Balinese Masks

Among the many popular activities in Bangkok, shopping is a favorite among most tourists and we were no exception! There are many stores and street shops selling clothes, art, crafts and curios. Women squealed in delight as they found their dream outfit for the night out, men were immersed in browsing through a variety of tech products. A colorful store where the products had made their way into the street’s exterior beckoned to us. The first few minutes were just a feast for the senses, there were beautiful abstract paintings, sculptures, figurines, dolls, masks, rugs and a  shop full of kitsch. The ornately carved wooden masks caught my eye, I imagined they would make a great addition to my home decor.

mask2

I initially presumed the masks were locally made in Thailand, it was only later that I came to understand they were made in Bali and popularly known as Balinese masks. The philosophy behind the mask is that every element has a soul, including the mask created. These masks represent various mythological characters, many of which are from the Hindu religious texts such as the Ramayan. There are also strong influences of Buddhism. These masks were used to narrate stories of life, of kings and the triumphs of good against evil.

Masks1

The masks are typically made from wood. Craftsmen in even the remotest parts of Bali are adept with the knife and sculpt staggering pieces of art. Intricate drawings and shading is also seen on the finished masks. The prominent colours used are Red (symbolising courage), Yellow (wisdom), White (purity), Green (peace) and Black (ambitious). These masks were used in dramas, dances and as protective charms, today they look great as elements of home decor.

Mask 4

The masks adorn a prominent space in our home and we are pleasantly reminded of our travels, every time we stop to admire them. What I would love is to visit Bali and sit through the actual making of some these expressive masks. 🙂

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The Art of Creating Silk Products

I have always been a fan of this gorgeous fabric. The crisp texture, the sheen, the vibrant colours and the variety of  motifs and designs. I have incorporated silk be it in the form of curtain panels or cushion covers at home, even silk sarees get me thinking on how they can alternatively be used in home decor. Stores such as FabIndia have some lovely home furnishing products in silk, and the expensive rates are the only reason I’m not buying more of them. But after my trip to Narayanavanam in Andhra Pradesh, I have come to realise the immense effort behind silk weaving especially in handwoven products and the rate we pay for it is more than justified for the hours of labor invested to produce this lovely material.

wn

On the outside the village looks like any other, simple looking traditional homes, simple people and their chores of cooking, visiting the nearby temple and kids playing on the streets. But if you peer into one of the low laying windows of these homes, you can be transported into a world of grandeur, colour, texture and pattern; the world of silk. This village has been producing silk sarees for many generations dating back to decades before India got its independence. The art has been passed down several generations and they swear by handwoven silk. While there seems to be no comparison to handwoven silk products, the sad truth is that this is a disappearing craft. Machine weave is picking in popularity because of its ease and need for less time and human resource. Also the current generation among the weaver community are interested in better paying city jobs and are unwilling to carry on tradition.

villageThis made seeing every step in the process of creation even more special and mesmerising for me. Here is my day at learning the art of creating silk sarees, my patient guides were CMRC silks, popular vendors of silk sarees in the region and my father-in-law who hails from the weaving community:

Q : Where does the raw silk come from?

A : We do not produce silk in this region. Silk farming happens in regions of Karnataka around Bangalore and we receive silk thread from there. The process in Narayanavanam begins at the dyeing stage.

pre-dye 1

dye cols

Q : What is the first stage of creating a silk saree, here in Narayanavanam?

A : As you must have seen, silk sarees are produced in a range of colours. Sarees can be of a single hue, double hue or even multiple hues. The raw silk comes in an off-white or creamy colour and we dye these in different colours depending on the saree.

We have specially built stoves in the open to boil the different dyes in water, we wash the raw silk and then dip them in these dyes, ensuring all parts are completely dyed, by repeatedly turning and dipping. Then we again wash it multiple times in water and allow it to sit for a while in a fixing agent to ensure permanency of the stain. The entire process may take between 2 -4 hours. The silk is then set to dry and kept aside for the warping process.

pre dye rods

red dye

Q : What about the Jari thread?

A : We get the Jari thread from Surat. The genuine Jari have silk thread coated with real silver and then coated in gold thread. Jari that is cheaper may not have silk core and silver coating. They are also available in different colours, most standard being silver and gold.

jari1

Q : What process do you do with the Jari?

A : They come in small spools, we first transfer it to cut plastic pipes with the help of a simple device. This process is done first to make it smoother and reduce the possibility of breakage. This Jari on the pipes is then again transfered based on the saree design, for the border or bhuttas, by another rotational device. This final spool with a particular quantity of Jari is sent for the weaving process.

jari2

Q : Do you follow a similar process with the silk thread as well?

