Kalamkari which translates as "Pen Work" also called as "Chintz" by English men is a complex process. Very finest kalamkari are attributed to South east India, but Burhanpur in MP is credited with high quality historic Kalamkari.
The design is sketched out on bleached and beetles(beating with wooden mallets) high quality cotton. A "kalam" or " Qalam" is used to draw the design. The affordable kalamkari's sketch is done with help of blockprint.
With Qalam, A bamboo stick wrapped with an absorbent stuffing soaked with morbant(Liquid) artist traces outlines of a design.
An iron morbant is used for black outlines and alum morbant for red outlines. The cloth is then stepped in the first red-dye bath, which reacts with iron to produce black & with alum to fix the red.
Iron + Red dye= Black | Alum + Red dye+ Red
Cloth is then washed to remove any red tinge.
At this point any details that are to remain white on red surface are covered in hot wax. Areas to be colored red are covered with alum morbant in various density to create lighter and darker shades.
After washing and cleaning again, every portion that is not to be coloured blue or green are covered in wax before cloth is soaked in an indigo bath. The wax is then boiled off, leaving only the unwaxe blue areas.
So, the uncovered part is covered in all blue. You can see the shading of red in the flower part result of various amount of morbant application before dipping it in red- dye.
Finally, yellow dye is painted on to the parts of cloth intended to be yellow and over the blue areas intended to be green. The process varies according to region. Some use blockprints or stencils for design. Order of dye baths might be rearranged.