Wednesday, August 17, 2016

SoulWeaves - Kalamkari Pashmina

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For the few years that I have lived in Hyderabad, I have had some wonderful opportunities to meet and learn from various artisans. From ikat weavers to cherial mask painters to kalamkari block printers, it is an humbling experience every single time  to watch these amazing artists work on their art with such dedication and passion. In an era of mass production, their arts are dying and their survival is paramount to preserve artistic techniques that define our culture.

Then, through this blog, I also get to interact with passionate individuals who have dedicated their lives to the revival and survival of these arts and crafts. Meet Swati Kapoor, an entrepreneur, mom, artist and the brain behind SoulWeaves.

SoulWeaves offers an exquisite selection of natural fiber shawls, scarves and stoles that were born out of Swati’s love for everything natural, beautiful and enduring that Indian artisanal traditions have to offer. Every product is handmade and handcrafted by skilled artisans. Every natural fiber that is used is hand selected by Swati from various parts of our diverse country.

When Swati shared her work with me, what struck me most, were her handwoven, handpainted Kalamkari pashminas. I have seen a fair bit of kalamkaris - both hand painted and hand block printed, but Soulweave's hand painted kalamkari on pashmina was a first. Pashmina is the finest type of cashmere wool and is incredibly soft, warm and rare. Kalamkari is a traditional art form of Andhra Pradesh that involves  drawing intricate patterns, motifs or illustrations directly onto cloth with a bamboo pen or brush. The drawings are then filled in with natural colors. Kalamkari is one of the most difficult techniques to work with. The marriage between pashmina and kalamkari is mind-boggling, something that I have never seen before.

The SoulWeaves kalamkari Pashmina is entirely hand-drawn and hand-painted.  Taking weeks, often months to make. The final product is a medley of fine lines and delicate dyes sitting comfortably on Pashmina fibres.

Swati says “Our most exclusive offering – the Kalamkari Pashmina – is a tribute to the most intricate artisanal traditions of northern and southern India. Handpainted shawls in the kalamkari technique from Andhra Pradesh, created with a pioneering technique that is entirely and exclusively SoulWeaves.”

So how does SoulWeaves guarantee authenticity? Swati tells me that every single fiber lot they buy is tested by the Craft Development Institute and each shawl comes with an Authenticity Certificate. A SoulWeaves Kalamakari Pashmina is truly an heirloom piece. 

The beautiful products at SoulWeaves’ are one-of-a-kind, entirely hand-crafted, and truly deserving of being called wearable art.

Visit Swati at her studio in Lado Sarai, New Delhi to get to know more about her work and while you are there, pick a pashmina for youself.
You can also visit Soulweaves on Facebook or their website.

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