Saturday, May 28, 2011

Here is a picture taken by a recent visitor to Burgula, of the women weavers sizing a malkha warp

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Karm Marg through their business arm Jugaad uses small pieces of fabric as patchwork. We've sent them our left-over cut pieces which they will make into finished goods to be sold in our shop. The first lot has been made into 500 pouches to hold a bar of Sundaram soap and an Etikoppaka lathe turned lacquered wood top as wedding favours.

Here is a 20 year old picture of D Sani Babu of Etikoppaka lacqering a bowl on the lathe, and another one of the soaps being packed into the malkha patchwork pouches

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In the last few hundred years the weaving of cotton cloth in India on the handloom has had its ups and downs but has never died out. It has been weakened but not killed by mass-production on powerlooms. Powerlooms are forbidden by law to make 11 items which are to be reserved for handlooms, but they do so with impunity, while the State looks the other way. Bordered sarees are one example which are specifically reserved but are widely copied. While corporate brands have full protection of the state's law enforcement machinery, this is not available for the handloom! Shops that traditionally sold only handloom, like Nalli's in Chennai, are now full of powerloom sarees that imitate handloom, sold as handloom to unsuspecting customers. Since it is customary to sell sarees in a starched, tightly folded form, it is difficult to tell the imitations from the real thing in the shop, it is only when one wears powerloom that one notices the poor draping quality and harder feel. Dyes on powerloom cotton fabric also fade much quicker than on handloom.

So next time you go into a shop, ask specifically for handloom!

Friday, May 20, 2011

the first malkha sari

Many of the customers who came into the shop last month asked if we had sarees and yes, they're on the way we replied. Well the first warp is finally here, woven at the Pulagurtha Co-op in East Godavari. Here is a picure. The sari is heavy, weighing over 800 grams, and closely woven, in natural unbleached cotton with an indigo border. It doesn't crease and in spite of its weight is cool to wear.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Among the organizations with whom Malkha collaborates is the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, which is promoting organic cultivation of food crops and cotton in Andhra and the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. Last year they began multiplying non-BT seed, and this year they have enough for 500 acres, and these are seeds that the farmers can multiply themselves, unlike the seed sold by the seed companies. Dr Ramanjaneyulu, the Director of CSA, says that seed from 2 plants is enough for an acre. This year we hope to switch in at least 3 of our production centres to Non-Pesticide cotton, and next year to organic. A very exciting prospect, because it is not only a step towards self-sufficiency for the farmer and therefore the village, but also because we are convinced that organic cotton produces better cloth. Once some years ago we had tried a small lot of organic lint, and it was not only easier to process, with less wastage, but the cloth was softer and more lustrous.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Shri Ravindra Sharma's talk at Lamakaan was as usual riveting and people who had not heard him before were stunned, they had never heard anything like it before and didn't want him to stop. He spoke about the folk traditions of the area around Adilabad, the traditional craft techniques and the interdependence of society with artisanal craft. He has a detailed knowledge of this field, for instance Kala Ashram has listed the number of matti objects used by a local household - 222. Miniature painters of the area, he says, for the finest details, used a brush made from "choohe ke kaan ke baal' the hair from a mouse's ear. And so on...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

kondapally exhibition

The Kondapally exhibition at the Malkha shop was a great success, with 85% of the stock being sold. It confirmed our idea that there is a great unmet demand for artisan crafts in the city. Most of the figures were painted with natural colours and were of high quality and very modestly priced, even underpriced, we thought. They were the work of Shri Nageshwar Rao, one of the leading artisans of Kondapally, and his sons who are carrying on the tradition.
The Metroplus section of the Hindu newspaper on Saturday carried a very nice article on the show by Prabalika M Borah with excellent photographs by G Krishnaswamy.

Unfortunately Shri Ravindra Sharma was not able to come in time to give a talk at the shop as we had hoped, but will be speaking at Lamakaan this evening.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Trying to match marketing to production for malkha is a continuous balancing act. When we found we had a fairly large stock of plain indigo we gave an order to our Kalamkari printers for indigo print dupattas. Now, before the printed dupattas have arrived, the indigo stock is almost finished, and there are problems in the dyehouses so there is not much more in the pipeline!

Meanwhile we are trying to get as much plain malkha printed as possible before the monsoons set in, as Kalamkari printing is difficult during the rains. This means that our stock of plain undyed malkha is depleted this month.

The Crafts Council of Andhra Pradesh has kindly offered us a stall at their local Aakruti Vastra exhibition in July. Does this mean that we will not have enough stock for our regular appearance at the Dastkar's Bangalore Nature Bazaar in August? and if so, how do we supply our regular Bangalore customers? We have to forgo the Kala Madhyam, Bangalore show in June for lack of stock, but are still expecting to participate in Nature, and are also hoping to be part of the Dastkari Haat Samiti's Kolkatha & Chennai events this year in September and December, which will be our first show in both those cities. However, upto now neither Dastkar nor DHS have confirmed dates or whether they are holding the shows at all.