Sunday, 28 April 2013

April JQ

All done, thank goodness.   Since my theme is Recycling, what could be better than using some of the offcuts from my Kurta Quilt?

The method I chose for making the 2"block was foundation piecing, using paper.   Haven't done this for years, and it was a very messy business! 

                                                                     Leftovers Quilt

Now it's time to play with Ben.   We have some drawing to do first, then we might do some gardening together before Daddy arrives and Granddad comes back from golf.

Thursday, 25 April 2013


It was always going to be a busy month, hence the long drawn out Indian blog.

Workshops, some stitching, visitors, alas no gardening until this weekend.  A blue sky 
day,it was almost hot.   A gentle weeding, revealing what survived the winter.    
Enjoying being outside in the mess of the garden,   Lots of work needed here.

A March Journal Quilt, finished before we started our travels,  see blogpost 10 March.


thoughts of seeds and growth in the garden
six weeks on and we are still waiting


April's Journal quilt is almost done, which is good since the deadline is days away!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

last day in the sun

So we have one day left to have a wander around town before we fly home

There is always something new to see.   Udaipur is known for it's Art Schools, painting miniatures in the Mugal style.  We found one artist who has been employed by a very rich man to paint the outside wall of his house.

I just love these trees

I was snapped purchasing a pot for dyeing
I can't resist the pots and pans shop
as for the shop selling tin trunks!

A delicious meal on the roof restaurant, savouring the food, the view,
and the warmth of the evening.   

We have seen the weather forecast for UK and I think I would
rather be in India!

Time line - 31 March 2013
I've been busy since my return
more on my next blog!


The drive to Udaipur only three hours, no rush, time for a leisurely breakfast.
We would be there to celebrate Holi.

a fellow traveller

stops for chai  
monkeys making a road block near Rankapur
nobody would disturb them
an old lady insisted we bought two small pots for the grand price of 80 rupees
an old man got cross 'cos they should only be 20 rupees each
80 rupees = £1.00

Back in Udaipur we puchased cheap white outfits as our canvas for Holi.

Come the day, we donned our whites and covered exposed skin with baby oil.
I added a turban to my outfit.   The fun starts around 10 am and finishes around noon.

Oh my goodness, off we went.  What to expect?   Already there are signs of coloured 
powder everywhere.   Our first greeting of Happy Holi was very civilised.   A pat of colour on both cheeks, the neck and a big pat on the back.   And so it went on, everyone very Holi Happy.    Once we arrived at the temple the fun really began,  coloured powders in the air,
a great deal of laughter, and some very colourful  people.

Keith pretty in pink

and myself back in Lake Pichola Hotel
now to try to clean ourselves up
we tried to contain the mess in the bathroom
put our cloths in bags but the evidence was
there  the shower curtain turned a lovely colour
amazingly the baby oil worked and most of the
powder washed off, except for Keith's hair
and scalp  which looked as though it belonged
to a faded parrot

We had been told by well intentioned folk that it might be a good idea just
to stay in the hotel and watch from the roof!  We really enjoyed ourselves,
so glad we didn't take that advice.

Later in the day we walked around the old part of town.  There was much
washing and cleaning going on and surprisingly hardly any sign of the
mayhem of the morning. 

On the road to Udaipur

After the delights of Balotra we headed back south, stopping over night
at The Royal Palace, Ghanerao,

 the main gate

the view from the roof

A totally lazy day for me.   Keith went leopard hunting with a group of friends,
on foot, accompanied by two guides, a young boy with stick and a man on a bicycle.   
A leopard came down from a hill looking for supper, probably a goat or farm dog.
Photos taken before a hasty retreat.

Meanwhile I spent time on out balcony catching up with my journal and reading.I did have a visitor, a civet cat.  Not sure who was more surprised.   It had come down from the roof.   We looked at each other, then it jumped to the next ledge.   Keith was a tad disappointed to hear I had no photographic evidence!

The camera did come out to record some of the lovely textiles in the room.

patchwork cushion 


applique diamonds, patched centre block
with the tiniest sawtooth points

on the wall behind our bed a marvellous wall hanging
cut work applique, it sparkled with sequins and mirrors

really difficult to photograph and too big for me
to manhandle, so a few details

and finally a lovely old textile slowly fading away

the background looks like linen
the outline of the shapes is stitched with a cotton thread
the petals a closed herring bone stitch in silk or rayon
the threads are worn away in places

only the outline stitches are left

Friday, 12 April 2013


So, at last, to Balotra.

There are so many huge silk printing factories on the outside of town.   The River Luni and it's surroundings  are stained with discharged chemicals.     Many of the traditional block printers, or Chippas, now work in these factories.   

Our "man who knew"  directed us through the winding alleys of the old town

a little distraction - the woven base of a charpoy (Indian bed) propped up against a wall.   
I really do need one of these!!!

