Handloom lies at the very centre of Creative Bee's ethos. Our founder Bina Rao has always adored the charm of handmade products - not to mention the sustainability associated with them. Bina has worked with rural handloom weavers for over four decades in many parts of India, Southeast Asia and Africa. Creative Bee's handloom fabrics come in many forms and qualities - ranging from all counts and combinations of cotton and silks to speciality fibres such as Tussar, Gicha and Noil. Essentially a textile designer, Bina has spent decades experimenting with natural fibres and textile constructions, and as a result, Creative Bee's repertoire of weaves is unparalleled in the industry.
Learning from and reviving ancient traditional techniques has always been a passion for our co-founder Kesav Rao, who is one of a handful of Dye Masters for Natural Dye in India. Coupling ancient knowledge with decades of experience, Kesav has developed one of the largest colour-ranges ever known in Natural Dyes. Kesav also brings a scientific approach to the traditional art of dyeing, making every shade extremely colour-fast, rubbing-fast, and light-fast. What's more, with an innate eco-conscious sensibility and an urge to generate employment, Kesav has set-up our production in a way that uses zero electricity, is carbon-neutral and causes zero water or soil pollution.
We have an in-house Block-Printing facility located in a village called Kondapur on the periphery of Hyderabad where we do traditional woodblock printing by hand. The printing is done on 7 to 15 feet long tables that are lined with 25 to 30 layers of Hasin cloth to achieve near-perfect uniformity of print. We do customized blocks based on a buyer's requirement and no pattern is too intricate for our block-makers who have decades of experience in the intricate skill which has been passed down to them through generations. We also employ unique techniques such as mud-resist, discharge, and cross-printing, etc. in combination with Shibori and Hand-painting to make our products incredibly distinctive.
Similar to Tie-Dye and Bandhani in principle, Shibori is a Japanese form of Multi-technique resist dyeing. At Creative Bee, we incorporate Tie-Dye, Mud Resist, Clamp Resist, Stitch Resist, Local Application, Block Print, and various other techniques in our Shibori, resulting in some of the most amazing patterns. We use 100% Natural Dyes for our Shibori and most of our Shibori artists are women from the neighbouring villages. Though our Shibori is done on our own handloom fabric, we also train rural women - elderly widows, single mothers and anyone interested - to use the technique on readily available fabric, to create finished, value-added, sellable products as a way of providing a livelihood.
Hand-painted Kalamkari is one of India's oldest art-forms. It is the art of painting on fabric with a traditional, improvised pen, invented thousands of years ago and still used to this day. Creative Bee's Kalamkari is a homage to the craft's Silk Route Era. We contemporize this heritage technique by replacing its traditional religious motifs of gods and goddesses with more modern, contemporary ones such as animals, birds, leaves and the Tree of Life. Our Kalamkari is also unique in the way that, while most other pieces smell of the cow milk that is used to keep the ink from blotting, our products go through a post-process which fixes the colour and completely eliminates the smell of dairy.
The Creative Bee Foundation, a non-profit founded in 1999, has worked extensively with handicrafts artisans from around the country in Wood, Metal, Bamboo and Fibrecrafts, doing design interventions to help them revive their market. Some of the crafts include wooden products from Ettikopakka, toys from Kondapalli, leather puppetry from Andhra Pradesh, Bidri silver work from Bidar and many more. The foundation has been self-funded through most of its existence but has also done technical skill-training projects for State and Central Governments. The products that are developed by the foundation are marketed and retailed by Creative Bee all across India.