Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 2 of Kachchh, Gujarat

We're off to see BLOCK PRINTING!!
 We visit the famous Ajrak block printers in the towns of Dhamadkao and Ajrakpur. I finally get to see the ever famous Dr. Ismail Khatri. I took some pictures paparazzi style. 
 So, the Ajrak block printing is a 18 color process, taking 2 weeks to a month to finish one design. Their designs are highly recognizable because of the geometric patterns that are famous in their community. We met Aurangzeb and Sufiyan Bhai, the next and 8th generation of block printers in their family.

Many of the steps and materials used differed from the process administered in Pipar City. The designs also were more fine and complex as compared to the ones in Pipar. That is due to the printing technique. Pipar does a lot of dabu, or mud resist, printing which requires the design to be more bold. The designs in Ajrak printing are not done using mud. They instead use a mixture of gum arabic and lime to create the resist, which I guess allows finely carved blocks to be used. 

Next we stopped at a village called Dhaanati Village. It is a community where the women engage in embroidery work for an organization called Shrujan. About 50-70 women in this village work with Shrujan, out of the 112 villages that they work with. We went into the house of Laxmi ben who showed us her embroideries, some of them done 30 years ago for her dowry. Also, in the back of her house, there were a few women who were doing embroidery together, these are women that Laxmi ben has employed herself.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Next stop: Vadodara and Ahmedabad, Gujrat

Lunch courtesy of Mrs. Mala Sinha, served on Eco plates!

After some obstacles getting a train ticket to Ahmadabad, we finally got on the 5:00 a.m. train and slumped into a slumber for a few hours before our final destination. From Ahmadabad, we were driven to Vadodara, thanks to Mrs. Mala Sinha, where we were greeted by a scrumptious late lunch and chai.

Our mission to travel to Vadodara, or Baroda, was only and only to meet Mrs. Mala Sinha of BODHI. I had contacted her while doing my Masters and she was wonderful enough to reply with an awesome and heartfelt response. So, of course, I had to go meet her. :) Even with all the hurdles along the way and the temptation to stay back in Pipar City for a wedding, we made our way to her workshop and left with a great feeling.

Mrs. Sinha took out her time to show us around her facility and even more, engage us in a dialogue about our decision to start Ichcha.  She truly was a special person with whom we got the opportunity to meet and spend a few hours with. Check out her website here.
Mrs. Sinha is the mind behind the wonderful designs of Bodhi. She has worked through the years to bring Bodhi to the current day stage, where the products are made with environmental awareness. Waste water management, use of solar energy, and rain water harvesting are a few actions followed by Mrs. Sinha and her team of artisans to create beautifully responsible products.

The next day, after another round of confusion, we caught the local bus to Ahmadabad, a ride of 2.5 hours. Over the next 3 days we explored Ahmadabad and also met with SEWATFC, Self Employed Women's Association Trade Facilitation Center, a non profit organization.  They work with embroidery, tie & dye, and block printing artisans throughout Gujarat. They have 3,500 share holders of women artisans.  The product is sampled, then redistributed in kits with materials and instructions to various officers at artisan villages, who then discuss, teach, and hand out the kits to the artisans to create the product in mass quantity. The quality of products was very impressive.

Our visit to Ahmadabad was complete with visits to the luscious Parimal and Law Garden, along with the Mohandas Gandhi Ashram. At the end of the day we retired into our beds after having a Gujarati thali (lots and lots of food!). 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Rajasthan 2011

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. :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I was going to wait before I had everything set for my trip to India before blogging. But, after coming across this short documentary about the Barefoot College, I just couldn't keep myself from sharing it with everyone.

Also, visit Barefoot College here.

A post about the India trip coming up shortly!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Sorry everyone! I know it's been a while since I posted. What, with the holidays and figuring out details to my India trip, I just didn't get time to post. But, I've come back with images of our product that if you are interested in, you can email me for price points.

We had a great sale at the Creek and Cave and a few products leftover are featured below. All the products are hand block printed by either me or the wonderful family of Yasin Shahbuddin in India. They are 100% cotton using only vegetable dyes, NO CHEMICAL DYES. The process is very rigorous but evermore gratifying. I can't tell you the joy that comes by making these products using only what is natural in this world, not making the artisans sick, and not killing the beauty of our environment. The product is made with the hope that it will be loved as much as it was loved into creation.

After learning of the crisis the textile industry has created with it's fast fashion craze, I can no longer create product without thinking of where it has come from and where it might end up. I do not want products to end up in the landfill when they could easily be reused or recycled. Most of the fabrics that I printed, were printed on reclaimed fabric, that would have otherwise been dumped into a landfill, shipped off to a third world textile market, or exhausted the textile second hand market.

So, by buying this product, you would be making a conscious decision of what you buy and how you take care of it. This product is made with love and should be taken care of with love to. Be gentle with it's washes and if you do tire of it, give it another home or place it in a bag for recycling. A fact we don't know is, is that we can place all our textiles, whether it be clothing you are tired of or torn up rags, into the charity boxes we see on the side of the road. The charity in charge then rifles through those articles and places them in appropriate piles: recycle, re-use, or ship off.

So for 2011, let's all do our part. Let's buy with consciousness.