Recently I visited a fabulous web site
www.marimekko.fi of Finland and I found to my surprise that there is a
similarity between the Marimekko Corporation and Kalamkaari Art from
Kalahasthi. Well, there is a kind of diversification and clarity in the
designs of Marimekko where as the art of Kalamkaari is truly complicated and
critical and still following the ancient motifs instead of trying to do some
innovation with young people.
The Art of Kalamkari is one which requires meticulous effort to
draw the designs with a particular Kalam ( Pen), which is said to be made out
of tamarind branches.
It's a unique art - there is no doubt about that - but the
organizations and NGOs who are supporting their cause should visit the Internet
frequently to inculcate the innovation and creativity by which the art can take
the next ultimate step of international recognition. Well, you may argue
that it has already been recognized internationally - but my question is how
this art can be made commercially viable, branded and the artists as well as
the area in which they reside can become one of the hubs like thing.
Following the ancient methodology and following the age old
traditions are NOT reserved for these poor but classical weavers or artists.
They need to support themselves instead of standing in the line at the MRO
It's the duty of the Government and the agencies to see that the
art is taking a different step and the major example is Marimekko. This
organization has become a corporation to promote a sizable number of native
people and the products are so stunning and excellent.
The most important thing is that the colors used by Kalamkari
artists are natural and vegetable colors and dyes. And it requires a kind of
project - a process of dipping, boiling, soaking, drying and washing etc -
takes enormous time and skills at every stage.
This kind of process is to be followed in every process of
making a saree of different kinds - whether you call it Tie-n-Dye or Batik or
Silk or Varanasi Silk, Printed saree or Block printing, dying etc., It
was there centuries back and it is still there. In those days and in the days
of Persian period - the fashion ( if I may be permitted to call it or
tradition) was to use the Mythological concepts mixing in divine duty of the
weaver or painter. But that is not seen in any where today - and every body cry
foul if some foreign company uses a motif of Hindu mythological figure in any
of their products.
It's we, our people under the excuse of promoting the art and
handicrafts and handlooms, we started exporting these motifs and designs
depicting the mythological figures.
The visitors of Italy Rome, or Germany will find that, - where
the church will have the artistic motifs - depicting the Jesus and Mary in
different forms and artistic forms and particularly the "The last Supper" is
one of the most famous thing - similar to our Sri Rama Pattabhishekam or Sri
Ask them whether their artists are using the same Last Supper or
Mary in their present day creations? The change is visible and stunningly
positioned before YOU.
The stipends and grants will do no good for these teachers or
students and artists and encouraging them towards these freebies is like making
them real beggars in the long time. It's true that some where in the line, some
body is making money! It's a vicious circle! The situation is like these
artists or students are being treated at par with AIDS or HIV patients.
intricate design was an endless joy. The children's pleasure at the golden
letters even before they could work out the meaning was boundless. Somehow they
were always pleasantly shocked by the sight of the mat: So delicate and so
consummate the artistry of its weave." - from "The Mats" by Francisco Arcellana
An initial glimpse of her designs will remind one of the
islands, the lively colors seascapes merging with the intricate fabric woven
carefully by the local weavers.
Her passion for textiles and the Filipino weavers' original
creativity have resulted in sublime art forms that transport the soul and the
mind to some form of a dream.
Young British designer Rebecca von Gyer teamed up with regional
producers from Ilocos Norte, Aklan, Bohol and Davao to experiment with the
Philippines' traditional hand-weaving embroidery and other creative
applications of locally available materials.
Through the Design Residency Program of the Center for International Trade
Expositions and Missions (CITEM) and The British Council, Rebecca assisted
traditional Filipino weavers in developing designs for export quality products
for the world market.
The resulting designs were featured in this year's Manila
F.A.M.E. International, the country's premier exhibition in home furnishings,
holiday decor and fashion accessories held in Manila twice a year.
"I went to the provinces and see what I can do then came back
again to introduce new ideas, color ideas," said Rebecca, who holds a degree in
Textiles at Central Saint Martins in London and an MA in Constructed Textiles
at the Royal College of Art.
