Friends of Ours: Walter-G
At Tigerlily we love all things colourful and exotic so it’s no wonder that India is a constant source of inspiration for us. Friends of ours; Lauren & Genevieve from Walter-G, a textiles business specializing in handmade Indian textiles - are equally obsessed with India so we caught up with them to chat about the artisans they work with and why India has stolen their hearts.
Lauren & Genevieve are 2 mates from high school who share a passion for textiles and travelling. These common interests saw them embark on an adventure to India where the concept for Walter-G was birthed. Both ‘chronic nesters’ and homey sort of people they collected so many knick-knacks and textiles from their travels that it became too much for their own personal collection. They decided to make better use of their treasures and channel this passion into starting a textile/ homewares business. The name, Walter-G stems from their two grandfathers first names - Walter & George who passed away at around the same time as the business was getting off the ground, so the business is a legacy to them. It has been only a year and a half since they started and already they have expanded their range, have a ‘proper’ office (after much time working out of their parents garage’s) and secured a New York agent to try crack into the US interiors market.
The girl’s work directly with artisans from Jaipur to create a range of block printed fabrics, which they sell by the metre and also make into soft furnishings. Block printing is an ancient resist printing method unique to India, particularly the Jaipur region. It is a process that is traditionally done 100% by hand which is extremely labour intensive. The making of the dye in large underground vats, the printing of the fabric using hand carved wooden blocks and the washing & drying of the fabrics on the desert floor is a meticulous (& dirty) process.
“With the technologies available today it’s not the cheapest method of printing so sadly it is dying out because of the demand for mass consumption. These skills are not getting passed onto their children as much anymore because they can earn better money going to work in the city (at a phone shop for example).”Lauren & Genevieve
The girls have a ‘passion for the craft itself ‘and choose to work with this authentic print method, in a hope to keep the ‘handicraft’ alive in this region.
This is a vat of natural indigo dye. The colour is derived from the Indigo tree (Yes the tree is green but blue dye is created from it – crazy hey!). To make the dye; the leaves are dried, grinded into a powder & undergo a fermentation process. Fructose is added to the powder to make the dye take to the fabric. When the fabric is taken out of the dye vat it is bright green but once it re-acts to the oxygen in the air it turns to an indigo colour.
Artisans hard at work in the printing room
When using 100% natural dyes there are limitations to the vibrancy of colour you can achieve. That is why Walter-G prints have a lovely washed back, ‘lived in’ quality to them. They also use a printing method called ‘Mud Printing’ where the mud reacts to the dye and therefore reduces the saturation of the colour. When you see those beautiful piles of vibrant pigments around India they are most likely synthetic dyes.
The Walter-G girls are CRAZY about colour and one of their favourite outings whenever they visit India is the local flower market. They turn up at 6am in the morning with the hordes of locals and feast on the visual delights of massive bundles of flowers and people making garlands to hang from their arms and necks. Marigolds are the most common variety you see as they grow in the fields surrounding the villages.
“When your travel by bus around the villages you often pass a sea of orange that stretches for miles and miles and you want to jump off immediately to have a better look!” Lauren & Genevieve
Most of the time the flowers are used for religious offerings, which says a lot about the culture and the people;
‘Their days aren’t ruled by making money or doing business, they spend a lot of their time devoted to their Gods and making offerings to them. These people can barely afford to eat however they still make the effort to decorate as a form of worship to their Gods.”Lauren & Genevieve
Life is decorated in India and this is one of the things Lauren & Genevieve love most about it. Animals are painted and wear bracelets (why not, animals deserve jewelry too!), trucks are elaborately painted, men (practically in Rajasthan) wear theatrical turbans and have ornate mustaches in an attempt to out-do each other in the fashion stakes. It is this appreciation for aesthetics that makes India so charming and such a visual feast!
“Colour is such a huge part of their life – if you wanted to stand out at a party in India…you would wear black!” Lauren & Genevieve
Lauren & Genevieve have clearly been mesmerized by the spirit of the Indian people and their haphazardly charming ways. They plan to keep adventuring back to India at least 2 times a year to work on the range and hopefully find time to go exploring in more Aladdin caves!
“India is complete excess! It gets under your skin and will make you either never go back or want to go back time and time again!” Lauren & Genevieve All Images are property of Lauren and Genevieve from Walter-G and have been used with their permission. To find out more about their adventures check out the website here: Walter-G
Blogger, designer, beach babe and colour obsessed textiles geek Monique Luchterhand is a frequent contributor, correspondent and close friend of the brand. Follow her blog creatureofcolour.com to find out more about her colourful world...