Monday, August 27, 2012

New beginnings. New Features.

Ganesha: The remover of obstacles enjoying a sunny day in my new home.

I have been sharing my experiences of the new chapter of my life here in Minnesota on my personal blog, Rang: The Colours of Life.

Today I would also like to share few features that I have planned for Rang Decor.

As most of the readers must be aware of my immense adoration for the art & crafts of India, I will be reviving the series, the latest post on Ajrakh printing is already live. Do check it out if you haven't already!

If you are an upcoming designer, painter, artist or stylist (traditional or contemporary) who draws inspiration from the wealth of Indian heritage. Do drop me a mail with an introduction to your work. If we like what we see, will feature your work.

If you are an NGO or work with artisans at grassroot level to revive any dying craft of India, Rang Decor will provide a platform to showcase your work.

A Before & After feature about little Do-It-Yourself from my home.

Global/ Eclectic decor inspirations curated with my design sensibilities will also be featured.

I get a lot of queries regarding interior design consultations, I have not started personal consultations yet but hope to sometime soon. Meanwhile if there are many queries on a certain topic will try and do a post to address it.

So stay tuned for all this and more!

(Image by Arch)

Friday, August 24, 2012


This post is a milestone for Rang Decor as it features first of the many global design inspirations that will be posted here in time to come. Global design that traces it's route along the Silk Road.

Saadia Nasir Ricart of Asran wrote to me months back while I was in Bangalore introducing me to her new project. A venture in which she curates unique handmade items sourced from regions along the Silk Road on her online store.

What is the Silk Road?

The Silk Road spanned 7000 miles, weaving its way through China, Central Asia, Northern India, and the Roman Empires. It connected the Yellow River to the Mediterranean Sea, along with all the trade, religions and philosophies on the way. Many of the regions today that were a part of this ancient trade route still use the same methods to create the things that were sold hundreds of years ago.

Saadia states being half Pakistani and half Japanese, and her parents being antique rug dealers for over 30 years, created a strong intrigue and love for the Silk Road cultures. 

Asran has a beautiful collection of Kilims from Turkey and Central Asia.

What are Kilims?

Saadia explains on her blog, "Kilims use several flat weaving techniques, kind of like knitting, but bigger and thicker weaves. Rugs on the other hand are made by individual knots knotted tightly together by pressing the weft against each other. 
Both techniques are extremely time consuming and require meticulous attention but that makes the final product all the more amazing!"
Kilims are mostly handmade in Persia, Balkans, Eastern Europe and Turkey. 
They use many geometrical patterns in the weaves and each symbol has a certain significance. Some Kilims are used as prayer rugs as well.

At Asran you will find some very interesting handcrafted decor accessories like this Camel Bone Powder Box from Lucknow, India. 

Silk Scarves and Pashmina Shawls as well...

"Originally inspired by Chinese pottery, Imperial ware, also known as Iznik, was so exquisite that European collectors in the mid 19th century thought it came from Persia. Though in the early 1900's scholars discovered that they were from the Ottoman empire and thus concluded that these Iznik ceramics were Turkish". explains Saadia.

Saadia with her mother in Agra.

So do drop by at Asran and check out the lovely handcrafted pieces from the Silk Road.
You can keep updated about Asran on Facebook as well.

(Images from Asran Decor and Asran Blog)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Art & Crafts of India: Ajrakh or Ajarakh

Every dusty road trip that we made into the small villages in Kutch, Gujarat turned into a journey marveling at the abundance of traditional art & crafts of the region.

One fact that really stood out was the high density of different traditional crafts in the Kutch region of Gujarat. One afternoon we understood the intricacies of the Mutwa embroidery in Dordo village, next evening we were engulfed in a colorful world of vegetable dyes used in block-printing in Kukma Village.

Ajrakhpur, near Kukma is where the tradition of Ajrakh block printing is kept alive by the Khatri community, whose ancestors came from the Sindh region in Pakistan.

Dr. Ismail Mohammad Khatri is one of the few left who carry on this tradition of laborious but beautiful craft of Ajarkh printing.

Carrying forward the tradition, his son Junaid Khatri.

Ajarkh derives it's name from 'Aaj ke din rakh' or keep it for the day, the processing of Ajrakh printing is pretty long drawn with each stage involving many days.
Dr. Khatri explained that the process involved procuring the best cotton fabrics, washing, steaming in copper containers.

The fabric is then soaked in a mixture of dung, oil an water to make it soft. Dried for a couple of days and then re-soaked with other natural ingredients to bleach and make it ready for printing.

Ajarakh uses the process of resist printing in which hand block printing is done on designated areas in the pattern which are pre-treated to resist penetration by the dye.

Natural vegetable dyes like Indigo, Turmeric, Lime, Rice and many others are used to create intricate geometrical block print patterns that are typical of Ajrakh printing.

Block makers who carve these intricate Ajrakh designs are also very few these days.

The intricate patterned blocks stained with natural vegetable dyes.

Wooden Blocks stored in different boxes...

We were amazed at the various designs on the wooden blocks and prayed with all my heart for this wonderful craft to flourish.

I bought this beautiful craft in the form of a dupatta that I will drape with a sense of pride and great respect for these artisans who carry on the age-old laborious craft.

I have tried to style the fabric in my bare home with few interesting finds from a yard sale that I went to last weekend:-)

If you come across Ajrakh blockprinted fabric in any craft fair do buy and support the craftsmen.

The very few left who practice this craft.

(Images by Arch)

Monday, August 06, 2012

A tea party for three...

Greetings from sunny Minnesota!

It's been exactly one week since we left Bangalore, India.

Here I am typing away on my laptop in a hotel room trying hard to communicate the memories of a delightful July afternoon in Bangalore, spent in the company of two most amazingly talented ladies.
Before leaving our beloved home in Bangalore, India, before it disintegrated into pieces to be bubble-wrapped and packed in cartons, I invited two lovely ladies whose work I have always admired to come have chai with me...

Super talented illustrator, charcoal drawing specialist & cat lover~ Priya Sebastian and multi-talented, creative self taught artist & dog lover Aarohi Singh.

So over huge mugs of chai and thick slices of plum cake we talked about how as bloggers we felt instant creative connections when we met in real world.

Aarohi, gifted me a tea kettle on which are painted two of my favorite things: Frangipani flowers & mugs of hot chai!
These will always warm my heart in a cold country far from home.

 I absolutely do!

Priya, brought with her a bunch of gorgeous bright cheerful flowers !

 I just had to get the artists to pose with their work:-) Priya with her bold charcoal self -portrait that watches over our study.

Aarohi poses with her vibrant kettle.

...and Priya decides to shoot me while I adjust the camera's timer.

I guess the timer worked well:-) 

This was a fun post to put together, an archive of happy times spent with creative friends in our Bangalore home. A special home that brought loads of happiness to us and corners of which I loved sharing with dear readers of Rang Decor!

These memories will keep me going while I wait for our 40 feet container to come sailing across oceans to our new home after 2 whole months!

To see Priya Sebastian's work do drop by at her blog the plum tree.
To see Aarohi Singh's work do drop by at her website Art by Aarohi.

Do stay tuned for some new features planned for Rang Decor!