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    Highlighting four design elements at the two-day Vastra Utsav, the perfect stop on World Handloom Day

    Paisleys given a stylistic makeover, geometric patterns that create optical illusions and pop coloured handlooms—you’ll see this and more at the eighth edition of Vastra Utsav this weekend, where all things handmade take centrestage. Hosted by the Friends of DakshinaChitra, Usha Moorty, one of the organisers, says we can expect around 30 stalls—from Mumbai’s Maati Crafts (who work with ajrakh and bagu prints) to city-based designer Prabha Narasimhan. “We’ve concentrated on people who work directly with weavers and contemporarise handloom, thus ensuring the survival of the weaver community,” she explains. While each brings their own brand of creativity, we look at four fun design elements to get started:
    1. Reshamwala: colour-block
    Unusual things catch Vinay Narkar’s eye. Like pen nibs and the Maharashtrian nath (nose ring). “You will find these fun block-prints on my cotton saris,” says the lawyer-turned-designer, adding that another highlight is a collection inspired by US artist Mark Rothko’s paintings, as his “colours reflect my style”. The 39-year-old from Solapur became interested in textiles after he designed a sari for his wife. Today, he works with weavers from Gadwal in Telengana and concentrates on kuttu work (an interlocking weave). “I combine different fabrics to give saris more texture—like cotton with a silk border. I’ve also updated the colour palette, bringing in bright shades and colour-blocking,” says Narkar.

    1 (6)2. Tasara: optical art
    City-based Vidyuth Sreenivasan has always been around block prints—his mother had started a unit on their terrace in 1984. So the 38-year-old didn’t think twice about leaving his advertising job (with JWT) 10 years ago to “explore my creativity and help weavers.” With a printing unit in Salem, he works with cottons and silks, but says he loves his chaani saris (a light dhoti-like material). “I only work with geometric prints. I’m inspired by British artist Bridget Riley’s work. In my latest collection, expect lines that will create an effect of movement, like an optical illusion.” From Rs 900.

    3. Bidisha’s Collection: florals
    “I love nature and all my work is inspired by it,” says Bidisha Bhaduri, who left her job in sales in the US (in 2005) to work with karigars in her hometown, Kolkata. “I love kantha and batik. Originally, kantha used folk designs—of peacocks and the like. But I brought in florals and geometric patterns. I also moved away from the traditional colours to incorporate bright pinks, peaches, reds and greens,” says the 48-year-old, who gets her tussar from the Birbhum district because “it is softer”. For Chennai, she has a twin lotus motif that she is especially proud of, besides flowers like lilies and petunias. “I also have paisley—but not the typical clusters. Mine are distinct, separate.” From Rs 4,000.

    4. Marm Creations: pop prints
    A NIFT graduate, Delhi-based Anoop Rai believes his medium, Chanderi silks and cottons, needs a touch of the fresh. “With inlay and extra weft, we create designs that steer away from traditional polka dots and paisley. Instead, we do Oriental lotuses, stylised designs from architecture, and flora and fauna,” says the 33-year-old, adding his colour wheel is dominated by “happy colours” like pinks, oranges and lemon yellows. “I also do hand screen printing, with pop prints like scooters, gramophones and tulips. For Chennai, I have a line inspired by designer-poet William Morris’ intricate botanical prints.” From Rs 1,500.
    Today and tomorrow, 10 am to 7 pm, at Mayor Ramanathan Chettiar Centre. Details: 24620274

    Surya Praphulla Kumar

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