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‘Growing appreciation for handlooms signals a resurgence of traditional craft’

Beyond the studio walls, Shuttles & Needles carries their mission to schools, believing that hand weaving isn’t just a craft, but a medium of holistic learning.

‘Growing appreciation for handlooms signals a resurgence of traditional craft’

From the weaving workshop hosted by Shuttles & Needles.

CHENNAI: In a world where mechanisation often overshadows time-honoured craftsmanship, National Handloom Day is a poignant reminder of India’s rich legacy of traditional handloom weaving.

Each year, on August 7, this occasion is celebrated to pay homage to the skilled artisans, who have dedicated their lives to this ancient craft and to inspire a renewed appreciation for handwoven fabrics.

Avishya, an online platform renowned for its handloom sarees and fabrics, recently expanded its reach by opening a physical store in Chennai. Jawahar Singh, co-founder of Avishya, sheds light on the surge in demand for handloom products.

“Over the years, we have witnessed a remarkable rise in the appreciation for handloom textiles. People are increasingly drawn to the distinctive charm and intricate craftsmanship that define each piece.” He further elaborates on handlooms’ diversity, from the intricate Chanderi fabric to the Kalamkari sarees and the Muga silk. Handloom, Singh asserts, isn’t merely a textile; it’s a vessel that carries the cultural heritage of India, with every weave a reflection of a region’s unique identity. “Wearing handloom from your state is akin to donning the very essence of its culture,” he says.

Fabric woven at the workshop

While the demand for handloom grows, Shuttles & Needles, a contemporary weaving studio based in the city, endeavours to not only meet this demand but also to infuse new life into the art of handloom weaving. Organising weaving workshops for over six years, the studio has witnessed a heartening trend - an increasing number of people from diverse professions, including doctors, lawyers, and auditors, are taking up weaving as a hobby.

Naresh Ramasubramaniam from Shuttles & Needles explains that weaving isn’t merely a creative pursuit, it’s a means of fostering a deep connection with textiles and appreciating the artistry behind each piece. “As participants create their scarves, shawls, and table runners, they are not just crafting products, but immersing themselves in a process that nurtures emotional well-being and a profound sense of achievement. The way people perceive handlooms has transformed over the years. It’s no longer just about fabric, it’s about understanding and valuing the intricate artisanal work that goes into creating it,” Ramasubramaniam states.

Beyond the studio walls, Shuttles & Needles carries their mission to schools, believing that hand weaving isn’t just a craft, but a medium of holistic learning.

“With the modern loom, introducing children to the art of hand weaving becomes a seamless journey,” explains Naresh.

He advocates a harmonious blend of coding and weaving in a child’s learning journey, emphasising the development of both logical thinking and analytical abilities.

“The dual exposure to coding and weaving is like nurturing two essential facets of a young mind. Coding stimulates the logical, strategic aspect of their brain while weaving hones their analytical capacity. Moreover, it offers them a rare opportunity for introspection and mindfulness, a precious commodity in today’s fast-paced world,” Ramasubramaniam elaborates.

The studio strives to contemporise weaving, making it an engaging creative pursuit for individuals from all walks of life.

From Avishya’s collection

Earlier this month, Shuttles & Needles hosted Weaving Mela ‘23, to celebrate National Handloom Day. The event aimed to not only showcase the creative potential of hand weaving but also to rekindle the joy of working with one’s hands and to celebrate India’s rich handloom culture.

To commemorate National Handloom Day, Kalakshetra Foundation will be organising a special hand-spinning workshop on August 7 and 8.

Led by esteemed hand-spinning expert A Karunakaran, the workshop is a gateway to learning the cherished art of hand-spinning.

Participants will delve into the intricate techniques, gaining hands-on experience and learning about the significance of handloom in our culture and history.

Merin James
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