Today was a really fun, and rather long day. So, be prepared for a really fun, and rather long post.
For the first day since arriving in Hyderabad, we left the house before 10:00am. We had a 2 hour drive ahead of us.
Keerthi read on our goals list that I really wanted to visit a silk factory. So, she found one.
It’s not just a place where they make silk thread though. They show the entire process, from how they dye to thread, to threading the looms, and to hand marking and weaving intricate designs.
The most interesting thing about the whole process, for me anyway, is that the design comes from the bobbin thread. The line of thread that runs across the loom.
In order to make the design, they first need to divide the silk into appropriate sections:
Then, they mark on each strand where each color should go (this is done first on graph paper, but when it’s transferred to the silk thread, only a single strand is used as a guide).
From these marks, they know where they need to “tie and dye”. Along each pen mark, a small string is tied.
Then, the color sections are marked off with rubber. Any part of the yarn that is covered in rubber will not be affected by the dyeing process.
The silk thread is then dyed, using natural vegetable dyes.
Once this has been completed with all the colors, the final yarn is ready to be placed on the bobbin.
Now it’s time to set up the loom. The thread is stretched to about 500 yards.
Finally, it’s weaving time.
If a weaver works 18 hours a day, it will take him 4-5 days to make one sari. The process described above makes enough thread for 8 saris.
And you thought your job was hard.
From there we went to see the potter. Not Harry Potter. A potter, a man who makes pots.
He used to be a weaver; in fact in 2007 there were 2,700 families who were working using the processes described above. Now, only 4 years later, there are less than 500. Why? Because the middle men are taking all the money and giving almost nothing to the weavers. They can’t afford to weave anymore.
This weaver learned a new trade. Making clay pots.
He can make about 30 pots a day, and sells each pot for 12 Rupees ($0.27). Total daily earnings = $8.01. And he still has to buy materials.
He throws the clay on a wheel to get its basic shape.
Then he takes it and works it into the desired shape. He uses a rock on the inside and a wooden paddle on the outside.
When they get to be the right shape, he’ll fire them in the kiln (a portion of his front yard he built to serve that purpose).
Jonathan and Keerthi wanted to give clay throwing a go, so he was kind enough to let them try.
It’s not as easy as it looks.
If he wants to put any kind of special design on the outside of the pot, he does it while it’s still on the wheel.
His kids thought that we were hilarious. They did not stop laughing at Jonathan and Keerthi’s attempts to make clay pots.
Next it was on to the palm grove for us.
The potter was making clay jars used for storing fermented palm fruit juice. Bhanu asked if we wanted to try it, and well, who could say no?
So, they took us straight to the source.
But, the man had to go get some fresh fermented juice for us.
Just a minute; he’ll be right back.
Oh, and then he needed to go get us some cups…he left those in another tree.
The cups are really folded palm leaves.
And now that we’re all set, we can try it.
We also get to try the fruit that they make the liquor from.
It’s also fresh.
After making the man climb the tree at least 3 times to get us all the fruit we could eat, he finally posed for a picture with us.
Today is one of those travel days that will live in infamy. It was an all-around amazing experience.
Thank you Bhanu and Keerthi.