Tag Archives: art

A stitch in time for Jaisalmer women



For fashion designer Tahir Sultan, creativity is one thing he values the most. It is but for him that today the NGO ‘I LoveJaisalmer’ he founded this year has become a beacon of hope for Women from Jaisalmer.

Manvendra Singh Shekhawat  owns a boutique hotel that lies 15 kms away from Jaisalmer’s historical fort. He discusses about his passion for the city and said how much he would like to give back to the community. Manvendra also expressed his intention to help the people of Jaisalmer and that he wanted to do something constructive for the community. Tahir , his friend,immediately latched on to this idea, and decided to help move things along. “While I worked with the village women and set up an infrastructure for design, production and quality control in order to produce home accessories, Manvendra went about clearing the city, the fort and some of the historical sites, ridding them of years of garbage,” says Tahir. What made the difference is the fact that Tahir managed to tap into the potential of these women, who, he knew, were cut out for this job. No wonder, a remarkable change has come over the lives of these women in the last few months thanks to the platform given by this NGO.

The village that ‘I Love Jaisalmer’ works with is Mulana. Tucked away 50 kms outside Jaisalmer, it lies in the middle of the desert and the people live in white cottages with thatched roofs. The women are hard working, and through a sustained educational programme, have become very enthusiastic about the cushions they produce. All the cushions are hand stitched. The older women teach this skill and technique to younger volunteers. They get paid by the piece and the sale of these cushions help empower them, giving them financial freedom. Part of the money earned goes towards maintaining Shri Jawahar Hospital. Plus now, their efforts are reaching places as far as Delhi, where Kitsch is focusing on giving back to the society by joining hands to support Tahir Sultan and the ‘I Love Jaisalmer’ organization. It will also retail these handcrafted cushions and the entire proceed will go towards supporting women and children in Jaisalmer.



Handmade Kashmiri Pashmina, Cashmere, Jamawar Shawls



 Kashmiri Pashmina shawl

Kashmiri Shawls have been renowed since centuries and were the pride of French Queen, Marie Antoinette. With a long tradition of artistic excellence, the shawl is one of the most admired handmade fabric of Kashmir. Superb in workmanship, the unmatched magnificence is brought out by hand embroidery.

It is said that the shawls from Kashmir were famous even in the times of emperor Ashok (3rd C BC) but many writers credited Sultan Zain-Ul-Abidin (1420-1470 A.D) as the initiator of Shawl industry in Kashmir. It may be the Sultan whose enlightened rule encouraged promotion of arts as an organized trade and the Pashmina or in Persian called “Pashm” that we know today is a legacy of that period.

Shawls are worn and used as a warm protective garment all over the northern states today. Kashmir has become synonymous with shawls all over the world. It is a work of delicacy, tremendous concentration and too much of patience. The decoration is formed by weft threads interlocked where the colors change, the weavers passing them between the warps using bobbins around, which the variously colored threads are wound. The raw material for pashmina is brought from and taken to for hand-weaving followed by embroidery and finishing.

Kashmiri shawls are rare and unique, due to its peculiar charm that is derived from the symphony of color schemes depicting architectural and mythological figures interwoven with landscape designs. There are three fibres from which Kashmiri shawls are made – wool, pashmina and shahtoosh. The prices of the three cannot be compared – woollen shawls being within reach of the most modest budget, and shahtoosh being a one-in-a-lifetime purchase. 
Woollen shawls are popular because of the embroidery worked on them, which is unique to Kashmir. Both embroidery and the type of wool used bring about differences in the price. Wool woven in Kashmir is known as raffle .

Cashmere shawls and Pashmina Shawls have a delicate, silky softness that sets them apart from ordinary woolen shawls. Obtained from the fleecy undergrowth of the rare Kashmiri goat through traditional combing techniques, their delicate silky softness carries an aura of luxury & class that made it the choice of kings and nobility in a bygone era. We design, fabricate and export an exquisite range of Cashmere Shawls embellished with ethnic Kashimiri work and other elegant designs.

