Digital hands project

Several members from TED are currently involved in a new project trying to link craft and technology in textile production in India, called Digital Hands. Clara Vuletich wrote a TED postcard from their initial trip to India in November, where partners were found to work on the project.

One partner is Bodhi, a block print company from Gujurat, run by the inspirational Mala and Pradeep, a couple who are passionate about pushing the boundaries of traditional print processes for saris. Mala designs her own patterns for saris and other garments and the designs are hand carved into wood blocks and then hand printed on the long print tables in the factory. Sari fabrics are also dyed in the factory and then printed on.

All the water from the factory is sent through a closed-loop water filtration system developed by Pradeep. Once the water has been cleaned it would only need the addition of chlorine to make it drinkable. This filtered water is then re-used and because they also save gallons of rainwater in their large water tanks during the monsoon, they rarely need to turn on the tap.

This is amazing considering that they are using synthetic dyes and also considering the vast amounts of water that are used for block and silk-screen printing and for dyeing of fabric. It also interesting that they have chosen not to use natural dyes. They believe that natural dyes do not work reliably at this scale of production and that there is a lack of consistency in the colour. However, if the water is able to be filtered through a closed loop system like this, and the performance of the synthetic dyes meets their requirements, it makes the use of natural dyes seem redundant, which is controversial to say the least.

For more images of the Bodhi factory see the TED Flikr site and more updates on the project will follow on this blog.