Handmade Textiles

Handmade textiles Introduction:

Years of working with artisans has not quenched my thirst for handmade textiles. On the contrary, everytime I watch artisans work their magic, I yearn for more interaction with artisans.

Handmade textiles Ikat:

Recently, I had an opportunity to observe Balinese Ikat weavers at work. To those unfamiliar with Ikat, it is one of the strongest and most complicated textile techniques. Artisans across the world are connected by a common thread. It is no wonder then, that artisans in three countries are skilled in the art of Ikat weaving, namely, India, Indonesia and Thailand. Ikat textiles are characterised by their geometric patterns. These patterns are formed by pre – dyeing the yarn in multiple colours to mathematical precision. Geometric patterns form when these yarns are woven on a shuttle loom. A small mistake in the pre – dyeing process can result in the final pattern being skewed. In single Ikat fabric, the weft thread alone is pre – dyed in multiple colours, while the warp thread is dyed in single colour. In double Ikat fabric, both warp and weft yarns are pre – dyed in multiple colours. Double Ikat weaving is a highly specialised textile technique, practised in India alone. Ikat textiles are put to multiple uses. They are used for making scarves and pocket squares. They are sewn into beautiful kaftans and dresses.

Handmade textiles Batik:

The art of batik painting is widely practised in Bali. Batik  belongs to the genre of resist dyeing and printing. In resist printing, motifs are covered with wax (Indonesia), starch or mud (India and Africa) and the covered fabric is dipped in dye. The dyed fabric is then washed or steamed to get rid of the resisting agent. Batik was popularised in India by the Nobel laureate poet, Rabindranath Tagore. However, while Indonesians use the fine nibbed pen or tjanting and geometric blocks called tjaps made out of brass, Indians use paint brush and wooden hand blocks. Persian influence, with its curvilinear floral motifs, is abundant in Indian block printing.

Batik sarongs, shirts and dresses add value to a textile connoisseur’s wardrobe. While buying batik products, look for authentic handmade textiles and do not be fooled by cheap mass produced imitations.

Artisans world wide, display amazing depth, dexterity and diversity. We need to foster these handmade textiles so that our children and their children continue to be enthralled by their beauty and grace.

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Racewear and Degas

Racewear and Degas Introduction:

Edgar Degas, the French painter, sculptor and print maker is regarded as a pioneer of the Impressionist movement. Degas himself preferred realism to Impressionism, painting common subjects like dancers, racehorses and cotton merchants. Degas frequented racecourses where the movers and shakers of French society congregated. At the racecourse, Degas found ample opportunity to study the movements of man and beast.

Racewear and Degas Hats and Scarves:

Degas collected fashion accessories. His penchant for hats and scarves finds expression in several of  his paintings where his subjects wear headgear ranging from bonnets,  veils and headscarves to top hats, middle eastern caps, trilbys and sunhats. In one of Degas’ early works, a pensive Roman beggar woman sitting on a a window sill, her head covered with a plaid scarf in neutral colours, epitomises melancholy and destitution. Degas painted his friend Alice Vilette in front of a window in his studio in rue Blanche. The red scarf and the black head dress could have been suggested by the artist himself.

Racewear and Degas Inspiration:

Degas touched the lives of everyday performers – dancers, jockeys and working men and women – through his sculptures and paintings. As we approach yet another spring racing carnival, we can learn a lesson or two from Degas’ works of art to accessorise correctly for fashions on the field. The fashion punters are backing the boxy clutch bag or the oversized envelope bag embellished with jewels and rhinestones this season. A statement clutch bag can rejuvenate a slightly weary dress. Clutch bags with extra features like side slings leave your hands free for the canapés and champagne.  Combat possible rain and chill with a Pashmina or a silk scarf that can be discreetly tucked away and brought out if the weather plays a few tricks on you.

Emulate Degas this Spring racing season, his eye for detail and mastery over colour and form to achieve that perfect blend of sensuality and sophistication in your racewear.

Of Horses and Hats… Edgar Degas

Of Horses and Hats… Edgar Degas

Winter 2016 is officially over. Spring is finally at our doorstep, bringing in its wake the Spring Racing Festival. Spring 2016 coincides with a retrospective of Edgar Degas, a French Impressionist artist at the National Gallery of Victoria. Horse racing as a theme recurred in Degas’ work. Horse racing was a popular pastime of the bourgeoisie in the 19th century. Members of Parisian high society gathered at the racecourses, offering Degas an opportunity to study shapes and movement.

Degas collected fashion accessories. An array of headgear – bonnets, hairbands and bows, top and bowler hats, middle-eastern caps and wide brimmed sun hats adorn many characters of Degas’ paintings. Degas had a penchant for scarves. He catches ‘a Roman Beggar Woman’ wearing a plaid scarf in a pensive mood. He drapes a striking red shawl on his friend, Alice Vilette.

A full review of Degas’ new vision, coming soon on Deidaa.