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The Process of Aari embroidery

- First the tracing of the design is made. The design is then transferred onto the fabric. At times, the craftsman spontaneously draws the pattern on the fabric. This is done using a normal lead pencil. But usually the design is first drawn on a tracing paper.

- Using a needle, holes are pierced all along the lines.

- Next, this is placed on the fabric. A mixture of kerosene and robin blue is made and rubbed with a sponge on the tracing paper. It seeps through the holes and is transferred to the fabric.

- The main tool used in this style of embroidery is the aari, a hooked needle, from which the style gets its name. By using subtle gradations of color the figures and motifs in the designs can be highly representational.

- The next step is to stretch the fabric taut over a frame called the adda. This concept has evolved from a knockdown bed called the khatia used in rural areas. It follows the assembly and tightening principles of the khatia, and gives the cloth a uniform tension. Also the frame can be made to fit any size of fabric. The adda consists of four wooden spars (sometimes, bamboo is used for the end members) resting on wooden posts. A smaller metal frame may also be used if the embroidery focus is in a small area.

- Aari embroidery is done by tightening the cloth to be embroidered upon the khatia (cot) or adda frame and then doing the thread work on portions on the stretched cloth with an aari or crochet-hook like instrument. The stitch that forms resembles a chain stitch.

- The actual embroidery involves pushing the needle through the fabric. From behind, thread is pushed into the hook. When the needle is pulled up again, it comes up with a loop. The next time, the needle goes through the loop and comes up with another loop through the previous loop. The same process is repeated. The stitches are very fine and small.

- After the embroidery, the thread is beaten down or flattened using a wooden mallet from the top, with a hand held wooden anvil placed under the fabric. This settles the thread and gives the work a fuller and finished look. This process is only for zari work.