Saturday, April 2, 2016


'Kalam' refers to pen and 'kari' refers to an artisan. Kalamkari is an art form from Andhra using natural dyes drawn into shapes using a hand made pen called the kalam. The cloth is first processed in milk and nutmeg to absorb colors and after the painting is done using the kalam and various natural dyes, the cloth is boiled in water with added ingredients to bring out the actual colors. The colors, if mixed properly, are bright and beautiful. But the success of the painting depends on the preparation of the dyes. Even a minute fault like dipping the kalam for the red color in the blue dye can spoil the outcome and make the painting dull and lifeless.

My teacher sketching a typical kalamkari design

Kalamkari work after painting with the kalam and before washing for the colors.

Natural dyes on cloth

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