarani being right opposite the American Consulate with restricted access, and in spite of rather few visitors, malkha did well in Kolkatha and we sold 72% of our stock.

Here is a picture of the stall and another of one of the major buyers who some of you may recognize: Sabyasachi Mukherjee

Saturday, November 5, 2011

fake malkha?

Just heard that fabric is being sold as 'malkha' in shops located in tony areas of Mumbai. "Everybody is asking for malkha, since the big designers are using it" says the shop owner. He says he gets it from his regular printer.

Warning: it's unlikely that this is genuine malkha. Wait for our stall at the Kala Ghoda festival in Feb 2011.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

malkha in kolkata

Here are the details of the Kolkata show:

RAKSHA II, Sutra's Grand Bazar
Rabindranath Tagore Centre,
ICCR, 9A Ho Chi Minh Sarani
Kolkata 17

Friday 11-Tuesday 15 November
11 am to 7 pm

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Question for Delhi malkha customers:

Did any of you pay for but forget to take 6 metres of the indigo check, C-70, at the recent Nature Bazar? When we did our post-exhibition tally we found we had 6 metres extra of this fabric. If so, please let us have your bill number, and we will post you the fabric.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Decentralized Cotton Yarn Trust has taken another step towards strengthening the local economy by exploring the potential of local building materials and techniques at the site of its new unit. Here are pictures of the first such effort, roofing the small shed at the site of our new pre-spinning unit.

From bottom to top, the images show a layer of neem leaves being spread on the wooden rafters, then a layer of mud comes next before the tiles. Local builder Narsaiah was amazed how cool the room was inside!

Our architect Golak Khandual and structural engineer Sarita Dhawan plan to use this technique for the much bigger roof of the main hall housing the pre-spinning machinery.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

fellow passengers on the bus

thank heaven there is still some colour, life, diversity in urban India

Monday, October 24, 2011

exhibition news

The malkha team is back from Nature Bazaar in Delhi. Young Sandeep, our latest member was disappointed with the last few days sales, as he had got used to the scorching pace of the early stage. But sales were bound to decline as our stock was almost exhausted: we sold 90% of what we took. Now we look forward to the Sutra show in Kolkatha next month, and then Dastkar again in Chennai in January, followed by Kala Ghoda in Mumbai in early February. We had hoped to be part of the Dastkaari Haat show in Ahmedabad next month, but the dates were changed and the new time-slot clashed with our other shows so sadly we had to drop out.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Gongadi event

The 3-day gongadi show in the malkha shop in Hyderabad was a huge success. Of all the good things that happened - the sell-out of gongadi stock, the enthusiastic press attention with several newspaper articles and a television interview, the parallel spike in malkha sales, two were the most interesting:

First, it was unexpected and delightful that the memory of the gongadi had remained in so many local people, as a comforting and constant feature of their childhood, and which they thought was lost for ever. These gongadi fans wanted their children to know, touch and feel one, and they came from long distances to buy the gongadi.

The second and even more rewarding was that the creators of the gongadi, the shepherds, women yarn spinners, weavers and kada makers [of whom there are only a few left] who were present during the event experienced at first hand the enthusiasm for their creation from the public and as a result have renewed their confidence in their own skills.

Anthra has done a great job in bringing the work to this stage, beginning with the nurturing of the original Deccani breed of sheep. Elana Dickson, as the designer, encouraged traditional gongadi designs and fostered the creativity of the makers themselves rather than imposing an alien aesthetic.

From top to bottom, the pictures are 1]women wool spinners [in the background, Sagari Ramdas of Anthra], 2]the dancers putting on their ghungroo [bells]at the closing ceremony, 3] dance performance by the Kurumas , 4] making the kada, the hand-made edging of the gongadi.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

News from Nature Bazar

It's a shame that the Crafts Museum is so little known to Dilliwalas, it is really a wonderful museum and should be much more lively than it is: Michele Obama is said have referred to her visit there as the highlight of her trip to India. Ruchira Ghose, the present Chairman of the Museum has plans to revamp the displays, making up for years of neglect. This year Dastkar's Nature Bazar is being held on its grounds, which seems a natural place for it, a beautiful setting. The 170 stalls meander through Museum grounds among the outdoor displays and the wonderful old trees, underlining the point that crafts in India are alive and relevant.

