While creating this collection, we've been searching down the supply chain to see where our materials are coming from, and meeting unexplainably amazing people along the way. Kala cotton from Khamir is my favourite textile so far. "Kala cotton is indigenous to Kachchh and by default organic, as the farmers do not use any pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. It is a purely rain fed crop that has a high tolerance for both disease and pests, and requires minimal investment. It is both resilient and resurgent in the face of stressful land conditions.".
Craftroots has a relationship with them, so I was able to be a part of their process. First step: to one of their farms in Rapar, Kutch just outside the Little Rann (desert). This was in mid-march, so they were *almost* finished harvesting. I got lucky.
Harvesting cotton is no joke. Obviously no one would claim farm work to be easy- but I hadn't taken the baking Indian sunlight into consideration (among other things). I grew up surrounded by farms in Pennsylvania, we used to go apple and berry picking all the time. We loved playing in the mud. I felt at home at the cotton farm almost- wide spans of greenery and fresh air. Hopeful energy of new life.
Genuinely we wished to be helpful with the harvest. I don't think we were taken seriously at first- and I don't blame them. Some random foreigner shows up to pick cotton on their field? More than a few giggles we heard.
After some time and many (valiant yet failed) attempts at keeping up with their picking speed we became friendly. It wasn't long before the usuals "kya aap shaadeeshuda hei?(are you married?" and "which country?" were asked. I tried to remember all their names, and I think they tried to remember mine too. These ladies are such badasses. This work is not for the weak! We were bending over picking at that cotton like fiends- I huffed and puffed while they flitted between the plants gaily, joking and laughing.
They had little (very necessary) water breaks from time to time. I couldn't tell exactly who was "running the show"- none of the guys standing around on the outskirts of the field seemed to have much authority. The ladies took their breaks whenever was appropriate than got back to work.
The ladies begin picking at 7am on harvesting days. Halfway through the shift, the farm provides them with lunch and their day ends around 1 pm. Afterwards they head home to do whatever is next on their agenda. Some might have other employment (stitching or something of that nature) and others might get to cleaning the home or cooking dinner. They're sort of re-defined my idea of a "superwoman". Picking crops in the hot sun, stitching/cleaning then feeding the entire family- these women really do it all.
AND they're gorgeous- check out those earrings, and colors they're all wearing.
The day was done. After some invitations to dinner at various village homes that we sadly had to decline due to time constraints, we said our language-barrier-bashing hug and laughter-filled goodbyes. Then were on our way back to our desert camp, following a cotton truck the majority of the way home. <3
Temple in Bhuj, Gujarat
It’s been a while. I’ve watched my hair grow recklessly and my frame shrink slightly (former: mehendi and almond oil. latter: indian food, and often opting for fruit instead of indian food-a cycle held at random intervals.) I’ve watched myself grow creatively, I’ve watched myself grow away from the life I left behind in New York. Admittedly, this verbiage implies passivity- I feel I struggle between the forces of explosive activity and silent observance.
My mind runs to keep up. Oftentimes it's to the benefit of the work- but on other occasions it is carnivorous and draining. I pattern and stitch. Or I don’t pattern, and I write. Or I don’t write and I go somewhere to see something with the hopes of creative enlightenment, or I go nowhere, eat fruit, practice hindi, do yoga, do nothing. Nothing- it’s been only a practice as of late. It’s a simultaneous restorative therapy and reflective powerlessness. Lots of traveling last month. Like, a LOT, and what began as exciting adventures ended in exhaustion, however reflective.
Bhuj market- made a friend while sourcing embroidery
Harvesting KALA cotton in Rapar, Kutch
Weaving in Bhuj
Ferry in Mumbai, Madh Island to Versova beach