A : Yes after the silk has been dyed, we send it for the warping process, where the silk thread is stretched and set according to the saree pattern. Breakages are repaired, loose threads removed, it is set in a taut manner between two end devices as the entire thread material for either eight or twelve sarees is sorted through. This is entirely a manual process and what makes handwoven sarees special. The sorted silk thread is then rotated on wooden beams, with cardboard sheets inserted in regular intervals for protection. The time taken for this process ranges between 4-6hours. This is then sent to the weaver.

silk warping

Q : How old are these devices and machines?

A : These instruments or at least parts of it can be as old as 100 odd years, some even more than that. Certain parts are replaced as and when required due to wear and tear.

devices

Q : Please describe the weaving process.

A : The weaving machine is simple and complex at the same time. In handloom weaves, the weaver has to use both hands and feet in a continuous process. The main saree body material that has been through the warping process as in the above step is horizontal threads of the saree. The vertical threads are loaded on something called the weft, the weft is a block of wood with both sides pointed and a hollow in the centre where the vertical thread spool is loaded. There is a rather simple machine that sets the thread on this spool. The weaver sets the horizontal silk threads through the weaving machine, as there will be threads that get pushed up and those that get pushed down during the weaving process. The weft moves like a bullet from end to end as the vertical threads are weaved in with the horizontal. A separate line introduces the Jari thread for border, body designs or bhuttas. Small bhuttas are done with the hand, while larger designs are done either with the weft by hand or with the Jacquard method. The up and down movement of the weaves is controlled by the foot pedals and the weft is controlled by hand. Throughout the process, glue is applied across the saree in small parts as the weave progresses. The weaving process differs based on the complexity of the saree design and takes anywhere between 1-3 days.

weaving

golden threads

Q : What is Jacquard?

A : Doing large Jari designs and patterns by hand can be extremely time consuming, so there are cards punched for a particular design when fed into the weaving machine and thread sorted accordingly, weaves the corresponding pattern much quicker.

A single pattern is made up a lot of cards, and can be as many as 100 or more.

jacquard 1

cards

Q : If done manually, how long does a single Jari pattern take versus the Jacquard method?

A : When done manually a single line of big Jari pattern can take between 2-4 hours, using the Jacquard the time can be reduced by more than half.

jacquard2

Q : After the weaving is complete, is the saree ready to be sold?

A : Yes the saree is ready to be sold. However in case of minor stains or crumpling of the fabric, we send it for a process called Polishing. This is a simple process where the saree is stretched across both ends and natural glue is mixed with water and applied and set to dry. This removes any variation in colour and makes the saree look better than ironed! You can even get your old sarees polished to restore that fresh out of the store look.

polish

Q : And the final step?

A : The next is a final quality check and re-folding the saree to showcase the parts such as border, body and pallu better. Then it is ready to be viewed and bought by customers.

 Q : Do you sell only sarees?

A : Business sees a spike during the wedding season, but sometimes these sarees get bought for other purposes, such as recently tourists bought a good deal of silk sarees to be used as home furnishing. We do produce certain other products such as home furnishing on custom orders.

 Hope you enjoyed the walk through of the silk weaving process as much as I did. So do you have ideas on how we can creatively use silk sarees in home furnishing?

 

Monday Jumpstart!

We had a great weekend, finally got around to fixing some long pending light fixtures, went shopping, finished my painting and had a great Sunday evening with friends. Here is the finished 3 panel painting on our living room wall.

buddha seriesNow I’m thinking what do I paint next ? There are lot of empty walls to experiment with! So what are you looking forward to this week?

 

Art On Multiple Panels

I’m absolutely loving this style of paintings and art on more than a single panel. The concept of carrying the art across 2, 3, or even more number of panels provide exciting visual and serve as the focal point of a room. I’ve been wanting a 3 panel painting for my living room accent wall and looking for some inspiration fell upon these great finds!

They range from paintings on canvass, to digital prints, textured clay mediums, textured wood and even metal.

