Project #3860

Design Education for Traditional Artisans in Kutch

by Kala Raksha
May 10, 2013


Namben final Colour presentation
Namben final Colour presentation


24 DECEMBER 2012- MAY 6 2013

"We leave everything and come here.  We can concentrate.  At home there are many distractions. We saw the benefit to Hasuben and Kuverben and we were convinced." -Namaben, Rabari Embroidery artist 


As Kala Raksha Vidhayalaya proudly publishes its 2012 Annual Report, Year Eight at KRV is halfway completed.  This year we welcome an unusual group.  All of the male weavers and bandhani artists are from traditional families who in the previous generation left craft to work in industry.  Several of the young men had also taken jobs in factories or private businesses.  But they found that working for a company brought little satisfaction.  So they came home.  This is the year of Return to Tradition. 

 Courses one and two, Colour and Basic Design brought insights.  After years of teaching, we realized that the colour theory we teach does not match dyeing methods.  So, next year we will include a dyeing expert and dye theory as well.

 "I never thought of dyeing yarn. I used what was available. I will take a year but I will make a super piece," -Sureshbhai, tangalio weaver

 "This will be really useful.  I will think what to highlight, how to show it.  I liked movement."  Shafikbhai, bandhani artist

 Course Three, Market Orientation, opened new worlds. The men traveled to Ahmedabad to explore a range of shops and visit a variety of craft connoisseurs. The experience was both inspiring and motivating.

 "In 10 years you will see tangalio in all my work.  I want to see my work in all stores- different types in each store."- Sureshbhai, tangalio weaver

 "Our traditional work is dying.  We want to give it new life, new form.  I had a mental limitation that bandhani is for wearing. But when we went to Ahmedabad, it vanished.  In Anarben's house I saw the curtain and realized there are many ways bandhani can be used.  Traditional work can't be used everyday.  I want to make new things for new uses.  The art is the same, but design changes."- Adilbhai, bandhani artist

 In this year's women's class, we find the classic gap between unmarried young women and elders with grown children, but with a twist: for the first time we have a woman bandhani artist who is educated to 12th grade.  So we welcome new challenges that will bring growth to KRV-- not only young men with less depth of knowledge of their own traditions, but also the need to re-think how to teach the course content for women.

From course one, Colour, everyone learned.

"From sketching I learned to see shades of colours.  In nature you can see how to make harmony from contrast. My sight and understanding have changed.  I want to do something no one else has done."  Zakiyaben, bandhani artist

 "I never held a pen - ever.  Here, I had my first chance.  I learned and now I want to learn more."  - Lakhuben, Rabari embroidery artist

 By Course 2, Basic Design, the women began to transform, and take their work seriously. "I understand same weight but different motifs.  Balance is important…If you show me the road I'll run on it." Jivaben, Rabari embroidery artist

 In the third course, Market Orientation, the women explored Ahmedabad with their livelihoods in mind. 

"We went to Ahmedabad and we saw it ourselves.  That made a difference in understanding."- Namaben, Rabari Embroidery artist

 Different people like different things. If we make one thing it is only useful in one place.  We have to make different things.  We have to think what colour?  How expensive?"Lakhuben, Rabari Embroidery artist

 "If I like it in a cheap store I'll buy it.  But if not, I'll go to a more expensive store.  If we want to sell something, it has to be good.  That is the bottom line."- Jivaben, Rabari Embroidery artist

 The year was jump started with an extended craft workshop with students from the Institute for Apparel Management, held during the Colour course. This was the first time KRV held a workshop and course simultaneously.  The challenge of accommodating a large number of people and several activities on campus was superseded by the benefit of collaborative exchange.

 "The Delhi students came so far to learn.  I watched them and thought we should also learn and preserve our traditions."  Sajanbhai, tangalio weaver



Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya has taken a big, important step forward in developing the concept of Artisan Design.  This year, the institute has been working on a pilot benefit fashion show, directed by Anjana Somany.  Renowned designer Anju Modi provided garment patterns, which  women graduates imaginatively embroidered. KRV then asked men graduates to draw inspiration from the embroideries and complete the ensembles with woven, printed, bandhani and batik accessories. This is the first time men and women artisans have worked together in this way.  The project was managed by Noopur Kumari, NIFT senior student.  Noopur presented the collection for her graduation jury, and they were impressed.  The fashion show will be presented in collaboration with the prestigious company Good Earth in Mumbai on 17 August 2013.  Such projects contribute to the growth of KRV in several ways.  Excellent products are produced, KRV visibility is increased, and artisans are encouraged to develop new work.  This year, women's internships will be sponsored by Reena and Neeru Nanda.


