Put pen to cloth

Updated: Dec 20, 2016, 10:16 IST | Shraddha Uchil

Learn the basics of Srikalahasti kalamkari, an ancient art form from Andhra Pradesh, at a workshop next week


(Left) Master craftsman Niranjan Chetty will conduct the workshop; (right) Kalamkari art primarily use earthy colors like indigo, mustard, rust, black and green 

It takes around 17 tedious steps and nearly 15 days, at the end of which a craftsman earns himself a stunning piece of kalamkari fabric. You can fast track your way through the laborious process to learn the art of Srikalahasti kalamkari at a two-day workshop next week.

The workshop is being hosted by Iteeha, an organisation committed to creating awareness about traditional art forms across India, and will be conducted by Niranjan Chetty, a fifth-generation kalamkari artist, whose grandfather is credited with reviving the art form in the 1950s, after the number of craftsmen involved in it had started dwindling. Iteeha's Ritika Jhunjhunwala will accompany Chetty.

"The word 'kalamkari' is a combination of two words -kalam (pen) and kari (craftsmanship). There are two types of kalamkari -Srikalahasti and Machilipatnam. The latter uses the block-printing method, while the former -which we will be teaching participants -is entirely hand-drawn. The fabric is painted using a twig and purely organic dyes," says Jhunjhunwala.

The history of kalamkari goes back several centuries. It was first used to depict stories from the Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, and was earlier patronised by the royal families and temples of a region. Over time, it has evolved to include motifs such as flowers and birds, and is now used for garments.

"Traditionally, the process takes long because you need to make the black ink and prepare the fabric. The ink is created using a mixture of palm jaggery and rusted iron, and the cloth needs to be treated with buffalo milk. If this is not done, the ink bleeds on the fabric," shares Jhunjhunwala.

She adds, "Two days is too short a time to master an art form, but you will learn a lot about it, right from how to treat the fabric to how to develop the colours."

ON: December 26 and 27, 11 am to 4 pm
AT: ARTISANS' Gallery, Kala Ghoda, Fort.
LOG ON TO: insider.in 
CALL: 7506122332 
COST: Rs 4,200

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