As the first entry into our blog we would like to set out what we will be using this space for.
First and foremost this blog is dedicated to block-printing. When we first set eyes on block-printed cotton we were taken by surprise. It was an Ajrak print in the traditional madder root red and iron black natural dyes. It really caught our eyes; the geometrical design, the slightly smudged (slubbed) print, those vibrant natural colours. We spent some time admiring it. We were told that it’d been woodblock-printed. Our curiosity was piqued. After doing a little research, followed by chats to artisans, visits to workshops where we watched the printing, we became more and more intrigued by this handicraft. With this increasing knowledge of Ajrak block-printing our admiration and appreciation for it has grown. The end product is beautiful but knowing a little about how it came to be, makes it even more beautiful. There are many steps and stages in producing a piece of block-printed cotton - from the designing of a print, the carving of the wooden blocks, the mixing of the natural dyes, the preparing of the cotton, the printing, the boiling, to the drying. A staggering amount of history, creativity, skill, patience and know-how goes into each Ajrak print. It’s the story of the Kathris’ arrival in Kutch from Sindh province in Pakistan, the time-perfected recipes of the myriad of natural dyes, the creative minds behind the designs, the dextrous wood carvers, the zen-like printers, … all these stories we want to bring closer to you in this blog.
We also want to us this space to introduce you to the town of Bhuj and its surroundings. We will be your guide to this hot and dusty town on the edges of the desert. Catch the Bareilly Bhuj Express from Delhi or the Kutch Express from Mumbai to their final destination Bhuj, the end of the train line. It’s in the far west of Gujarat, the Wild North West of India. Drive 140km west from Bhuj and you’ll arrive at the border to Pakistan, drive south and you’ll be on a beach overlooking the Indian Ocean, north and you’ll be standing in one of the world’s largest salt deserts called the Rann of Kutch. We’ll accompany you through the streets of Bhuj sharing our dawn photography of the shops and people, letting you listen to our dusk recordings of the market after the heat has passed, telling you about the family who runs the best buffalo milk ice cream parlour in town. You’ll meet Mukesh the master silversmith, Atul the bidi-smoking tailor, Mohammed the travelling cotton merchant, Altaf our favourite chaiwala... We’ll take you on scooter drives through the desert to the nearby villages; Ajrakhpur the new home of Ajrak printing, Dhamadka the old home of Ajrak printing, Lakhpat the 18th century fort...
Last but not least we’ll be discussing sewing. After all we’re selling fabric and we sew. We have some ideas and designs we’d like to share. Take the tote bags which are up for sale - fancy making one yourself? We’ll have all the steps and instructions up for you to follow.
All of this will make up the Slubbed Blog.
Thank you for reading!