About 80 percent of my wardrobe is filled with clothes made with all sorts of block printed fabrics. The stripes, the florals, the bright colours, the muted ones, the big designs and the tiny prints. All the while, I thought these blocks were machine made (I did know making blocks existed, just that I wasn’t prepared for the finesse). My fondness for the Keri design (paisleys) extends to everything from my curtains, to bedsheets and of course 80% of that 80%!
I reached Pethapur which is about 50 km away from home. For the amount I travel, this is hardly any distance. I’ve been planning this for a very long time. Finally I got out of my inertia and decided to get there. This time I had the contact number of the person making these blocks. My Ajrakh printer gave me all the details, thereby killing all the adventure!
Mukeshbhai has a perpetual smiling face. It was just the kind of smile that had a hint of humor behind it. He was sitting there creating a difficult design and also mentoring his son and nephew (both in their twenties). Both of them were making such complex designs that made my eyes pop out! I found the designs beautiful, but Mukeshbhai seemed hardly impressed. He is disappointed with their performance and blames it on the generation; the impatient bunch that this generation has spawned.
Here is the design that his nephew was working on. He has carefully stenciled the design on the soft wood.
For hours on end and with meticulous precision, he drills tiny holes using this simple, hand operated drill.
In another corner of the balcony, his son is putting some end finishes on this block.The finer details are carved using a set of fine tools.
I sat there for about two hours, chatting about ‘this’ generation (yeah, I pretended to be older!), sipping chai from the saucer (like they do in Gujarat) and skimming through all his designs. Though the mentoring process where the knowledge is passed on from one generation to another is the key to the progress of handicrafts, very rarely do I see such importance being given to quality and finish.
If you are wondering why I visited Mukeshbhai, wait for some block printed products from CraftCanvas 🙂