There have been complaints from customers at the Bazar that parking is a problem, and from stall-holders that there are fewer customers, but many people are unaware of the trials & tribulations that the Dastkar management has to go through to find a place to hold the annual event.

Parking is available opposite Gate 1 of Pragati Maidan, which is a bit of a walk from the entrance, and the DTC bus terminal is nearby.

Malkha is at stall no 35, in case anyone reads this before the last day on October 19. We have done well, being visited by equal numbers of old and new customers as well as high-end fashion designers and retailers. The most popular have been the indigo prints, particularly Vaishali's leaves in the large and small versions, and the dupattas. Not much stock left!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wendell Rodricks was in our Hyderabad store last week and this is what he had to say: "... My assistant and I were like kids in a candy store. I LOVE your malkha fabric. We are going to use it at Wills Fashion Week in Delhi...."

Thank you Wendell!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

And meanwhile, parallel with the Delhi show, we have an exhibition at the malkha shop in Hyderabad of the Gongadi, the blankets made by local shepherds from the wool of local sheep. Elana Dickson, an internationally known textile designer has collaborated with Anthra, a local agency, to bring these fabulous craft textiles to the attention of city-dwellers who may not know of the treasures that still continue to be produced by skilled artisans in our rural settings. A gongadi loom will be featured, and the makers will be there at both opening and closing events... details will follow in later blogs, but please mark your calendars:

The show will run from Thursday October 13 to Saturday October 15, 10.30 am to 7 pm.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dastkar's Delhi Nature Bazaar is coming up soon, and malkha plans to be there...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The images on internet of the Lepakshi ceiling murals do not do justice to these important 16th century works of art. This is a picture we took with an ordinary camera, during our organization's visit to the temple, showing the battle between Arjun & Shiva. It is a forest scene with everyone dressed in adivasi style with feather head dresses.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Anonym, a high-end fashion store in Hyderabad run by Vinita Passary is holding a special show of hand-crafted or handloomed fabrics by weavers, artisans & designers from different parts of the country... starting with a preview on the 17th September 10 am onwards... the store is located on Road 92 Jubilee Hills and the phone number is 040-23552386. The invitation is attached but may be too small to read; further details are available on Anonym's page on Facebook.

Friday, September 2, 2011

manchi pustakam exhibition at malkha shop

The Manchi Pustakam exhibition at the malkha shop opened yesterday. A huge selection of books, mostly in Telugu but also some in Urdu and in English are neatly displayed on racks so that they are easy to browse through. There are some intriguing story books with both English and Telugu text, useful for learners of either language. Bhagyalakshmi of Manchi Pustakam explains that the really low prices are possible because there are no intermediaries between publisher and buyer.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

More compliments for malkha in the national press... again related to the Malkha Project show at Cinnamon in Bangalore by designers Mayank, Peter & Aneeth: This time its Shrabonti Bagchi writing in Crest, the TOI weekly, on July 30. Seems a bit hard to access from the net, unless one subscribes.

On the 2nd, 3rd & 4th September [no mistake, we're keeping the shop open that Sunday] the Malkha shop in Hyderabad hosts an exhibition of Telugu books published by Manchi Pustakam,which literally means Good Books. Suresh of MP has translated several books from English into Telugu, including bestsellers One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Baby Lana in indigo hand-block printed malkha!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

'The new weave of freedom'

Dastkar's Nature Bazaar in Bangalore ended yesterday, and we sold about 33% more this year than at last year's bazaar. Geetanjali Krishna of Business Standard visited the stall and has written a nice article about malkha titled 'The New Weave of Freedom' in that paper on August 13. You can see it if you go to her name as 'author' on the Business Standard website.

