Vegetable dyes are being used in recent times to revive the long-lasting quality of Patola. The usage of chemical dyes also exist parallely.The reintroduced vegetable dye materials are: turmeric, marigold flower, onion skin, pomegranate rinds, madder, lac, catechu, cochineal, indigo along with different mordant like alum, tin chloride, ferrous sulphate, copper sulphate, tannic acid, oxalic acid, potassium dichromate etc.
Cotton threads are used in the tie-dyeing process. Silk is used to form the main body of the fabric.
Tools & Technology
The loom used is characteristic to Patola weaving and is a hand operated harness loom made out of rosewood and bamboo strips. The loom lies at a slant, with the left side being lower than the right side. Two weavers work on the loom at the same time. A bamboo shuttle is used to move through the warps. The rosewood sword shaped stick called 'Vi', which is used for adjusting the yarns, is also found only with the Patola loom.
It is a common belief that a Patola saree brings luck and prosperity, hence the saree is often passed on as an heirloom and also worn during the baby shower ceremony.
In Patola, the designs are worked out first. Accordingly, cotton threads are tied on the threads of the yarn. This is to avoid the dye from penetrating to the areas where the patterns have to appear. The resist tie-dyeing is repeated according to the desired colours and levels of dye penetration. The tying is done on both the warp and the weft depending on the imagined patterns which have to emerge when woven together. The tying of yarns deals with measurements as small as 1/100th of an inch. This is merely the beginning of the process which demands high levels of precision.
After the dyeing is done, the yarns are carefully arranged. Any change or displacement even in a single thread can lead to disrupting the entire weave. Laying out the warp and resolving any issues of broken threads is the work of the master craftsman as it requires intense dexterity, experience and expertise.
Once the threads are fixed on the handloom, the weavers get to work. The rosewood stick called 'Vi' is periodically used to adjust the yarns and to remove the tension of the warp threads. The loom accommodates two weavers who work in harmony to be able to weave at least 8 to 9 inches of fabric in a day. On the whole, the entire fabric takes from 6 months to a year to complete.