Fabric Printing Workshop

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Dyes on the studio wall remind me of a Cy Twombly painting.

Yesterday I took a fabric printing workshop at Tharangini in Bengaluru (the city has officially changed it’s name since the last post). It was so much fun to spend time in the studio, touching the beautiful wood blocks and printing with them. We began by practicing on a sheet of wrapping paper and a gift bag. We were then given two cushion covers to design and we could choose from the hundreds of blocks lining the walls. The printing process is quite different from block printing with a brayer and printing ink. The textile color is not as tacky. It is spread onto a flexible support and overlaid with a rough jute fabric for blocks with larger print areas. For finer blocks a fine smooth muslin is put on top of the jute and the ink is encouraged to seep up through the layers.

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The owner, Padmini, told us about the history of Tharangini, then introduced us to some of the materials and the steaming process. Everything used in the dying and printing process is Eco friendly and often organic.

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Gum Arabic on the upper right and pomegranate rinds on the bottom. The pomegranate makes a dull lime green color.

The steaming area for fixing silk dyes.

The steaming area for fixing silk dyes.

The container on top of the red oven in the foreground is where the water is heated, it is then piped into the tall metal cylinder behind, where the fabric is first top loaded and then steamed. The cone in the foreground goes on top.

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For me one of the greatest highlights was seeing the teak wood blocks being carved. The artisan had his small chisels custom made in Calcutta. I love how he lightly outlines the pattern first, then carves with chisels and mallet to get a deep relief carving. Teak is a very hard and durable wood. I’m in awe of this craft.

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How Sweet It Is!

French stitch

French stitch

Forget Indian sweets, do you know what’s sweet? Seeing the finish line of a project. I should take a personal leave from work more often. 🙂 It’s amazing how much you can get done. I’m nearly finished binding my edition of ‘Sound Horn Okay!’. Only two more to sew and then I’ll be doing the finish work on the covers.

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I used sheets of handmade paper from India in various colors and chose the binding thread that looked best with the end sheets. Binding an edition can get pretty boring, mixing up the colors made it a bit more interesting. But it is so satisfying to see them stacked up on the bookshelf! Now it’ll be fun to work on some new things.

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Sound Horn Okay

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Sound Horn Okay copy

While in India I have been working on binding my book ‘Sound Horn Okay’, a book about Indian wheeled transportation. I have made the prototype, which is Ashwin’s copy, and I’m working on the first of an edition of ten. I plan to have them completed by the time I return to Chicago. Hot off the presses and ready to sell! 🙂

Below are examples of a few of the finished pages.

lorrie copy

bus copy

JCB copy

tractor copy

Yes I’m Making Art!

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Besides binding the book I wrote for Ashwin, ‘Sound Horn Okay’ I have been able to work on some other fun things. I have been making some Envelope Drawings of animals. They are fun and I don’t have to think much, they are pure play and who know where they will lead? On our wedding anniversary I was thinking of our time on the Cape and our beach wedding so I made a large ink wash drawing of a hump back whale. It seemed appropriate somehow, working on Indian truck prints in Chicago and whales in Bangalore. I bought the paper in Chang Mai, Thailand. I wasn’t sure at the time how I would use the printed gold sheet, I only knew that I loved it. Maybe I’ll draw some ships while I’m landlocked in Bangalore too.

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