Techniques

I went to Bangalore in September 2018 and was inspired by the lectures and areas we visited whilst there. The lecturers briefly touched upon sarees and their techniques, where they originate from and the fact that India has only existed as a country for 70 years. The traditional techniques and skills date further back than 70 years which means that these techniques technically did not originate from India as a collective, but from the cities, villages and districts that were around prior to independence. These skills and techniques were passed down from generation to generation in families; they would all be specialists in their field. This really interested me, and we were informed of how the weaving techniques are dying due to power looms taking over; with the new electronic equipment being built and accessible, there is less of a need for the level of skill previously attained.

 

Motifs and Scale

This technique is inspired by Pochampally Sarees where the weavers use motifs and scales to show versatility in the sarees borders and main fabrics. In some designs, the motifs would be replicated in different sizes to show more detail to the motifs whilst also playing around with placement.

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Multiple Shuttle Technique

This technique is inspired by Kancheevaram Sarees which is where they use three shuttles to weave the borders and main body of the saree. It was quite an efficient technique to do and very rewarding. It is very easy to make errors whilst doing this technique as I had to choose what section of the warp I would be inserting the shuttle into.

 

Embroidery on the Loom

This technique is inspired by Jamdaani Sarees which is where they do "embroidery on the loom", most often creating a shadow effect. This technique was very tricky to learn. I drew the design on the warp before I could embroider it, as I was still learning the technique. In India, those who use this technique when making sarees, create their motifs on the loom instead of following a specific pattern. This is because they have the experience and knowledge to be able to understand how the embroidery will formulate a good pattern in repeat. This took a while to understand and figure out as the technique was very fiddly. Once I figured out how to do the embroidery whilst weaving it, it became a lot easier.

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Ikat Dyeing

This technique is inspired by the dyeing process used to make woven Ikat Sarees. It was a very long technique to carry out. The correct width of the warp had to be wound so that when it was woven, the pattern would fall correctly. I then drew the pattern on to the yarn and put rubber bands where I didn't want the dye to seep through. The rubber bands acted as a resist. I then dyed the yarn and had to take the rubber bands off and wind the yarn on to a cone.

 

Weaver's Knots

This technique is used when tying on a new warp to the warp already set up on the loom in order to prevent a lot of waste of yarn. It is a lengthy process and can be difficult to get the hang of, especially as the tension needs to be kept the same from yarn to yarn.

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© 2019 by Khadija Dookanwala

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