Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Block printing in Mumbai Part 2

The workshop in Mumbai run by the very talented Blocks and Prints was part of my great fabric and textiles adventure in India. Part 1 covers a bit of the history about textiles, find it here.

The print starts with the block, here you can see the positive and negative prints blocks. The outlines are stamped on and then filler blocks are used to add the necessary color to each intricate design.

The blocks were used to create the fabric that is shown. I love both the positive and negative patterns shown on the fabric. 

The paint we used was pigment mixed with a fixer agent. I currently use acrylic paints with a textile medium and have found them to be very good with a great hand feel and good wash quality. The trays we used were made of leather (drool) and a piece of fabric, jute like in appearance but made from wool which helps soak up the paint and keep it even.Ms Rao suggested wool felt as an alternative which is something I must try. The paint is poured on and then evened out with a spreader to help the process along. The saturated cloth is then used as a stamp pad for the ink.

I normally dab the paint on with a sponge which is great for small projects and being conservative with paint. However the fabric method meant a much more even paint distribution on the block and then on the fabric. 

The blocks normally have registration marks on them to help know which ends line up. The double lines on this one meant the print lined up with no gaps as we printed a long boarder. 

The block is dipped into the ink then placed registration side down first then followed by the other side. A swift fist is used to whack the block to help the paint  transfer (I must say by the end of the day I was in pain!) and then carefully lifted off to reveal the print. 

Lining up the registration marks...

Second colors are added by using a filler block which has been cut to fit the needs of the original  outline or rekha print. Some patterns have three or four fillers or duttas which then add many colors to the print. 

Loving my peacock on wheels :) 
The fabric I made to take with me was on white cotton and I used three blocks for the main body and two for the bottom edge.

I plan to turn it into a skirt. The planning takes the most time as figuring out which blocks to use together was quite a challenge for me also then colour combo's and the most amazing  
I suspect all over large blocks are easier to work with than placement prints. I used the large circular print in orange and used the dutta filled in blue. I then used an Ikat print in between to add color and design.The bottom edge which is not shown here has three lines of orange and a boarder print in blue. I will post a picture of the skirt when done.  
The variety of the prints and blocks available is amazing, Ms Rao has several cupboards full of blocks and they were organised by boarders, paisleys, flowers, animals etc.. the combinations are of course endless. The best bit for me was how easy it was to do, once I did one line the start was dry which meant you could keep printing, unlike screen prints which require extensive amounts of time to touch dry, this method was amazing as you could keep going! stopping only when done. The print does need to be cured or left to line dry for two nights before running a hot iron on the reverse to set the print. 

A note when buying blocks, 
I was shopping for blocks and saw ones done in brass which I purchased not knowing what and how to use them. The lines in those are much finer with the wooden blocks soaking up a lot more color. 
Look at the design on the block, make sure the lines are clean with no breaks on them. All blocks are not made equal and some are very roughly carved while others are beautifully intricate. 

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Block Printing in Mumbai Part 1

On my list of things to do while in India, was of course to try and do a a part of the textile trail. I did some on line research I found Shymila Rao, of Blocks and Prints who runs block printing workshops in Mumbai. I mailed her and we soon had a date for some lovely block printing to happen.

Part of the workshop was an intro into textiles forms of  the Indus valley which followed the flow of the river. Dyers, weavers and textile artists lived along the banks as water was a vital part of the process of creating fabric. Each area had it's own tradition and in the past, each print could have easily been identified regionally. The Rajasthan area is now most known for the textile processes done there and the hot dry weather of the region is perfect for the natural dyeing process that has been typical for the area. I learned though that there were lots of regions producing very distinct looking fabric using specific techniques and natural dye combinations etc.. The pictures below has textile examples from the Bagh region and the Ajrak region as well. There are more out there, these were simply the two I picked to highlight. The most obvious difference was of course the colours and patterns used. One was floral and very easy  on the eye, the other far more bold and obvious in colour and print style.

Bagh fabrics
Ajrak fabrics
The influence of the Islamic motifs were everywhere. Having been to the Taj Mahal on this trip I recognized the diamonds and star patterns on everything

Some of the places and processes that were discussed during the workshop sounded amazing! The pictures below are of work done with dyeing, block printing, over printing,  resist printing using a natural mud resist and finally an indigo vat.
Happiness! In the next part I will discus the process and the blocks, the wonderful wooden blocks...

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Taj Mahal and Agra...

