Published on January 28, 2020

AHMEDABAD: Prakash Vegda, a quilt (dhabla) weaver from Balej, 40km from Veraval in Gir Somnath district, had not heard about colours such as Sugar Almond, Dark Cheddar, Bluestone or Eden before he came to National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) at Gandhinagar earlier this month.

“We work predominantly with brown or white with primary colours such as red, blue and green with geometric patterns. For us, weaving with seven to eight different colours was challenging at first — but was exciting as well. We had never done something like that,” said Vegda.

He was among the 25 artisans picked by INDEXT-C from six clusters of Gujarat to revamp their weaving and boost their sales and visibility both in and outside Gujarat. The participants included patola weavers from Rajkot and Surendranagar, khadi weavers from Amreli and quilt weavers from Porbandar and Gir Somnath among others.

Shubhangi Yadav, associate professor at NIFT and coordinator for the project, said that the primary objective of the training programme was to help the artisans think out of the box. 

“Artisans often work with the same materials and same designs over the years. While on one hand it makes the designs unique, on the other it does not motivate customers to buy more than one piece in their lifetime,” she said. “Thus, we worked with the artisans closely to introduce them to a new colour palette, new fabric and new design while retaining the soul of their art,” she said.

Ketan Makwana was among the single-ikat patola (Rajkot patola) artisans in the training. 

“One cannot imagine patola out of traditional colours, but this workshop has introduced us not only to new colours while retaining the weaving style but also taught us how to photograph the final product using mobile phones and introduced us to online platforms for artisan products to improve our international reach,” he said.

Sunita Agarwal, assistant professor at NIFT, said that the move could give a new lease of life to artisans. “We often get demands to organize workshops on techniques such as jacquard, which they believe have more demand in the market. We thus showed them ways in which they can also weave stories around their craft,” she said.

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