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The Ancient Craft of Tie Dye – Guest Blogger Penny Peters

May 12, 2011

Penny Peters completed her City & Guilds of London course work through the advanced Diploma in Design and Embroidery, and she continues to teach and assist with our extended courses.  Travel is one of her great loves, and she has seen some amazing things, both historical and inspirational.  Here is a snippet from a recent trip to India.


On a visit to Gujarat, India I was able to visit the workshop of Bandhani Master Ali Mahamad Isha.  He talked to us about how this intricate work is produced.  First a pattern is applied to hand-woven silk  habotai.    This is done with a rag dipped in a kerosene solution and applied over a stencil pierced by tiny dots (below left).  Then a complete drawing is made of the pattern (below right).

In the next stage, thread is meticulously wrapped in a tiny dot pattern by pulling up a small dot of fabric and wrapping thread around it.

When entire dot pattern has been wrapped, the fabric is dyed. Each thread wrap resists the dye so that white dots remain on a colored background making the pattern.  After dying, the thread warps must come off, so two people pull the fabric very taught between them and the thread wraps pop off.

I was amazed to see how quickly the thread wraps pop off compared to how time consuming it was to put them on.  The finished fabric has an intricate pattern and is worn as a shawl.

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