"The available materials and the weaving techniques were all
very individual. What I was able to do was help them in color and product
range," she added.
Under the Design Residency Programme, Rebecca worked with local
weavers and came up with a full range of products hand-made from local
materials such as abeliloco, abaca, raffia and piña.
She partnered with local companies in her product designs for
cushions, bedspreads, mosquito nets, notebooks and garments.
Some of the companies she worked with were - Nagbacalan
Loomweavers Multi-Purpose Coop, Inc. and Aida Fernandez in Ilocos Norte; LP
Workers' Association of Pandan, Bohol Kalidad Handicrafts, Tubigon Loomweavers
Multi-Purpose Coop, Inabanga Loomweavers and Ely O. Monte Cottage Industry in
Bohol; and Babatalias MNC, Astorga Handlooms Crafts and Tadeco Livelihood and
Training Centre in Davao.
Other companies involved in the project were Manila-based companies namely, A
Greeting Card Company, Evolve Designs, Marrieta's Embroideries, Inc. and S.C.
Viscarra, Inc. as well as exporters from Aklan such as Heritage Arts &
Crafts, La Herminia Piña Weaving Industry and Dela Cruz House of Piña. The
project was also supported by Coats Manila Bay, Living 'n Style and
Metropolitan Museum of Manila.
Having traveled to Okinawa and India where she did research on traditional
crafts of dyeing and weaving as well as design fashion fabric range
respectively, Rebecca said she took immense interest in the Philippine piña
cloth, which she turned into mosquito nets and bedspreads with the help of
"I enjoyed working with piña because it's more indigenous and
it's unique to the Philippines."
She said, however, that the material cost can be quite expensive
and could push up the price of any products.
"I still think though that there's a niche for these products
because it's unique. People can pay a certain amount if the design is
different. If you're doing the same thing year in and year out, buyers will
"But there's room for expensive goods, if the design is good
enough. That's what I'm trying to do with the bedspreads and mosquito nets with
The only limitation for natural materials like piña, according
to Rebecca, is the texture once it is turned into garments.
"It can be very stiff and you have to think of what fabric to
line it with. But I'm very interested in using natural dyes in the Philippines
especially with piña."
The Special Setting at the lobby of the World Trade Center
during the recent Manila F.A.M.E. was testament of Rebecca's creative energy
and the Filipino weavers' original artistry.
Her bedspreads and mosquito nets from piña were draped over a
wooden bed ... on top of an antique table were note pads with woven covers made
by A Greeting Card Company, that could inspire even Virginia Woolf.
"My intention is to look for ways to develop locally available
materials into export products and not just into tacky tourist souvenirs.
That's why I think these three areas that should be constantly addressed -
design, color and quality of the products," said Rebecca.
The barong, for example, Rebecca says, could be developed
further through new colors and design ideas.
Using piña, Rebecca worked on designs for hand-woven tops in
elegant colors, which "people can actually wear on occasions and not just for
Among her designs were a hand-woven top with an embroidered cockfight design
illustrated by Filipino artist Egat Trinidad melding local appeal and cultural
sensibility and the special bead necklace by the Mandaya tribe attached on the
neckline of a woven top.
Meanwhile, aside from redesigning Filipino weaving traditions,
the CITEM and The British Council project was also meant to generate more jobs
for the local folks.
Her residency program in the Philippines might be over but Rebecca said, "The
Philippines definitely a country I'd like to come back to. Maybe next year if I
get the funding, I can introduce new technology to the loom weavers."
Manila Bulletin Sat, 13 Nov 2004
Karnataka Handlooms unveils Zodiac Sarees
Chennai, Nov 5:
Priyadarshini Handlooms, a unit of
Karnataka Handloom Development Corporation Limited (KHDCL), brought alive the
art of weaving exquisite handloom silk cotton and polyesters by launching the
Zodiac Printed Silk Sarees yesterday at its showroom in Spencer Plaza. V K
Subburaj, commissioner of Handlooms and Textiles, government of Tamilnadu
formally released the new product.
