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This shiny silk scarf is the result of a collaboration between Via India and a Dutch artist and two social entrepreneurs in India. Pure handicraft from start to finish.
The soft, natural tones of the plant-based dyes give the scarf an understated, chic look. Combine the effortlessly with some cool jacket or a classy dress. The natural soft tone, somewhere between pink and orange tones look great on red, orange, pink, white, black and purple.
This scarf is 100% handmade. Irregular color transitions or small splashes are unavoidable. They are only visible from very close and on the the full scale add to the charm of the scarf.
The silk of the scarf originates from a special silk farm in Bihar, East India. The estate for the sericulture has been owned by Madhulika's family for generations. When her parents wanted to sell the land, Madhulika came up with a better plan: a place for sericulture, runned by the women of the village. And so it happened. A great idea, but quite a challenge. In the patriarchal and strongly traditional community, it was very unusual for women to earn their own income outside their homes. But Madhulika persevered and now 60 women work in the sericulture, which happens to be completely animal friendly and environmentally friendly. All is grown without pesticides.
For about 20 years Meeta has been working with a community of block printers. In a village near Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, a large community of wood carvers, vegetable paint makers and printers who use wooden stamps to print cloth has lived and worked for many generations: the Chhippa community. Meeta runs a social enterprise that provides employment to this community. As with Madhulika's sericulture farm, profits flow back to the community. A large water reservoir was recently constructed to retain water.
The scarf was designed by Antoinette Leune, a visual artist from Oosterbeek. Antoinette mainly paints native flora. Her often enlarged details of flowers and plants are recognizable by their strong lines and striking use of color. The design of this scarf is based on the seed pods of Himalayan balsam.
Making this scarf has been a labour-intensive process.
It all starts with the women who take care of the mulberry plants, the food for the silkworms. As soon as the caterpillars pupate, the cocoons are placed in a cold greenhouse near the window. The silk moths that crawl out of the cocoon are free to go. Silk is spun from the empty cocoons by the women. The silk then goes to hand weavers in West Bengal who weave the most beautiful soft silk fabric.
The silk fabric then goes to the community of blockprinters in Rajasthan. A woodcarver makes two stamps of the design. One stamp for the lines (the outline), another for the surface (the filler). The block printer first prints the fabric with the lines. Then the fabric is dipped into its first dye bath. For the second round the printer prints the fabric with a second stamp (the filler). A clay paste is applied that prevents coloring of the second dye bath with indigo. Thus layers are created in the design which gives a rich depth.
The natural dyes used are, among other things, Madder and Myrobalan.