5 panel abstract painting_framingpainting

Abstract art panels with gorgeous colour treatment! (Photo Credit : framingpaintings.com)

Abstract 3 panel dancers art_aliexpress

Abstract dancer inspired painting on canvass in 3 panels (Photo Credit : aliexpress.com)

3 panel nature inspired colour play art

Nature inspired canvass paintings across 3 panels, an interesting combination of colour and texture. (Photo Credit : osnatfineart.com)

Seasons 4 panel art_osnatfineart

Season inspired 4 seasons panel art, painting on canvass (Photo Credit : osnatfineart.com)

mixed sizes 4 panel

Mixed canvass size art panels (Photo Credit : dhgate.com)

4 panel digital art

Digital art print on mixed panel size and alignment (Photo Credit : dhgate.com)

kiss 3 panel_ebay

Popular paintings such as ‘The Kiss’ by Gustav Klimt available in 3panel prints. (Photo Credit : ebay.com)

world-map-100-handicraft-3-panel-huge-wall_dhgate

Trending map art on walls in 3 panels, I love the colour combination on this one, will look great on a contrasting wall (Photo Credit : dhgate.com)

pattern play 3 panel

Fabric art panels with gold leaves ( Photo Credit : kohls.com)

DIY decoupage 2panel_paintandpattern

DIY 2 Panel Art Decoupage with scrapbook paper (Photo Credit : paintandpattern.com)

vinyl wall art stickers in 3 panels

Stencil inspired vinyl sticker panel art (Photo Credit : thestickerhut.com)

reclaimed wood panels_ourweehome.wordpress

Reclaimed wood panel art provide an interesting display by itself or with photos pinned on or even with splash of paint! (Photo Credit : ourweehome.wordpress.com)

wallpaper-wall-art_shelterness

Wallpaper panels of the same pattern  framed in three parts for a cost effective yet unique look (Photo Credit : shelterness.com)

butterfly metal art 3 panel_001_marketplace.secondlife

3 panel art with metal detailing (Photo Credit : marketplace.secondlife.com)

claypanel_shadowsonstone.blogspot

3D Clay art on multiple  panels prove to have striking texture and appeal! (Photo Credit : shadowsonstone.blogspot.com)

installation panels 3_curbly

Very creative panel art with canvass backdrop supporting the contrasting branches painted in white. I would  love to try this at home! (Photo Credit : curbly.com)

stencil art panels_houzz

Stencil based art done on the wall in sections can provide the same look as the above panel art and can be beautiful based on the colour and detailing (Photo Credit : houzz.com)

I was so inspired and encouraged to try something on my own. I bought 3 canvasses and painted a visual very close to my heart and of course would look gorgeous on my blue accent wall. I have finished 2 panels, the 3rd one will be done and mounted on the wall this Saturday! I promise a better pic of all three soon!

2panel

The 2 panels that are ready, acrylic on stretched canvass, dimensions 15×22

panel painting 1The center panel  🙂

The ways in which you can display multiple panel art in your home is truly only limited to your imagination, don’t you agree? Happy Weekend!

Malang Mela – Festival Fairs and Unique Finds!

Festival fairs are great fun to attend. They present a feast for the senses, with a variety of items available ranging from clothes to yummy foods. The Malang Mela at Sun City on Saturday was held to celebrate the Kannada New Year – Ugadi. They had more than 20 stalls catering to every need from home decor to food. We had our own stall, selling some silk quilts/bed covers and bags. Though we have been attending such events for a few months now, this is the first time I get to write about it.

The mood was upbeat despite the summer heat. People happily made a beeline for the lemonade and buttermilk stalls to beat the heat! Walking around, I noticed many stalls had interesting products for home decor and furnishing. These items are not available in stores yet, which made them all the more special at the event. The products ranged from soft furnishing such as cushion covers and table mats to lamps and paintings. Here is a look at some of the products and where you can find them :

1. Non-Woven Furnishing:

The stall ‘Pink Petals’ had on display some interesting cushion covers, table mats and runners. What made them interesting is that they were made from non -woven fabric, reminiscent of a certain type of packaging material. It had certain perks such as wrinkle free even after a wash and some funky designs on neon shades. Both ethnic motifs and contemporary prints are available. The products are from a brand called Cannigo. You can find more on their website : http://www.cannigo.com/ or get in touch with Sharda Jain at +917676124433.

cushion covers

2. Lamps, Tea light holders and bowls:

The stall ‘Decor by Sarika’ had decorative lamps, tea light holders and bowls made from attractive crystal beads. Come evening the lights and the lamps beckoned to the crowd to come take a closer look. You can get in touch with Alpana at alpanavivartsingh@gmail.com / +918197920357, if interested in any of these products.

