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January 21, 2022
Since 2004, Nitesh and his team have been dedicated to preserving the traditional art of block printing, as well as the use of natural indigo dye and traditional rug weaving.
Nitesh says; "like crafts worldwide, the block printing industry faces serious challenges trying to keep pace with modern manufacturing." Made entirely by hand, each piece we receive from Nitesh and his team is a mini work of art! Through education and the sale of their beautiful, block printed textiles, Nitesh hopes to protect the heritage of this craft for future generations to enjoy.
About an hours drive from Jaipur lies a small village made up almost entirely of craftsmen and women specialising in block printing and Indigo dye. Nitesh employs over 300 home workers in addition to those coming to weave, print and dye at his workshop overlooking rolling hills.
Traditionally, indigo comes from the leaves of the plant, "indigo fera tintoria" which was cultivated throughout the tropics. Much like a sour-dough starter, the contents of a typical indigo vat is like a living organism and must be continuously nurtured. The pots are commonly between 10-15 feet deep and are sunk into the floor of a covered area. The culture needs daily attention with fresh ingredients added until the dye is just right. About 20 days after starting the process, the dyeing can begin.
To create a pattern, skilled crafts people will use either a block printing or tie-dye technique to create a resist to the indigo dye. A paste is made using earth, slaked lime, gum, a fine wheat powder and water, mixed to a smooth adhesive paste then applied rhythmically using hand carved wooden-blocks. A layer of sawdust is sprinkled on top of the design to stop the paste from smudging before it is totally dry. The cloth is then laid out to bake in the sun before being dipped in a vat. Once the desired shade of indigo is created, the fabric is washed to remove the resist paste and any excess dye that hasn't adhered to the cloth. This lengthy and skilful process is an art and a labour of love!
Shop our Indian Indigo Textiles here.
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