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Monday, 25 March 2013

Traditional Indian Craft of Hand Block Printed "Bagh" Fabrics

In my recent short trip to India, I came across the 'Bagh' block printed fabrics in beautiful traditional patterns. I was amazed to learn the laborious process involved in 'creating' this handmade fabric. And I just had to share this with you. I refer to these as 100% handmade fabrics as all the processes involved are undertaken by hand, right from the creation of fabrics to designing the stamps, printing, dyeing and finishing. This amazing art, carried down from father to son as part of family tradition and legacy, is slowly dying as it cannot possibly compete with mass production and globalisation. Please help preserve and promote this unique dying art!



The unique traditional Indian techniques of hand printing the fabrics have always interested me. In my earlier posts, I had talked about the batik and block printing techniques. The process used in printing the 'Bagh' block printed fabric is very different from the regular Indian 'block print' fabrics. This not only involves 'block' printing the fabrics using hand carved wood block stamps but also several cycles of dying the fabrics.

 Bagh Block Printed Fabric, 100% cotton available at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/charancreations

INTRODUCTION:

This process which is very tedious and time consuming, originated about 700-900yrs. ago and is exclusive to the small town of ''Bagh'', located in Madhya Pradesh, India. Bagh printed fabrics are printed manually with hand carved wood blocks using vegetable dyes, derived from natural plant and mineral sources, using water from the ''Baghini'' river  ( in Madhya Pradesh, India) which is said to have properties/minerals which bring out the distinct bright colors that Baghprints are famous for.  

Paisley Bagh Block Printed Fabric, 100% cotton for sale at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/charancreations

PROCESS:

The fabrics used for Bagh printing are all natural - 100% cotton, silk, or jute blends, usually woven on hand looms. The long process is divided into different sections for easy understanding.

Preparation of Fabric:

First the cloth is washed to free it of any starch or surface treatments and dried in sun. It is then dipped repeatedly in a solution of castor oil, centura and goat droppings [natural manure]. These substances react with each other to generate heat, which makes the fibers more absorbant. After the
cloth dries, it is kept in a solution of tarohar and harada powder (types of Indian plants) and left to dry in sun. It is necessary not to dry it in shade because the background color of the cloth becomes green rather than the desired yellowish. After completion of this process, the cloth is now ready for printing.

Beautiful Paisley Bagh Block Printed Fabric, 100% cotton for sale at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/charancreations

Printing:

The designs are printed using hand carved wood blocks (discussed in previous posts). The two main dye used are red & black. The 'dye' paste is made by mixing the dye with dhavda gum. The color of the printed design is light at first, but it darkens immediately after as the fabric soaks it in. After the printing is finished, the fabric is left on pebbles to dry in the sun. The idea is to dry it from both sides, outer as well as inner. After this, it is again washed, this time in river water, and left to dry.



Dying:


To achieve the 
characteristic contrast and finishing, the fabric passes though another process of dyeing. 
For this alizarin and dhavadi flowers are boiled together in big copper containers, concealed in a cement structure under which a fire using wood, leaves, etc. is made. The printed cloth is put in these vessels and is left to boil there for five to six hours. The red
printed portion, which has alum, takes its color by reacting with alizarin. At the same time, the dhavadi flower works like bleach on the unprinted portions, which have been dyed with harada to make it white after boiling.



The dyes used are prepared from natural sources. Here are a few:


�� Red: For making red dye, a solution of alum and the powder of tamarind
seed is boiled and left to cool in a plastic vessel. This solution is then filtered
through fine cloth. For deep color dye less viscous solution is used and for
fine printing thick solution is used.
�� Black: Black dye is prepared by mixing alum and iron ore.
�� Violet: For this indigo is used.
�� Yellow: For this turmeric and harada are used.


After this process, through which the cloth gets clear red, black and white colors, it is 
left to dry in sun.






Resources: 
http://www.aiacaonline.org, h
ttp://www.fibre2fashion.com






Saturday, 1 October 2011

Indian Batik – Technique used in Printing

I my previous post,’ Indian Batik – Another Ancient Art of Printing on Textiles’, I talked a bit about introduction to its history, methods, equipment and stages.  Taking it further, I’ll talk in details the stages and technique used in Batik printing here.
Batik painting in Black and Red

The creation of batik involves three main stages- process of waxing, dyeing and dewaxing.