Mr S is working in Mumbai on a project and I used the opportunity to visit this amazing place. I remember coming to Mumbai when I was pregnant with Master A which seems like a life time ago. I do remember feeling that it was a special place even then. This time we visited Agra and Taj Mahal which is simply amazing to see.
This is the view from the Agra fort of the TM. Shah Jehan built the Taj Mahal at the request of his dying wife. He built a monument that has survived over time. The marble is luminescent and seems to glow in the moonlight. The work decorating he Taj is all done out of precious stones, cut and inlaid into flowers and this is why it took as long as it did to construct. The structure is perfectly symmetrical in every aspect except the two tombs which are different sizes. This was the view he had, taken from his balcony. I found this view and aspect the best.
One of the entrance arches which has carved inlaid work at the top and over the door. 

Impressive when you realize that the marble is carved to size and the precious stones cut to fit exactly, no grout at all :) 

View of the side enterace

Master and Miss were very good considering how hot it was, even at 6 pm! 

The Islamic star and diamond motifs are all over the monument, the ceilings, the fretwork and the floor. 
The Agra fort was also an amazing place to visit. I honestly enjoyed it more than I did the Taj Mahal, the amazing carvings and fun playful nature of a lived in fort is wonderful. The Indian Army still occupies part of the fort and therefore only 15% of it can be seen. I found myself simply enjoying the views and the amazing rooms. 

Amazing place to visit. i wish I had more time and it was a different time of year as the 36 degree dry heat was very tiring.. I am very glad though that I had the time to make this amazing trip. 

A beach bag for a present.

My sister asked me to make a beach bag as a present that she could give to her sister in law. I researched and looked and created a Christmas board on Pinterest to help with all the ideas in my head!
I found a good tutorial on Kojo Designs that fit the bill.
I knew I would use free motion embroidery on it as I love the look of it. I also find it amazingly relaxing to sit there and embroider and it really is nice to have a few projects that let me have a go!
My finished project...

I love it and although my light house seems to be floating in the middle of the ocean, I still think it is amazing :) I added pockets to the back and had a roomy pocket in side that could be zipped up to hold keys etc.. now onto making one for me...

Friday, 1 November 2013

Morley college

September saw me start the advanced dressmaking sewing class at Morley college. The college offers a fantastic line up of fashion courses and having been to my induction yesterday I have to say I am really excited to be there..

The tutor is a wonderfully experienced, precise person who has at times frustrated me as much as the project has. Why?  understanding that everyone has different ways of learning  and teaching. Until I found a way to understand and take in everything I was being taught in the order I was being taught it, a sort of layering of information instead of everything I need to know at once, it was hard. I think I may have found this the most difficult thing yet. I find my experiences and knowledge in the subject sometimes stops me from understanding the whole point. Am I enjoying it? absolutely! I love my commute and gathering of thoughts until I get there. I do come out sometimes in a daze having concentrated for three hours straight and feel like I cannot take in any more. I feel stretched as only learning something new does and I love that somehow this is making me a better teacher. Though more about this later.... 

We are working on this Vogue pattern. It is semi fitted and we re took close fitting measurements and learned how to change the pattern to fit our measurements. Having come from the ready to wear industry, this method of fitting is very different and not something I learned to do. I do love that I will have the skills to help makes things fit better at the end of this. 

Am sure I will have to rant more on this subject soon. Tonight though I am off to browse a newly opened fabric and wool shop called Little Woolies... will have pictures and information for the the next post. 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Butterfly Wristlet review

I recently called for reviewers of the kits and Sara of SewLittleToSay was nice enough to offer her skills...

Here is her finished version which is fabulous. I never thought about adding as many sequins which is the great thing about the kits, we all get to do what suits us. She boxed the bottom and embroidered the strap as well. Love!

You can read her reviews and comments on her blog here

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Holiday time!

It feels like forever since I posted on here... though I feel like I was taking blogging notes at various points in the holidays...
We took some time off and went to North Devon and stayed at a wonderful house being rented out by a very creative family. It was amazing to be surrounded by so much creative energy. The pictures don't articulate enough just how lovely this place is. About twenty minutes from the coast and with loads of garden space, it reminded me of the holidays we took as children in Sri Lanka.

The art was found object and hand made and pattern was in every nook and cranny of the house.  The branch on the far right is a bad picture of a gratitude branch. Luggage tags with wonderful messages of gratitude hang off it. My personal favorite was of course the giraffe on the wall. A lovely patterned decal that reminded me of far away places...

A line from the chandelier to the window that holds all the childhood bits and bobs, invitations and cards etc...
and my lovely niece enjoying the trampoline in a dress I made her :)


 Cricket in the garden and boogie boarding in the sea to end a perfect vacation...