About Les Indiennes

Mary Mulcahy launched Les Indiennes in 2002. She had a vivid picture in mind of naturally dyed cotton, with airy patterns of big, single colored motifs. Unable to locate anything anywhere she decided to create her own.

 

She found a craftsman named Srinivas in a tiny village in southern India. He is one of very few craftsman who still practice the ancient art of kalamkari, an extremely complex printing method.

 

We are particularly proud of the fact that Les Indiennes never set out to industrialize or to change the way things are done in India. The production of our fabric uses no electricity, does not cause pollution nor does it disrupt the traditional lifestyle of the village where it is made. Les Indiennes provides fair trade employment for over 50 families, raising the standard of living for the entire community, and all the while leaving no environmental or social footprint.

FABRIC PREPARATION

The fabric must initially be softened and bleached. Bales of organic cotton are repeatedly rinsed and beaten against large rocks, then laid out on the grass to bleach in the intense Indian sun. If it rains, this step must wait.

BLOCK PRINTING

Once the fabric is sufficiently softened and lightened, printing begins. Craftsmen dip hand-carved teak blocks in dyes derived from plants, roots, earth and rock. Great care must be taken in pressing the pattern to the cloth. Then, the printed fabric is air dried for at least two days.

COLOR FIXING

When the fabric is dry, it must be steamed over a fire of rice chaff to fix the color. Workers next haul the cloth to a stream and rinse the fabric to remove excess dye. Colors emerge from different streams in different tones – nature’s little tweak!

FINAL TOUCHES

After the color is fully saturated, the fabric undergoes another round of softening and color-brightening. The fabrics are boiled, laid in the sun once more, and dipped in
a natural, color-intensifying solution.

With all of these careful steps, it is not surprising that Les Indiennes fabrics arrive beautifully broken-in and soft, with sweet and pleasing hints that they are made entirely by hand.

 

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