The ideal mixture for batik wax is 30 per cent beeswax and 70 per cent paraffin wax. Cotton and pure silk are the best fabrics for Batik as these are strong enough to bear the heat and wax.  The weave of the cloth should not be too close, and the fabric should be translucent when held in front of a light. Fabrics are first washed thoroughly to rid of starch before the dying begins.  In general, the final design must be conceived before the picture is begun. The design is traced and then the fabric is stretched on wood frame. The parts of the design to be white, for example must be waxed at the same time before any subsequent dyeing. Molten wax is either applied with thin brush or tjanting pen is used to achieve very fine lines.  Wax is filled in the ‘bowl’ of the pen and it flows via the small hole in the spout to the cloth.
Using Tjanting Pen to apply wax
After the first waxing the fabric is dipped into a dye bath whose color is the lightest tone of those to be used. Only cold dyes are used, so wax remains intact on the design. When the piece has dried, we see an area of white and an area of cloth that is the color of the first dyeing. Wax is now applied to those parts in which we wish to retain the first color, and the entire fabric is immersed in the second dye bath whose color is darker in tone than the first. This process is repeated until the darkest tone required in the final design has been achieved. While applying wax, care must be taken that it doesn’t get over heated or it’ll catch fire.
Applying wax on the fabric 
In batik the correction of mistakes, in most cases, is impossible. The Painter is not limited in any way in the variety of colors he uses and juxtaposes. In case of batik, however, each color used is significantly changed by the proceeding color; or at least it is certainly affected by the color "underneath". The only pure color is the first one, so all other colors used are mixtures, determined largely by the first color, or the first strong color. Therefore, it is very important to have a complete understanding about color mixing.

After the final dying, the fabric is boiled in water to remove the wax. Then it is washed with soap and water. When the fabric has dried it is placed between sheets of absorbent paper and a hot iron applied, to completely melt away any remaining wax.  As the sheets of paper absorb the wax they are replaced by fresh sheets until the wax is completely removed. At this point the final design is seen clearly for the first time.
Batik Saree Border in Graduating hues
The dyes used for this are natural and derived from barks of trees, leaves, flowers and minerals. The indigo blue was one of the earliest dyes to be used. Blue for example, was obtained from indigo, while orange and red were from henna. Yellow was from turmeric and lilac and mauve from logwood. Black was created by burning iron in molasses and cochineal from insects.

The colors in Batik are much more resistant to wear than those of painted or printed fabrics because the cloth is completely immersed in dye and the areas not protected by resist are allowed to absorb hues to the extent that the colors do not easily fade.


Because of the tedious process of dyeing and waxing this art is declining and giving way to machine printed textiles

Beautiful "Horses' painting with Batik

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Indian Batik – Another Ancient Art of Printing on Textiles

The word batik actually means 'wax writing'. Batik, is the way of decorating fabric by using a manual wax resist dyeing process.  Traditional Batik process is known to be used in many countries like Indonesia, Japan, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal and India. The process varies slightly depending on the country. Here I am going to talk about the Indian Batik.
Indian Folk Scene in Batik


Traditional Indian Elephant


The history of Indian batik can be traced as far back as 2000 years.  Infact, this art of printing on fabrics originated in India.  Indians are known to use resist method of printing designs on cotton fabrics long before any other nation had even tried it.  Initially wax and even rice starch were used for printing on fabrics.
Indian Batik Art


Batik involves decorating cloth by covering a part of it with a coat of wax and then dyeing the cloth. The waxed areas keep their original color and when the wax is removed the contrast between the dyed and un-dyed areas makes thepattern. There are four basic stages she uses to produce a finished Batik painting: Waxing, Dyeing, Scraping, & Ironing.  It is a simple process but a demanding one.

Tjanting Pens


Until recently batik was made for dresses and tailored garments only but modern batik is livelier and brighter in the form of murals, wall hangings, paintings, household linen, and scarves. Batik is created in several ways. In splash method the wax is splashed or poured onto the cloth. The screen-printing method involves a stencil.  And the traditional hand painting one in which wax is applied with a very thin brush or tjanting pen. Tjanting pens or Canting pens are used where very fine lines are required in the pattern. The beauty of batik lies in its simplicity and  some of the best effects in batik are often achieved by chance.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Color of the Year- HONEYSUCKLE!

Pantone LLC, the global authority on color and provider of professional color standards for the design industries, announced  Honeysuckle (PANTONE 18-2120), as the color of the year for 2011.




This  vibrant, energetic hue is also a dominant color in Fall Winter 2011 Fashions. I am so glad Honeysuckle is back in vogue....its always been one of my favorite color. In between red and pink, this hue possesses the qualities of both :  the 'femininity' &  softness of pink and vigor & energy of Red. 
This uplifting and dynamic reddish pink is perfect color to ward off those blues! Its nostalgic yet encouraging  & uplifting; sweet an& Delicious yet strong & powerful! 


