The family that makes our block print bedding has been part of northern India’s textile cottage industry for 200 years. The elderly father oversees the operation while training his sons, who will eventually inherit the workshop.
The workshops in this area specialize in the use of alizarin (an organic red dye), indigo, and a range of vegetable-based colors. Early travelers through regarded indigo dyers as magicians because of a unique chemical phenomenon: When the dyed fabric is removed from the vat, it first appears white, then green. Exposure to oxygen is what quickly brings out indigo’s well-known blue hues.
Nature also exerts her influence on the block print bedding dyeing process. Because so much of the work is done outdoors, the artisans plan their workday around the climate’s temperature extremes. And because the fabric is dried in the desert sun, projects need to be scheduled with monsoon season in mind. One year, an exceptionally long and lingering series of storms delayed shipment of the finished product for a few weeks. Although such setbacks can be challenging for artisans and customers alike, we think that the centuries-old craft tradition that these vibrant textiles represent is well worth supporting.
Take a tour of the process, from start to finish, below!
Shop all of the Hand Block Printed Indigo Bedding Collection at the National Geographic Store!