In Focus Bina Rao showcases Kalamkari at the World Eco-Fibre and Textile forum, Malaysia

K alamkari had its pride of place at the World Eco-Fibre and Textile (WEFT) forum 2010 held recently in Malaysia. Two-hundred-year-old designs, including the famous lotus motifs and Tree of Life, came alive on raw silks, cotton-silk blends, filature and dupioni silks and tissue-tussar blended silks at the Borneo Convention Centre at Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.

The WEFT, hosted every alternate year, showcases natural fabrics with natural dyes from all over the world. Hyderabad-based designer Bina Rao, who is back in the city after showcasing her collection, is ecstatic: “The show was appreciated and most garments were sold. We used hand-painted Kalamkari on stoles, dupattas, saris and garments,” she says.

Floor-length skirts, kimonos and shirts with bold, bright Kalamkari designs were the USP of her collection. As one of the founder members of WEFT, Bina Rao says, “The WEFT focuses on natural and eco-friendly fabrics. This year's event had 25 luminaries sharing their perspectives through presentations for three days, a craft bazaar, followed by the fashion event that had international participation.”

Batiks from Thailand and Indonesia, woven fabrics from Japan and Australia also featured in this show.

The Kalamkari designs were done by second generation artisans trained at the Creative Bee Foundation. “Three years ago, when the government offered free training programmes, a few second generation artisans enrolled for training. But they were not keen on taking it up as a profession since most of them were graduates and wanted to find employments in BPOs. With jobs becoming scarce, they returned to Kalamkari and discovered that it could be lucrative since these designs on natural fabrics attract international buyers,” she says. Bina plans to replicate the designs showcased at WEFT for the Indian market.

Soon after showcasing her work at WEFT, Bina participated in a textile symposium on natural dyes and fibres, organised by Textile Society of America, at Nebraska University, Lincoln.

“I had to focus on ‘sacred yellow', the process of extracting the natural dye and its history. We showcased the same garments from the WEFT collection since we had used yellow dyes for the garments,”

Bina will also be a part of the International Symposium for Natural Dyes (ISDN), to be held in Paris in April 2011.

“We will focus on marketability of natural fabrics and natural dyes. The ISND will also be coming out with a Natural Dye mark, as a stamp of certification for fabrics that use natural dyes,” she says.


We used hand-painted Kalamkari on stoles, dupattas, saris and garments at WEFT. Bina Rao