during our most recent trip to india, our partners, the kalaswaraj foundation, took us on a tour of one of the many weaving communities they’ve helped preserve and sustain. the foundation, started by husband-wife duo hemendra and devika, came about after the pair had worked in khadi weaving communities (most notably women weave) for over a decade, and noticed a similar need to promote versatile craft clusters, specializing in different fabrications. after spending a few days meeting some of the weavers, looking at the entire process from start to finish, we were not only floored by the skills we observed, but also by the dedication to craft, and to craft communities. we learned that over the past century, industrialization has wreaked havoc on the villages- who have watched their artisans and their youth flee to cities in order to make proper wages, and watched their buyers opt for machine-woven, cheaper fabrics.
slowly, these craft clusters have become shells of what they once were, and it is organizations like the kalaswaraj foundation who are trying to revive them. through design, marketing, training, and awareness, they’ve been able to draw younger generations back to the craft. they’ve noticed that we, as a society, are slowly regaining an appreciation of slow and of handmade, and the work and beauty of craft. despite the generational differences, we saw a true example of the renaissance of weaving when introduced to one weaver only 18 years old. he had already built himself a tri-level weaving unit that had at least 9 frame looms, and was practicing new weaving designs during our visit! (we need to point out here - he also had the plans and loom frames to add a fourth level to his unit!! )
for our capsule caftans, we experimented with unbleached, hand loomed mul (muslin cotton) that has been woven with stripes and with intricate, raised polka dots (similar to a traditional indian jamdani). unbelievably lightweight, loose, free - we are so happy with our finished product and can’t wait to produce more in the coming seasons.
getting the loom ready takes as much work and focus as the weaving itself
on the sunday evening before departing the cluster, we stood on the roof of one of the weavers’ homes. from there, we could see into numerous other dwellings, with doors and windows wide open to let in the subtle, faint august breeze. from our position, we could hear the loud clicking and clacking of each home loom, rhythmic like music, and we could see so many of the weavers in their doorways or through their window sills - working away to finish yardage for monday’s fabric market.
our kalaswaraj maxi caftan with midnight navy stripes
our kalaswaraj maxi caftan with ochre polka dots