Crochet: My grandmother had a straw box that contained mostly white hanks of thread and red beads. She would take this box out when she wasn’t busy, and magically little doilies with a bead edging would emerge from her fingers. These doilies were used to cover jugs of water and glasses.  I didn’t know it then, but she was crocheting these. Her creations are lost now, but I saw similar ones in a tiny shop in the mountains and immediately bought a few. 

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In 2019 we did a lot of research and development in hand knitting, knotting, smocking, and bead-making techniques. We worked with a group of women artisans in the villages of Western Uttar Pradesh in India. Before making the trip to these villages and meeting these women, I was under the impression that these techniques are almost similar to each other and created similar looks. However, once we worked with these masters, we learned about the nuances of different techniques and various design possibilities associated with them. Together with the artisans, we co-created beautiful and chic panels. (more…)

Art Nouveau : As a young girl, I remember attending a book fair in Delhi and spotting a book with black and white illustrations. Curling and sinuous, at once decorative yet a little naughty, these were by the famous Art Nouveau illustrator Aubrey Beardsley. I’ve been hooked to this movement ever since, from the architecture of Gaudi, the jewelry of Tiffany, and of course the art of Beardsley and Alphonse Mucha

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How did this small town come to be known as the best in the history of Hand Blockprinting?

It was usual for the Rajasthan medieval elites to have musicians, artists, and craftsmen associated with their family. The artists were attached to their patron’s family. They would create a whole gamut of objects and arts in-house for family-like jewelry, clothes, music, bangles or prints, etc. Sanganer became a land of great artists and patronizing families. Whenever the king or the ruler needed something particular, word of mouth would search for unique skillsets. The best artisans would be found and sent. The selected printers and dyers would prepare a new design or a new shade of color for their king. And that’s how the skills of the artisans of Sanganer became known and sought by higher nobility.

This type of patronage was not just a way for economic sustenance for artisans, but also a peek into the outside world, offering the artisans a channel for aesthetic inputs. 

Sanganer Hand Blockprinting: Like every other textile lover, I visited Jaipur searching for exquisite ‘vintage’ textiles, decorated with hand block printed florals in gorgeous shades of aged reds, greens, and indigo from the era of nobility and generous patronage in the history of Jaipur. I ended up traveling 13 km away from the central city to get to this self-contained city of Sanganer packed with old structures and temples of great details and architecture. It is a town known for its unique ‘sanganeri’ hand block printing technique. It was revelatory to stumble onto Sanganer’s various sister crafts like handmade papermaking, gold and silver foil making, and cotton weaving. The small town has its artisanal ecology.

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