Use Crafts and Textiles by Jaya Jaitly

Use crafts and textiles: 5 tips from Jaya Jaitly, President Dastkari Haat Samiti.

Jaya shares 5 tips on how to use crafts and textiles effectively in your home:

1. Bedspreads, floor coverings, table linen, and cushions from handmade textiles like woven applique, tie dyed cloth are best for interior decor.
2. Chiks in various weaves of bamboo cut the right amount of glare from windows and are far easier to maintain than curtains. In front of them its great to make roman blinds out of saris – even discarded ones.
3. For wall art its unusual to mix the contemporary with the traditional together on one wall. Each enriches the other, especially if you can find a common theme.
4. Khurja, and other handmade pottery provide really inexpensive and visually effective tableware. They are bright, sturdy and interchangeable.
5. Avoid cluttering curios. One lovely vase or terracotta figure from Bengal or Rajasthan / metal figures from Odisha or a wide bell metal urn from Gujarat of Kerala to contain water and flowers at the entrance or as a centre piece will catch people’s eye better than a pile of tiny odds and ends.

Interview Excerpts:


1. What attracted you to the handloom and handicraft sector?

Appreciating indigenous aesthetics and serving the underprivileged were two strong influences from my parents during my childhood. This combined into the innovative opportunity of working for talented, needy crafts persons to develop their creativity and increase their social and economic standing.

2. When did you start your Dastkari Haat Samiti and why?

After working to develop Gujarat handicrafts through their government organization for 11 years it was time to create a haat-like marketplace through an organization that provided a platform for crafts persons. Creating the Samiti led to the establishment of Dilli Haat. Most ordinary crafts people did not get anywhere near fancy showrooms. I wanted to build something that belonged to crafts persons, where they took the decisions and some of us implemented them. It gave us an instrument to organize crafts bazaars, training, design workshops, create publications, teach at schools and present exhibitions highlighting the great potential of the crafts heritage and talents of India.

3. What do you consider your most significant contribution to this sector?

In general, a sense of betterment and aspiration seen among crafts persons we whom we associate. Specifically, perhaps the idea and establishment of Dilli Haat, our artistic state-wise crafts maps documenting all the crafts, arts and textiles of India, and a project called Akshara on crafts, calligraphy and literacy. I have also managed to write a few books that I am happy to see students of craft consulting a lot all over the world.

4. What do you feel about the education of people regarding the appreciation of the handloom handicraft product, esp in view of the globalization of products?

Its not an easy task unless you know how to present such products. The discount era has ended, and there is no romance in selling a sob story in the marketplace. People today want something nice and dont care about the human beings who make them. We have to present the unique cultural history, the special skills of the producers, and the exclusivity of the product. Surroundings matter too. We have to know how to turn our supposed disadvantages into specialties that cannot be replicated by machine or matched by globalized goods.

5. Where would you like to see this sector in the next 10 years?

I see many excellent crafts people who are doing well and are confident of know how to grow. I would like to see this spirit inculcated in vast numbers of others. I want Indians to be much prouder of their own talent and heritage. Crafts people will be on firm ground if they can see that society, the state and circumstances are truly in their favour.

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