Monday, February 27, 2012

After we posted the picture of the malkha baby we got a call from Priyanka in the US, to say that she wore sarees there, but didn't like the new trend towards the gauzy ones worn these days. She wants coloured malkha sarees and we have promised to make them for her. Coincidentally [isn't it strange how often it happens] not one but two customers came into the shop the same day asking for the same thing!

Actually coloured sarees are on order and we are also planning to print some.

The building to house the new malkha centre has now reached the exciting stage of erecting the trusses to hold the roof, and by the time you read this most of the 13 in the main building should be in place. Note the brilliant traditional technique of load distribution which enables low-cost, low resource, long-life ... and beautiful...structures.

Now that the problem of teakwood is resolved work on the main beam and doors & windows can begin.

Though at present there no buildings nearby, our centre will eventually be closely surrounded by cement-box neighbours [sigh] since our plot of land is quite small.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

MMT is hosting an exhibition of hand-painted Kalahasti Kalamkari from Thursday March 1 to Saturday March 3. The artworks are the work of Ramachandraiah, one of the senior artists and the specific attraction of these is that they are entirely painted with natural vegetable colours, unlike most of the usual ones, which use chemical blue. Actually it is a mistake to call them 'paintings', as the art involves a complex series -23 stages - of fabric treatment, drawing, dyeing, washing as well as painting, all done by hand.

Here is a brief note on the process:

The ancient craft of hand-painted narrative Kalamkari in Kalahasti dates back several centuries and involves both art and technique.

Kalahasti kalamkari began perhaps as early as the 1st century CE as backdrops and canopies for the deities in local temples, depicting stories from the Ramayana & Mahabharata and local legends. When Kamala Devi Chattopadhyay visited Kalahasti after Independence, she found just two artists practicing kalamkari, and persuaded one of them to teach the art to others through a government supported programme. At present there are about 30 artists practicing Kalahasti kalamkari, including the grandson of the original artist.

Kalahasti kalamkari involves a complex 23-stage process beginning with the treatment of cloth with myrobalan [harda, terminalia chebula]& milk, preparation of the dyes, drawing, painting, dyeing and several washings in running water at different stages. The colours used are mostly vegetable, through in recent times indigo has been replaced by chemical blue.

Recently too other stories have begun to be depicted, such as the Panchatantra, as well as non-traditional stories.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wendell exhibited at Bio-Fach in Nuremberg, and this is a quote from M R Subramani's report in Business Line of February 15:

'The icing on the cake came with the display of popular designer Wendell Rodricks' Eco Goa Collection. The uniqueness of the display was that the fabrics on display were made of Malkha cotton. Most of the fabric and dyes are made of natural leaves, fruit skins, flowers and tree bark.

Bowled over by the response from those who had gathered, Rodricks said that the cotton is spun into threads in the cotton fields and not baled for spinning by mills as is done for regular cotton.'

Of course it is the dyes and not the fabric that is made from 'natural leaves, fruit skins, flowers and tree bark'