October 28, 2012

Meet the Artisans at R.B Fabrics

R.B Fabrics is based out of Jodhpur, Rajasthan, established 26 years ago in 1986 by Abdul's father. They specialize in tie n dye processes and make a variety of products ranging from scarves, sarong, stoles and bags to cushion covers, pillow covers, quilts, bed covers, table covers, runners and table napkins. R.B Farbrics has come a long way from working as a small block printing unit to partnering with the likes of Anokhi, AIACA and many more. It now provides livelihood to 25 men and women in it's region. The best part - for the first time ever, we're introducing the actual artisans who craft these beautiful tie n die cushions and curtains! 

Step 1: A regular un-dyed, unbleached cloth is tied up in different patterns before dipping into the dye. 

Above: Farida beginning to craft a new curtain

Step 2: This tied up cloth is bought for dying into desirable colors. These dyes are made using fast and azo free (non-carcinogenic) colors. Dyes like remazol are dissolved in boiled water and then blended with color fixative so that they don't run after or during washes. 
Above:  Mohammed Ismail and Mohammed Yusuf

Step 3: If the design calls for more than 2 colors in it, the dyed cloth is tied all over once again and re-dyed to get the necessary effects. Some hard work eh! It is a very time consuming process and takes anywhere between 8 to 18 hours for one spool alone.

Meet the other artisans in Abdul's team!
Lakshmi twining away meters and meters of cloth
Jannat Bano peeping through her bifocals, all engrossed.
Both picture above: Razia Bano

Imtiyaz Ali
Sometimes it's just impossible to comprehend that pieces of such extreme perfection and beauty that we use to beautify our own homes and lives simply come from humble homes such as theirs! It's worth giving a second thought to the lives of these artisans who continue to fight their battle with industrialization, struggling to keep our culture and the very essence of being human alive! Join us in supporting the artisans!!

If you are an artisan cluster or an organization and would like to have your artisans featured on our blog, please please write to us! We would love to hear from you!

October 2, 2012

Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing

Jaipur has been my mom's hometown, so as kids it used to be often that we'd visit to spend time with grandparents. At the time, as a kid, it  wasn't really a city of my dreams - in fact i always found it dirty and hot and cribbed about all the things that were wrong with it.  I'd rather go visit a city that had the Essel World (India's Disney Land in Mumbai) or Appu ghar in Delhi, but never to the oh! so boring palaces and museums of Jaipur. The funny part, that same visit now feels like a surreal dream sitting here in the US even though i so badly want to just wander and explore the beautiful city all over again with this new found passion! Mom's family moved out of the city almost a decade ago, about time when i had just started my career as an architect and sigh! how i regret not having taken advantage of the several past visits back then! 

Well, one of the UNESCO's award winning museums for 'Cultural Preservation', amongst so many others that i missed visiting in Jaipur is the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing. This place is very close to my heart because of the history associated with it, especially since the inception of The Green Elephant. Anokhi is an initiative of founder director Rachel Bracken-Singh and husband Pritam Singh. For the right use of this palace after renovation (by Pritam's father John Singh) back in 1989, several concepts were reviewed and a plan for developing it as a museum for block printing was put together. This museum is now dedicated for the preservation, collection and interpretation of the endangered craft of block printing. It definitely seems to have contributed a great deal in raising the appreciation of this fragile but living art form in the eyes of the world since it's inception. The Anokhi Museum hosts a permanent exhibit, a temporary gallery along with several educational programs and workshops that enable visitors to experience the craft of block printing hands on.

Anokhi has now grown to become a brand of its own that offers a diverse and delectable variety of products ranging from apparel like skirts, pants, tops, shirts, kurtis, coats to home textiles and other accessories. "Anoki's designs blend contemporary sensibilities with traditions of excellence." - truly. Well here's from where i'll let Anokhi's seriously beautiful products  along with some phenomenal product photography do the talking by themselves. Hope you'll love them as much as i do!

My favoritest is this beautiful, free flowing red dress! Which is yours?

Photo Credits: Anokhi Website

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