Inspiring Gujarat

Now that I’ve been home for a month, inspiring Bhuj is foremost in my mind. I have mentally and emotionally digested the lively memories of my India trip. And I have resumed my routines of working in the studio daily. Back to airbrushing, on silk scarves, which I enjoy immensely.

The luxurious texture of silk itself is very attractive

Each scarf is using the Lotus theme in various colours. I still have enough of this particular piece of silk to complete 2 more scarves, then it’s time to experiment!

A visit to inspiring Gujarat was piqued by its strong textile traditions

One of our first stops upon leaving Ahmedabad, was the school, Somaiya Kala Vidya. Here we met a group of students, who were in the midst of a colour theory class. We were shown some of their amazing textile work. Their work was in various techniques including block printing, weaving and tie and dye.

Amidst the excitement of looking at and discussing their work, I had the opportunity to show them some of my work, on my ipad

The visit was far too short! Before leaving, I gave them a spare airbrush that I had brought along from Canada. I gave them a crash course on how to use it. Hopefully they will find it useful!

During my trip to Bhuj in Gujarat, I had the opportunity to visit a couple of fabric artists

One of these artisans uses Bandhani or shibori (tie & dye) technique. His name is Khatri Alimohamed Isha. He is a hereditary artisan, well known in contemporary markets for producing very high quality, bandhani scarves and other items, in silk, wool and cotton.

Example of Bandhani technique

He very graciously allowed a small group of us to visit him at his home to look at his work. We also talked about his technique. He lives and works at Khatri Chowk in Bhuj.

This area is named after the high concentration of Khatris, printers and dyers who have lived there for centuries

Khatri Alimohamed Isha travels all over the world to give workshops, promote the craft and sell his work. He also receives many visitors, including textile tour groups, buyers, collectors and museum curators.

Later, Alimohamed invited us to join him, for the Opening festivities of the Living and Learning Design Centre (LLDC), also in Kutch

This textile museum and training centre has been established to preserve traditional crafts, such as embroidery. These crafts have been practised for centuries, in Kutch. The Centre has three museum galleries and spaces for training, workshops and research.

Opening soiree at the LLDC, in Kutch

We were five, who crammed into an auto rickshaw for the ride to the Centre. On arrival, a presentation was underway, including speeches and a video about the various crafts produced in the Kutch area. Afterwards, we went to an enormous tent, which had many food offerings for the attendees. Many of the ladies wore gorgeous wool wraps, which were hand woven and embroidered with thread and the tiny mirrors, that are sewn into garments in various villages.

And to end the evening, we visited the home of Dr. Ismail Mohammed Khatri, whom is a world famous master of the traditional Ajrakh block printing process. His family has been involved in this craft for nine generations! One of his sons, Sufiyan gave us a short lesson on the various steps in the block printing process, including information about the various natural dyes used.

Sufiyan, providing us with a description of the step by step process of block printing, with various natural dyes
Block printed fabric on printing table

I am quite drawn to the Bandhani technique, which I would like to try out sometime in the near future. I  also plan to explore dyeing fabric with natural dyes. The main attraction is of course, the result, but more, it’s the unknown and surprise of what the result will be. Needless to say, I did buy a Bandhani scarf and a Block printed shawl from both of these inspiring artisans!

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Hi. I'm Maija.

Producer of one of a kind fabrics, I am a Visual/Textile Artist at MaiTribe Studio Gallery, in central Ontario, Canada.

My life and art have been inspired by my travels  to countries such as Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Bali and India.

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