Preparing for a 10-day natural dying workshop as the first phase of our project took a lot of planning on our part both in the US and especially in India. Our plan was to set up an outdoor natural dye studio for the duration of the workshop with pieces of it that would remain in place beyond our 10 days. We also commission to have special pots for dying and other materials made that could be left for our weaver societies to begin to incorporate into their own dyeing processes with the idea of moving toward more natural, personally healthy and environmentally friendly process.
When we first approached M. M. Kulkarni from Banshankari Weaving Society in Gajendragad about our project we felt we had found a kindred spirit. Although most of the work the Babshankari weavers do is client driven (they get died yarns and weaving patterns from a client with an ordered number to be woven) they have designed some of their own fabrics as well but have not been able to bring them to market so do not have the set up or marketing system to be able to sell their own designs. When we approached him to become a collaborator around the design process for the production of our 300 sari’s he was excited at a new opportunity to be a creative collaborator and help gain some understanding of different ways to market their own creative work. And so our project started to become a reality and set the date with our weaving communities to launch phase one – a natural dye workshop.
Avenue Road in the heart of Bangalore is a busy bustling business and commerce district where you can buy just about anything you can imagine. This area as a long and productive history of trade in Bangalore, so naturally that was our first stop to begin to gather materials we needed for our workshop. Our collective members spent a day there gathering parts of what we would needed.
Following our tail on Avenue Road…..
Building a Natural Dye Studio
A couple of days our shopping day on Avenue Road we left for Gajendragad on the night bus – a 8 hours journey to the northern part of the state of Karnataka. Here we commissioned an outdoor studio for our dye workshop to be built and set up shop for the week. Along with all of this we also bring with us a suitcase full of natural dyes, fabrics to test colors on, several skeins of organic cotton thread and special stainless steel pots we commissioned. Here is our studio in place. Here we also had to hire a cook for our 10 days, drivers to transport everyone to the farm outside of town where we set up our studio, trucks to transport materials such as sheets of wood to set up the dye tables, large water barrels and more.
Arriving to the village, meeting our cook and her family
Setting up the studio on the first day of the workshop with our weavers and master dyers from the weaving societies.