When was the last time you stopped to think , “But how do they really make this thing?” It can be anything! The amazingly brilliant Cheese Cake at your favorite restaurant or those fluffy pillows you put your head on every night. On Friday evening, I had a similar learning experience where I realised that making of garments is much more than just good designs. We were invited to Mother Earth, to be taken through the journey of Dabu printing. If you, like me, are hearing these words for the first time and are curious to know what is it all about, then keep reading!
Dabu printing, or block printing is the process of using wooden blocks to make lovely patterns on a piece of cloth. I was introduced to GopalChippa, an artisan from Rajasthan who has been in this field for generations. “I have been working with Mother Earth since the last 10 years” He says with sparkling eyes and a smile full of pride.
“I will start with how it is made.” Gopal, himself dressed in a blue Dabu print shirt tells me. “Every ingredient used in making this print is natural. The first ingredient is edible gum.” Gopal has all my attention now. I knew that edible gum is used to make sweets in the northern part of India, but it is used in the textile industry also? The world never ceases to surprise me. “Next is the soil from dry ponds.” He goes on. “Bidan is the waste of wheat that is also used and so is Lime Stone (Chuna). All these materials are made into a paste which is used for printing. Now, I will tell you how we do the printing.”
I could hear the love for his art in Gopal’s voice as he went on to explain me the next processes. “We get the fabric from the market”. The cloth piece that he showed me was light yellow in colour. “The cloth is immersed in water for 24 hours. It turns white after that. As a next step, the colour or the paste we made is put into trays that has sieves to stop the colour from running into the wrong places. We then take the desired motif and print it on the cloth. After the printing is done, we spread sawdust over the printed portions so that the pattern and color stays put. The clothes are then dried in the sun for a whole day after which it is dyed with natural indigo.”
He continues, “For the process of dying, the clothes are put into a 3 feet deep hole. They are put into a hole and not a bucket so that the colour gets the strength that we are looking for. It is then dried, washed and given the finishing touches”.
Gopal also took us through the steps of Bagru print. Bagru print is a combination of red and black colours and interestingly the black colour is made by rotting iron from a horse shoe and jaggery in a bucket of water for a whole month. How cool is that! The red colour is made out of Alum stone and edible gum. The whole process is pretty long and has a lot of steps involved.
Having understood the making of garments around me, I went on to have a look at the Dabu and Bagru collection. I also tried on a few outfits that I thought were pretty and elegant. My first choice was a high low hem Kurta which I paired with my white trousers and canvas shoes. I loved the look because it is comfortable,trendy and pretty interesting. It is a perfect example of an indo-western outfit that is really cool for work or college.
My next change was a simple Dabu print kurta and a printed white pant. One must usually be careful while wearing print on print but since the pattern on the pants/lowers were quite subtle, I liked this look.
Later, I tried a long skirt with a plain top and big chunky jewellery. Honestly, sometimes I get bored with same salwars for a traditional look and after wearing this, I am totally game for an experimental look which by the way looks like a successful experiment!
Dabu and Bagru prints are also used in the making of boxes and home items at Mother Earth which I rather liked.
About Mother Earth:
Future group affiliated brand, Mother Earth, has announced the first edition of ‘Mother Earth, Artisan Week’, in Bengaluru between may 28 and may 31, 2015 at Mantri Mall, Malleshwaram. During this week, customers and publec will have an opportunity to meet and interact with the artisans who create the intricate and delicate patterns on fabric that are being promoted by Mother Earth’s designers.
Mother Earth has always been known to support traditional artisans and launch of the annual week is another effort to better establish the urban0-rural connect.
Speaking on the artisan initiative Neelam Chhiber, MD, Mother Earth said, “Mother Earth is a brand with artisanal ownership and this must be shared with customers, and what better way than through the creation of an event – ‘Artisan Week’
Sometimes going back to the roots, grounds you like nothing else. My two hours at Mother Earth was a fulfilling and enriching experience. I loved to hear how much of sincerity and hard work is put into making of the clothes that we love to wear. Fashion, after all, is serious business!
Tell me if you liked what I liked! Tell me if you think You and I do not have the same frequency of thoughts. Either ways, I love to hear from my readers. And if you happen to drop by at Mother Earth, you might want to dabble with the Dabu prints as well!