Around the corner the block printers busily working

making new printing blocks called buntas or buntis    they are generally made of 
seasoned sisam wood     the blocks are carved by hand and an intricate one
can take up to five days to complete    the blocks last for 1000-1500 metres  
that's a lot of printing

printing with indigo mixed with dabu (mud) paste as a resist

design printed with dabu resist   the print is dusted with fine sawdust
to prevent the design from smudging as the next section is printed,
and seals the printed portion from the subsequent dyeing process

and this is the printer in my book, how amazing   he had never seen
the picture before and was quite overcome  I will send a copy to him

And, finally, the rigorous beating and washing process

cloth laid out in the sun to dry

kuttar print

the distinctive Balotra prints we were searching for

the family have been printing the cotton cloth for over 150 years
the workshops are lined with shelves full of printing blocks

So exciting  must return for a longer visit in November

Thursday, 11 April 2013

to Bhadrajun

 Early start, travelling north to the small town of Bhadrajun.   Through the country side 
on single, but good, roads.    No lorries, mainly tractors, cars, and motorbikes, one being driven by Hanuman the Monkey God.   We were so surprised, but then as is often said 
by Samshu 'this is India'.

Flat fertile land, with the occasional mountain in the distance.  As many goat and sheep 
as you would wish to see.  Flamingos and cranes, camels both wild and domestic.

We passed through small villages, everyone very friendly and helpful when we asked the way.    Look, these lovely ladies are wearing ghaggra/skirts made from Balotra block printed fabric.   

The print denotes they are married women whose husband is still alive. A border is 
added to the hem.   This plain strip, with slim yellow piping was once appreciated 
as the traditional symbol of married women in Rajasthan.

They were delightful.  Although we had little common language they understood my 
mime, indicating the lovely swirl of their ghaggra, and we all had a good giggle.    
Can you imagine, a whole ten metres of cloth is deemed sufficient to make a skirt.

Eventually we reach Bhadrajun Fort, sitting nicely at the foot of a hill.

It's small, friendly and still the family home of Raja Gopal Singh.   We were welcomed and took lunch, rather disturbingly surrounded with photographs showing dead animals.  Hmmm.  Still that was then and this is now.

A rest and stroll through the small village, which seems deserted.  We learn that all the houses are new, most people work in the small town below, returning to the village in
the evening.   A baori/step well with turtles and frogs.   Ruins of the original fort walls.   Keith stopped for a game of cricket with village boys.    

At supper we were joined by our host.   A charming gentleman, who told us the history of the Fort and surrounding area.    On hearing our quest, he kindly gave us a letter of introduction to help us, once we arrived in Balotra.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

On the way to Balotra

Part One

I like to have a quest, something to seek for, as part of the journey.
I have a book published by Anokhi on the distinctive block printing
produced in Baltora.  A couple of years ago we found our way there
and were unsuccessful, however I knew it was worth investigating
once more.

We left Udaipur for our first destination, Ghanero.    A three hour
drive through the Rajasthan countryside.   It this time of year the 
land and hills look quite barren and dry, apart from small trees and
shrubs.   Once the monsoons arrive the land will burst into colour.

We stopped for chai and bird spotting along the way.    Hawks, eagles,
bejewelled  sunbirds, flowers peckers  and grey hornbills   Monkeys 
sitting along the road to Ranakpur.   A stash of bananas in the car were
very carefully thrown out for them to eat, but we had to quickly close
the windows!  

the Flame of the Forest makes a very dramatic appearence

orange flowers with a dark centre  the trees are
valued by farmers because it
produces excellent 
firewood and can stand drastic lopping

a dye from the flowers was formerly used to make
the coloured water thrown at the Holi festival

red silk-cotton tree

no leaves, these will appear after the flowers finish
each flower is almost as big as my hand
pollenated by birds, they drop to the ground while
still fresh and are eaten by deer

The seeds burst open and release fine white silky
cotton threads    too short to be spun, they are collected
to make kapok, a stuffing  for pillows and cushions

a shepherd gathering his flock
believed me there were hundreds of sheep/goats

and so to The Royal Castle in the village of Ghanerao
over 400 years old it is quite a place to stay
a warren of corridors and staircases so easy to get lost

one small portion of the palace
the floor with the lovely windows was ours for two nights

our sitting room looking over an inner courtyard
inside another sitting room and bedroom
the bathroom was reached by a corridor running
along the windows

great for sneek peeps at the Bollywood movie being filmed below!

We spent a couple of days relaxing and exploring.
In one very small village we found a boy weaving durries using
rags of all textures from silk to towels.   Sounds odd doesn't it?!!
No selective process at all and it works.   My goodness he was
a fast weaver, a bit of a job to get a good picture.
Of course we had to purchase a couple of small mats!

Sunday, 7 April 2013


it was warm behind glass
enough to make a small indigo vat

Thursday, 4 April 2013

while you are waiting

some packaging

embroidery glass

incense sticks

I took a workshop yesterday so Tuesday was mainly spent
gathering samples, notes and materials.    Today
putting everything back in place

the sun was shining   the wind cold   temp 4c

as I type there is a flurry of snow
this is getting ridiculous

Monday, 1 April 2013

there and back again

returned from India this morning   no blogging whilst I was away
we were travelling through northern Rajasthan visiting small
villages, forts and palaces, as far away as anything as you could wish

we met weavers, block printers, village people, farmers, and had
supper with a Maharajah

back to Udaipur for Holi and the Festival of Colours to celebrate
the coming of Spring   it was amazing mad fun

I'll be recording our travels over the next week or so but first the
unpacking;  the dhobiwallah does an incredible job, our freshly 
laundered only have to be put back in the cupboard until the
next trip    how good is that?!!

then there will be the strange hours of waking up on Indian
time, which usually means I get a lot done at 4.30am!

coloured powders for Holi