Founded by US designer Carol Miltimore, Seek Collective is dedicated to working with artisan communities in hand block printing, hand loom weaving and natural dyeing processes. Employing these age-old techniques inspire and play a key role in a commitment in their modern revival and to environmentally and socially conscious practices that empower each artisan, their communities, and their technique.
Each piece is hand crafted with focused attention to construction and detail, making every item one of a kind. Seek is defining a new form of modern luxury through the hands of expert artisans and a renewed point of view.
Hand Block Printing
The tradition of block printing in India dates back over 350 years. The technique begins with an artisan who hand carves each design into a block of wood.
For each color of the pattern a different block is needed.
Once the fabric is washed and ready, printing begins. Dipping the carved block in the dye color and then expertly stamping the fabric, one block at a time, until the pattern is complete on the yardage.
Resist printing is when we print with a mud mixture called dabu, made of clay, wheat flower, guar gum, and lime, which is then covered with sawdust and laid in the sun to try before submerging the fabric in a dye bath. Once dyed and washed, the dabu comes off and the design shows through.
Once finished with printing and dying, the fabric is boiled, washed, and laid out to dry in the desert sun.
The company of bock printers Seek works with pays double the average wage and have their own community fund which has successfully sponsored several health clinics for their community.
Weaving is an ancient craft that dates back through all cultures for thousands of years. In India it has an exceptionally long history with regional distinctions throughout the country.
Seek works with a community that is dedicated to supporting the role of women in the craft industry and to making handloom weaving a respected and income-earning career.
The yarn is hand spun and once ready, the weavers go to work setting up their looms, which can be a very complicated intricate process depending on the design.
Each piece of yarn must pass through its own heddle, like an eye of a needle. These longitudinal threads are the warp.
The warp gets lifted up and down by foot-operated harnesses, which the heddles are attached to. The threads that move across are the weft. Different weaves and patterns are created by how the warp is lifted up and down as the weft passes through perpendicularly.
The people Seek works with for dying our solid colors and much of our hand-loomed yarn have spent close to a decade researching and developing how to color fabrics using only natural dyes and non-toxic mordants.
Using vegetables, minerals, bugs, and flowers in a lush jungle area of South India, they have perfected these techniques and have a passion for environmental and social responsibility.
Solid waste is used as manure on their local farming land and treated waste-water is used for safe irrigation. Rice crops and pineapple grow right next to many of the plants they grow on property for dying.
Womens' Handicraft Enterprise
Seek has partnered with a Women’s Handicraft Enterprise in southern Rajasthan, which was established in 1988 to provide alternative incomes for women in rural, tribal and urban slum belts of that area.
There are now up to 697 women members, who have been trained at the center. Depending on where they live, they work either at an urban headquarters or in their local village. The artisan members have elected representatives amongst themselves who make up the managing committee of 49 members.
The goal is to provide these women with an alternative means of income generation as a tool for empowerment with an objective of supporting their socio-political standing.
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