Although pure pashmnina is expensive, the cost is sometimes brought down by blending it with rabbit fur or with wool. It is on pashmina shawls that Kashmir’s most exquisite embroidery is executed, sometimes covering the entire surface, earning it the name of ‘jamawar’. A Jamawar shawl can, by virtue of the embroidery, increase the value of a shawl threefold. 
Shahtoosh, from which the legendary ‘ring shawl’ is made, is incredibly light, soft and warm. The astronomical price it commands in the market is due to the scarcity of the raw material. High in the plateaux of Tibet and the eastern part of Ladakh, at an altitude of above 5,000 m, roam the Tibetan antelope (Pantholops Hodgsoni). During grazing, a few strands of the downy hair from the throat are shed which are painstakingly collected by the nomads, eventually to supply to the Kashmiri shawl makers as shahtoosh.


An example of Sozni shawl

Many kinds of embroidery is worked on shawls. ‘Sozni’ (needlework) is generally done in a panel along the sides of the shawl. Sozni is often done so skilfully that the motif appears on both sides of the shawl, each side having a different colour scheme. This naturally has a bearing on the cost. 
Another type of needle embroidery is popularly known as ‘papièr mâchè’ work because of the design and the style in which it is executed. This is done either in broad panels on either side along the breadth of a shawl, or covering the entire surface of the breadth of a shawl or that of a stole.


Famous Aari work of Kashmir

A third type of embroidery is Aari or hook embroidery. Motifs here are the well-known flower design finely worked in concentric rings of chain stitch. 
A less frequently seen weave done only on pashmina, covers the surface with tiny lozenge shaped squares, earning it the delightful name of ‘chashm-e-bulbul,’ or “eye of the bulbul”. As this weave is a masterpiece of the weaver’s art, it is normally not embroidered upon. 
Kashmir shawls were first worn in fashionable circles in the West in the third quarter of the eighteenth century, and by 1800 the shawl trade between Kashmir and the West was well established. The appearance of European agents in Kashmir added fresh colour to an already cosmopolitan scene.

Besides woven imitations Persia also produced embroidered shawls in the Kashmir style but the fact remains that KASHMIRI Shawls have become a must have for every women because of its Royal appeal.


Shibori-Japanese Tie Dyeing


Image  Shibori is a method of shaping and binding fabric in such a way that when the piece has been dyed and the bindings removed, certain areas of the fabric have more dye than others. This is called bound-resist dyeing. Read on for five easy techniques.

Folding Fold a square in half, then fold two corners to the center to form a triangle. Fold the triangle ends to meet in the center to create a square. Hold the folds in place by tying them with string, using spring clips or clothes pins, or securing them with rubber bands. Or fold fabric in long pleats and keep pleats in place with the above methods. Try different ways of folding for different effects.

Scrunching  Scrunch fabric into a ball and tie tightly. Dye fabric according to dye manufacturer’s directions. Once fabric is dyed and heat set, you can scrunch and dye the fabric again. Remember to use lighter dyes first, then the darker ones. Don’t over-dye with too many colors or the result will be muddy.


Tying   Pull up small cones of fabric, wrap and tie. Do this all over your fabric or in random areas. Alternatively, pull up the fabric and tie dried beans, wine corks, or beads inside.

Stitching  Use running stitches in lines, circles or other shapes, then pull tightly to gather. Depending on the size of thread and how tightly you can gather your fabric, you will get varying widths of lines once your fabric is dyed, heat set, and the stitches removed.

The Sixties Thing  Roll your fabric into a tube and twist it. Bind or use rubber bands along the tube. Varying the width of fabric between the ties will give different starburst effects.


Remember to keep a record of what dyes and techniques you use. You may find one technique more appealing than another and you may want to try that method again. If you need a specific amount of yardage for your project, dye all of the fabric at the same time. You will never get the exact same results twice.