We've been getting a lot of requests for swatches, and wonder how other fabric retailers can cope with sending the number of swatches that we are asked for. We would be more enthusiastic about sending them if our experience had been more positive: to date we have received not a single order from any of the several potential customers to whom we have sent samples!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Malkha Project in Bangalore

The show at Cinnamon in Bangalore by The Malkha Project designers was a hit, with reports in both DNA and Deccan Chronicle [images above]on July 8. Bangalore has over the last 3 years since Malkha has been showing at Dastkar's annual Nature Bazars taken malkha to its heart, and there is always a good response there. My Bangalorean designer friend Julie Kagti says 'everybody is talking about malkha'. Well we'll be there again at Dastkar's Nature Bazar, opening August 6.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The exhibition season is on... after Akruthi Vastra in Hyderabad, Malkha takes part in Weavers' Studio, Kolkatha's show of khadi and related textiles from August 10 to August 17. This is our first showing in Kolkatha, and will run at almost the same time as the Bangalore Nature Bazaar which opens on the 6th of August.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sales at the Akruthi Vastra exhibition in Hyderabad were good in spite of the rain and the bandh, and malkha was introduced to a buying public that would normally not be interested in the khadi look. Both this annual event and the venue are well-known to the elite market of Hyderabad, and the stalls that catered to their taste did roaring business. The event was very well organized by the Crafts Council of Andhra Pradesh: they collected the cash so the stall holders did not have to worry about handling money. They organized credit card sales as well.

It was a pleasure to see Ansari's stall where the traditional Banarasi designs of sarees have been revived and also adapted as dupattas. Raw Mango had some interesting developments in Maheshwari and Chanderi, perhaps too daring for the Hyderabad gentry.

Vinita Pittie, the well-known designer from Hyderabad visited our stall, and some of our mail-order customers were fellow stall holders. Some of our customers at the show had heard of malkha and were pleased to find us. Subsequent sales at the malkha shop have benefited from this exposure. Our stall was managed by Sathyam & Venkatesh with help from neophyte Sandeep. Pavani, our newest recruit, was able to come only on the last day, and both the young ones enjoyed the excitement of the continuous cutting, packing, billing and delivery.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Part 3 [last]of Requiem for a Master

Along with the dyeing at artisan location Dastkar Andhra developed its tradition of the regular annual natural dyeing workshop in Hyderabad for all comers, artisans and others. These workshops were usually for cotton, though we did do one specifically for silk. Sir was the chief resource person for these workshops, helped after 1993 by Jagada Rajappa who had worked with him for the last fifteen years. These workshops were as much for our own learning as to teach others, and each one was a great stride ahead in our grasp of skills. Again, in these early workshops we set traditions that continue today: We alternate practical work with theory sessions, documentation & sampling, laced with anecdotes and the personal histories of the participants. The first of these annual workshops was held in 1990, and was the first time we used indigo.

Over the years we have taught artisan groups, individual artisans and others from Bengal, Orissa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu & Kerala. Most of the people we taught were new to natural dyeing when they first came to us and have since gone on to practice it regularly and even to teach others. Through these workshops our network of natural dyers has grown and strengthened. We have dyed silk, cotton, wool, tassar, jute, bamboo, sisal & korai grass.

Sir died in May of this year. Against his doctor's advice and to the despair of his loving family he led to the last the life he wanted, going wherever he was invited to teach natural dyeing, in the heights of Ladakh or the depths of rural Madhya Pradesh. Our last workshop with him was in February this year, for artisans from Uzbekistan. For the first time we worked with a group of artisans just thirsting for knowledge. During the Soviet regime traditional crafts had been banned in the Soviet republics, and our trainees were among the few left who had kept up the traditions of embroidery and weaving. It was a model workshop, with the learners as eager to learn as Sir to teach. As usual it was full of fun and laughter as well. When he died the Uzbeks ourned the passing of "a great usto".

Natural dyeing is one of the many skills that has been perfected by the people of this country, been forgottoen, and which we now seem to need white people to teach us. The process by which community knowledge is being appropriated by centralized knowledge systems, a process that began about two hundred years ago, is still going on and the original communities who were the rightful heirs of that knowlege are becoming more and more impoverished and reduced to selling their physical labour. The appropriated knowledge is encoded in forms that are accessible only to those with the accepted qualifications: the ability to read and a knowledge of the English language. Most people with these qualifications also become part of the same process, where knowledge becomes a source of personal gain, the right to which is symbolized by the institution of the patent.

