Small tamarind sticks are burnt which are then covered with sand, in order to cool them gradually without making them brittle. If water is added to the fire the sticks becomes useless for drawing outlines on fabric. Burnt Tamarind sticks acts as a pencil when drawn on the fabric.
Tracing the outlines
Artisans make themselves comfortable on the floor while drawing outlines using a scholar’s writing desk, they stretch the fabric and clip it on both ends which makes it easier for the artisan to draw. Only experienced artisans are preferred to draw the outlines as it has to be elegant and precise, it takes usually three months for a trainee to learn to draw the outlines and it takes almost fifteen days to learn to fill colours in the fabric. Running designs are drawn free hand without any reference for experienced artisans. Burnt tamarind stick is used to drawn the outlines of the fabric, however experienced artisans directly draw outlines with black colour (kassim karam) using kalamkari pen. Under extreme temperatures kassim cannot be drawn on the fabric as it spreads, so in the month of April and March kalamkari work happens early morning.
Tracing is usually done on special customer orders or on a particular god/ goddesses which artisans are not familiar with the design, Master draws the outline/ design on the butter sheet or tracing paper and small holes are pierced along the borders on the sheet. The tracing sheet is then kept on the fabric and black powder is sprinkled along the borders, which forms an outline on the fabric below.
Kalamkari pen is one the oldest and tradition way of kalamkari painting.