Friday, October 29, 2010

Trip to Block Printing community in India

I should have posted these pics up sooner but I just didn't get the chance. I was busy trying to get results from the natural dye block printing I had learnt in India.

This is how the story goes. So, fortunately, I was able to meet Dipali Patwa, a textile designer and founder of MasalaBabyNyc,, adorable adorable children's clothing based on Indian aesthetics.  She connected me with Fabindia. Fabindia is a leading retailer in India that works with various craft communities in India, bringing development through employment to their communities.
 Check out the link for their website:

Once in India, I was sent to Pipar City, a town an hour away from the city of Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Not knowing what to expect, I was quite nervous but after reaching the house of Chhipa Yasin Shahbuddin, all my nerves were put to rest. I was given a room in their house and the family was very warm and welcoming. Yasin Bhai (brother Yasin) lives with his wife and two children, with two adjoining bungalows for his two brothers, Farouq Bhai and Ilyaas Bhai. Both brothers live in their houses with their wives and children.

Without a minute to waste, I was taken to their block printing factory a few blocks from their house. 
Upon entering the factory, I was immediately in love with the atmosphere, the people, the work. I could not believe I was actually there, having the opportunity to learn amongst the block printers. Yasin Bhai and his brothers welcomed me into their homes and their work spaces without holding back anything. They took me around on rounds day after day, I learned how to achieve various color results using alum and iron printing. I spent time over boiling hot water, watching fabrics seep color from various flowers. They also didn't spare me from the physical labour. I washed my own samples in the 2 feet deep wells, amongst the other workers in the factory. The final day I was initiated into making the dabu paste, which is a mud paste that is kneaded with your feet for an hour. I was encouraged to step into the 2 feet deep well, with mud rising up my legs, stepping hard to get all the mud mixed in thoroughly. They had a blast making me do this. :) 
dyeing fabric in dhavri ka phool, mahi, and alizarine

Ilyaas bhai at the indigo vat

washing fabric

Yasin Bhai in the middle

Farouq Bhai laughing while I step on the dabu paste

It was hard leaving the factory after becoming attached to the workers and the Shahabuddin family. Not enough can be said about their warm hospitality. I am currently working on details for another trip to the Shahabuddin factory early next year. I can't wait.


  1. Hi Ruchika
    I have just found your blog after you left a comment on mine about indigo which I have only just noticed
    I am very impressed. Lovely work and it is amazing you managed so much so quickly Wow!
    LOve it. Hope the indigo dyeing goes well.

  2. Hi Helen,

    Thank you so much for visiting my blog and even more so for your lovely comment. I will definitely keep you updated on the indigo process! First I'll probably try and attempt the natural dyeing again to gain some confidence before I venture into the indigo vat. :) Keep following! And I will check out your book.