Screens and printing supplies
Savithri must have known that I was coming, because when I stopped by to visit she had powders, pastes, beads, and printing screens laid out on the floor. She is the leader of a group of five women that received loans from Milaap to start a screen-printing business to make saris. Three days a week Savithri meets these women at the local self help group facility for work. “We make two types of saris,” said Savithri, “fancy saris and pattu saris.” The first step is choosing the fabric. The price of fabric varies depending on the type of sari; fabric for a fancy sari costs 200 Rs., and fabric for a pattu sari costs 1000 Rs. Next, the women print designs on and add beads to the fabrics, then sell the saris to local stores. Fancy saris sell for 1,000 Rs., and pattu saris for 3,000 Rs. Savithri said that they sell about ten saris per month, and everyone shares in the profits equally.
Fabric, screen, and mixing powders
A group effort
Since Savithri brought all of her equipment along, I asked her if she could give a demonstration. With the help of a one of her tailors, who was also translating my English and Savithri’s Tamil, she made me my own screen-printed fabric. I could see why the women all get together to work; screen-printing is definitely a group activity. The process of holding the fabric in place, placing the screen down carefully, and applying the paste took about four people to accomplish. We continued talk while the printing dried, and then Savithri folded the fabric and gave it to me to keep. It seems like Savithri is happy with her business, and takes pride in her work.
The finished product
Savithri finding humor in my attempt to speak Tamil