It will surely produce a healthy glow when worn by men or women. This 'Alive' color is striking & eye catching, perfect for both day & night. It works great in womens' apparel, accessories and cosmetics as well as  men's shirts, ties and sports wear. Its not just restricted to fashion wear but also interior spaces.  Use of honeysuckle patterned cushions, bed spreads, throws, table top accessories, or small appliances would add a lively flair to any room. Or you can paint a wall or a section in any room to create a dynamic burst of energy. An entire room painted in Honeysuckle though,  would make it over whelming and over powering. 
So, go ahead and experiment with this vigorous, engaging hue. 


Here's a lovely collection of Honeysuckle items that I've curated. To read more about the featured items or to shop, follow this link:
http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?name=collections&op=details&cid=27959

Sunday, 25 September 2011

'In the Fall'

I had casually entered one of my Necklace sets for a monthly challenge last month on Shannon's blog :http://shannonproductions.blogspot.com/p/jewelry-making-challenge.html and completely forgot about it, until I received an e-mail from her saying that I was the winner for that challenge. Yippee!! I was very thrilled. Inspired and bubbling with motivation I decided to enter her next challenge: A project featuring the fall colors: amber, burnt orange or fierce orange and red. Since this is not limited to jewelry, I decided to create an Artwork. I've known as a tight painter, so this time I decided to loosen up a bit and create something different. And this is what I came up with:


I had so much fun painting this. I have used varied things to create this mixed media artwork, 'In the Fall' like clay, plaster of Paris, my hand carved wood block stamps from India (that have been shoved away for years), rubber stamps, and fabric (I tore off my husband's T-shirt for this.......lol!  and the best part is that he doesn't know about it just yet! I hope he'll be happy to see his clothing transformed into an artwork :)


Oh and this is my Necklace set that came out a winner from last month's challenge:



Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Trendy, Tantalizing Teals

TEAL, one of my favorites and a prominent color for Fall/Winter 2011 fashions. Deep Teal, a strong, blue-toned green, suggests ocean depths and the color of the sky as daylight descends into darkness. Inspired by this rich color, I have created a Collection of lovely teal items ranging from softer, subtle tones to deeper shades of teal. Enjoy!!

To view this collection on the Artfire website or purchase any of the items featured, follow this link:http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?name=collections&op=details&cid=27760

Monday, 12 September 2011

Process Used in Traditional Indian Textile Block Printing

I talked about the Indian hand carved wood blocks in my previous post. Today, I am going to share with you the process that is, traditionally used to print lovely patterns on the textiles.

Block printing is an ancient Indian art that dates as far back as 12th century. Traditionally, hand carved wood block stamps were used to print on textiles. The art of block printing is very unique and labor intensive process, as it makes every piece of cloth one of a kind and different from others, which cannot be achieved with modern printing techniques using automated machinery. What makes this technique exquisite is the fact that the design has to be first carved onto the wooden block by hand, and then executed on the fabric.


Traditional block printing was done using environment friendly dyes, derived from vegetables,plants, minerals etc. These pigments were mixed with kerosene oil and binder which helps in fixing the colors to the fabric.

First of all, the fabric to be printed is thoroughly washed to make is free of any starch. Then it is dyed to the desired color, if required. Once completely dry, fabric is stretched onto the printing table and secured to it with the help of pins. Care should be taken that there are no ripples in the fabric.



The dyes to be used are placed in trays. These are kept on the uppermost shelf on wooden trolleys while the blocks are put on the lower shelf. Printer drags the trolley along as he works.

If the design requires the use of three, four or more colors in the pattern, the outline block is used first, usually in the darkest color. The block is dipped in the color and pressed hard on the fabric to get a good impression. Then rest of the blocks are carefully placed on the first impression to fill in the other colors, one by one . A point on the block serves as a guide for the repeat impressions.

After the printing is complete, the fabric is dried in sun to fix the colors. Fabric is then rolled in wads of newspapers to prevent the fabric layers from adhering to each other and steamed in boilers constructed for the purpose. After steaming, the material is washed thoroughly in large quantities of water and dried in the sun, after which it is finished by ironing out single layers, which fix the color permanently.
India has been renowned for its hand block printed and dyed textiles in cotton and silk. It is the essence of India and the crafts that make India stand out in the world and skill passed through many generations and should be preserved. Block Printing is one of the numerous arts and crafts that are slowly dyeing and need to be renewed and brought back to life.