ANANTAPUR: Kalamkari is the trademark art form of Andhra Pradesh. Taking it as their lifeline, members of Chaitanya Mahila Sangham of Rural Development Trust (RDT) field office in Bukkaraya Samudram mandal (Anantapur district) are not only supporting their families but also giving publicity to the art form, which uses natural dyes.
Wall hangings, handkerchiefs, and dress materials designed using Kalamkari by them are sought after for their beauty.
There goes a lot of hard work behind Kalamkari designs as it is not easy to prepare dyes. All the materials used in the preparation of dyes are available naturally. The Kora fabric used for the Kalamkari designs is procured from Erode in Tamil Nadu.
Bundles of the fabric are cut as per the specifications of the design—handkerchief, door curtains, wall hangings or dress material.
The members of the Sangham are delegated different duties. While one group washes the fabric after it is cut and soaked in water for some time, another powders karakaya (Indian hog plum or myrobalam) and soak it in water overnight. The next day, the concoction is filtered and kept aside. The washed fabric is soaked in the hog plum solution for nearly an hour and the white fabric takes a yellowish hue.
Using a design block, they print on the fabric and keep it aside for five to six days. The fabric is then boiled in algirin and kaji leaf and different temperatures yield different hues. To give a shine to the printed cloth, they use pomegranate wood solution. Sometimes, it is soaked in alum solution to give further shine. The finished product is sold in the market.
According to RDT field office instructor Addemma, sarees, bedsheets, door curtains, table clothes are designed using block printing, while hand design is employed for wall hangings. Most of the process of preparing dyes and colouring is the same as block printing, but the designs are made by hand using bamboo pens.
“The RDT provided the needed training for the group and for the past 20 years, we have been involved in the work. At present, 16 women are working and all the infrastructure was provided by RDT. Even marketing is done by them,” she explained.
RDT director Vishala Ferrer described it as one step towards women empowerment. “RDT has shown them the way to stand on their own. The products designed by them has much demand among the foreigners. Earlier, the products were exported to Spain, but with Covid-19, the products are being made available locally.”