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Our Artisans

Our artisans come from all over India, and range from master craftsmen to small groups of women who have come together to learn new crafts to supplement their families’ income. We are profiling two of the artisans here:

 

Aatubhai is a master weaver from Bhuj, Gujarat who has been weaving traditional tangail shawls for the past 30 years. Aatubhai learnt weaving from his father and started his own business with his brother in 1979.They used to weave handspun khadi to make blankets and bartered these with the rabari community (shepherds) of Gujarat for grain and other food items. Gurjari(Gujarat state emporium) gave them new ideas in 1983 and they started making shawls which they displayed and sold in the crafts exhibition in Delhi in 1985. He was awarded for his work in 1993. Aatubhai has expanded his product range from just shawls to stoles, carpets and bed linen, which he makes with 15 other members of his family. The womenfolk generally do the dyeing, starching and spinning of the yarn while the men do the weaving on pitlooms. Aatubhai's daughter is the first one in his family who is learning computers to help her father connect directly with the end user and keep up with the times.

Daughters and daughter-in-laws of the Atu Bhai household. All the women work as hard in the home as on their spinning machines and dyeing buckets. The youngest daughter is now learning computers to move up in the value chain.

Ramya working on a patchwork quilt along with Atu Bhai's wife for her daughter's dowry. Traditionally, many handmade items were always made at leisure for a loved one, the reason why many artisans do not know the intricacies of making them against a deadline.

Atu Bhai's daughter-in-law spinning threads into spindles to be used on the pit-loom. Women have a full day from dusk till dawn. They are either working in the home or working on the spinning wheels.

Atu Bhai's nephew on the pit loom, making a woolen shawl in red and white. They work all through the day on their pit-looms, with just the constant sound of the loom for company. In case, electricity is there, radio gives them a much needed relief in the form of hindi movie songs.


The rehabilitation center for women run by YMCA in the district of Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu state of India works with women and self help groups of women who come together under one roof to create world class hand embroidery, hand made laces and hand crafted products. Based in a small village about 25 kms from the main town of Nagercoil, they are now learning to access the internet and learn directly about designs and the customers who buy their products. One of them has been trained in operating the computer through which a catalogue of designs and products can be maintained. They work out of a small building nestled amongst hills, and the two monsoons they get in the district provides them with a dust free environment where they can hand make laces, and do intricate embroidery.

Sharada, John Mary, Rukmini, Beatrice, Rama, Jyoti and Mr. Rajaretnam - matrons with the secretary of the society. The matrons are senior embroiderers who handle the centre, its inventory, and the 150 women who are part of the center.

Rama, one of the senior most matrons, decides on the closest thread colour based on a design given by HOI. The threads and the fabric are supplied to women embroiderers who then do the work at their home.


Ratna Bai, T. Pushpalata, Kala Selvi, Annal Mary, Mary Stella ( L to R) - embroiderers with one of their creations in the background. Each piece is washed thoroughly to check for the colour fastness of the threads.

The embroiderers discussing the design with one of the matrons. Each embroiderer has to fully understand the piece that she is carrying back home, and the review process that is to be followed, especially in case of complex designs.


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