Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Decentralized Cotton Yarn Trust has taken another step towards strengthening the local economy by exploring the potential of local building materials and techniques at the site of its new unit. Here are pictures of the first such effort, roofing the small shed at the site of our new pre-spinning unit.

From bottom to top, the images show a layer of neem leaves being spread on the wooden rafters, then a layer of mud comes next before the tiles. Local builder Narsaiah was amazed how cool the room was inside!

Our architect Golak Khandual and structural engineer Sarita Dhawan plan to use this technique for the much bigger roof of the main hall housing the pre-spinning machinery.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

fellow passengers on the bus

thank heaven there is still some colour, life, diversity in urban India

Monday, October 24, 2011

exhibition news

The malkha team is back from Nature Bazaar in Delhi. Young Sandeep, our latest member was disappointed with the last few days sales, as he had got used to the scorching pace of the early stage. But sales were bound to decline as our stock was almost exhausted: we sold 90% of what we took. Now we look forward to the Sutra show in Kolkatha next month, and then Dastkar again in Chennai in January, followed by Kala Ghoda in Mumbai in early February. We had hoped to be part of the Dastkaari Haat show in Ahmedabad next month, but the dates were changed and the new time-slot clashed with our other shows so sadly we had to drop out.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Gongadi event

The 3-day gongadi show in the malkha shop in Hyderabad was a huge success. Of all the good things that happened - the sell-out of gongadi stock, the enthusiastic press attention with several newspaper articles and a television interview, the parallel spike in malkha sales, two were the most interesting:

First, it was unexpected and delightful that the memory of the gongadi had remained in so many local people, as a comforting and constant feature of their childhood, and which they thought was lost for ever. These gongadi fans wanted their children to know, touch and feel one, and they came from long distances to buy the gongadi.

The second and even more rewarding was that the creators of the gongadi, the shepherds, women yarn spinners, weavers and kada makers [of whom there are only a few left] who were present during the event experienced at first hand the enthusiasm for their creation from the public and as a result have renewed their confidence in their own skills.

Anthra has done a great job in bringing the work to this stage, beginning with the nurturing of the original Deccani breed of sheep. Elana Dickson, as the designer, encouraged traditional gongadi designs and fostered the creativity of the makers themselves rather than imposing an alien aesthetic.

From top to bottom, the pictures are 1]women wool spinners [in the background, Sagari Ramdas of Anthra], 2]the dancers putting on their ghungroo [bells]at the closing ceremony, 3] dance performance by the Kurumas , 4] making the kada, the hand-made edging of the gongadi.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

News from Nature Bazar

It's a shame that the Crafts Museum is so little known to Dilliwalas, it is really a wonderful museum and should be much more lively than it is: Michele Obama is said have referred to her visit there as the highlight of her trip to India. Ruchira Ghose, the present Chairman of the Museum has plans to revamp the displays, making up for years of neglect. This year Dastkar's Nature Bazar is being held on its grounds, which seems a natural place for it, a beautiful setting. The 170 stalls meander through Museum grounds among the outdoor displays and the wonderful old trees, underlining the point that crafts in India are alive and relevant.

There have been complaints from customers at the Bazar that parking is a problem, and from stall-holders that there are fewer customers, but many people are unaware of the trials & tribulations that the Dastkar management has to go through to find a place to hold the annual event.

Parking is available opposite Gate 1 of Pragati Maidan, which is a bit of a walk from the entrance, and the DTC bus terminal is nearby.

Malkha is at stall no 35, in case anyone reads this before the last day on October 19. We have done well, being visited by equal numbers of old and new customers as well as high-end fashion designers and retailers. The most popular have been the indigo prints, particularly Vaishali's leaves in the large and small versions, and the dupattas. Not much stock left!