lights2 lights1

3. Paintings & Wall Art:

The stall ‘Aakriti ‘n’ Arts’ had a range of affordable paintings and wall art to add life to your walls. The team Anu and Namrata had some eye-catching ethnic work such as Madhubani and Warli besides others. You can check more of their work at http://aakritinarts.in/ or  contact them on +919620549901.

art2 art stall1

4. Up-cycled Jean Products:

The stall ‘Prerit’ run by Prabha showcased some very creative work , up-cycling old jeans into bags, clutches, wallets, hair-bands, scrunchies and even storage pouches for your home! If you are interested in buying any of these products or lending your old jeans for money get in touch with Prabha at +918792867281.

pouch

And lastly our products on display, silk quits that can also be used as bed-covers with matching pillow covers.

silk quilts

Though we went to the festival mela as vendors, we could not resist the charm of certain products. Saturday ended on a great note, we sold some and brought home some new items as well!

 

 

The World Of Warli Art

It’s been right under our nose and yet we failed to accredit it as it truly deserves. I’m talking about the mesmerising tribal art forms of India. There are many such art forms that stem from the cultural fabric of our country, paintings done in various parts of India, by highly talented yet extremely simple people. The art forms have graced their homes, directly painted on walls as murals, on floors, paper, hide or even leather. But many modern day homes miss out on the opportunity to bring a little bit of this into our interior decor.

One specific tribal art form that interests me is Warli, the reason is the simplicity of the design. The flexibility of being able to tell any story through painting Warli forms and the sheer beauty of the colour contrasts. This art form has its roots in the Warli or Varli community belonging to the region between Maharashtra and Gujarat. And unlike many other Indian art forms, does not depict mythological characters. Instead the focus is on daily social life. The flat style of drawing surprisingly feels animate as animals, scenery and people come alive through Warli.

warli dance(Photo Credit : www.stockpicturesforeveryone.com)

While the shapes are very simple, usually just consisting of the circle, triangle and square , other nature inspired shapes also appear through the drawings. The traditional method is to prepare the wall of a house in maroon or red ochre using a mixture of earth, water and cow dung to ensure longevity of the stain, the Warli figures are then painted in relief in white using a mixture of rice paste water and glue for binding. Apparently the art was done in homes for special occasions ranging from weddings to festivals. Today as it is slowly gaining urban popularity one can see it more often in city areas. Bangalore has walls painted in public spaces with the Warli art. Sanctioned by the BBPM, these creative stretches provide a break from the monotony of traffic and travel.

Warli wall _The Hindu(Photo Credit : The Hindu Archives)

This simple yet stunning art from is inspiring people to try their own hand at it and some of the adventurous try it out true to its original form – right on their home walls! Reshma Sharma is one such person, her home is a delight for all those who enjoy ethnic art forms merged into modern spaces. Ethnic motifs, traditional art and loving doses of green adorn her nooks and corners. Here is a peek into her Warli themed wall, boldly painted in pink:

Warli Wall_Reshma(Photo Credit : Reshma Sharma, http://rishhhhriti.blogspot.in/ )

These days noticing Warli themed decor items offer great focal points in Indian interiors, many companies provide a range of Warli inspired decor products ranging from beautifully painted terracotta pots to even throw cushions and clocks. Here are some products available in the market today and can add a little extra charm to your home.

warli art painting_www.fashionhaat.com(Photo Credit :www.fashionhaat.com)

lamp_warli_pepperfry(Photo Credit : http://www.pepperfry.com)

red_clock_craftsvilla(Photo credit : http://www.craftsvilla.com)

warli terracotta pot_pinterest(Photo Credit : Pinterest.com)

chaimatki_warli_pinterest(Photo Credit : Pinterest.com)

warli pillow_etsy(Photo Credit : Etsy.com)

warli_tray_theelephantcompany(Photo Credit : theelephantcompany.com)

I stumbled upon this online store called TheElephantCompany.com and they have some very interesting home decor products, furnishing and furniture. Some of these beautiful products are Warli inspired:

warli bedspread

(Photo Credit : theelephantcompany.com)

peg table

(Photo Credit : theelephantcompany.com)

I’m sure a couple of these products have caught your fancy and you are wondering how soon you can get them home. If you are not ready to go shopping, there are some simple ways to incorporate Warli in your existing furnishing as well, such as if you have a plain cushion, how about painting some simple Warli figures on them, or for your plant pots, you can even try out Warli designs on plain furniture as seen in the above product and create some unique decor items for your home!

I leave you with a small Warli inspired sketch I did last evening on a piece of silk cloth, that I plan to use in my cabinet door panel instead of glass.

Warli_anusha