Everyone is calling it #Nationalhandloomday so here are my two cents. For a self-taught person like me the definition is simple; handloom is a manually operated loom.
My relationship with handloom started in bazaars where I took notice of these fabrics being sold by weavers. I talked to them and my interest grew, I bought a few yards here and there and started experimenting. I read about the various techniques and styles – the subject is so vast that I am still learning.
Handloom fabrics are of one of the many materials that I work with. We have been successful in bringing it into the hands of people who do not use them as dress material. They carry our journals and it records their intimate thoughts, feelings and ideas. It is a constant companion that contains handwritten words matched in beauty with its handloom textile cover. Be it cotton, Indigo dyed cotton, Silk or Ikat fabric; I have done my bit by bringing handloom and its story into the lives of many people across the world. We make thousands of these journals requiring large volumes of fabric. I source these fabrics from across the country, often buying from village cooperatives and organisations that are keeping the process alive.
I was in Benares a few days back and I went to one of the localities that once used to be the hub for handlooms. While passing through its alleys, the only sound I heard was of the mechanised looms, each clatter sounded like the death knell for handlooms. I met a few weavers and heard their story, they earn a pittance and many of them have changed their jobs, some to cart pullers and some have become daily wage labourers.
I noticed something important, the younger generation does not want to do what their forefathers did therefore they are studying with a belief that their life will change. This belief is shattered when they don’t get the requisite jobs, leaving them with an education that does not give them a job and a lack of skills that will not let them get back to what their forefathers did.
In the coming months, I will be working closely with award-winning weavers to bring you handloom fabrics that will go into making products that will be cherished for years to come.