Tag Archives: India

Kantha – Vintage Quilts – recycling fabrics the time honoured way

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I hadn’t known anything about the history of quilt making with recycled fabrics in India, until I chanced on an advert for an exhibition of KANTHA textiles at the Mingei International Museum, California, last September.

see https://julzcrafts.com/2017/09/06/kantha-exhibition-of-textiles-of-bengal/.

“Kantha is a term used across the Indian sub-continent to denote decorative stitched quilting. In Gujarat, hangings patterned with concentric circles or squares in running stitch are known as kanthas, while in Bengal, kanthas are stitched for a variety of purposes, such as winter quilts, covers and wraps for books and valuables or as mats for ceremonial purposes.

They are most often given to daughters on the occasion of their marriage, as a token of love, or as a gift for a new-born child or grown son. They are often, as tradition has it, made up of old cast off saris or dhotis. They can be the work of two or more generations of women and are treasured as family heirlooms.”

You can also find out more about Kantha HERE

fullsizeoutput_34bOne of the people who saw the post was Manish, who was doing research on this ancient tradition, and he has recently set up a small business to collect and recycle old quilts, and to make new ones for sale worldwide.

He asked if I could give his website a mention, and sent me a bit more information about Kantha.  So I checked him out!  I have edited his contribution to fit the style of this blog – which is ‘to inspire and educate’ my readers – and myself! – in various aspects of crafts, whether you make anything yourself – or just appreciate!

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PHOTO-2018-05-17-17-32-33” The term ‘Kantha’ can be understood in Sanskrit as ‘rags’.

 

The origin of Kantha can be dated back to the age of Vedic period, which has a profound background in India. Chaitanya Charitamrita is a very popular age old book written by Krishnadas Kaviraj, some 500 years ago. The recurring patterns, designs and other beautiful elements are most celebrated part, which the book talks about.

The historic art and motifs are incorporated in modern works with the depiction of nature, sun, trees, people, culture and many more through the finest play of thread over a piece of cloth.

In the region of West Bengal, Kantha is seen as a very auspicious symbol in weddings and birth ceremonies.

Being a Bengali man, I never really got an opportunity to peek inside and know more about this form of art, which is being transferred from generation to generation. 

When I was a kid, I saw my grandmother would sit with a piece of cloth in her lap and different colours of thread lying all around her. She used to be very keen and generous with her work. She would move her hands very slowly and firmly with a needle and thread across the cloth and a very beautiful design would come up. 

The clothes on which she used to weave would tell stories of trees, people, lakes and animals.

vintage kantha quilt by makkiWhen I moved to eastern Bengal, I saw old and young women still so engrossed in the stitching kantha handkerchiefs, quilts and bed sheets. I was mesmerized by the beauty in their eyes and the passion in their attitude while they were busy doing the embroidery.

I was so inspired and motivated to continue this tradition in other parts of India that I started my own business, selling Kantha quilts and, hopefully creating a world class platform for customers from every corner of the world to know more about India, its tradition and history of India, through the quilts.

vintagekanthaquiltThe Kantha quilts have been made with finest threads, and will last long longer than your life, so that you can pass down this historical piece to many upcoming generations. India is best reflected within the dimensions of quilt.”

He tells me that the “quilts are made in West Bengal by artisans, and they are paid fairly”.

Do have a look at his site – vintagekanthaquilt.com – the prices are reasonable and he is currently running a special discount offer.

NB:  I do not normally ‘advertise’ other businesses on this site, but he asked nicely – smile – and I like what he is doing.  No fee has been charged and I have no other knowledge of how he works, and do not take any responsibility for the quality of the products.

Recycling Paper – into yarns for weaving!

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I found this post on YOURSTORY – about a woman in India who is making items from paper yarn – and have just copied it here.  Its a great idea!

She’s weaving a sustainable future with yarn made from paper

Teja Lele Desai     posted on 17th April 2018

pic1Neerja Palisetty’s Sutrakaar Creations combines paper with post-consumer waste to promote fair trade, craft empowerment, zero-waste, and ethical fashion.

