Our Work and Artisans
At Contemporary-Craft, we create our designs on natural fabrics using traditional block prints, eco printing and hand-loom weaving. Most of our processes use natural dyes and carefully handcrafted techniques that are environmentally sustainable. Since our work is hand crafted, print and color imperfections in the weave add to the beauty and unique character of each piece. Contemporary-Craft is also a B Corporation and a proud member of the Fair Trade Federation.
On our frequent travels to India, we focus on work with local artisans. Some of the artisans we work with are very disadvantaged socioeconomically. Because of rapid urban growth in India, many people from artistic trades forgo their traditional livelihood for work in industry or manual labor. We are working to raise awareness and revive some of the beautiful craft of these areas, so that our artisans are not displaced by these changes. Also, in much of rural India, women have few economic opportunities. We are supporting an NGO in Western India, Magan Sanghralaya Samiti, which employs women artisans, to create our fabrics.
The most important thing to us is to find a place where great design meets conscientious collaboration. We work to showcase traditional methods of craftsmanship with innovative and contemporary design motifs, while simultaneously ensuring ethical and thoughtful working relationships with our artists and friends in India.
Varanasi, also known as Banaras, lies across the Ganges and is one of the oldest places in the world and is also one of the four most important places of Hindu pilgrimage. Varanasi is the hub of the silk, carpet, handicraft and hand loom industries in India and the traditional art of weaving design on textile and carpets is a great heritage of this region.
Organic cotton, Mansaur Dist. Central India
Hand block printing using wooden blocks is a centuries-old art in India, and block designs vary across regions. As with many art forms in India, this technique has its roots in rural areas, where traditional and abstract concepts merge in a creative and colorful fashion.
Bagh printing is characterized by striking red and black color combinations with very fine print work; rich reds are derived from the roots of the Indian Madder plant, and deep, permanent blacks are drawn from rusted iron fermented with unrefined brown sugar or tamarind paste. Since Bagh village is located on the banks of the river Baghini, a tributary of the larger Narmada River, the printer stands in the river and washes the fabric at least three times to remove the excess color. The print and fabric is then naturally cured under the sun.
This natural printing method draws out pigments from plants and flowers to make interesting patterns on cotton, linen and silk. Steaming plants and flowers into fabric is one approach. We have also developed a direct eco-spraying method with artisans from the NGO, Magan Sanghralaya, Samiti, in the village of Wardha western India. In this method, organic khadi, silk as well as wool can be readied for printing by dipping it in a solution made from harda powder. Natural dyes from plants and flowers are then sprayed onto moist fabric and allowed to spread. The fabric is then dried and boiled in a solution made from the Indian madder plant root and dhavri flowers for fixing the dye and giving a finished look.