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Silky stories

PRATHIBHA PARAMESWARAN takes a lesson in silk designing.

Pic. by R.M. Rajarathinam

SILK IS a fabric that has been most associated with the South Indian culture.

Be it the finely woven Kancheepuram variety or the intricate designs of Benares silk, it has always been a matter of pride to own this fabric that graces almost all occasions. But patterns in silk have undergone many changes in the recent years.

Even showrooms now display many a new and innovative design on the material.

But how can one hope to achieve the effect one wants with the fabric, without tampering its natural finesse? Students at Department of Fashion Technology of Shrimati Indira Gandhi College recently got a chance to try their hand at silk painting under the auspices of Fevicryl, Tiruchi.

"These kind of hand designs are less expensive and they also bring out the potential of the students," says K. Meena, the principal of the college.

It quite astonished most to see a variety of designs and patterns that the resource person, Viji, showed them during the demonstration.

She first started off with materials required for the work-a box of silk colours of different shades, glue, an outliner and to enhance the effect, somezardozi strings, beads, sequins and some common salt.

Next she takes up a piece of silk cloth and traces the design she wants to work on -- a simple flower.

The boundaries and the body of the flower are then decided with the outliner.

She then applies the different shades of silk colour on the traced design on the fabric.

The silk colours were used on a range of other fabrics too such as chiffon, marble, polyester, poonam and satin fabrics, which made students come up with their own innovative ideas in redefining the fashion in their day to day life.

Patterns were created in various ways including smearing the cloth with little paint in concentric circles or layers and then a little common salt was sprinkled over them.

A moment later, the salt was dusted out and what was left behind was a pleasing effect. The crush painting was another technique that students learned.

A little dab of paint on the fabric, which was later crushed to attain irregular patterns that enhanced the effect.

Again layers of paints were applied on to the fabric and the steps repeated.

The rope painting was another technique, which produced symmetric patterns on the cloth.

A little paint was smeared over the fabric, which was later wrapped around the rope.

A little water sprinkled over it and later the cloth removed, the pattern was made.

The 3D liner that Ms. Viji introduced gave a dimensional effect to the cloth paintings.

Students learned that it was now possible to do heavy work on the fabrics using a fabric glue. Zardozi, beads or sequins could be stuck in a design to produce a glamourous effect.

Students were also encouraged to try out some of the patterns, which they enthusiastically took turns to work on.

They exchanged their points of view on what suited the best and soon the hall was brimming with activity.

Darshini, a lecturer at the college, is confident that students can now use their knowledge on everyday wear such as dupattas, sari borders or their kurtas.

Even branded textile shops have introduced such designs in their new wares, she points out.

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