Plastic is beautiful...


all the plastic bags in every landfill and all the roadside waste everywhere could be reproduced into such beauty in material by simple means. 

Rothko? Francis? Frankenthaler?

These swatches are samples of colorations(but imagine the possibilities are endless) achieved by Conserve India's patent HRP upcycle process which uses a few trained intuit beings to collage layers of the recycled waste plastic bags - creatively cut up in select shapes and sorted by colors with Bollywood stars as names. This multi dimensional modern textile is lightweight, durable and ecological. The revolutionary process of fabrication requires no water, dyes or solvents(other than what is needed to ecologically cleanse the bags.) This truly eco material is akin to a thin to medium weight pleather and is ideal for accessories & interior applications. AtelierOM has initiated a design collaboration with Conserve India and our products will be available by summer 2011, stay tuned. :)

Please read more about CONSERVE INDIA and the GREAT work they are doing to help the ragpickers from the slums on the perimeters of Delhi, India.  This NGO aims to transform their workers lives from waste to wealth(of spirit) through education, employment, empowerment, health care and social programs. You can make donations directly to this organization or support them by buying readymade in house products online. Other products are made from materials such as recycled tires,seatbelts fabric waste.

To the Future!

RE: USE ful

Handloom for recycle bag cloth

produced recycle bag cloth
produced recycle bag cloth

nylon warp with weft of recycle bags on handloom

recycle bags as thread, cut into strips
waste wrappers used as materials
spools of waste bags for recycle cloth handloom weaving

KHAMIR, which means “intrinsic pride” in the local language of Kachchh,is an NGO supported by the government of Gujarat, India. Through education, training and interpretation in the diverse areas of craft, environment and heritage conservation, products and materials are continually developed by the Artisan designers to forge a marketable existence as well as creative partnerships both within the local Artisan and global design community.

Atelier OM will partner with KHAMIR on three developmental initiatives in the start up of it’s Collection:

·      *Recycled handloom cloth made from plastic wrappers and assorted bags(see pictures above) to be used for refabrication in a variety of vibrant functional accessories.(beach bag designs soon to follow..........)
·      *Kala cotton is local, organic, indigenous short/medium staple cotton with it's roots extending back to Indus Valley(Mohenjo Daro) cultivation and is  currently and successfully in development for handspun + handloom production of woven goods.(more on that in it's own post)
·      *Development of a fine soft wool from a limited and special breed of Camel’s hair handspun and loomed from the annual shearing of the herder’s flocks.(stay tuned for a post on this later in the year)

All practices above support Ethical Fashion whereby the consideration of the Gandhian principals of non violence and cottage industry are followed.

Encouraging Differently Abled Boys and Girls, AMM

The NGO Apang Mandal Mandav is truly one of its kind. It is collectively run on donations, some State funding and by a dedicated core of Gujarati volunteers and teachers since 1953. It now houses 200 boys and 160 girls who are given compulsory education and the best fashion design degree training available in Gujarat. Though these young adults have varying orthopedic conditions(Polio was just eradicated in India to 99% in the past 2 years), they are unhindered and positively learn to compete in the textile workforce of Gujarat.
The facility houses separate boy's and a girl's hostels with basic amenities, a public orthopedic physical therapy center run by a volunteer doctor, day care for 25 mentally retarded children and such. Awards of sewing equipment and tools are given annually to excellent students toward the progress of their independence in such entrepreneurship. The differently-abled young men and women of AMM use their skills to produce a fashion line(4 years old) called PURNA which means "perfect" and then some private label work is also completed on site for well known clients such as FabIndia. The quality of work is impressive. The workshops and some of the equipment have been specially designed for this NGO. Atelier OM is excited for our chance to collaborate with the members of this NGO.

note the low pattern cutting tables where the workers can freely move about.
spacious and light sewing studio with state of art juki machines
view of classroom with foot pedal machines....

DEVYANI ironing
KIRTI working on new designs
DEVYANI showing off new purse design
Working on projects for PURNA together!
 group picture of AMM staff.

A Day at a Mud Resist Block Print Studio in Rajasthan



Up in the printing studio where the magic happens
mud resist prints drying on studio roof, then...
the dyeing fields, 100% natural color

Nama ...Now and Then, CHIPPA

The Nama family is a core of traditional hand-block printers and natural dyers from a small village in the heart of Rajasthan. Though deceased the patriarch of this family, Raghunath, is to me a grand source of inspiration in ecological textile works. Together with his wife Kalavati Devi, they cofounded their Studio as an institution to fuse traditional and contemporary craft specifically focused on processes in hand-block pigment & screen-printing, “Dabu” mud-resist and natural dyeing on fibers. Much of this knowledge is inherent to these descendents of the "Chippa" (block print) community of Rajasthan.
Kalavati & Raghunath

In his early years Raghunath Nama became a researcher at National Institute of Hand Printed Textiles in Jaipur. His design efforts procured many subtle and profound colors in natural vegetable dyes on a wide range of fabrics. He also worked as a professor in Chandigarh teaching many his craft. To this day, his wife Kalavati and three talented sons, Damodar, Krishna Kumar and Praveen carry on in his spirit of experimentation and innovation.
It is fortunate that they continues to flourish in these times when Artisans all over India are leaving their indigenous crafts behind. Today a traditional creative livelihood without evolution can no longer provide a sustainable existence in the face of modernity. Due to Ragunath and family’s earnest ability to experiment and implement with their craft, a new paradigm has emerged and hopefully will inspire other Artisans to follow suit. It is with joy that I support this family through our work at AtelierOM and look forward to a long relationship of spirited collaboration and projects with them.





block designs from Studio CHAUBUNDI,
fabrics in process AtelierOM 

Block carving is a specialized skill. The design is carved out onto the surface of a block of wood, usually teak or sheesham. Blocks range from fine edged ones used for print to thicker ones for ‘dabu’ resist work. If a particular artwork is made up of multiple parts, the craftsman has to carve all as separate blocks which when printed will 'match-up'to make the whole image with all the details and colors in line. There are seemingly abstract designs, like the 'Chaubundi'(described by printers as ‘four dots’) and the 'kattar'(dagger). Designs over the ages evolved depending upon the market for them. Some catered to local communities, particular blocks and colors being worn by particular villages, some times even only on particular occasions. Traditional block designs are varied. Most are directly inspired by natural flower/plant /creeper(bael)designs.