But there is an alternative view, one that gave traditional societies all over the world their stability and allowed them to perfect low energy technologies suited to their particular conditions, the climate, the soil, the water and their own particular abilities. That view is that knowledge is the prerogative of the community, to be held in common for the general good.

There are critical periods in any field, when a choice exists for the direction of growth. At such times the personalities of individuals in such fields, their actions and ways of thinking determine the direction for that field. In natural dyeing as in many of the traditional skills there was such a period just after 1947, and Chandramouli happened to be the person at the nodal point. He had been trained as a dye chemist and had some practical experience when he met Kamala Devi Chattopadhyaya, who pointed him in the direction of natural dyes. He visited traditional dyeing communities all over the country in the days when traditional dyeing still existed on a large scale. He read all the available literature in English and in European languages in translation. Through his gift for scholarship, and the opportunities created for him by Kamala Devi, his knowledge of the theory and practice of natural dyeing gradually developed to an encyclopaedic level.

But the reason for which he will have my lifelong respect and reverence is not just his unequalled combination of brilliant scholarship and research on the one hand and his grasp of folk knowledge and tractical technique on the other. It is for the choice he made, to put the knowledge that he ahd gained back where it belonged, in its rightful place with the producer communities of this country. He took on the responsibiliteis of that choice, by developing methods of teaching artian groups with patience, humour, persistence and a complete absence of self-importance. This combination of qualites is rare, and at that particular juncture in history were crtical to the effort to redirect the flow of knowledge. Today if natural dyeing has a chance to regain its character as a living art, it will be due in large measure to the part played by K V Chnadramouli.

Sir's great gift was his ability to mix with all sorts of people without feeling that his great knowledge set him apart or gave him any special priveleges. He had great respect for artisans, patience with learners, indulgence with young people and tolerance of others' mistakes. His way of teaching by allowing learners to go at their own pace made it possible for them them to feel confident enough to work on their own, while he himself was always there as a source of information and inspiration. He taught innumerable artisan groups in this country, and re-established natural dyeing in Bangladesh. He taught business people too, for a fee, but refused the offer of a University position in a foreign country.

We never plumbed the depths of his knowledge: there was always more that he knew than we could ever learn. But our eight year partnership with him has established DastkarAndhra's traditions in learning and teaching natural dyeing. Chandramouli always regretted not having had institutional support in his career after the death of Kamala Devi. "I must have met you ten years ago" was his way of putting it, and he said it more than once. With that support he would perhaps have been able to bring other resource persons to his own level, not only in the technical, practical and scholarly aspects, but in the philosophy that underlay his work, his acknowledgement of artisan communities as the source of his knowledge and his deeply held conviction that it was his duty and the duty of people like him to restore the community knowledge base.

Today, thanks to Chandramouli there are at least twenty or thirty individuals who have access to both the practice of natural dyeing and to the information stored in books and libraries. Now the next step is to establish firmly the principles and practices that will ensure that natural dyeing takes root and spreads within artisan communities. The past is a source of inspiratin and information, but new ways are needed to meet new challenges and changing circumstances. Specific techniques of information storage and sharing, specific teaching methods, in fact a whole new tradition has to be developed to build on and consolidate Chandramouli's life work.

Dastkar Andhra
September 1997

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Part 2 of Requiem for a Master

In those early days of our natural dyeing, we travelled to Penukonda & Hindupur in Anantapur district with Sir to teach cotton yarn dyeing to a group of girls and young women through a local organization, and to work with professional dye-houses dyeing silk for our silk saree project through the same organization. We used to carry bags of dye material with us on the train from Hyderabad, which had to be unloaded quickly at Penukonda during the one-minute halt there. Once we had 11 packages and the train came in to the station on a track away from the platform, which meant that we had to climb down to ground level, cross one set of tracks and then climb onto the platform, quite a feat of agility. Sir on such occasions would behave more like an eager schoolboy than a famous 60 year old consultant with a serious heart condition.