 

Neerja Palisetty has always been passionate about paper.

“Paper is considered to be very fragile by the common man and I want to change that perception. Once woven, paper has immense potential; it’s a very strong and versatile material,” she says.

“But,” she adds, “Pulp (and paper) is the third largest industrial polluter of air, water and soil and I wanted to help avoid this,” she says.

That’s the reason she started Jaipur-based Sutrakaar Creations, which focuses on eco-textile creations made from paper and natural materials as a step towards a sustainable future.

But perhaps it was destined to be. For Neerja was born into a family of weavers in a small village in Srikakulam district, Andhra Pradesh. Ponduru is known for its fine khadi and cotton weaves, and almost every other house had a loom.

Growing up, it was no surprise that she gravitated towards weaving: she wove her first piece of yarn when a teenager. “I was in Class VII or VIII when I first wove jute and cotton into yarn for a school project. I ended up making a small pouch for pencils,” she says.

Neerja says her father, who had graduated as a textile designer from the first batch of NID Ahmedabad, was a huge influence on her life. “Influenced by him, I studied clothing and textiles during my graduate course at MSU Baroda. Later, I pursued a post-graduation course in higher education from Nottingham Trent University. Now, I have an experience of over 17 years working in the fashion industry and education sectors. But I owe all the textile design knowledge I have to my father,” she says.

 

After her education, Neerja did various jobs – she worked as a merchandiser at Tirupur in Tamil Nadu and as a design professor in Coimbatore and later Jaipur.

But Neerja lets on that through it all she remained fascinated by the art and technique of paper weaving. “There are references to paper weaving in Japanese legends. I wanted to emulate these techniques in the Indian context to promote our traditions and create livelihood opportunities for weavers,” she says.

Her own weaving studio was always a dream, even while she presented research papers on sustainable design and sustainable textiles at various international conferences. “I had the weaving studio on my mind from the time I graduated. However, life had different plans and my dreams took a backseat,” Neerja recalls.

But two years back, the experience she had garnered in these fields gave her enough confidence to pursue her dream. And Sutrakaar Creations was born.

It is a studio focused on eco-textile creations made from waste paper, recycled paper, and natural materials.

“Our products are 100 percent handmade and handcrafted, and with minimal use of electrically operated machines,” she says.

“It is also an open space for experimental weaving and I have collaborated with a few international artists and designers to create artworks and installations,” she adds.

At Sutrakaar, her weavers cut waste paper into strips of 2-4mm, twist and hand-spin them over the charkha to make thread-like strings using adhesive. This is used as the weft; the warp is either cotton or Ahimsa silk, both recycled industrial waste.

Palisetty works with weavers, four looms (two big pedal looms and two smaller ones), and women for cutting and trimming, at her studio in Jaipur. “I get more weavers if needed,” she says.

Most raw material is sourced from paper export houses and kabadiwalas.

 

The “80 percent upcycled” waste yarn is fashioned into accessories like pouches and handbags, gifting items such as diary covers and photo frames, and home decor accents such as lampshades and room dividers. Prices range between Rs 850 and Rs 10,000.

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“The idea is to juxtapose crafts with post-consumer waste so that we promote fair trade, craft empowerment, zero-waste and ethical fashion,” Neerja says.

Neerja now takes orders over Facebook and worldartcommunity.com, a peer-to-peer online marketplace. She also displays and sells Sutrakaar products at exhibitions.

Speaking about how Sutrakaar Creations has grown over the past year, she says the growth has not been tremendous, but it has been steady. “I am able to provide employment to housewives and local weavers. I started with one weaver and today I have three weavers and five housewives. People in India and abroad have heard about our products and are keen to understand the process,” she says.

She says the experience has been very positive. “When I explain to people on how we create what we create with an entirely unheard-of raw material, people are keen to understand and learn more.

The recycling and upcycling of paper

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With people – especially millennials – becoming environmentally conscious and keen to help save the earth, interest in environmentally relevant brands is at an all-time high.

“Our brand provides a one-of-a-kind solution; not just our products, our process is also eco-friendly and sustainable,” she says.

