ISSUE 13  |  India Song

Traditional Kalamkari from Les Indiennes

April 03, 2014 1:00 PM

BY Christine Chang Hanway

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Fabrics made by the complex hand-block printing technique of kalamkari first came to the European market in the 18th century. These classic Indian motifs inspired by nature still look fresh today—but it’s no mean feat to create them. Working with the artisan descendants of those first exporters from southern India, Mary Mulcahy, founder of Hudson, New York-based Les Indiennes, has introduced a new collection of Traditional Kalamkari. Strictly adhering to old-school kalamkari methods, which include repeatedly rinsing and beating bales of organic cotton against large rocks and laying them out in the intense Indian sun to bleach before hand-block printing with natural dyes (and that’s just to mention the beginning steps), the fabrics are inherently sustainable, not to mention wonderfully soft and broken in. 

Above: The complicated and labor-intensive kalamkari printing process results in textiles with evocative colors and prints. The patterns are hand printed from carved teak blocks with dyes made from natural materials, including plants, roots, earth, and rocks.

Above: The vibrant Laureline Tablecloth is 58 inches by 84 inches; $95.

Above: The Julia Duvet Cover come in twin, full/queen, and king sizes, and is priced at $267 to $360.

Above: The border of the Julia Duvet Cover depicts a traditional scene of daily life. 

Above: The Rebecca Duvet Cover come in twin, full/queen, and king sizes, and is priced at $267 to $360.

Above: The red and white abstract leaf pattern has a contemporary feel. 

Above: The Laura Pillow Cover is 18 inches by 18 inches; $52.

Above: The Bianca Table Cloth is 58 inches by 84 inches; $95.

Above: Bianca Napkins, 22 inches by 22 inches, are $64 for a set of four.

Les Indiennes founder Mary Mulcahy has a passion for block-printing as borne out by the intensive development she undertook to produce her line of Hand-Printed Wallpaper. See Geometric Fabrics in London by Way of India and Wallpaper, Textiles, and Tiles by Akin & Suri for more Indian-inspired patterns. And on Gardenista, textile artist Sasha Duerr talks about Creating Natural Dyes for Fabric