6. Tools And Techniques

The most widely used element in Bandhani is the simple dot which is formed by pinching a small area of cloth and tightly wrapping cotton thread around the raised part. The cotton binding keeps the dye from reaching that part of the cloth.

Cloth pinched and cotton thread tied around the raised part


Before dying process starts, the design is marked on to the cloth. In Gujarat, a board on which design was drawn out in nails for formerly used to mark the cloth. The fabric was damped by steaming and pressed lightly over the nails so that the pattern could be distinguished in raised bumps which were caught up by the pattern could be distinguished in raised bumps which were caught up by the tier (Bandhari) and were bound using thread. Some tiers used a metal, or even ivory tube through which the cotton thread was fed, and which facilitated winding it around the fabric.

Long and pointed finger nail used to raise cloth to further tie it.

When cotton binding is removed, a white circle is revealed. The tip of the bunched cloth may be left unbound to give a colored center to the circle. Also the cloth may have been dyed before tying, thus giving a wide variety of colored dots. In this case the sequence in which the cloth is immersed in a series of dye-baths must be carefully planned, with lightest color dyed first.

The first color to be dyed is a light one, usually yellow. The cloth is immersed in the dye-vat for 5-7 minutes, then rinsed and allowed to dry. Then it is returned to the Bandhari for further ties to be made for those dots which are to remain yellow. At this stage also, individual dots can be applied in other colors, which are then concealed by tying. The cloth is then re-dyed in deeper shades, typically red or green. The finished product is then washed and starched.

Cloth being dyed

Bandhani textiles are frequently sold still tied up so that the customer can be sure that it is not a printed imitation, and perhaps also so that he or she can have have the pleasure of seeing the pattern revealed when the cloth, which appears to be all of one color after its final dyeing, is pulled apart from its folds and the binding cotton falls away from the surface.

Bandhani still tied

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