incense and peppermints

The making of agarbathi otherwise known as incense in this women's collective in the Sunderbans, West Bengal is a social act.
paste is rolled onto sticks and natural scented powders are then applied
another form of agarbathi is made with doop, an incense like clay and sandal powder

I heart elephants

Did you know "the Heart of an elephant weighs between 20-30 kg (40 and 60 pounds) and beats about 30 times a minute? Indian elephants are largest weighing 8,000 and 9,000 pounds. In general, the smallest animals have the highest heart rates. The canary has been reported to have a rate of 1,000 beats, and the large domestic animals show rates of 40 or 50 beats. The elephant, with a rate of about 30 beats, fits perfectly into the picture, being the largest animal and having the lowest heart rate of any of the animals thus far studied.  
from The Heart Rate of the Elephant by Francis G. Benedict, Robert C. Lee

I just can't resist these adorable applique/embroidered elephants of Rajasthan. I have been to India umpteen times but somehow, every time I manage to find some  treasure trove with which I become completely obsessed. So the 2011 search for the new procured these animate elephant handworked pillowcovers which have probably been around forever, they are hanging all over the lanes of the main bazaar PaharGanj, but just recently some variations in stonewashed fabrics & florescent threadworks have caught my eye in one Rajasthali shop in Delhi.
   Stay tuned in the near future for an AtelierOM bespoke collection of Elephants and other appliqued beasts on various khadi and natural linens done in collaboration with Rajasthani Female Artisans of SURE - Society to Uplift Rural Economy....maybe even a limited edition cloth children's book is in development to benefit human and beasts alike!)
  The Handicraft programme of SURE was initiated with 224 women Artisans. Today SURE is successfully running 15 production centers supporting over 600 Artisans. Women are involved intimately from the production of handicrafts to the marketing of them. The main aim of the handicraft programme is to maximize the profits of the women workers and encourage them to become dignified entrepreneurs over being just casual wage-workers. 

the new black MALKHA Black, a handloom cotton khadi naturally dyed with iron to become a 21st century black. Atelier OM is developing a line to include black apparel that won't harm you, your planet or your wallet. Get ready to make the right choice for your wardrobe.                                                               

In the last few hundred years the weaving of cotton cloth in India on the handloom has had its ups and downs but has never died out. It has been weakened but not killed by mass-production on powerlooms. It is only when one wears powerloom fabrics that one notices the poor draping quality and harder feel. Dyes on powerloom cotton fabric also fade much quicker than on handloom.

Malkha - also called the freedom fabric - is pure cotton cloth which is woven using traditional methods as well as modern technology. The cloth, because it isn't heavily processed, retains its inherent texture, breathability, and springiness. It drapes well, and looks beautiful whether natural, colored, or printed. In short, it's cotton with character.

Cotton now is largely mass produced in spinning mills situated far away from where the cotton is actually grown. Once farmers have sold the cotton, they're cut out of the equation. Further, weavers working in these mills are no longer craftsmen with individuality. For a daily wage, their job is to weave as much homogenized, neutralized cotton cloth as possible.

Uzramma - the woman behind Malkha - is working to empower farmers and weavers by ensuring that production, dyeing, and weaving all take place in the same unit. Not only does this allow all those involved to be closer to the finished product, it also avoids environmentally harmful steps such as transportation, and the baling and unbaling of cotton - a process which uses heavy industrial machinery. In an interview with Mint, Uzramma said that what Malkha is doing is not "revivalism", rather, it is using the "strength of the Indian textile production traditions in a contemporary context."

everything fit to print

At the Studio of next Gen of blockprinters in BHUJ, Gujarat:
 In the "Khatri" muslim community, the art of blockprinting among other crafts passes from father to son.
Zubair discusses a pending order while workers look on.
Years of inks, color a wall behind a printing table
the process of printing and coloring
son         &      father

 bespoke samples of eri silk stoles in natural colors that AtelierOM is creating.

Other natural dye prints on our khadi ahimsa silks below