MAHASHIVARATRI - March 2, 2011

Nataraj,The Lord of Dance is a depiction of the Hindu god Shiva as the cosmic dancer who performs his divine dance to destroy a weary universe and make preparations for god Brahma to again start the process of creation. 

This year, on the 14th night of the waning moon,the dark moon night before the new moon, this 2nd of March, Mahashivaratri is celebrated throughout India, Nepal and the world by devotees of Shiva. Mahashivaratri means "the great night of Shiva". There are a number of legends connected with the origin of Shivaratri- one such is that Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva were married on this day. The divine union of male and female in the Cosmos.

On this day devotees aim to please Shiva through fasting and prayer.  The main prayers are usually conducted during the night at temples of Shiva. Every three hours devotees worship Lord Shiva in the inner sanctum of the temple in the form of a Lingam which is bathed with milk, ghee, honey, curd, rose water, bilva leaves etc at auspicious hours. 
Adorned Shiva Lingam
Devotees spend much time chanting the Vedic Rudram, or the five-syllable mantra of Shiva -  Om Namah Shivaya - and spend the whole night meditating on Him by remembering one's own ultimate goal which is God Realization - the absolute purpose of this fortunate human birth. Ascending to the top of the mystical and holy Mount Kailash within oneself in meditation, the devotee may experience the presence of God Shiva within one's self and simultaneously flow into the formlessness of the Universal Self which permeates the entirety in all dimensions.

TO DYE naturally.....

Wisdom is as enduring as the dyes of India.St Jerome,4th C

Indigo dyed fabric comes out green til oxidized blue under the hot sun.*

The various processes of resist dyeing, tie-dyeing and yarns tie-dyed to a pattern before weaving were the basic techniques of indigenous dyeing of all village cloth throughout the old world. There are three types of Natural Dyes:
Plant-based dyes: Blues and reds were traditionally extracted from the plants indigofera, anil and rubia tintorum (madder-root) and turmeric for one type of yellow, a flower known as flame of the forest for another yellow called "kesula" and pomegranate rinds for green. These were the main sources for traditional Indian dyes. Symbolically the colors have a meaning such that red is the color of love, yellow of spring, indigo of Lord Krishna, and saffron of the yogi (seer).  

Analyses of red fabrics found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb show that they were dyed with madder-root. Till the early 1900s, indigo was commonly made from a family of flowering plants called indigofera. It was cheap and plentiful, and so favored by the working class (....hence the term blue collar worker).
The range of blues possible from the Indigo vat as performed by Japanese visitors at Studio CHAUBUNDI.

Dyes made with minerals, colored clays and earth oxides:  Ochre, made from iron ore, is one of the oldest pigments and has been in use since pre-historic times. Iron shavings and vinegar, or charcoal for blacks. In "Dabu" / mud resist printing, the resist slip is a mixture of river bed clay, slaked lime, tree gum and wheat powder. The resist temporarily covers the fabric where the previous block was printed so that when the entire fabric is dipped into another dye bath (for example Indigo) everything except the resist bits gets colored. More complicated printing processes can be done with dyes mixed into the “dabu” mixture and thereby printing on top of an existing print can happen. The effect of this is a semi- translucent print through which you can see the underlying print.
Dabu/ mud resist printing at Studio CHAUBUNDI

Animal-based dyes: (It will not be necessary to use these in AtelierOM's  collections) The purple robes of royalty, in Ancient Rome were dyed using a substance extracted from a rare crustacean called a Trumpet Shell (Purple Fish) which was found near Tyre on the Mediterranean coast. An estimated 8,500 shellfish were crushed to produce one gram of the dye, which made it so expensive that only kings could afford to use it. Deep red or crimson was produced from a species of scaled insects, cochineal, and was probably first used by the Aztec and the Maya.
Fabrics are laid out to dry in the sun after each layer of dyeing.*
Process of Natural Dyeing: Certain fabrics like silk can be colored simply by being dipped in the dye for a specified period of time. Others, like cotton, need a Mordant. In India known as ’Harda’ it is prepared from the seeds of the Harad (Chebulic Myrobalan) tree. These seeds are also used in ayurvedic medicine extensively. 

A mordant can be simply defined as a substance that aids and hastens the chemical reaction between the dye and the fiber so that the dye is thoroughly absorbed. Often, traditional dye-makers used brass, copper or iron pots to dye yarn in, for these metals are known mordants. Not all dyes need mordants though -- some dyes (like the brown hues from walnut hulls and the yellow from turmeric) do not need mordants, and yet the colour achieved is fast to washing and sunlight. They are called Substantive Dyes.
Praveen Nama pre-dipping fabric in a mordant at Studio CHAUBUNDI.
Over the centuries, Indian craftsmen have used natural dyes on mulmul (muslin), cotton, wool and silk textiles which are known all over the world today. Indian natural dyed fabrics fall into three categories - yarn dyed in natural colors, woven materials block printed with natural dyes and Kalamkari from south India where the "Kalam" or pen is used to draw beautiful designs on the cloth. 

*all images taken in 2011 at Studio CHAUBUNDI, Kaladera, Rajasthan