Sewing and textiles with Ann
Gujarat is a popular destination for textile tours, but other than that, its not a big tourist destination and even some of my best travelled friends need to be told whereabouts it is in India. Its as far west as you can go, bordering Pakistan to the west and the Arabian Sea to the south.
I did not go on a textile tour. This blog post is based on a rather speedy visit to a block printing business that has what I think is properly called a ‘Geographical Index tag’ best explained by saying its like champagne; this type of block printing is restricted to coming from this region.
Much cotton grows in Gujarat. We drove through a fair bit of the State and I would estimate that about 25% of the fields had cotton growing. We passed some cotton processing factories with heaps of white bolls waiting. We also saw some weaving, although it was small scale and seemed to be tourist orientated.
Finally we visited the dyeing and block printing place. Keen to get pictures, I missed some of the commentary, but here is the gist of it……
The woven and cut cotton is washed.
It is dyed using mineral dyes mainly, although there is evidence of indigo being present, which is a vegetable dye. This was good news, and might be what gets it the Geographical Index tag. I was disappointed when watching dying in Indonesia that the dyes were all chemical dyes. All dyes seem to generate mess!! Indeed, I was planning to do some batik work at home this year, but will only dye outside, and I was never free on a bright enough day to be messing with dye in the garden!
Here are some of the dyed fabrics being laid in the sun to dry. This would seem to be quite normal for the region. I noticed a article in Selvedge Issue 66 which included similar pictures. In fact there’s quite a lot about Indian textiles in Issue 66.
We had to ask the chap doing the printing to stop and pose for photos! He was going so fast that pictures of the actual process were all blurring.
Here are some examples of printed fabric, lying in a heap on the ground.
And here is what I bought from a shop which was basically a house full of piles of cloth. They were prepared to cut to length, even though most fabric seemed to be pre-cut to 5m sari lengths. Watch this space for the Bhuj collection coming in the summer.
Wash in cold salty water to seal the dyes. Does anyone know how much salt to use? A bag full, or the smidgen you would put on your dinner? My choices were comparitively plain, being well aware that what looks beautiful in situ, can look out of place once you get it home. These two ought to lend themselves to a fairly wide range of pattern choices.
And to finish, here are a selection of the patterns that were in the process of being printed whilst we were there.