Tourism and textiles are two very important industries to Rajasthan. In Jaipur you can combine both at a hand block printing workshop just out of Jaipur, at Bagru.
The printing is done using natural vegetable dyes and colour fixers.
During an interactive show and tell session, we learnt things like yellow colour comes from turmeric. Green can be made with chamomile or basic grass, and surprisingly that black can be made from rust (y nails).
If you want to use indigo to make blue designs, but it turns out that if you use natural indigo the design has to be reversed. You make the design using a dye blocker and then dye the fabric blue. Once its dried the fabric is washed leaving a kind of ‘negative’ design. Which is still fine, but it is a two day process and we only had one.
There is a big warehouse where there are shelves containing hundreds of hand carved wooden blocks to choose from, to make the creation of your dreams.
Photo credits : @susann_johnston
Straight lines, small swirls, paisley, big paisley, geometric shapes, modern, traditional – all possible designs. The trick is to take the block which is the building piece of the design and picture it multiplied across the fabric. As a novice, this is a skill that I didn’t necessarily have.
The teacher showed us how to join the lines of the design and how to corner without running off the edge of the piece, and was on hand to help. Keep it simple, leave plenty of blank space was the advice I was given.
Post Printing Process
Colours are fixed as the fabric is boiled in drums outside, using alum. The red colour only comes out once the alum has done its job.
The workshop is not cheap, but not prohibitively expensive. Prices are available on the website. And well worth it because I came out of it with a pretty swanky headscarf. #humblebrag
The tour operator is called Jai Texart. Information available on their website
Getting there: Jai Texart can arrange transport from a central location in Jaipur. Or you can arrange your own transport. It takes about one hour.
Other Agatha Bertram Links – A week in Rajasthan .
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