Teaching the girls was a pleasure. Though they were illiterate and natural dyeing was new to them, its basic vocabulary was familiar since it was like household cooking, and it was just a matter of learning the recipes. We worked out non-literate ways of weighing and measuring and they were on their way. The dye-houses were another matter. They were cynical about making the dyes fast and the Hindupur dyehouse made Annapurna & me tear out our hair; for the first time we encountered obstinate non-cooperation. The dyers there would not keep the yarn in the dye-bath on the fire for the 45 minutes required to get deep, fast colour. They would whisk it off in 10 minutes, so the colours were light and dye material wasted. Sir would not be upset. 'Never mind' was one of his favourite phrases. He excused others' faults though he was rigorous himself.

Chinnur was another of our early collaborations with Sir. In this former market town in Adilabad district we worked with a small group of 6 cotton weavers and a tassar weaver from Kusnapally, a nearby village. Sir initiated Dastkar Andhra's natural dyeing here, travelling uncomplainingly by second class on the train from Hyderabad to Mancherial, and from there only 35 kilometres but an hour by rattling country bus to Chinnur. The dyeing was done in a lean-to behind one of the weavers' houses using hand-pumped water from tube wells. The water here never gave us the reds we got in coastal Andhra. And in the beginning we had problems with fastness, but we and the weavers persisted, and slowly natural dyeing took root. Now, eight years later, this group of six makes a good living from natural dyed fabrics. And what we learnt here with Sir and the weavers is the basis of Dastkar Andhra's natural dyeing teaching programme today: How to share knowledge without falling into the trap of self-importance, how to pass on the respect the knowledge deserves without making it seem difficult or obscure.

more follows...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Here is part 1 of Uzramma's account of Dastkar Andhra's association with the great K V Chandramouli, Requiem for a Master:

The first experience we had of "Sir", K V Chandramouli, was when we took him to Eluru to teach natural dyeing to woolen carpet weavers. We had heard of him as the authority on natural dyeing and had persuaded the Andhra Pradesh Handicrafts Corporation to appoint him as a consultant. It was 1989, he had just retired from Government service, and Dastkar Andhra was a fledgling group working with artisans in Andhra. Annapurna was 22, an electronics engineer in revolt and a trained Carnatac singer. Salim was a driver & I was a retired housewife in my later forties. I had done some reading on natural dyeing in the old Bristish gazetteers but the other two were completely new not only to natural dyeing but also to any kind of craft production.

Those first workshops in Eluru set many of the traditions of our association with Sir. In those days artisans were not convinced of the value of natural dyeing and not prepared to put in the hard work it involved. They would wander off and Annapurna and Salim would be left to handle the wool. Sir was unfailingly cheerful, never fazed by lack of response, always ready to give his best and to teach whoever was there to learn. Clean to a fault himself he put up with grubby dak bungalow accommodation. In spite of his age and his heart condition - he was 62 and had already had two heart attacks - and his status as a world renowned specialist in natural dyes he cheerfully shared our bus and ricksha travel and ate uncomplainingly whatever food was available. The atmoshere of those workshops was full of enjoyment of each others' company, of the pleasure we got from learning and Sir from teaching. Waiting for the water to boil of the dyes to cook Annapurna would sing Kannada songs for Sir. Guruppa Chetty, a leading Kalamkari artist from Kalahasti and his son Niranjan who had known Sir since childhood and called him Tatha, grandfather, were also part of our team. Guruppa would recite verses from the Puranas and tell stories. That's how Annapurna and Salim started in natural dyeing.

In Eluru we worked with wool using hired cooking vessels that has to be scrubbed of grease before we started and of colour after we finished. We dyed at the roadside tap, drying the wool on the pavement. The weavers were sceptical until they saw the beautiful colours we got: blue from indigo, rusty red from madder root, yellow from myrobalan and pomegranate rind.

