Written by Kelly Maj.
October 2018, I drove through the desert of Kutch, India, on the back of a Royal Enfield motorcycle, searching for blockprinters that could realise the designs I’ve made back home. I fell in love with the crafts of Kutch a few years ago. The artisans and their work interested and inspired me so much that it motivated me to collaborate with them.
Visiting Kutch for the first time and seeing the craftworkers work, has made me appreciate manual work and natural materials even more than before. I have a lot of respect for the artisans and their skills, and I am even a bit jealous about their natural work environment. The scarfs of my ”MAJSTUDIO / MALMAL” collection are blockprinted by hand, with wooden blocks, by three brothers I call “the blockprint brothers”. Block carve artisans carve into wooden blocks to make a design and then this block is individually printed on the cotton cloth. It’s printed on a fabric called Malmal. It is a fine, soft cotton muslin. It is sheer, delicate and lightweight.
The Blockprint Brothers
I went to the desert without an agent because I wanted to keep the contact between me and the artisans as personal as possible. This to keep this project as transparent as possible, so I can share these beautiful people, crafts & adventures with you. When I drove into the village I immediately noticed the blockprint crafts. Long pieces of blockprinted fabrics, drying in the desert sun. After an earthquake in 2001, a large number of workshops were built in this village to encourage the artisans to keep their craft of ‘Block Printing’, alive. When I walked into the workshop of th e three brothers, for the first time, they were standing in big concrete water tubs to wash some cloths. They had very friendly faces and looked like hard workers. I was welcome to explain my designs to them and see if it was all possible. We couldn’t speak fluently english together but we seemed to understand eachother. We drank some chai tea together, spoke a little and shared our phone numbers. Soon he was going to send me some pictures of the first printed results.
Back home I received some pictures and we facetimed to discuss my designs. The results were above my expectations, so I couldn’t be happier. That’s why I proudly present you, a few months later, my first collection MAJSTUDIO / MALMAL BLOCKPRINT.