(6-8 August 2011)
Location: Barmer, Rajasthan
Artisans produce beautiful designs, straight from their heart, sometimes unmatchable with even the classy fashion designers. Their designs are characteristic of the innocence and purity of their dedication towards the craft. Artisans are excellent at the artistic part of the product but to increase the market demand, it is essential to add functionality to the product so that the art gets converted into a useful & desirable product. Most of the artisans are unable to create functional products out of their art forms which can be suitably used by end-consumers and therefore are unable to compete in the market. Here, we are talking about the tailoring skills i.e., creating neat and finely stitched useful products from their art to increase its salability.
Our women artisans, involved in embroidery & appliqué work, at Barmer, Rajasthan are expert in their art forms. The craft is a major source of their income as most of the artisan families practice the traditional art inherited from their forefathers. Associated with our partner NGO SURE, these artisans have been creating different designs for SETU under SETU’s livelihood development initiatives.
With continuous interaction, it was realized that though being great with artistic designs, these artisans lack the efficient cutting and stitching skills required to give the product a proper finishing look i.e. they cannot do value addition to their craft. Consequently, the final product faces a decreased market demand for e.g. improperly stitched bags don’t find much buyers in comparison to well stitched bags. This is a serious issue which needs to be tackled with urgency as due to this very reason, the sale of products is getting adversely affected which in turn is affecting the employment opportunities of artisan communities.
Therefore, to impart requisite tailoring skills, a training workshop was conducted for the embroidery artisans of Barmer Rajasthan.
The programme was presided over by our master trainer Mr. Sunil Dutt. An expert in tailoring, with past experience in large Export Houses, Sunil reached Barmer on 6 August 2011. Reaching there, he met the artisans at SURE and discussed with them the problems being faced. Taking an entire view of the situation, Sunil then met the centre coordinator Jairam Ji and updated him about the situation. He also found that some of the sewing machines are not properly working at the centre, leading to reduced & poor quality output. Therefore, at first the machine needed to be repaired. Jairam ji welcomed the suggestion and within a period of about 2-3 hours the machines got repaired.
At around 3 PM the training session got started. Sunil taught the artisans how to efficiently cut a bag out of a fabric thereby saving an adequate quantity of textile. Then he asked the artisans to cut the bag in the same way. Artisans also learnt how to make beautiful wallets in the session. The raw materials which are out of the reach of artisans like zippers, buckram etc. were provided by SETU, also they were made aware of the nearest sources from where the raw materials can be procured.
On 7 August 2011, the training session took a head start early in the morning at around 9 am. Carrying forward the cutting of the bag and wallet pattern, Sunil now made the artisans learn efficient and quality stitching; thus providing a great look to the fabric. Emphasis was laid on how to stitch zippers, buckles etc to create contemporary look in the designs. The artisans were asked to stitch one sample of bag and wallet each on their own which were later evaluated by Sunil. He pointed out the stitching and cutting mistakes, if any and suggested measures on improving them.
The paper patterns for cutting the required styles were provided to the artisans for future reference . After the completion of the training on 8th august, Sunil met the Secretary of SURE, Smt Lata ji and discussed with her about the session and expressed an urgent need to have more good quality machines to improve the stitching ability of artisans. He also showed her the bag and wallet samples made by the artisans as part of the session. Lata ji observed the improved stitching in the fabric and appreciated Sunil for his efforts. She assured him about the maintenance of the machines. She also applauded the incredible work being done by SETU for the skill development of artisans. All in all it was a great learning experience for the artisans and a satisfying one for us.