Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Posting Sunny Meeta's comment, in case people miss it:

'You guys have created the freedom fabric of the post-industrial age. Its equivalent to khadi for the freedom movement but more sustainable. Its low carbon footprint, decentralised production, and appropriate technology process is actually creating a new synthesis of the dialectic of nature and technology. A synthesis that comes from the colonised south not from the all knowing western university or corporate system. Great going.'

Hope that the malkha 'synthesis of the dialectic of nature and technology', of traditional expertise with IIT trained engineering, will encourage other such efforts. Rural industries owned by rural people, using the whole gamut of natural resources which at present are sold off cheaply to corporate industry within or outside the country... traditional and new skills.. green energy..what a vista..

Thursday, November 19, 2009

nature bazar, Delhi

Dastkar's annual Nature Bazar has become a hugely popular event in Delhi's annual calendar. Folk performances and and childrens' workshops, besides the 160 or so craft stalls, on the lawns of the IGNCA, a lively mela atmosphere. Its a pity that there is little public transport, but the metro will make a huge difference next year.
For malkha it was encouraging to have repeat customers who have enjoyed wearing what they bought last year. This year most of our sales were in retail, directly to users, though some of them lamented the difficulty of finding tailors. As usual the deep indigo was a sellout. So were Sutanu's prints of swans and butterflies and the alizarin red. Our stripes do better in Delhi than they did in Bangalore, and of course this time for the first time we had different weights from the different weaving centres. Also for the first time we tried the bleached plain, which we are a little hesitant about because it's not natural bleaching [we hope to get to that in time].

One of our European customers is from Friends of SEWA and buys indigo malkha for the SEWA Lucknow women to use for chikan embroidery, sounds wonderful, hope we get to see the end product. Another great fan is Aarti, wife of Tushar of Living Blue. She wore a malkha kurta almost every one of the 10 days of the Bazar, and bought lots more. Thanks to retail, this was our best ever sale so far and we feel quite elated by peoples' admiring comments: we were asked is it was silk, or linen... just shows how wonderful cotton can be if its treated with respect. Now the question is how to make it more easily available.. we're encouraging people to order even small quantities through e-mail which we can send by post.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A frequently asked question is why our cloth is called malkha.
In the days of Indian cotton textiles' glory, there were many different varieties of cotton fabrics, and the names too were many and varied, and part of the common vocabulary: bafta, nainsukh, dosuti, moree, jamdani, mulmul, chint [morphed into chintz by the Firangs], mashru, himru, and many more. We made up the name malkha by combining the first syllables of mulmul and khadi. We hope as malkha production gets going in different places that each will develop its own variant, for example the malkha made at Magan Sangrahalaya, Wardha, wants to call itself magan malkha.

At present all the malkha produced in Andhra just goes by one name, though it is now coming from 3 different centres, with the fourth installed and soon to start production.