Little journals have been a part of my life’s journey for a long time now. They hold my scribblings, caricatures, folk art, quotes, thoughts and poems and just about anything I pick up from here and there… This page here is from a rainy afternoon in 2013… A new collection of prints had been playing in my mind and it just wouldn’t come together. So there I was, staring at these 2 pages of doodles and many others, hoping for that moment of epiphany….
Indigo is an ancient dye and can be traced back to as far as 5000 BC. It is an integral part of the dyeing traditions in India, which is believed to be the oldest center of indigo cultivation in the Old World. It was a primary supplier of indigo to Europe as early as the Greco-Roman era. The association of India with indigo is reflected in the Greek word for the dye, indikón (ινδικόν, Indian). The Romans latinized the term to indicum, which passed into Italian dialect and eventually into English as the word indigo. During the colonial times, British established a monopoly on the cultivation and trade of Indigo. It was one of the most profitable commodities of the East India Company, so valuable that it was referred to as Blue Gold. Other European countries had no access to Indigo from India and to resolve this rather peculiar problem, they set about to experiment ways in which to manufacture Indigo in laboratories. Several years and 18 milion franks later, a German company named BASF succeeded in the manufacture of synthetic Indigo.
Since the invention of synthetic Indigo, world gradually moved away from natural indigo and thereby cultivation and use of natural Indigo fell back into tiny pockets of the world where traditional textile dyeing practices persisted. As we become aware of environmental hazards caused by synthetic dyes, we are turning back more and more into natural dyeing practices. A renewed interest of the dyes of the ancient is noted now.
Indigo (nil) naturally occurring dye stuff obtained from various plants, particularly those of genus Indigofera. They are found to grow wild in India, Central America and China. Indigo is also present in the juices of Isatis tinctoria or woad plant cultivated in Britain. The natural Indigo dye stuff available at Fabric Treasury is from Indigo plantations of South India, and is available in both the cake and powder form.
Indigo dyeing is a multi step process, depending on the color shade of blue one hopes to achieve. Once mastered, indigo dyeing can be done at home, within minimal environmental impact. This is the best dye to achieve amazing hues of natural blues which has a way of capturing the eye.
Summer is beating down with a vengeance and I squirreled away some of the Summer Ice linen fabrics for my summer dress projects. So I made dresses in 2 colors – pink and blue. Styled to fall slightly away from the body, these 2 dresses are turning to be my favorites. Now, those of you all who know me will remember that when I find a pattern I am comfortable in, you will be seeing more of the same style on me. Much to the annoyance of mumsey, she is not particularly fond of my obsession with making one too many dresses in the same pattern. She loves this style though. Oh well, for me, if something feels good on me, why bother chasing down change just for the sake of it, eh?
Summer Ice Linen is handwoven with 100 Lea belgian linen in a 90 x 90 weave. This fabric is as light as air and has a faint nubbiness about it. Perfect feel for hot summer days.
Ahimsa Silk Knit Jersey is beautiful inside out. Silk yarn for this fabric is produced through a patented process which does not harm silk worms. Ahimsa Silk Knit Jersey is made only from cocoons discarded after the silk moth has naturally emerged. Yarn is spun from these cocoons and thereafter machine knitted into this lovely fabric. Silk retrieved through this process is not as lustruous as the traditionally made ones, but it more than compensates with its alternative style appeal. With a smooth texture and wonderful drape, this fabric is suitable for fine fashions.
Discover Ahimsa Silk Jersey Knits in VINTAGE MEMORIES palette at FabricTreasury. Ahimsa Silk Knit Jersey fabrics at FabricTreasury is 100% silk. It does not contain viscose or other fibers.
Menchijimi or cotton crepe is a divine fabric for summer fashions and decor. The shibos (crinkled effect) in cotton crepe is created by weaving high twist yarns in 20s – 100s. As the thread count goes higher, shibos get finer. At thread counts of 80 – 100s, shibos are so fine and the fabric so soft, they are suitable for making lovely summer dresses and nightwear. The puckered construction of cotton crepe helps skin breathe and keep cool during hot summers, much similar to seersucker fabrics.
FabricTreasury stocks a fine selection of cotton crepes in counts of 20s – 100s.
Cotton crepe curtains are quite useful in keeping summer’s heat out and letting light through. Team it up with bamboo blinds for instant summer glamour.
Yesterday, my new silks arrived from Don’s dye shop. Quite a bit of uncharted waters for me here with batiked silks and understandably, there has been much nail biting and excitement. With colors, there’s always that slip between intended and achievable. Holy molly! I am in love! These colors just pop right out at me. My personal favorites are Rosso and Aqua.
