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Welcome to the new Ecologies blog of PAYAL LUTHRA. Here you'll find stories of design, travel, and inspirations from the wild.

Our Exclusive Collaboration with DHONK

Our Exclusive Collaboration with DHONK

Payal Luthra & Divya Khandal

Payal Luthra & Divya Khandal

When we partnered with TIGER WATCH on our Ranthambore Collection we didn’t realize we would also find hand block artisans to work with that also contribute to conservation!

TIGER WATCH is a wildlife conservation organization run by Dr. Dharmendra Khandal. When Payal met Dharmendra, she also met his wife Divya, who is just as involved with supporting the local Ranthambore community. She founded DHONK, a Craftmark-certified enterprise that employs the wives of ex-poachers and other members of the region. With few opportunities outside of tourism in this area, DHONK fills a necessary void. Women and men are taught new skills such as sewing and hand block printing, and the products they make are sold by DHONK. In turn, DHONK donates a percentage of sales to TIGER WATCH. We are very excited to say that we partnered with DHONK on all our hand block pieces in this collection!

Payal traveled back to Ranthambore to work with DHONK on three of her designs, all inspired by colorful birds of Ranthambore: the Indian Roller Bird and the Indian Pitta Bird. (From left to right: Indian Roller photos by @imagesbyabhishek, @sibi_ar, Indian Pitta photos by @nirav.raval)

A couple of months before she arrived she sent the designs to Divya, who started the hand block process. The first step was getting the wood blocks carved by Master Carvers in Sanganer, a town outside of Jaipur in Rajasthan. A master artisan worked on carving these blocks for weeks! The making of the blocks is as much of an age-old art as the printing.

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MEET THE MAKERS

Once Payal arrived she started to work with the printers and dye mixers at DHONK to test out the blocks, pattern, and color matching. Gopal ji (seen in photo below) is a master at color mixing, and he worked with Payal to mix dye colors to match the pantone swatches she had selected for the designs. This was no easy feat! Once the dye color palette was established, Payal then worked with Kanhaiya (also seen in photo below) who tested out the printing and blocks and then worked to learn our patterns.

Each color pattern is stamped individually onto the fabric which takes skill and patience, as the pattern must be stamped repeatedly across the fabric, color by color. Our modern and abstract designs added another challenge for the printers as we have no repeats and measurements need to constantly be taken while printing is underway!

With printing by hand there are always slight irregularities and this is what gives each piece a timeless beauty. Every printed scarf we made is unique.

Gopal ji (left) is an expert dye mixer who excels at matching colors. Kanhaiya (right) is a skilled and patient hand block printer that worked with us on all 3 of our designs.

Gopal ji (left) is an expert dye mixer who excels at matching colors. Kanhaiya (right) is a skilled and patient hand block printer that worked with us on all 3 of our designs.

Other hand block printers we met at DHONK. From left to right: Sushila, Usha, Mamta, and Raji.

Other hand block printers we met at DHONK. From left to right: Sushila, Usha, Mamta, and Raji.

Dye for the Indian Pitta Bird style.

Dye for the Indian Pitta Bird style.

Early print testing with the carved wood blocks.

Early print testing with the carved wood blocks.

Payal working with Kanhaiya on the Indian Roller FLIGHT design.

Payal working with Kanhaiya on the Indian Roller FLIGHT design.

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Printing the Indian Roller PERCH style.

Printing the Indian Roller PERCH style.

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Printing the Indian Pitta scarf style.

Printing the Indian Pitta scarf style.

A finished Indian Roller FLIGHT scarf - hung to dry before steaming which sets the colors.

A finished Indian Roller FLIGHT scarf - hung to dry before steaming which sets the colors.

All of these pieces are printed on 100% Certified Organic Cotton, and all the dyes are low impact, fiber reactive, and AZO free.

We loved working with Divya and all the artisans at DHONK. And here are the finished products! From left to right: The Indian Roller Bird - FLIGHT scarf, The Indian Roller Bird - PERCH scarf, and the Indian Pitta Bird scarf. You can shop these here.

DHONK is a proud member of Craftmark.

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Established in 2006, the Craftmark initiative certifies genuine Indian handcrafted products, which develops sector-wide minimum standards and norms for labeling handmade products and also increases consumer awareness of Indian handicraft traditions.

The All India Artisans and Craftworkers Welfare Association (AIACA) licenses the Craftmark seal to artisan organisations, craft-based businesses, cooperatives and NGOs for use on their products.

Why Craftmark?

With over 23 million craftspeople, the crafts sector is the second largest employer in India . Many communities in India depend on their craft skills as a source of income and livelihood.

The Craftmark programme enables Indian craftworkers and craft organisations to take advantage of economic opportunities in international and domestic markets and also, to break into the mainstream retail markets. It seeks to promote and protect Indian handicrafts by helping them become more competitive in such markets and by distinguishing authentic hand-made craft products from replicated machine made-ones. In addition to this, Craftmark is increasing consumer awareness of distinct handicraft traditions and the purchase of quality, authentic handmade crafts.

From http://www.craftmark.org/about-us

A Note From Payal

A Note From Payal