Using a variety of dying techniques taught to them by their family members, married partners Adil and Zakiya Khatri create richly colored, patterned, and textured shawls and caftans. The couple enjoys experimenting with techniques and materials, yielding fascinating textile effects that resemble embroidery, ruching, and patchwork, achieved only through dying and fabric manipulation.
The Khatri’s use gaji (satin), habotai (silk weave), tassar (wild silk), and maheshwari fabric (silk warp/cotton weave) for their work. They specialize in resist dyeing, using methods such as clamp dyeing, shibori, and stitch resist to impart designs into their garments. Among their repertoire is bandhani, a tie-dye technique practiced in Gujarat and Rajasthan, Kutch which is best-known as the center of its production. Experts believe the technique was brought to Kutch by Khatri craftsmen from Sindh, probably in the 16th century. To create the bandhani effect fabric is folded in half and basted together. A pattern is then created and stenciled onto the fabric using butter paper or a string dipped in red mud. The fabric is given to a tie artist who ties small knots along the patterns using fine cotton string. The fabric is then dyed. If there are two colours, the pattern is tied again after the first dye, and then dyed again.
“We Khatris are dyers,” says Adil. “Traditionally we all did block printing, batik, and bandhani–three forms of resist dyeing. […] Taking these as bases, we add new ideas to take our art forward.” Studying design and business at Somaiya Kala Vidya, a school for artisans in Kutch, encouraged the pair to strive for unique innovations in their art. The Khatris’ works have been recognized with the Gujarat State Award for Craft Excellence, the Crafts Council of India Kamala Award for Young Artisans, and a World Crafts Council Seal of Excellence.