In an article on an online portal, she wrote: ”My dream is to educate more people globally to follow a sustainable lifestyle. My husband has now joined me in my work. This is our contribution to saving the earth for future generations.”

Neerja states she and Sutrakaar remain committed to driving change by designing socially and environmentally conscious products that embody vibrant, edgy, and smart sophistication.

“We ensure that we protect traditional techniques by incorporating them in contemporary designs. A few of our products are 90 percent biodegradable. And through our creations I can see we have created a small ripple in this ocean and hope to create a gigantic wave,” she says.

The History of Weaving in India

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This is a fascinating and well researched article I found this week on “International THE NEWS”.  I have just added the links and some pictures.

It’s one of those pieces that you find out stuff you never knew, whether or not you are interested in history or weaving – smile!

Weaving history

271282_9853525_magazineJanuary 22, 2018.  By Pooja Dawani

The Indian sub-continent has a rich and ancient history of textile art and exports, with the heritage spanning almost 5,000 years. It’s been found that fabric-making was an important part of people’s lives even at the time when the Indus Valley Civilisation flourished.

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Excavated ruins of Mohenjo-daro, Sindh province, Pakistan, showing the Great Bath in the foreground. Mohenjo-daro, on the right bank of the Indus River, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the first site in South Asia to be so declared.

The excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro reveal that the spinning wheel or the charkha was an essential part of the sub-continental household. Other than practices of resist-dyeing, hand-painting, and embroidery, the Indus Valley people were masters in the art of weaving.

The Vedic Aryans and the Buddhists who settled in this region after the Indus Valley Civilization also used the charkha. The entire cloth-making process which was done by hand, involved great skill and the sub continental textiles were unrivalled for their excellence. Foreign travellers like Marco Polo (1288) and Tavernier (1660) wrote in detail about the excellence of the subcontinent’s cotton fabrics and there are many accounts of our textiles being exported to trade centres widely separated geographically, like Rome, Zanzibar, Java, Bali and Egypt.

When the Mughals ruled the subcontinent, hand spinning and weaving continued to be an important occupation and the era brought in use of gold and silver brocades, fine-figured muslins, fabulous weaves, printed and painted fabrics, exquisite carpets, intricate embroideries and endless variety and designs being produced on a mass scale.

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Jahangir investing a courtier with a robe of honour, watched by Sir Thomas Roe, English ambassador to the court of Jahangir at Agra from 1615 to 1618, and others

Emperors Akbar and Jahangir took personal interest in developing the crafts, and the fabrics from this region became even more exquisite and ornate.By the 16th century, foreign traders including the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French, and the British had begun to come to India from the West and by the 17th century, the English traders had set-up the East India Trading Company with the main object of importing Indian goods including textiles. With this fascinating background, it is no wonder that modern day Pakistan, like neighbouring India and Bangladesh, still has a huge industry centred on textiles.

 

The textile sector in Pakistan contributes about 10 percent to the GDP which for 2016 is stated as about $283.70 billion. So the total size of the textile sector comes to about $28 billion. The sector contributes nearly one-fourth of industrial value-added and provides employment to about 40 percent of industrial labour force. Textile exports for Pakistan are valued at around $10.29 billion.

Even though the last decade saw the textile industry of Pakistan flounder in the face of incessant power and gas cuts, the textile industry seems to have bounced back as bank advances to the sector were record high in 2016.

Under Textile Policy 2015-19, Rs64.15 billion will be spent to increase the exports of textile and clothing items from the existing $13 billion to $26 billion by 2019. Pakistan is the fourth largest producer of cotton in the world and holds the largest spinning capacity in Asia after China and India.

A recent report issued by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reveals that year-on-year growth in textile sector advances has been Rs90 billion in 2016 in contrast to the net retirement of Rs30 billion in 2015.

Pakistan FashionWith this resurgence of the industry, recently a lot of interest has been shown in reviving the craft of Pakistan textile art. This year’s Fashion Pakistan Week Spring/Summer Show also focused on the revivalist trend of ethnic crafts and embroideries, and many designers retraced their steps and went back to their roots in search of design inspiration.

