Textile techniques of Gujarat

From embroidery to tie-dye, it's time to get creative!

Colouricious Holidays – learn new textile techniques!

Following our adventures on a Colouricious Holiday to Gujarat, we take a look into the textile techniques that have kept Gujarat a recognised focal point of the textile industry. You will visit local communities to witness craft like never before. Most of the artisans have practiced these skills their whole lives from a young child till the elder years. With conservation at the heart of what we do, visiting these remote places help keeps these skills in circulation today. Take a look at our website to find the right the Colouricious Holiday adventure for you at www.colouriciousholidays.com

What is Batik?

Batik is wonderful technique for designing textiles. It’s uses a resist method to dye silk, cotton and other pure fabrics traditionally with geometric patterns. It requires a tool called the ‘cap’ which is a copper head on a wooden block. The copper rods are around 1.5 cm in width are used to apply a dye proof substance to create the design.

The fabric is then dyed and the areas remaining covered with the hot wax retain its colour but the uncovered parts obtain the chosen colour of dye. This process can be repeated several times on the same fabric to create beautiful and unique textile designs. Once finished the hotwax is removed the cloth is ready to be sold.

Batik is a great design method due to the varying materials you can use to create a bespoke piece from different wax and dyes to fabrics. Different wax blends tend to crack allowing dark dye lines to enter/penetrate the resisted spaces, another design strength. Batik fabrics are also known for their durability with colours less likely to fade as they have a higher resistance to wear compared to painted fabrics. On textile treasure of Gujarat you will participate in a Batik workshop and learn this fabulous textile technique from these skilled craftsman.


Mandvi tie-and-dye centre

The tie-dyed fabrics of Gujarat, also known as bandhej, are famous for their intricate designs and patterns, which are used in wedding outfits and are considered the best produced in India. The process begins with the fabric being folded to create a rectangle. Designs are printed on with a wooden block and these areas are pinched and pushed into points, then tied into tiny knots with 2 or 3 twists of thread. The fabric is then dyed in the lightest shade first with the knotted parts remaining uncoloured. The fabric is then retied and dyed in the darker colour. The hues of deeper shades are used over the previous ones to form the coloured background of the cloth. This can continue for several rotations depending on the number shades in the final fabric design. The completion of this fabric takes around 8 hours.

Tie-dyed fabrics are available to purchase all over Gujarat normally being sold tied up to ensure the cloth has not been printed. The price of these textiles not only depends on the intricacy of the design and the type of fabric but the number of times it’s been tied and dyed. Special fabrics will often be brocaded with fine gold thread.


Rabari embroidery

The Dasada village is located in the Kutch district of Gujarat. Kutch is famous for embroidery with 16 different styles being practiced all over the region. The most well known is Rabari embroidery with its incredibly vibrant colours, chain stitches and use of mirrors in a variety of shapes. It gets its name from the nomadic Rabari community who embroider in circular huts, known as Bhunga.

The fabric is usually a plain cloth occasionally lightly quilted for better durability. Cotton or silk threads in an assortment of vibrant colours are worked onto the fabric using fine accent stitches, stitch, satin stitch, running stitches, herringbone and decorative back stitching to name a few. Rabaris outline patterns in chain stitch. Mirror fragments are finely embedded with tiny buttonhole stitches for extra embellishments displaying the artist’s creativity. Beads, shells, tassels and buttons can be added for individual effect and authenticity. The complex designs often depict the changing world in the eyes of the Rabari women and therefore always evolving.

The different style of embellished garments and intricacy of embroidered work not only define the Rabaris socio-economic stature in the community but also clearly distinguishes the person’s identity. For instance the placement of embroidery on their veils will tell you what community they are from. Embroidered borders are usually Wagadia Rabari method whereas the Kachela Rabaris have designs in the centre of their veils.

Another amazing tradition is the preparation of the dowry for a Rabari wedding. The girl must finish all textile pieces for the wedding before she can get married. This includes embroidering clothes, bags, bedcovers and even the decorative camel cover which can take up to 3 years to complete. This tradition enables the girl to learn these textile techniques and helps these skills be passed through generations. It’s incredible to see these wonderfully vivid colours and textures against the backdrop of the stark landscape of Kutch with its thorny babool and keekar bushes.

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Learn, create, be happy!