I returned to Rajasthan after a year and what better way to start then by stopping for some local chai and maawa.
I got the opportunity to print some of my own designs alongside the experienced block printers. The joy that came from seeing my carved designs of wooden blocks is unexplainable. Also, while printing, it was quite amusing to watch the dialogue between the block printers about the execution of my designs. Each one had their own input and experience to bring to the table. By the end of our trip I got to understand how strongly they feel about their craft and their designs that they've been printing all these years. Being a contemporary designer, I seemed to pushing against their traditional ways. However, one of the sons, Azu, seemed to be dabbling in designing himself and fully understood my way of working. While printing my fabrics, he smiled with every contact the block made with the fabric and finished without a single stress in the world. That's exactly what I wanted. I don't want my designs to stress anyone out, it's supposed to be enjoyed as much by me, as by the printer, and the consumer. At the end of the trip, the youngsters went out to enjoy with some samosas and thumbs up. :)
After coming back from India, I've been working on getting similar results on my block printed fabrics. It's coming along well, with great mistakes! All I need to say is, Sodium bi-carbonate is not the same thing as Sodium Carbonate. Here are a few pics of the samples taken by the very talented Amar Abdel -Halim.
These samples are of linen fabric gotten from TRAID, London. The fabric was accumulating dust with no buyers, hence it was donated for my project. Lugging it across London was fun, after changing 3 buses and Vedika holding onto the other end of the roll.
The fabric was washed and left overnight in a bath of detergent and soda ash. Next it was dipped in a solution of Harde or myrobalan so that it may produce a better color at the end. Once dried, it was printed on with a mixture of Alum and Tamarind Seed powder. Once dried, it was dipped in a dye bath of Dhavri ka phool, mahi, and Alizarine. Dhavri ka phool and mahi are indian names for different flowers. Alizarine is the synthetic form of madder. The combination of these three gave our fabric a coral coloration, however, we were attempting for Red. After further research, I found out that the PH of the level, if it is too acidic will produce coral colors and hence needs to be neutral to produce the right color. So, the solution to that is adding soda ash to bring the fabric to a neutral PH. With a dash of soda ash, the result was closer to what we wanted. We had gotten a good dark red. The ground however became purple...So the experiment is ongoing. The darker fabric was first dipped in Iron water before being dipped in the dye bath, hence it has a darker coloration. Pics of the block in order of development: