Let’s get one thing perfectly straight right off the bat: I had nothing to do with the exquisite bandhani-tied, indigo-dyed shawl seen above — other than that I bought it the moment I saw it. It was designed by Abdul-Jabbar Khatri, who was teaching the bandhani class I took at A Verb for Keeping Warm on Sunday. Bandhani is a traditional Indian resist-dye technique whereby you pinch off a teensy bit of fabric (usually silk) and wrap it in thread, again and again and again, until you’ve made a remarkably elaborate pattern, at which point you dye it and then remove all the knots. Jabbar showed us wedding shawls with up to 40,000 knots tracing out all kinds of intricate designs — really amazing. Then he showed us how to do it and we tried to not to embarrass ourselves. Here’s part of my handiwork:
That was fun and fascinating to learn about — I’ve seen lots of pieces made from this technique without having any idea (or appreciation) for what goes into it. But the fun kicked up a notch when we got outside to Kristine’s dye pots and Jabbar showed us the basics of clamp resist — folding silk in precise ways and using small C clamps (or in our case, binder clips!) to hold the folds in place and create resist areas while the fabric is submerged in the dye. That’s Jabbar’s sample on the left below, followed by my first attempt and my two classmates’.
Kristine had smaller strips of silk for us to play around with — plus four pots of natural dye: madder, fustic, logwood and indigo — and everyone had a blast trying out different folds and clamping methods and dye combinations. Then I got ambitious:
Yep, three yards of indigo cotton splendor. There aren’t actually any white spots — that’s the sun glinting off the soaking wet fabric.
What am I going to make from it? Don’t know yet. I’m still a little high from the fun and sun and indigo fumes of it all.