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Thursday, 9 September 2010

Brigitte Singh's handblocking workshop

Impressions of India: 27
I met Brigitte Singh at the Goa home of the inimitable Jivi and she kindly invited me to contact her when I was in Jaipur and visit her workshop there. I didn't know at the time that she is famously private and reclusive and thus that this invitation was a rare privilege.

Born and raised in France, she first came to Rajasthan's capital Jaipur at the end of the 70s to study the art of miniature painting with an Indian master, fell in love with and married his son, and made her home in Amber (pronounced 'Amer' and meaning 'high'). She then became fascinated by India's rich textile heritage and the art of woodblock printing which had declined since its zenith in the C18th. Her workshop in Amber now produces an exquisite range of clothes, furnishings and accessories which are renowned worldwide and all produced under her personal supervision.
It was fascinating to watch the many colours that made up the intricate designs being carefully built up, one layer after another.
The delicately-carved wooden blocks have a relatively short life. Once carefully positioned, they receive a short sharp blow to transfer their dye. 
As soon as their edges become blurred they have to be carved all over again.
A large team of local men and women were sitting around the light central courtyard sewing the dyed fabrics into clothes and furnishings, either with old-fashioned treadle machines or by hand.

The finished pieces are wondrously-detailed and beautifully finished, and available to buy from a little upstairs office.
And this is the charming Brigitte, who is also kept busy bringing up her little adopted Indian daughter by herself. 

Posts still to come: 
Jodhpur's fort and palace
The fabulous Jain temples en route to Udaipur
Udaipur's lake, bats and palace


  1. Hi Cathy, my company represents Brigitte's beautiful fabrics and soft furnishings here in the UK. Justed wanted to say what a perfect job you have done capturing the magic that is her home and work in these images. Well done, and hope you enjoyed the experience!

    1. Hi Aleta, thankyou so much for your lovely comments and I did indeed thoroughly enjoy the experience. If you'd like to use any of the pictures/the story to promote her wonderful work, just let me know.

  2. A beautiful story unfolded like the fabrics.

  3. Beautiful fabrics and refreshingly-civilised working conditions. Brigitte looks like a lovely person.

  4. Hello.
    I am Japanese Musical Actor.

    I was surprised at a beautiful photograph.
    And I was surprised at the photograph of her studio which I looked for all the time.

    Could you please give me email to my face book if possible?

  5. Hi Hiroshi, thanks for your appreciation & if you send me (Cathy Teesdale) a Facebook friend request I can connect with you there. There's more than one HK on Facebook for me to choose from!

  6. Merci Cathy!pour vos magnifiques photos.Peut-être pourriez-vous m'aider à retrouver Brigitte Singh, car amoureuse de ses créations je fréquentais souvent "le jardin moghol" à Paris ou je laissais fondre mes économies! et il y a 3 mois on m'a volé tous les cartons de déménagement,dont les merveilles de Brigitte! et le magasin a disparu! merci à l'avance .mail : France)

  7. I have a beautiful Indian block print dress that gives me great pleasure! Outstanding photos

  8. I lived in India for eight years and recently went back on a quick trip after more than 30 years. The visit to Brigitte Singh's was one of the high points of my trip!

  9. hi cathy, i am headed to jaipur soon + a visit to brigitte singh's is on the "must do" list. thank you for the lovely photographs + insight.

    christy martin

  10. Thanks for the photos. I visited Brigitte Singh studio just month ago. I discovered her amazing work in Paris in Le Marais area in the store called "De Jardin Mogol" in 2000, and bought most beautiful outfits. Visit to her studio was a true highlight of my trip to Jaipur. I was lucky to meet her in person. She was so lovely. I wish there was her boutique store here in US.