Sudarshan means beautiful in Hindi, a name aptly chosen by Sudarshan Textiles founder Hemangini Singh: the textiles she offers consistently balance artisanal creativity with market tastes in a gorgeous melding of contemporary design and local print traditions. Sudarshan’s cottons, wools, silks and cashmeres come alive with natural indigo dyeing, traditional block prints, and geometric mud resist patterns, with each technique sensitively taking advantage of the wabi sabi imperfections of ancient methods and the warmth of the human touch.
“I started Sudarshan because I love textiles and wanted to make a difference in the lives of artisans in India by creating awareness and expanding markets for these beautiful textiles," says Singh, whose goals extend well beyond sales. “By buying our product one automatically becomes part of an ongoing movement reviving traditional textile skills, and reinstating the status of artisans in society. In addition, part of the profits will go towards funding craft schools in India to educate women in local craft industries and providing them opportunities for empowerment.”
Singh works with skilled printers to create her Sanganer collection of classic, archival block prints, whose colors are reworked and simplified for contemporary markets. In many cases, long retired block makers were commissioned to reproduce patterns found in museums or forgotten in dusty backrooms of Jaipur ateliers.
The Bagru collection capitalizes on the unique textures of raw silk dyed and printed with vegetable dyes. Singh’s favorite vegetable colors are shahi, a natural black, and begar, an earthy red, both of which are featured in simple stripe and wave patterns.
Natural indigo dyeing and mud resist techniques are the provenance of Sudarshan’s Dabu collection. Patterns are created here by block printing with a specially prepared paste of clay, lime and natural wheat gum, which blocks the absorption of dye into the fibers beneath it. After applying the paste, each length of fabric is sprinkled with sawdust and set in the sun to dry before going to the indigo vat, where it will be dipped repeatedly until the desired shade of blue, darker with each dip, appears.
“The response and enthusiasm of the craftsman, the determination of our ground team in India, and the very positive reaction of our customers has given us the confidence to continue urging the various craftsman to refine their skills and produce high quality textiles for trade. Our goal is to provide a bridge between the two worlds of design and making. We aspire to build sustainable business collaborations to keep our textile art heritage alive,” asserts Singh, who is clearly ready for her next foray into the market at Artisan Resource @ NY Now, February 1-5, 2015.
For more information, please visit www.sudarshantextilearts.com or visit their booth at Artisan Resource @ NY Now, February 1-4, 2015 at NYC’s Javitz Center.