Ikat textiles are so much more than patterned fabrics. They represent a skill which has been handed down from generations ago, a skill that is a labour of precision, technique and love. I feel sad that many of our traditional ikat techniques are already lost. The skill required for an intricate ikat motif hasn't been preserved. When I visited an Ikat supplier a few weeks ago, he asked me not to choose fabrics from one folder. "Those are museum pieces", he said, "we can't make them anymore". We can't make them anymore? Aren't we supposed to be getting better at this, not sliding back?
The precision required for a warp and weft ikat design (this means the yarn has to be tie-dyed for both the warp and weft yarns, and measured in such a way that when it is woven the warp and weft intersect where the yarn has been dyed) is not something that be be taught easily. I'm still trying to figure out why so few young weavers are learning this skill, when it appears that the demand for these gorgeous textiles is still high. I'll find out more in a couple of weeks when I go to visit a young weaver who makes some of Brass Tacks' Central Asian inspired fabrics. For now it's dawning on me that some of the fabrics that I use for Brass Tacks' collections might become museum pieces for the next generation. I feel proud that I'm giving Brass Tacks shoppers a piece of our history, and in the process sharing a piece of my childhood. But for the same reasons I feel frustrated that I can't do more to change the situation.
|Seashells in flowing water (Orissa Ikat)|
|Warp and weft ikat, in a traditional geometric design (Andhra Ikat)|
|Hata Ikat, Spring 2012 Collection|