Friday, February 22, 2013


I love all things Indian. I truly belive India has one of the best artisans in the world. Unfortunately not all of them have access to an international market. There is hope yet as numerous organisations are now dedicated to bringing the wonderful works of our rural artisans to the fore. Something that is specially close to my heart is Kalamkari ( Telugu: కలంకారి) as it is indigenous to Andhra Pradesh.

Kalamkari has been around since 15th century AD, initially patronized by Vijayanagar emperors and later by the Persian royalty. 'Chintz' ( glazed calico ( derived from Calicut) cloths block printed with flowers and other patterns )was very popular with the ladies of Britain , France and Holland, so much so there was a ban on Chintz since it couldnt be manufactured there!

 I had visited Pedana, the epicentre of AP's Kalamkari production back in 2006 with dreams of starting a fashion line of Kalamkari and silk! This was while I was on a sabbatical after my baby's birth (I was young and indomitable). But then I had to get back to my day job and thats a different story altogether!
Anyway, I was  amazed at the ingenuity of the whole process of dying and block printing using completely natural and bio degradable materials. Unlike other styles of painting, Kalamkari painting demands a lot of treatment before and after the painting is completed on the cotton fabric. Hence Kalamkari is a laborious and time consuming process.

I was shocked to learn that the first step in naturally bleaching the cloth is to cure it in cow dung for days before washing it to dye! After the cloth is done languishing in sun, it is treated with milk ( how decadent!) and painted with alum. Dyes used are all natural - red from madder (found in the roots of plants of the madder family (Galium, Asperula), yellow from pomegranate seeds or mango bark, blue with indigo solution (Indigofera tinctoria).

Bamboo kalam painting (as opposed to block printing) is seen in Kalhasthi. The rest of the procedure is the same.
From bedsheets

Image Source Page:
To accessories!

Image source: global conduct

Image source- paper jewellery.wordpress

Images- pottery barn

I came across this really informative blog  for anyone who loves beautiful things - An Indian summer
Through her, discovered
this very talented lady Ritika, with her 'Mora' collection. For more, go to

Neeta Lulla and Shashikant Naidu's modern rendering of the Kalamkari in Fashion week

I heart this dress! ( Image: Fashion inquisitive)

Below are pics from Asmita Marwa 2008
Images- homeshantihome

Talented designer Yuti Shah of  Udd and her collection in Klamkari

Kalamkari art comes in all shapes and sizes - each equally enthralling!

Do you have a favourite Indian handicraft?