Over here is a beautiful block printed collar dress by Katie of SCHWURLIE. She takes you through each step of making this dress. So easy to follow through and sew one for yourself. Head on over to her blog for construction details.
Armed with google maps, iPad and car, I ventured out of the hotel at 12:30 PM with a somewhat vague itinerary. Visit to KSIC factory and outlet shop was definitely on the cards, but beyond that my day was open. I’d take it as it comes.
Reaching KSIC was easy enough and I pulled into their tree lined green campus by around 12:45 PM. The friendly gate keeper sent me off to their factory entrance. I signed in and after the customary questions – where am I from, do I have a camera etc, I was inside the gates and walking up the path to start my factory tour.
I discover that I am pretty much left on my own to explore. This is a positive thing, I say to myself while I walk into the first room where they are soaking silk yarn by the hanks and hanging them up to dry. There’s no bright lights and a sole worker goes about hanging newly soaked silk yarn hanks. I believe this is some sort of softening process that is happening here. And it is about now I understand that the process at this place starts with silk yarn. Spinning happens elsewhere and I intent to go there on my next visit to Mysore. But for now, let’s get back to our story.
Beyond this room, I can hear machinery at work and went along to the door at the back to see what’s happening. Rows upon rows of machines are busy winding silk hanks on to bobbins. I see people assigned to each of these machines and now I am beginning to think that I need to find a guide to help me around. Well, how much can a muddle head pretending to be a fabric connoisseur make out of this obviously technical process…hmm…
I managed to find a kind soul who walked me around and explained what the busy machines were doing. Step 1 – wind yarn into bobbins. Step 2 – Twist yarns from 2 bobbins together at 1400rpm to make a 2-ply thread. Step 3 – Twist the yarn again at 2400rpm to make the 2-ply thread, well, more tightly 2-plied. And this is happening over rows and rows of machines with their individual little bobbin twisters. Busy little bodies just whirring away!
Next, I step into a corner where these bobbins are steamed to smoothen the 2-ply yarn. When they come out of the steamer, the yarn is visibly smoother and lies straight. Before steaming, they’d just curl up due to the tension created by twisting. After their steam bath, the yarns looked quite happy and relaxed to move on into their glorious life as a GI marked Mysore Silk saree.
KSIC Mysore silk is not a yarn dyed fabric. Dyeing comes much later, after the weaving is complete. I saw a floor full of automated weaving machines busy making gold zari brocade edged saree lengths. Gold zari bobbins are fixed at either ends of the warp and each machine is set to weave in a different brocade design on the selvedges. Gold zari brocade, the ancient weaving technique is the only decoration that a KSIC Mysore Silk saree gets. No embroidery, no crystals, no over the top nothing. Just pure gold zari brocade, it is such a refined, regal garment.
Woven saree lengths are sent to the dyeing room where a 4 hour automated dyeing process gets colors into the fabric. Dye vats have a roller mechanism which helps turn the fabric through the dye mix at an even pace. Temperature in the vat is electronically set to gradually increase from 0 to 95 degree centigrade during this 4 hour long activity. After a quick drying process and steam press, individual 6 yard sarees are cut from the rolls. Each saree is uniquely numbered, stamped with the authenticity seal, hand tagged with a product details card and sent off to the inspection folks. Here’s where they ensure that only the very perfect ones reach company owned showrooms all over India.
Try as I may, my feet did prove it had a say when there’s possibilities for shopping. I pass on the blame to my feet for walking me into the factory shop and for the damages I incurred on my wallet. Here’s the shop, it is sheer eye candy!
GI 11 – KSIC Silks has been awarded Geographical Indication (GI) Registration for Mysore silk and is considered the best crepe silk in India. It uses pure zari that has 0.65 percent of gold content and about 65 percent of silver content. This establishment was founded in 1912 by His Highness Krishnaraja Wadiyar Bahadur, Maharaja of Mysore. Factory was designed and built by Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya. This factory is currently run by Karnataka State Industries Corporation, owned by Government of Karnataka. Happy employees, well looked after by the management helps run this heritage establishment at a profit year on year.
Read more here – https://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2013/indigo/
A video by Daniel Jacobs with an improvised musical score playing in the background. Watch beautiful Peacocks come to life in vivid colors in this amazing video.
I love videos showcasing artisan talent. I believe a cinematographer’s eye is essential to make a good video about anything at all. I appreciate the way this video is made, with a soft background score, the printers moving the screen along and swiping inks on to the base cloth with an easy rhythm which comes from years of practice.