My Adventures with Indian Cotton Printing
Celebrating a timeless technique & finding my master printer
I absolutely love the look of authentic hand printed fabrics, and am lucky enough to work with some of the best print masters in India – the birthplace of block printing, one of the techniques we use. It gets its name from the wooden blocks bearing intricately engraved designs used to print dyes onto fabric. Jaipur, a bustling hub for the old-world practice, is where the artisans I’ve partnered with work their magic. Together we created my first line of luxury robes, and have gone on to make exquisite napkins, placemats, table cloths, nightshirts, and pajamas.
The method behind the magic
Designing my patterns to feel both European and Indian was a bit of a trick. Colors need to be carefully chosen. For the block printing, each pattern must be carved into wood by hand – an art that requires years of practice and apprenticeship to a master. The results are not the traditional Indian prints that you tend to see everywhere. Rather, I’ve designed each pattern to be completely unique by blending the beauty of handmade Indian textiles with contemporary European style patterns.
The story behind the partnership
My master printer and I may never have found each other were it not for a fateful trip – initially destined for failure – that turned into a gorgeous discovery. Here’s how it happened.
Before I began sourcing gems in Hong Kong, my husband and I traveled to Jaipur to hunt for them. Jaipur had been the gem capital of the world for many years – but we didn’t know at that time the crown had since shifted to Hong Kong. Disheartened by the diminished options, we attended a fashion expo on a lark. Amongst the colorful bursts of hand printed designs stood a master printer whose fabrics were unlike anything else we’d ever seen: Vibrant Indian design effortlessly paired with Western styling. They were breathtaking.
The owner had also decided to attend the event on a whim, at the last minute. He hadn’t been to a show in 5 years – and has not been back since! I truly believe good fortune put us together. Ever since then, I’ve put my designs in his capable hands to translate into detailed blocks; then onto cotton. He’s even brought my dream of fully scalloped edges to life. I’ve always been obsessed with scalloping as a design detail, and absolutely love how it turned out.
Continuing to build our businesses, side by side, has been beyond rewarding. We have become good friends, and look forward to shared meals and cheerful catch-ups when we make our yearly visit to India. We’ve expanded our partnership to include screen and digital printing for the more complex patterns I create, but many of my robes and table linens still radiate the bespoke beauty of hand printing.
What may be my favorite aspect is how every single piece is truly one-of-a-kind. There is a real humanness about it I adore – a magic touch that creates tiny variations and charming imperfections. No two of us are alike, and these pieces are a wonderful example of this basic truth.
Meet my Cotton Collections: