Tag Archives: textiles

Lucknow and The Lanes

The last week of our trip was spent in Lucknow with the hospitable and generous Tandon family whom Denny has been working with for over 40 years. The family have a long history in the textile trade as merchants of the traditional Lucknow chikan. This is fine white on white embroidery which Denny Andrews has always sold in the form of beautiful kurtas and night dresses. Ramesh, who took Denny in, all those years ago, when she had heat stroke, became an invaluable friend and fountain of knowledge on Indian textiles. He  took her all over India to seek out traditional textile production and they brought the fabrics back to Lucknow to be made into clothes. Raja, his son, now leads the quest for fabrics and the production and export process.

As decisions are made and tailors cut samples in the living room, Ramesh’s wife, Preeti and Raja’s wife, Pinky look after us all and cook wonderful meals.

A visit to the Lanes is always an essential part of our visit. A series of narrow medieval streets are crammed full of life and cubby holes containing purveyors of everything from ribbon to silver, perfume to eyes of the Gods tempt you in. It is untouched by tourism and a slice of Indian life at it’s most vibrant.

I have been curious about India’s diverse and ancient culture and religions for a while and love the shrines found in nearly every shop and home. The Tandons, whose family shrine can be seen at the top of this post, kindly sent me home with a Ganesh which has been dressed with some decorations from the Lanes as a fond reminder of their hospitality and India.

Ganesh

Advertisements

Prints from the Fridge

Last Sunday was one of those wonderful, sunny Spring days, warm enough to eat outside and giving a taste of the Summer, I hope is on it’s way.

The weekend was made all the nicer as we had my three borrowed children (I dislike the whole step thing) gathered together for a birthday. The girls were in a creative mood and having found some old fruit and vegetables, lurking in dark corner’s of the fridge, I gathered some pieces of cotton, silk and paper to work with. These were then painted, sprayed, folded and rolled around various vegetation and layered in a steamer.  Later the bundles were unfolded to reveal lovely colours and patterns, all from fridge waste, including blueberries, red cabbage leaves and onion skins.

Visiting the Masters in Kutch

I’m still working on the a new website for Denny Andrews.  The photographs of the new seasons garments and shawls remind me of last years buying trip to India.

Always an adventure, I love traveling on Indian railways. Long train journeys, often overnight  in two tier second class air conditioned.  You are provided with a paper bag containing sheets, pillowcase and towel to make your bed. Meals are brought to you and in between there are always chai wallahs and snacks being sold. Families bundle themselves into small spaces and the carriages burst with people and luggage. The Indians have the capacity to sleep on a shelf in a sari, stay amazingly still and leave the train in the morning looking serene and composed. I on the other hand toss and turn, get tied up in the sheets, look crumpled and baggy eyed and emerge from my cocoon looking, well, less than serene. Still, I believe it is the best way to travel to  experience the luxury of hours spent reading and looking out of windows at vast landscapes and the extremities of life.

After a couple of days in Delhi our first adventure was a 27 hour train journey west to Bhuj, Kutch a part of Gujarat. The purpose of this trip was to visit the Ajrak printers in Dhamadka and the weavers of Bhujodi. Gujarat has an amazing textile tradition, renowned for its printing, weaving and intricate embroidery.

The Khatri family are generations of master printers and dyers and represent the longest and finest of printing traditions in the world.  As we are shown around advice and knowledge are generously shared as I take pictures and ask numerous questions about process. Though they have been supplying Denny with wonderful block prints for years some things have changed. Synthetic indigo has taken the place of natural indigo fermentation vats and alizarin for madder. Other vegetable dyes such as pomegranate, turmeric and even rhubarb are still evident.  Myrobalan is still used for it’s tannins to mordant cotton, which with iron rust gives black. Traditional and complex methods of mordent and resist printing continue, with pastes made from lime and tree gum, tamarind and alum.  Though things are changing business is thriving.  There are concerns, however, about ground water quality and levels since the earthquake in 2001 which devastated the region. Lack of water does remain a threat to traditional dyeing practices all over India.

Back in the village we are shown new bedspreads designs, printed and dyed with rhubarb and indigo on organic cotton grown in Gujarat. Hand printed fabrics in indigo, Indian red and Kasis (iron and tannin) are chosen for suits, dresses and shirts.  They show us printing on both organic and non organic cotton and explain how the organic cotton seems to improve the take up of dyes and intensify the colours. After a very informative and productive day and a  lunch of chciken, goat and vegetable curries with rotis seated on the floor of the office we leave with our bundle of sample fabrics and cotton stoles.

The next day a drive to Bhujodi to visit master weavers and choose shawls and stoles. We are shown yarn dyed this time in indigo fermentation vats in the ground . They are kept to an even temperature by burying the vats in goat dung which keep them cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

The master weaver noticed a shawl that Denny was wearing. One which she bought in 1996. He recognized it as his work and so a wonderful reunion took place followed by a celebration meal seated on the floor of his home. Wonderful hospitality in such a beautiful place.

A visit to the legendary, Mr Wazir, who shows his amazing collection of textiles to those who share his passion and might help him with his dream of opening a museum.

Mr Wazir

Mr Wazir

Next day we head off on the 12. 25 for the next18 hour train journey of books, twisted sheets, calls of the chai wallahs walking the corridors and food sellers calling “ommelit, cutlit “. In the morning the Pink city awaits.

Inspiration and familiar faces

Took my silk stoles for an outing to a Textile Fair at Bisley village hall on Saturday. I sold my Japanese indigo stole, even though I was determined not to, but a lovely lady fell in love with it. I was also promoting my workshops and there was quite a lot of interest in the eco bundling which was encouraging. India Flint breezed through Stroud this summer and many people who were interested in the process but either couldn’t afford or get a place want to know more.

Ann, one of the lovely workshopees from my last workshop in Herefordshire appeared and we had a lovely chat. I think I will be seeing more of her next year on a mud resist and eco – bunding course. There were a few familiar faces from other workshops and other connections and it was lovely to renew contact.

I also spent time talking to the very interesting and knowledgeable Martin Conlan of Slow Loris who had wonderful textiles from south west China. Intricate indigo and wax pieces, tribal hemp, wedding embroideries and the most lovely woven pieces made using rags which really appealed to me. They had the same aesthetic appeal and spirit as Japanese Boro textiles. The one I particularly liked sold before I could summon up the justification to buy it. How much for inspiration?

We talked about indigo and hand weaving and the rapid changes that are occuring in SE Asia and the rapidly rising prices of textiles. He had some lovely Chinese decorated  chinese folded thread books or Zhen Xian Bao. I have had an idea to incorporate making something similar in a workshop.

IMG_0245
They have lots of origami type of pouches and compartments to hold threads, needles embroidery and keep sakes.
I spent yesterday working on a newspaper prototype while not as beautiful was very enjoyable to make.