Established in 1975,
KHDC has over 20,000 looms, each dedicated to weaving a splendid work of art.
It provides capital credit high quality silk and cotton yarn and other raw
materials to skilled weavers who produce enchanting designs and textures,
ranging from 'Sensuous' to 'Earthy' to 'Geometric'. These breathtaking fabrics
are available at Priyadarshini Showrooms at Spencer Plaza, Anna Salai and Anna
Plaza, Anna Nagar.
The Zodiac Silk
Sarees were designed with the guidance and approval of reputed astrologer and
vastu consultant. Every saree has been designed each Zodiac sign Color, Flower,
Symbol, Angles, Rasi signs and gems. The sarees will be available in five
different colors and customers who buy sarees will be given free computerized
horoscopes in Tamil, English, Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam.
The price of each
Zodiac Printed Silk Saree with blouse piece is Rs 2150. Economy range of cotton
sarees in Priyadarshini Showroom and furnish details of your name, birthday,
birth place and you will get a computerized horoscope in the language of your
choice for free.
ambition is to give exposure to the work of its creative crafts persons and the
weavers in the global market. Zodiac Sarees is all set to attract beautiful and
fashion conscious women of Chennai. It also has plans to open more showrooms
across the State, a press release issued by KHDC said.
ZARI The Traditional Thread
- The Telegraph - Calcutta
It's a simple thread coated in silver and gilded in gold. And it
can work wonders when intermingled with just about any kind of fabric. The
luster of real zari is truly unparalleled and it's this splendor that
will unfurl itself at Finesse studio in Alipore on Tuesday.
The studio on New Road is hosting Tantuvi, a one-day exhibition
of hand-woven heritage saris by Mumbai-based designer Smriti Morarka between 10
am and 7 pm. The exhibition will be inaugurated by first lady Anjana Shah.
"This is my third showing in Calcutta. I have been hosting
exhibitions here every alternate year since 2000," informs Smriti, whose
association with the city goes much beyond her exhibitions. Sister of
industrialist Harsh Neotia, Smriti was brought up in Calcutta and moved to
Mumbai in 1984 after marriage.
The student of history always had the passion to do something
with a "social overtone". "I belong to a family of art collectors and oil
painting was a hobby since childhood. I wanted to do something using my
creativity as well as give back a little to the society. But I didn't see
myself actively involved in social service. So, I somehow landed up reviving
the traditional weaves of Varanasi and supporting the weavers' community
there," she says.
Smriti's label, also called Tantuvi, primarily produces saris
and some lehngas by order. All the saris are woven in handlooms by
weavers in Varanasi, using traditional elements like brocade, meenakari
and jamdani, all with real zari. Brocade is a weave that
intermingles gold and silver zari, while meenakari uses
colored thread along with zari and jamdani is a zari
version of the traditional weave used in Dhakai saris.
The fabrics Smriti uses are silks and various derivatives of
silks like organza, georgette, chinon and Chinia (a particular kind of Chinese
silk with a matte texture) and some cottons too. "I myself wear saris 365 days
and I think the fall of a sari is most important from the wearer's point of
view. So, I experiment with threads till I get the perfect fall for a sari,"
For this exhibition, Smriti has worked with a lot of vibrant
colours since she feels "Calcuttans like a lot of bright hues". So, the palette
includes everything from reds, pinks and yellows to purples, greens and blacks.
She also has a lot of thick silks in her kitty, ideal for winter.
so on display is a range of accessories that Smriti has put
together for the first time on an "experimental basis". There are exquisite
shoes, purses and cell phone holders, created from the same weaves as the
saris. "I am not into designing accessories seriously. But I just wanted people
to look at handlooms in a more comprehensive manner and understand its scope.
My purpose will be served if people make use of handlooms in more ways," she
Business has been difficult for the shrinking weavers' community
of Varanasi. "While the government protects certain families who are pioneers
in certain kinds of weaves, there are hundreds of others who are extremely
skilled, but don't get proper support. Many of the younger ones are moving on
to other professions because they think weaving is no longer profitable. I am
trying to expand my unit whenever possible to accommodate as many as I can,"