Craft clinic comes to town
Kutch's famed artisans and entrepreneurs Pabiben, Rajiben and Jabbar are here to share their journeys and creative wares.
Pabiben Rabari of Bhardri village, Anjar Taluk was making a measly Rs 1,500 for her embroidered goods when she first returned to the ancestral craft in 2016. Many bags, a website and three years later, her turnover stands at a staggering Rs 30 lakh, growing every day. She employs women from the village and together they've developed a new style of embroidery called Hari Jari, inspired by native Rabari techniques. The turning point in her story came through Ahmedabad-based Kaarigar Clinic that specialises in making entrepreneurs of artisans.
Pabiben and Lakshmanbhai Rabari
The brainchild of Nilesh Priyadarshi who spent over a decade working with craftspeople followed by a stint in business administration at FabIndia, Kaarigar Clinic is in town to put up a demo and sale at ARTISANS' with Pabiben and two newly-minted entrepreneurs — Jabbar Khatri and Rajiben Vankar. "Since I had been in both systems, I could identify the gaps. The biggest among them was the lack of recognition for artisans resulting in the craft becoming just another form of labour. That's what we set out to change," Priyadarshi says.
While Pabiben displays a new blue collection of her trademark embroidered bags in town, Rajiben of Avadhnagar brings accessories woven out of recycled plastic. "When I was working with Kutch-based NGO Khamir, I met a French designer who brought with her, a bag woven out of plastic. It made me think of all the discarded plastic bags around and I knew I had to learn how to weave with it," she says. "We wash, cut and weave the plastic on a traditional loom, a process that is much harder than weaving with cotton," she adds. On display will also be a loom that Rajiben uses; visitors can try their hand at it when they drop by.
Jabbar Khatri who became part of Kaarigar Clinic three months ago, is a fourth generation artisan from Dhamadka village in Bhachau. He gave up the craft in search of sustainable income, working in a retail unit in Mumbai and a factory in Kutch, only to return in 2017. He specialises in block printing and ajrakh from the region, producing yardage, stoles, sarees, dupattas and shawls. "It was after the Gujarat earthquake in 2001 that many artisans went to work in factories for a reliable source of income," he explains.
Rajiben Vankar with her loom and woven plastic products
With hope and stories in their embroidered bags, the three artisans will talk about their craft, the exquisite region they come from and may even given you a loom demo. While the Gandhian rural business model may be at the heart of Kaarigar Clinic's initiatives, the artisan-centric approach is leading to a new a creative process. "Making money is one part of it, but I want to do my bit to save the environment, one polythene bag at a time," says Rajiben.
At 52 - 56, Dr VB Gandhi Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort
On November 23, 11 am to 7 pm
Call 98201 45397
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