Bright Ikats November 21 2016, 0 Comments
Ikat is a beautiful form of resist dying that has had a long history in Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and Japan. The pattern is created by binding yarns in a tight wrapping. Bindings are altered to create new patterns and then the yarns dyed in different colors. This amazing technique inspired us in ecru to imitate it but by using embroidery. Using three different colors of thread, we created a collection of Ikat Embroidered Charms.
(Images courtesy of ecru)
The Annual Jaipur Visit November 02 2016, 0 Comments
Last week I did my annual pilgrimage to Jaipur, which is always exciting and fun. I got to meet with the production team at our Indian office. First thing was looking at the amazing fabrics that Nur sourced for our lounge dresses. The next order of business was visiting different factories and workshops. I got to see what is being sampled for upcoming collections. My favorite part is the printing factory. It always amazes me to see how artisans carve beautiful blocks and printers meticulously hand print our fabric. The natural rhythm they have while printing fabric is unbelievably calming. However, my latest obsession is the treasure trove that is the stringers workshop. It's absolutely amazing with all the different stones displayed and dangled. Just spectacular.
(Images courtesy of ecru)
Block Print Influence December 09 2013, 0 Comments
Nur gave a speech during Nuqat’s 2012 conference and a small workshop on block printing, which led Anwar to create a print that she used in products produced by Sadu House and sold at this year’s Nuqat’s Culture Shock Confrence. It is a delight to see a young artist use an ancient technique in her work, and we love working with artisans in creating block printed products. The full article on Anwar’s experience in Nur’s Nuqat workshop can be found here.
(Images courtesy of ecru and Khaleejesque)
Weaving for a Cause July 15 2013, 0 Comments
Collaborating with different manufactures encourages traditional handicraft techniques and the unique artisans behind them. ecru’s kitchen and beach towels are produced by Kara Weaves a wonderful creative venture, from Kerala, with a social cause.
Kara Weaves was born out of the need to give Kerala's handloom industry a much needed push. The small team behind Kara works closely with various cooperative communities of handloom weavers to create customized products.
“Thorthu” is the finely woven cotton material used for the towels, which was traditionally used as Ayurvedic body-wipe fabric. Handloom is used because pure cotton yarn is only suitable for slow speed spinning and weaving process. This technique preserves the luster, color-holding, capacity, absorbency, softness, and durability of the cotton products.
We have already introduced you to their bright towels this past spring, so stay tuned for our new range of colors and designs in our latest collaboration with Kara Weaves.
(Images courtesy of Hind Al Tamimi and ecru)
Arabesque Mysticism May 20 2013, 0 Comments
Moroccan architecture always mystifies with it’s intricate geometric shapes. Whether it’s the detailed floor tiling that was set by hand, or the amazing patterns created by the repetition of shapes in the building.
Other moving arabesque structures are the beautiful Jalis in Indian palaces. They also have a certain allure, and that comes from the meticulous work that has gone into them.
Traditional arabesque architecture and the craftsmanship that has gone into these magnificent structures has influenced us at ecru. This has led to the production of the Geo Flow Print table mat and napkin, so your mind kind wander to Morocco and dream of Mughal India.
(Images courtesy of Wikipedia, Pintrest, & ecru)
The 'Carmen' Bowls March 25 2013, 0 Comments
Fruits are always a great way to sweeten your day especially if they are exotic like a pineapple. That’s why we are happy to introduce you to the ‘Carmen’ bowls, as they are inspired by Carmen Miranda’s fruity headdress.
Our ‘Carmen’ bowls are first hand carved in wood, and lacquered in a special varnish before they are carefully silver leafed. Super thin sheets of silver are hammered, so they are thinner than paper. The leaf is then placed on the lacquered bowl so gently that one cannot breath during the process as the silver may fly away. Once these bowls are filled with fruit they are sure to freshen up your kitchen counter or table.
Dhurrie Weaving March 04 2013, 1 Comment
I hadn't been in India a very long time before I was sent on a dhurrie mission. My charismatic boss Munnu Kasliwal, who was a firm believer in perfecting tradition, sent me to create a series of dhurries for the floors of his new store.
For those of you unfamiliar with it's traditional name, a dhurrie is a hand woven carpet, traditional to India and can be made of cotton, wool, jute or silk. It is however; more commonly made in cotton and is known to cool your house in the summer, and warm it in the winter.
I had no idea what to expect as I was on my way to the factory. I drove miles outside of Jaipur, listening to my iPod for about an hour, happy to be out of the office and into the country. The driver off roaded for a while before we arrived at what looked like a farm dotted in what appeared to be multicolored bridges.
It was an incredible site.
I was in front of a field of pit looms where weavers sit in seats made into the earth, with their feet dangling in pits under oversized looms, using both their hands and feet to weave.
I felt that I had entered into a world that time had forgotten. There wasn't a machine in sight. The weavers somehow appeared to be part of the Earth. I'm not one to use phrases such as 'organic', but in a way, it seemed as though the two complemented each other.
One of the weavers told me that this specific village was known to have the best dhurries in Rajhastan, but he was from this village and was bound to think so. I was mesmerized and spent the entire day watching how they separated the yarn, how they mounted the looms, how they sat and wove using both their hands and feet while singing away to Bollywood hits from the 50s.
Thought I'd share.
The Chai Walla's cousin ... February 22 2013, 0 Comments
At 6.00 am this morning my eyes shot open.
4 days left before I travel and I can physically feel the time tick.
I've grown accustomed to this feeling - of being completely out of breath as the future of the World depends on whether you manage to meet all your suppliers in time.
I hit my first wall when I approached the printing workshop and realized that I could not hear the calming thumping of blocks being chiseled.