More to follow...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

We hope to introduce malkha to a larger audience in Hyderabad through the Akruthi Vastra show organized by the Crafts Council of Andhra Pradesh. CCAP has kindly offered us a free stall in their popular annual exhibition.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Among recent visitors to the malkha shop were Sagari & Madhoo of Anthra, an organization that promotes rural livestock breeds. Elana Dickson, a well-known textile designer, has been working with them to adapt some of the iconic 'gongadi', the traditional all-purpose blankets made by the shepherd community, for urban use. We plan to host the first show of these at the malkha shop in early October. The picture shows some of the gongadi spread on the floor of the shop.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Three versions of Vaishali's imli print have just come in

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Vogue article in the June issue that mentions malkha is headed Karma Clothing and is written by Mayank Mansingh Kaul. It is about fashion designers who are ecologically and ethically sensitive, or basetheir work on traditional craft. Apart from the Malkha Project Mayank writes about the work of Joyjit Talukdar, Sonali Sattar & Himanshu Dimri and Mandeep Nagi. Of course there are gorgeous visuals to go with the text.

There is also a full article on malkha by Brinda Gill in the April issue of the trade magazine Apparel.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It is gratifying when people who buy malkha tell us that they enjoyed wearing it and want more, as Richa Jayal has recently posted on Facebook, and our current problem is to make it available for such customers. A few malkha garments are now available in Fabindia, but Malkha Marketing Trust itself has only the one outlet in Hyderabad. One possibility would be to do serious net marketing, a step forward from the orders-by-mail that we do now. The catalogue that is being uploaded on the web is the full one of all our fabrics, and we will have to keep it updated on current stock. Should we have a separate site from where we can take orders? Or should we make the present site a singin' dancin' one which does everything?

Hmmm. Will have to think about it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

We're told malkha features in the June issue of Vogue India, but have yet to see the issue, presume it's part of the coverage of the Malkha Project series of joint shows by the trio of Mayank Mansingh Kaul, Peter D'Ascoli & Aneeth Arora, each of whom use malkha in very very different ways. The next one of the shows is due in Bangalore in early July, not quite sure where.

Malkha was also mentioned as part of Tarun Tahiliani's Spring/Summer 2011 collection in the April issue.

Comments welcome as usual.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Here is a picture taken by a recent visitor to Burgula, of the women weavers sizing a malkha warp

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Karm Marg through their business arm Jugaad uses small pieces of fabric as patchwork. We've sent them our left-over cut pieces which they will make into finished goods to be sold in our shop. The first lot has been made into 500 pouches to hold a bar of Sundaram soap and an Etikoppaka lathe turned lacquered wood top as wedding favours.

Here is a 20 year old picture of D Sani Babu of Etikoppaka lacqering a bowl on the lathe, and another one of the soaps being packed into the malkha patchwork pouches

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In the last few hundred years the weaving of cotton cloth in India on the handloom has had its ups and downs but has never died out. It has been weakened but not killed by mass-production on powerlooms. Powerlooms are forbidden by law to make 11 items which are to be reserved for handlooms, but they do so with impunity, while the State looks the other way. Bordered sarees are one example which are specifically reserved but are widely copied. While corporate brands have full protection of the state's law enforcement machinery, this is not available for the handloom! Shops that traditionally sold only handloom, like Nalli's in Chennai, are now full of powerloom sarees that imitate handloom, sold as handloom to unsuspecting customers. Since it is customary to sell sarees in a starched, tightly folded form, it is difficult to tell the imitations from the real thing in the shop, it is only when one wears powerloom that one notices the poor draping quality and harder feel. Dyes on powerloom cotton fabric also fade much quicker than on handloom.

So next time you go into a shop, ask specifically for handloom!

Friday, May 20, 2011

the first malkha sari

Many of the customers who came into the shop last month asked if we had sarees and yes, they're on the way we replied. Well the first warp is finally here, woven at the Pulagurtha Co-op in East Godavari. Here is a picure. The sari is heavy, weighing over 800 grams, and closely woven, in natural unbleached cotton with an indigo border. It doesn't crease and in spite of its weight is cool to wear.

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