Focusing on reviving old art forms that are indigenous to the region and using them in modern designs, not only helps empower the craftsmen who have been trained in centuries’ old crafts by their forefathers, but also promotes the previously disappearing native crafts that are threatened by extinction otherwise.

Pakistan is home to many beautiful crafts like woven textiles and embroidered products from Swat and other regions. While weaving is carried out in many major cities, Swat in particular is a long established weaving centre whose blankets are mentioned even in early Buddhist texts. Or the embroidered textiles and leather crafts from Balochistan which are used to make shawls, caps, vests and an assortment of dresses. In Sindh, different types of woven textiles are a common sight in the cities of Hyderabad, Khairpur, Hala and Thatta.

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Sindhi ajrak

Ajrak, a unique pattern produced in Sindh is printed on shawls and caps and has become a unique symbol of Sindhi culture. Similarly, phulkari from Multan, block-printing from Lahore, chunri, and rilli work are all artful displays of the rich heritage of Pakistan.

Some local brands have invested in bringing these traditional textile designs into the mainstream.

One such revival story is that of the hand-woven khaddar, which had all but disappeared from conventional fashion.

Khaddar is a natural fibre cloth made out of cotton, silk or wool and has a long history in the sub-continent. Khaddar’s revival in India was advocated by Gandhi who envisioned the versatile fabric as a panacea to India’s poverty and the cloth became the symbol of nation’s struggle for freedom.

In Pakistan, the revival of handloom weaving can be principally credited to a local start-up, Khaadi. The brand has been chiefly responsible for ushering in the ‘khaddar culture’.

Despite being a major producer and exporter of superior quality cloth for decades, the boom of fashion in the country is a fairly recent phenomenon and Pakistani designers have caught the eye of many outside the country. Brands have played a vital role in transforming a manufacturing focused textile industry to a more holistic market that also encompasses a focus on retail and fashion. Although developing rapidly, these two areas are still in their nascent stages it promises to blossom into something befitting our splendid legacy.

Kantha: Exhibition of Textiles of Bengal

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Mingei International Museum
Kantha: Recycled and Embroidered Textiles of Bengal
October 28, 2017– March 25, 2018
San Diego, California  Learn More

I came across this Exhibition, from one of the mailing lists I am on – yes, I’m still talking about mailing lists.

The image is very striking, and I’d never heard of Kantha before, so I looked up the link above, and this is how it described it.

This exhibition features approximately 40 kantha

from Mingei’s permanent collection.

Kantha is a term used across the Indian sub-continent to denote decorative stitched quilting. In Gujarat, hangings patterned with concentric circles or squares in running stitch are known as kanthas, while in Bengal, kanthas are stitched for a variety of purposes, such as winter quilts, covers and wraps for books and valuables or as mats for ceremonial purposes. They are most often given to daughters on the occasion of their marriage, as a token of love, or as a gift for a new-born child or grown son. They are often, as tradition has it, made up of old cast off saris or dhotis. They can be the work of two or more generations of women and are treasured as family heirlooms.

I’d love to go to the exhibition, but its in California – so if anyone does go there, especially if prompted by this blog, do let us know what you think of it!

COME TO THINK OF IT –
IF ANYONE WOULD LIKE TO WRITE A SHORT PIECE
ABOUT ANY CRAFT EVENT OR EXHIBITION THEY HAVE BEEN TO,
I’D BE HAPPY TO PUBLISH IT ON THIS BLOG FOR YOU!
ANY ONE, FROM ANYWHERE, ABOUT ANY EVENT THAT’S LINKED TO ANY CRAFT

 

DON’T BE SHY, IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A MASTERPIECE

BUT YOU DO NEED TO HAVE TAKEN SOME DECENT PHOTOS OF IT!

WHO’S GOING TO BE FIRST?  

PLEASE GO TO THE CONTACT ME PAGE AND SEND ME A MESSAGE!

LET’S SEE IF WE CAN GET THIS IDEA OFF THE GROUND!