On my recent trip to India found a new textile to fall in love with: nakshi kantha! The combination of skill, heritage and artisan know-how coming to life on a fabric is to me a wonder- something to be cherished. How it’s made is a lengthy process, laboriously undertaken in the verdant villages of rural West Bengal. The designers of the works now at Nest Factory are overseen by 60 year old Takdira Begum, a national awardee for her kantha work, 100 skilled women artisans hand embroider this beautiful fabric.
The first step in this process is to create a pattern to be embroidered, which is then drawn onto tracing paper. Next, the lines of the pattern are punctured with a pin and the paper is then laid over the silk fabric. A paste of chalk and turpentine is then rubbed over the paper, and seeps through the small pin-holes onto the fabric below, leaving lines which guides the artisan in her work.
Once the pattern lines traced onto the silk have dried, it is ironed and distributed amongst the artisans who take it home for stitching. Once complete, the fabric is hand washed several times to remove any stains and the tracing lines. Any variations or irregularities are part of the design and inherent to the production process. It’s a tell tale sign of handmade which adds character to the fabric.
A note about the sustainability of these items:
– Eco: entirely hand made processes mean this item is eco-friendly. All materials are natural and thus bio-degradable.
– Women empowerment: handwork exclusively by women from highly marginalised communities. This work provides their only opportunity for earning income in their villages. The home-based work is suitable for all women and prevents urban migration.
– Ethical: garments are stitched in our Delhi workshop where workers receive well above the minimum wage and enjoy flexible, safe and comfortable working conditions.
– Responsible design: maintaining highest quality levels and use of traditional techniques and motifs ensures this ancient skill is preserved.
We are thrilled to be able to support this talented group of ladies and showcase their work.