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Exploring the Art of Natural Dyeing and Traditional Block Printing in a Quaint Village Workshop

Nestled in a vibrant village, teeming with bustling markets, charming storefronts, and vividly painted buildings, our collaboration with a small family-run natural dyeing facility unfolds a story of craftsmanship and tradition. Housed on the ground floor of the owner's residence, this intimate workshop provides a personal insight into the lives of master artisans.

At the heart of our artisanal journey lies the meticulous process of hand-spinning yarns, followed by hand-dyeing using natural minerals and plants. In this family-run workshop, a spectrum of hues emerges through a harmonious blend of indigo (blue), chebula (black), madder (red), and pomegranate (yellow).

The dyeing process commences with the preparation of raw yarns, involving soaking and washing to release natural starches, enhancing their color absorbency. Circular threads, suspended on metal rods, are introduced to meticulously measured dye vats. A rhythmic sequence of soaking, flipping, twisting, and aerating ensures uniform dye concentration, with the process repeated until the desired color intensity is achieved. The yarns undergo multiple rinses, a spin to remove excess water, and are finally hung to air dry.

Our commitment to traditional craftsmanship extends to wood block printing, an ancient method where hard-carved wood blocks are dipped in ink and pressed onto cloth. Collaborating with various block printing workshops, including a family-run establishment with a 500-year history in Gujarat, and another specializing in the historic Kalamkari textiles, each season sees the creation of unique block designs.

The wood blocks used in printing are crafted by an award-winning collective of skilled artisans, ensuring eco-friendly processes using natural dyes extracted from plants and minerals. The fabrics undergo a series of washes involving a unique technique of twisting, swinging, and slapping against a wall until the water achieves clarity, indicating thorough rinsing of mud and dyes. A final sun-bake completes the process, resulting in textiles that are as unique as the artisans behind the blocks.

In this artisanal haven, the finished products stand as testaments to the artistry and craftsmanship, where no yard is identical, making each piece an exceptional creation.

Source: Umber & ochre

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