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SIPA Hemalatha

Kalamkari’s Persian translation is kalam ‘pen’ and kari ‘work’. Traditionally Kalamkari was painted on cloth; today in Pedena it is printed with hand-carved wooden blocks. The dyes used are natural. Production is extremely labour intensive, taking up to forty days. The raw-cloth is de-starched naturally bleached with cow-dung and then dried in the open air. The cloth is then dyed in the solution of Myrobalan seed extract yielding a cream tone to the fabric. Next, the cloth is dried again and introduced to the first stage of printing. Certain areas of cloth are painted with iron acetate solution marking the spaces to be occupied with colour. The solution coated areas are then subjected to printing with alum which acts as a mordant producing red colour. These spaces may also be left blank to reveal the cream coloured base depending on the printer’s choice. The cloth is then washed and set for outlining. The cloth is sent for washing in running water and boiled with Fira flamebush (jaaji) leaves after each stage of printing to ensure the colourfastness of the natural dyes. Final printing is followed by the final washing and dye fixing treatment with alum water. The number of printing stages depends on the design structure and application of colours. Mainly primary and secondary colours are used. Secondary colours can be obtained through a synthesis of two or more primary colours in conjunction with a mordant. Nageswara Rao, the printer, explains that ‘For mehendi (henna) green red and black are mixed and boiled with pomegranate extract’.


Colour variations The five wooden blocks carved ready for printing
Sieving the Myrobalan seed extract Printing Boiling the cloth  Drying the cloth around the town