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.
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