The 13 step Ajrakh cloth is inspired by Sufi designs. The Blocks used are intricately carved on Sheesham, the softest kind of wood, which remains in oil for half a year before the real printing process. The cloth is degummed and mordants differing to printing colors are applied. Lime and gum resists are made on this cloth where the original white color had to be retained.
This is a basic form of 'tie and dye' wherein the cloth is tied into plenty of tiny knots and dipped into vats of natural colour. Different sections are tied at every stage of dyeing and a variety of colors used from light to dark. The fabric then opens out into amazing designs: dots, circles, squares, waves and stripes.
Melted wax mixture is painted on the cloth & soaked in dye. Wherever the wax seeps through the fabric, it is not dyed. After the wax is dissolved, this fabric is ironed between paper towels. This absorbs the bees wax to reveal the deep rich colors and the paraffin wax to reveal the fine crinkle lines that give this batik its character. Batik is known for its vibrant colour palette and bold compositions.
Block Print Cloth
Carving artists create block designs on teak wood that are used with dyes to produce unique prints.24 layers of jute are stretched out to behave as printing surface for the fabric. The bleached cloth is dyed whole, after which the teak blocks, welled with colour create the pretty designs on it. Alternatively clay resists are applied with these, so motif areas are left free of color. The fabric is fixed and dried in the sun. It can take twenty people up to eight hours to prepare a single block printed garment.
Dhabu refers to resist printing that uses vegetable dyes. The design block printed first with a mix of clay, natural gum and sawdust. The resist printed cloth is then immersed in a large cauldron of dye. Pre-printing, the fiber is cooked in a natural mordant like alum, soda ash, iron so the colors may adhere. After drying, the mud resist is washed off to reveal the undyed part of the cloth as the pattern.
The laheriya is achieved by a variation of the Bandhani technique of tie and dye. The ties here are undone and the process repeated by diagonally rolling the adjacent corner toward the opposite and repeating the process. The famous laheriya (zigzag pattern of irregular color stripes) is a visual invocation of the flow of water
Handloom fabric is created from yarn by the 'tana-bana' method - a hand process from the old world that gives durability, character and summer-cool. The warp threads are thrown across the loom, while the transverse threads are nimbly interwoven - woof or weft. This is done one transverse thread at a time by creating 'shed' spaces for the weave. The handloom process is intricate, yet completely energized by human power alone.
Ikkat is a complex form of tie-and-dye. The threads are tied and dyed prior to weaving. They are then carefully adjusted so the pattern you see may emerge during the weaving. Ikkat is perhaps the most widespread type of weaving originating in different parts of the world - from Argentina to Mexico, the mountainous Japan and the sunny island of Bali.
Cotton, silk thread and zari are hand woven in methods nurtured over centuries. What is created is a fabric almost out of a fairy tale. Having been on ancient trade routes, the textile shows multi cultural depictions in motifs and look. One touch and you will know why this gossamer beauty was desired by the royals.