My desk, before it got too messy
On this trip, we also searched for and found a new block printer. We are always on the lookout for new artisans to work with and this was a particularly good discovery. He specializes in the vegetable dyes of Bagru village, a centuries old tradition that has been developed to the point of true artistry. The printing techniques are dependent on the weather, quality of the water, drying times, and absorption of the fabric. All these elements influence the colors, so the mixers and printers are truly master artisans at work. I always find myself lost in the beauty of a print, noting how it changes characteristics when done in different color schemes. It is usually difficult to limit myself in choice of prints. Often, as I work, I choose a print and develop it into new and slightly modified color schemes. On this trip, the vegetable dye colors were so lovely and earthy, I decided to go ahead and use them as is since they brought the richness of my oriental inspirations to light.
Madanji, our pattern master, putting a new sample on the dress form
I am also developing a few original prints, blending the characteristics of the traditional block print motifs with stylized floral patterns and contrasting shades of intense jewel tones and muted pastels. There is almost limitless possibility in this realm. I love the freedom of imagination reigned in by my guiding principles: beauty, femininity, and wearability.
Ramuji, our cutter, Hanumanji, our sample maker, and Madanji, our pattern master
I have come to have great respect for those who are working here in our studio now. Our pattern master is brilliant at making lovely clothes from my sketches. Our cutter is equally as talented in making sure the patterns and prints are cut just so. They take the care that few people even consider doing. Each day, at our shop in the states, I hear people comment on the quality of the cuts, the stitching. Praise for this goes to our stitchers: a small group of men (yes, in India the men are typically the stitchers, pattern masters, and cutters). Day after day, they carefully make beautiful clothes. They are all ordinary people; but they are doing their best. All these bits and pieces, on a human scale, are felt in our clothing.
So, needless to say, I love every minute of the whole process—from sourcing and developing beautiful fabrics to working out the designs with our staff.