Back Home

How incredibly weird it feels to be back home. No more cows, everyone obeys traffic signs, even the food seems lacking in flavour - definitely needs more spices. No time to rest however, it was straight back into normal life. Uni started up again a few days ago and despite being extremely jet lagged (completely unexpected) and an incoherent mumbling  mess, I've managed to get things in order. I've also had time to try on my finished garment.
Luckily, the garment fits perfectly - the hook and eye closure on the side seam of the top combines well with the hook and eye back neck closure. The skirt has a centre back zipper, fitting well at the waist and falls to a mid-thigh hem. 
The print works well with one another and I'm quite happy with the direction I chose. As the design is presented as a two piece garment, the decision to apply a border to the hem of the skirt only works well. The print flows from the top through to the skirt without interruption.
Definitely excited to wear this little number out and explain to people that the print itself, not only the garment is my original design!


Last Day

It’s now our final day in India. Despite such a short trip, it feels like we’ve been here for years – everyone is trying to come to terms with the fact we’ll have to revert back to our lives in Sydney.

From Pushkar, we drove to the nearest major city with a train station, Ajmer and said our goodbyes to Fiona and Pravine. A seven hour train ride, the longest card game of cheat ever played, an avoidance of strange train food and heaving our now, very heavy suitcases – we arrived back in Delhi.

With only one day left in Delhi, we spent it at all of our favourite places.
With an idea of what little remained of our suitcase’s space and weight – it was firstly off to Nehru Place to buy up on any wanted fabrics for use back home. Then it was off to Hauz Khaz for lunch and shopping and back to N-block marketplace for a group dinner to finish off.

Our plane leaves for Sydney tomorrow morning and whilst I feel like my life has become accustomed with living in India for an indefinite amount of time – it feels like it’s time to go back home. There’s no doubt I’ll definitely miss this place. From the hyper-colour saris, to the intricate architecture, to the smell of chapatis cooking and the occasional city-bound cow – India is definitely one to remember


Garments and Goodbyes

After much deliberation, I decided to go with the spotted design. Whilst the hand painted design had a distinct and unique handwriting to it – the spotted design was equally as innovative.

The stenciled border is created in a way that mimics the distinctive arches seen in Indian architecture – in facades, doorways, windows and more. The woodblocks chosen pair well with my original woodblock as they are botanical in their design and the spotted element is utilized. The spots behind my own woodblock are much more striking and solid in colour than the transparency of the hand painted fabric. They also compliment my own woodblock design, as the spots are recurrent in small dotted bottlebrush flowers. The play on positive and negative space on my fabric evokes interest and quite suitable towards my garment design.
Instead of just an orange spotted background, I decided to incorporate the orange/reds of the pomegranate-like paintings I had been doing a lot of. Instead of watering down the dyes, I would paint using the mixed print pastes directly onto the woodblock - randomising the placement of orange and red. 

I originally thought I would print my fabric here in India, then later cut and sew my garment myself upon returning to Sydney. This is because the original garment I was to have copied, I had made myself. However, I decided differently, as the process of having a garment reproduced by a maker – particularly one in a foreign country – would be an experience worth undergoing. Despite the language barrier as well as differences in patternmaking and construction techniques, the garment was produced in the end.

Soon enough it was our last day in the printing studio. As most of us had finished out print work, and some had a few finishing touches - we spent most of it just relaxing, laughing and joking around with the ladies that worked in Fiona's studio. Nandu, our print assistant joked to marry some of us off to her son, and gave us some feedback to our printing technique. It's obvious she has been watching us carefully over the past week. She's even picked up a bit of English from us with choice phrases of 'oh my god' and 'I love you'. 

We finished off with a dance party in the print rooms and managed to coax all the ladies to join us. We laughed and danced and joked all day - I'm definitely going to miss their colourfulness, our chai times, their sass and our awkward but sweet communication difficulties. 


Finalising Designs

After several days of experimentation, I had decided upon two favourite designs to choose between for my final garment. My garment is to be a two-piece set, with a high neck sleeveless crop top and matching A-line skirt.

The first of my designs draws upon the hand-painting element I had experimented with early on. My woodblock design is to be printed in black upon a cream silk/rayon fabric with embedded gold flecks throughout it. It would then be hand painted with the dye concentrates in oranges and pinks to create a pomegranate-like colour. I could also do the same with a leaf motif block, belonging to Fiona's studio. This would be painted in orange and could serve as a coordinate print to my original woodblock design. 

Instead of a flat solidarity in colour that is produced commercially, my fabric will have differing concentrations dispersed unevenly – giving it the unique, hand painted quality.

The second is a combination of my own woodblock design with several of Fiona’s existing blocks. Firstly a background of spots is applied in orange. These spots are already irregular in their shape and size but will then be applied in different directions, overlapping one another so the spots become seemingly random. Then my woodblock is printed on top in black. Using a two-piece botanical woodblock of Fiona’s, I constructed a stenciled border to accompany the print. Utilizing positive and negative space, the border becomes a reverse of the main print. The background is printed first in orange, which blocks out the entire space, then the black outline is printed on top.



The last few days, we have mostly been spent experimenting. To the horror of the print artisans who are used to traditional methods of printing, we mixed and clashed prints, scrunched and tore fabric, misaligned purposely, printed in differing directions, stenciled, hand painted - completely upheaving the traditional practice.

I found that I particularly enjoyed hand painting after block printing. Using the concentrated print dyes, I would dilute them accordingly and just using a paintbrush, painted directly onto my pre-printed fabrics. This is something I could perhaps explore in my final garment construction.

We also experimented with our own woodblock designs, printing them in different ways and with complimentary woodblocks and continued to push the boundaries of traditional woodblock printing.

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