Nettle & Grace

Handcrafted Kalpvriksh in New Delhi

Kalpvriksh Home opened its doors in 2012 and continues to work at a grassroots level with artisans across India. The export house bridges the gap between economically vulnerable artisans and today’s modern global market, while honoring the principle that a nation’s growth is only as strong as its testament to ecological sustainability and social equity. This belief also sets the standard for handmade, exclusive product that enlivens any buyer’s home.

They key to such an astonishing program is the Hastakshar Foundation. The Foundation endeavors to teach artisans new skills sets, contemporize traditional skill sets, and give its artisans as entrepreneurs, many of them women, a place on the board. This emboldens a new culture of ownership, innovation, and opportunity. Thus are designers and marketing experts able to work closely with India’s artisan communities. Each end product is suffused with this distinction, each piece as a testament to character, “as thread and tension vary slightly from spinner to spinner and weaver to weaver”

This export house has an affinity for distinction, not only in its principles and work ethos, but in all things renewable, natural, and handcrafted. Many fabrics are woven from nettle and hemp in the Himalayas. Handspun and dyed yarn is made from a blend of cotton, silk, and linen, then embroidered or printed using methods available to their artisans since ancient times.

Through a partnership with NGO, the company harvests the fibers from the watershed and reserve forest areas of the upper Himalayas. They guarantee seed maturity and wide swaths of seeds are sewn using the spreading method- all of this is done in the open forests from which the fiber is later harvested. Forty hectares have been sewn in the last four years. These fibers include hemp and the company’s beloved, and surprising, Himalayan nettle.

The nettle itself grows abundantly in the marshy shade stretches, watersheds, and forest reserve areas. The use of this fiber creates an unusual textile that is both substantial and lucent. Nettle is better known for its use as livestock fodder, and in teas and dyes. However, the fibers within the stalks of the plant are pliable and long enough to be spun into yarn. The nettle blends wonderfully with other fibers, bringing a balance of softness and durability to the end product, and is an unlikely and delightful answer to long term sustainability.

Many of the available textiles incorporate a mud resist printing process using wooden blocks. This process, known as Dabu, begins with a mixture of wheat chaff, Calcium Hydroxide gum, and mud. Artisans then apply this sticky paste of mud resist to fabric, which is then dyed in cauldrons. This process is repeated two or three times. After washing, the application is revealed, and the resulting cracks and veins give the fabric its distinctive batik-like look. The final touch involves hand block printing, skillfully applied to handwoven fabrics. Other fabrics are overlaid with embroidered designs cherished by India for centuries using thread in a wide array of hues and tiny mirrors.

Kalpvriksh Home will be showcasing a variety of handmade and hand-embroidered textiles at NY NOW’s Artisan Resource from August 21-24 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. For more information about this company, please visit http://www.kalpvrikshhome.com.

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