The Waves Collection – letting imagination flow
Ocean – a seemingly endless expanse of water with the rising sun in the distant horizon; large sandy shores where waves crash ceaselessly; the enigmatic depths of its waters; the beautiful reefs just below its surface,vibrant and teeming with life.
In our “Waves” collection, we have drawn inspiration from the soulful stillness of the ocean, the immersive depths of its waters, the rise and fall of the waves and the richness of its coral reefs. Through this collection we translate the vast limitlessness of the ocean onto fabric via Jamdani – the historical weaving craft of Bengal.
The idea took root during covid times. Being constrained within spaces and grappling with the engulfing fear of uncertainty manifested themselves as intense feelings of isolation. Stepping out after a long period of lockdown gave roots to an inspiration that was unconfined and unrestrained – letting our imaginations run wild with the ocean waters when we were still restrained by a global pandemic.
The momentum and spontaneity of waves beckoned and we began working on the collection “Waves”.
Over the years, the use of strong lines with bold geometric shapes had become our signature look. But this collection would have to develop a little differently. Waves are fluid and flexible – the rigidity of geometrics would have to be broken and inflexible lines would have to give way to the seamlessness of the ocean.
As we delved deeper into the concept, we determined that the vastness of the ocean could best be captured by rich shades of indigo, the mystery of the unknown by shades of black and its pristine purity by white. A simple palette that required both depth and character called for the use of natural dyes. Additionally, Bengal is traditionally the land of fine hand spun cotton (muslin). To sustain this inherited skill set of the Bengali artisan, Waves progressed into a cotton collection using very fine khadi.
To emphasize the Waves theme, a lot of work was done in arranging the basic warp and weft such that they contribute creatively to the final design. The graphs were tweaked and layers added every day till finally, patterns were no longer flat against a solid paper. The rigidity of the warp lines had been broken and weft stripes seamlessly blended into the detailed graph, effectively defining the ebb and flow of the limitless ocean.
An experimental idea develops as much in the studio as it does on the loom. However, in covid times travelling to the village, where our looms were, was not an option. Frustration, indecision and confusion characterised the next stage of development as long hours were spent on whatsapp video calls communicating with the artisans, explaining the delicate nuances of the design, bridging the gap between the art of design and the craft of Jamdani. Our weaving progressed slowly on the pit looms of Bengal.
We were a bundle of nerves as we awaited the arrival of the first stole to our studio. As we held our Jamdani stole ‘Crest’ in our hands we were filled with disbelief, gratitude and joy.
Reef, Coral and others followed soon, each one a testament to the persistence and hard work of both the artist and the artisan.
After having successfully translated our artworks onto stoles, we began designing our other products. Each range, however, came with its own set of challenges.
Designs for our sarees would have to be bolder, yet less complex and just and interesting. Even as the complexity was reduced, more elements were added to our artworks. Silver and gold zari (metallic yarns) were brought into play to symbolise the glimmering sun on the body of the ocean. Saturated colours and extensive use of zari, has ensured that our saree range is classic occasion wear.
Designing Jamdani for a range of garments was by far the most challenging. It called for the use of a technique that, in our long journey of Jamdani, we had not yet explored – placement Jamdani.
Placement Jamdani – a term coined by us – involves planning Jamdani patterns very precisely, in an almost mathematical fashion, for only certain areas of a silhouette (for instance, around the neck or hip) and then accordingly making the artwork and getting it woven. In keeping with the larger Waves theme, we wanted our garments to echo the seamless movement of the waves. Navigating stitched seams while arriving at seamlessness was quite the task. It took us multiple trial warps to finally get it right on our third attempt.
We have taken Waves and steered it across 3 categories of products, from stoles, to sarees to finally garments. Each range has been designed in great depth and detail while remaining true to our craft of Jamdani. In keeping with the ethos of all that is Karomi, Waves epitomises innovation in craft while simultaneously celebrating the highest level of craftsmanship. It speaks of a true meeting of art and craft.