Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Living Tradition


The ikat look is everywhere these days, but most of what you see featured in magazines or blogs is not real ikat, but a print or jacquard made to simulate the look.

The work "ikat" comes from the Indonesian mengikat meaning "to tie up."

Real ikat is make by skilled craftsmen who tie and dye the design into the yarn before the fabric is hand woven. During the weaving, the yarns move slightly, giving the motifs a distinctive feathery edge known as the ikat look.

Look closely at real ikat and you will see that no two motifs are exactly alike.  In a real ikat, the front and back of the fabric are the same because the design is in the yarn, not on the surface of the fabric like in a print.

Ikat is practiced in a variety of regions - Japan, Guatemala, South East Asia, Africa and India - but in all these areas the process is similar.

Meet Laura & Kiran Singh who met in India over 30 years ago.  Their first date lasted 36 hours. Auspiciously, it was on the full moon of the color festival of Holi, when people run wild throwing powdered color on each other in the streets. At sunset, they took a magical boat ride on the lake in the bird sanctuary at Bharatpur, Rajasthan. Surrounded by flocks of birds shadowed against a glowing sky of oranges, pinks and purples, floating along in an old faded gray wooden row boat, they discovered their mutual love of Indian textiles and their desire to bring contemporary design to traditional Indian products.

On that first date they sketched out the lines of the business they are still doing today.

The starting point of their design inspiration is thinking about color trends in the world of interior design and working out the color stories. Then they look at traditional ikat and textile designs from different regions.  By working with contemporary colors and simplifying the designs, they create ikats to accent a variety of home furnishing styles from traditional to ethnic to mid-century.

They have made many visits to the villages in Andhra Pradesh over the years to work directly with the weavers to produce their own designs and colors. The oldest known ikat in India can be seen on figures in the caves of Ajanta. Laura & Kiran are designing in a tradition that can be dated back to the 12th century!


By giving them new designs and contemporary colors they are giving new life to an old craft and keeping a glorious tradition alive.

CLICK HERE to view a step by step demonstration of an original Laura & Kiran ikat being marked, tyed, dyed and handwoven in India.

 Be sure and come back tomorrow for a tour of their Berkeley Store and FABULOUS GIVEAWAY!

*Text and photos from REAL IKAT, A Living Tradition by Laura & Kiran




Blooming Rose Musings said...

Terri, this is so interesting and so beautiful. Truly labor intensive work to develop such an exquisite design. Bravo to the Singh's for bringing new life to an old craft. And yes, the contemporary colors are gorgeous!

I love that we can always count on you to bring us the most beautiful and coolest information! Wonderful post!
Much love. XO

Acquired Objects said...

This is a wonderful post I love how you set out to show the differance between printed and real ikat. I have some antique ikat that is to die for. The colors have stayed intense even after a hundred years. Terrific post Terri!


Ivy Clad said...

Beautiful and informative post! I love ikat and am glad to learn something interesting about it.

I've added you to my blogroll.


*Chic Provence* said...

Quel interesting post!! I'll watch the video, then come back tomorrow for the giveaway!

Then come over to the east bay and visit your shop and theirs!

Stop by and enter my Rough Linen from Tricia Rose giveaway... it closes in two days!!

a bientôt

and happy new year Terri!


Kellie Collis said...

These prints are fabulous! It's a gorgeous craft! Enjoy the beautiful day, Kellie xx

lisaroy said...

What a fascinating post Terri! I had no idea the amount of work that goes into the real thing :)

Linda in AZ * said...

*** The things I never KNEW... WOW!!! This was REALLY INTERESTING, and I LOVED the pics... (And my Dad, who was a VORACIOUS READER, always said "It's a day wasted if you don't learn SOMETHING new!!!"... Well, I learned something new here, and it was FUN to learn!!!)...

Many thanks for taking the time to share all this!

Linda in AZ *

quintessence said...

What a FABULOUS post!!!!! You know much I love the back story especially of people like Laura and Kiran, who are keeping traditional artisanal handcrafts alive, updating them for modern lifestyles. I just loved going on this little journey with you!