Behind The Scenes
Ozma and I live in India and Britain respectively, close to our artisan makers and customers. As we are increasingly more concerned about our carbon footprint, we understand how lucky we are not to fly back and forth for work. We also implicitly trust each other so working across continents using technology makes it a relatively easy process. The joys of Whatsapp to share ideas and inspiration through pictures and video calling to make quick decisions, have given us an advantage to be able to continuously make new and beautiful creations whilst occasionally arguing but mostly valuing each other. Whilst we work across a varied range of craft skills, listed below are some that are ongoing all year round!
The art of blockprinting dates back to the Indus Valley Civilisation (3500-1300 B.C.). It was really under the Mughals that blockprinting really flourished with intricate floral designs and patterns that we see still used today.
The process: A woodblock is hand carved by a master carver using a hammer and chisel. Each colour in the print has a different block so the more intricate a design with many colours, the longer it takes, anything from a few days to a month to carve a design. For printing, the wood block is dipped in a dye-tray and stamped on the fabric with a firm and hard pound of the fist. The outlines are done first from left to right followed by each colour. The fabrics are dried in the sun and washed and prepared for stitching. Each piece is unique with slight colour variations and imperfections, which is the charm of blockprint. We call them perfectly imperfect!
Crewel embroidery is a specialisation of Kashmir and done with a wool yarn on silk or cotton fabric. At Faro, we use 2-ply or 3-ply wool to embroider our bedspreads, which gives greater depth in design through colour shading of the yarn. Most work is done by groups of families during the winter months when the tourism industry is largely shut. We are proud to support local Kashmiri weavers and small businesses during these challenging times.
The process: The design is first created on a design sheet and tiny holes are punched into the pattern. The sheet is then laid onto the fabric and an ink infused wool cloth is dabbed onto the sheet to print the pattern onto the fabric below. The embroidery begins and the fabric comes to life with vivid greens, blues, oranges and reds. Kashmiris often embroider floral patterns influenced by their beautiful surroundings. It takes an average of 2 - 3 months to finish a Faro bedspread. It is an heirloom to be cherished and looked after with love.
The art of Paper Mâché was brought to Kashmir from Persia by a Sufi saint, Mir Syed Ali Hamdani in the 14th century and subsequently widely used by King Zain Al Abidin in the 15th century. There are two parts to the process: Sakhtsazi (making the figurine from a mould using paper pulp and rice glue) and Naqashi (painting the intricate designs and patterns on the figurine). Everything is still done by hand including the paper shredding and making the pulp in a stone pestle and mortar. Once the shape is made, the mould is cut out and removed. The shape is then lined with paper to give it a smooth shape and layered with a paste of Fuller’s earth. It is covered with butter paper to avoid any cracks developing. Once it is dry, the shape is lacquered and hand-painted with scenes of flora and fauna. Our Kashmir collection takes about 5 to 6 months to make from concept to fruition. It is a labour of patience and love, and we hope they are cherished and passed on to future generations!
Kashmir is as famous for its shawls as it for its mountains. It is a fine form of wool and comes from the Changri goat reared by the semi-nomadic tribe called the Changpa in India’s Ladakh region. The wool is hand combed from the goats and woven on a handloom as it is very delicate to be processed through a machine loom. Each shawl takes about 4 days to weave. Embroidery on a pashmina is delicately done by hand. We have sourced unique pieces of DORUKHA (which means two-sided) where one side is a soft pashmina yarn and the other is a metallic yarn giving it a dramatic finish. Each piece has the initials of the weaver who created it. Our weavers in Kashmir have been creating these shawls for generations and you can see and feel the finesse in them. Your neck will never accept anything else after feeling these beautiful shawls against it!
Our love of sensuous silk has taken us far and wide in India to source vintage sarees. We have a dedicated team to source them and scan the sarees for rips and tears. They are dry cleaned and ready for stitching where they are made into unique and beautiful garments. Each saree is cut into three parts and complementing colours are joined to create the sleeves, back and top. They come in a protective silk drawstring bag and make the perfect, thoughtful gift too. No two pieces are alike and designed to make you feel ready for wafting... Every woman should have at least one in their wardrobe!
We care about the longevity of our creations. We think it is important that garments are finished to the high standards expected by our customers. Our garments are hand cut by Master tailors at our workshop and stitched in-house; French seams, mother of pearl buttons and piping are some of the details with which we create our garments. Our growing team of expert tailors keep Ozma on her toes with their creative input and artistic flair...