As a young designer I spent months each year in Rajasthan. Jaipur and Bagru to be precise. I was the designer for Anokhi and Monsoon. Here collections consisted of block printed fabric whose every process relied on the hands and skill of the craftsperson. A simple yet magical process which fascinates me still. Whereby entire generations of families pass on extraordinary talent and whose businesses depends on the right weather conditions and a painfully erratic water supply.
Hand carved wooden blocks were piled high, stored beneath printing tables or stood in rows as though waiting for their turn until the printer recalled the ones required to bring a print design into life. The surfaces of these could be worn smooth from printing, others, newly carved, had well-defined patterns consisting of clear curves and lines. Only the printers eye can translate these markings in order to transform a plain piece of cloth into decorated, fabulous fabric to be made into a collection and continue their wondrous tale.
The traditional colours used for printing were natural inks and dyes derived from plants, roots, barks, seeds and flowers locally grown. And indigo of course. Magical, wonderful indigo derived from the Indigofera Tinctoria plant, used since millennia, the original colour of the first pair of denim jeans.