The ten different radios were not simultaneously blaring Bollywood music.
The smell of chai being brewed - absent.
I could feel my temperature rise and my eyes widen. Trying to remain as composed as I could I began lightly in my bizarre mix of hindi-english:
'Bhaaiiiiiiiiiiiiisssaaaaabbbbbbbbbbbbbb, why, why, why!!!! Mausam bhaud Acha!! Storm is gone!! Whyyyy????!!' Forehead permanently crinkled.
We had experienced a bizarre storm a few days before which halted all printing due to pigments reaction to moisture.
A group of some ten out of twenty printers were chatting away by their tables.
'No work today, Chai Walla's cousin expired '.
My initial reaction was of complete confusion. Why would an entire factory stop working for the death of someone with whom they never met.
Some of the artisans don't even know the Chai Walla by his first name.
I looked at them blankly, got into the car and drove back to my office. I couldn't argue with death.
I was now REALLY starting to stress.
When I entered my office I realized that the cleaning lady wasn't there. I looked to my phone to read
'SORRY!! NEIGHBOR'S SHADI. OFF WORK FOR THREE DAYS. HAVE TO GO TO VILLAGE'
If it wasn't a funeral, it was a wedding. Plus I thought that we had reached the end of 'shadi' season, weddings were no longer taking place every two days.
I sat at my desk and started to lightly tap my forehead on the table. How could they work like this, how unprofessional.
People passed and married all the time !!
I continued, silently cursing the day away.
Until it dawned on me.
The Chai Walla is an integral part of the factory. His job is to serve lovingly made chai while he sings and teases all the artisans, around four times a day. And he does it well. Therefore his happiness is of the utmost importance and although they may not know his name, they will close up shop to show that his sadness means something to them. That they appreciate his untiring efforts to make them happy.
The cleaning lady works everyday to make sure that one day she could also throw an extravagant wedding for her children. This is something really important to her. Why shouldn't she spend three days enduring the happiness and stress of her neighbor's important accomplishment.
I couldn't help but suddenly feel that I was the one who maybe had it all wrong ...
So here is a little tribute to our Chai Walla's cousin.
(Photos courtesy of ecru)
Magic February 13 2013, 0 Comments
The day always begins bright in Jaipur.
Living with two fabulous girls, the three of us in design, means that without fail, the door bell frantically rings at 8.00am.
There are two painters who are back for the 100th time to repaint your house.
The tailor, who is soon becoming a fellow housemate arrives, tangled in swatches of fabrics for your approval.
A random 90 year old gardener discreetly floats by you in his white 'lungie' to save your attempt at a jungle terrace.
All the while coffee is overflowing in the kitchen, fresh fruits are being chopped and plans for the day are bouncing off of each person that passes by.
Your breakfast meeting then simmers and your working day begins.
You skip pass wild bougainvillea outside the house, waving at your smiling neighbors, inhaling the absolute exotic bliss that is your life.
Right before you crash. Hard. Into reality.
There's been some major confusion. The design which you handed to the block printer more than a month ago seems to have been used as a coaster for a paint bucket, as a result is no where near being made. The fabric you imagined your entire line of bed linens to be made in hasn't arrived from Calcutta, and will probably never arrive. Your order sheets have been misplaced - which technically means you don't exist.
Ah yes, the familiar roller coaster of emotions begin.
But that is what we love about Jaipur. One can be sure that a day does not pass uneventful. No emotions are spared. All senses are undoubtedly exasperated. Your breath is constantly cut short by a lingering date that floats in your mind - you know you're never going to make it - 1000 meters of fabric can not be printed in thirty days - there really is no point, you may as well quit while you're ahead. Quit now.
And then you enter the workshop. The artisans are jolly, they laugh at your impossible orders, they tease you with the potentiality of failure, they reassure you that it will all work out in the end. And you know it will. Then, with the precision of surgeons they begin. Chisiling at their blocks, creating colors from dust, stretching fabric so it's tightly crisp and printing in perfect rhythm. Everything makes sense.
The artisans are magic.
Our Printing Process January 15 2013, 0 Comments
The thing that gets me the most excited when I first look at a textile, isn't the way it feels, isn't the brightness of its color or the sheen of its weave. It's the process behind it. Technique has always been an obsession of mine, and the technique of block printing is a fabulous one.
Every aspect of block printing is beautiful. From the wood block itself, which is meticulously chiseled, by an artisan who has been trained for years to prefect his craft. To the swatches of jute used to hold the pigments on which the blocks are stamped.
And what I love about block printing is it's lack of pretentiousness. It does not scream of the amount of work that is put into it's production.
Here's a little bit about the technique:
Blocks are made in a series, each block represents one color, the more colors in a print, the more blocks are made.
Once blocks are chiseled, and the pigments for a print are made and ready, a different set of artisans (the stampers) take control of the process. The stampers use the chiseled blogs to gently tap onto swatches of jute fabric which hold their respective colors. The drenched block is then tapped on the chosen, stretched fabric, until it dries.
The pressure of the tap while printing has to be of such a perfect mix of firm lightness, that it is enough evidence to differentiate an experienced stamper from another.
In a block printing workshop there can be up to two dozen stampers, each can produce a different looking fabric, even if using the same print and color, solely based on their tap.
The outcome of a block printed fabric depends on every person involved in it's making - from the designer to the block printer to the stamper. The look of a fabric can change based on any of these person's styles or moods. It is a highly sensitive process.
The perfect block printing quality is when one cannot tell where the print begins, and where it ends.
It is a beautiful technique of printing, we hope you love it as much as we do, as there are a lot of exciting prints coming your way.
Love from Jaipur,
*(images courtesy of Alfred Tarazi)