Crafting A Future
Stories of Indian Textiles and Sustainable Practices
by Archana Shah
Archana Shah started her career as a design student with a passion for the traditional craft skills of indigenous artisans; her interest encouraged her to travel across the country to study and experience the vast variety of different textile practises and techniques. Shah has now been creating textiles for urban markets in collaboration for over 40 years. ‘Crafting A Future’ delves into the vocational skills of artisans and their unique expertise.
Crafting a Future is a heartfelt celebration of artisans and their vocational skills. Each region in India has its own distinctive raw materials, craft techniques, textiles, motifs and colour palettes, and through her well-researched narrative enriched with numerous stories, Archana Shah demonstrates the diversity and true value of handcrafted textile processes. She believes that handspun, handwoven fabrics made using indigenous fibres and natural materials for dyeing will help create a unique identity for handcrafted textiles, and suggests ways to repurpose the abundant artisanal talent available across the country to rejuvenate this sector. These tenets are woven throughout the book, which is broadly divided into three sections based on natural fibres: cotton from plants, silk from insects and wool from animals. This resonates with Gandhiji’s concept of developing khadi and village industries to rejuvenate the rural economy, and stimulate development through a bottom-up approach.
Beyond its beauty and heritage value, artisanal production is eco-friendly, has a negligible carbon footprint and fulfils most of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It has the potential for creating dignified employment opportunities for millions of people in their own regional location, so that they are not compelled by economic constraints to abandon their ancestral professions and migrate to urban slums to earn a meagre livelihood as unskilled labourers. In essence, the book focuses on artisans, their aspirations and fulfilment in their work. It also draws upon their traditional wisdom to address two of the most serious challenges that we face today: growing unemployment and climate change.