Kala Raksha continues to focus on building links through which KRV graduates can develop their capacity as designers and find new and better markets.  During this period, women graduates working in Kala Raksha enjoyed creative guidance from Sara Lawton, MA student of Manchester Metropolitan University, UK; Ananya Rai, Anisha Ahuja, Shivangi Agarwal, students of the Indian Institute of Craft Design, Line Jorgensen, a student from Denmark, and Cadi Mathews and Lucy Darling, British exchange students at Pearl Academy Jaipur, and a team of students from Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne- who are developing products virtually.  The exchange is mutually beneficial.  Young designers working with KRV graduates also learn to appreciate artisan capacity and to work in more collaborative ways. 

 During this period, Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya also hosted four workshops under our financial sustainability program.  These workshops foster exchange, and appreciation of artisan capacity, in addition to raising funds.  Through them we hope to build long term relationships between institutions. Jeni Allison and Lindsay Roberts returned to work in depth with KRV through the Scottish ReSide program, and we enjoyed a visit from their supervisors Louise Butler, Shona, and Britta.  The amount raised through workshops this year was 9% of our annual budget.

 Another step for our sustainability program was finishing of home furnishing samples developed with COMO Foundation funding.  The sale of these design theme products will be dedicated to support of KRV.  IICD interns Cadi and Lucy assisted in the project.

 By the end of the financial year, KRV significantly added to its design education equipment with funds from the Development Commissioner Handicrafts.  This year's students will enjoy use of a Pantone system, new sewing machines, a light table, sample looms, and purified water for dyeing, among other facilities.

 In March Nilanjan Mondal was selected as KRV's new Project Leader.  He comes to KRV with the experience of the Kaivalya Education Foundation Gandhi Fellowship, hands-on training in development organization and leadership.   Nilanjan is undergoing orientation in May and will join KRV in July. 


An update assessment of progress of KRV's fifty male graduates was completed in April.  Through interviews of alumni, we ascertained that:

 100% of artisan graduates have benefitted from the course.  All have gained a new perspective for their craft, and learned to be open minded and observe design in everything they see.

 100% of KRV graduates have gained confidence in terms of understanding the requirements of clients, creating new designs based on themes, and experimenting with colours and materials.

 56% of KRV graduates have grown in their designing capabilities.

25% of KRV graduates have started their own independent businesses post graduation.

9% have helped their family businesses take new directions.

 13% have had an increase of 10% to 20% in income.

7% have had and increase of 21% to 40% in income

7% have had an increase of 40% to 60 % in income

5% have had an increase of 61% to 80 % in income

5% have had an increase of 100% in income

9 % had an increase of 300% in income

 About 80 % of the artisans are aware of various schemes and organizations that can help them with their work, but only about 20% know how to apply for theses benefits.

Most of the graduates are not aware how to benefit from the KRV website.

 85% feel that KARVADA must be streamlined for it t be useful to all artisans. Unity within the organization is critical at this juncture.

 100% feel that the campus of the Vidhyalaya should be shifted from its present location.

 KARVADA, the KRV male alumni organization formally registered as an entity.  This opens possibilities for funding and other facilities.

 In February, 2010 graduate Khalid Amin Khatri worked with Manchester Metropolitan University faculty member Helen Felcey to develop art pieces for the Cotton Exchange project.  The Cotton Exchange, an exploration of the heritage of the cotton industry focusing on he links between Lancashire and Manchester in the US and Ahmedabad and Gujarat in India, culminated in an exhibition held first in Manchester and in Ahmedabad this April.  Artworks from designers and artisans from UK and India were installed in the abandoned Rajnagar cotton mill in Ahmedabad.  KRV was well represented with works from Graduates Khalidbhai, Hariyaben, Varshaben Pratap, Varshaben Uttam, Damyantiben, Sajnuben, Ramiben Rama, Monghiben, Lachhuben, Kuvarben, and Jivaben Ratna; and KRV Advisors Shyamji Vishramji and Ali Mohamad Isha. 

 KRV online

In September 2012, Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya enjoyed a feature by Jessica Marati "Teaching Design," in Hand/Eye magazine.

 In October 2011, Annie Waterman published "Empowering the Artisans" an article about KRV in Hand/Eye. Articles on Artisan Design have also been published in three important online craft journals: Hand/Eye 3 February 2010; Craft Unbound 27 January 2011, and the Craft Revival Trust Newsletter vol 110, issue 2 Winter-Spring 2011.

 Kala Raksha is on Facebook



The Indian financial year spans between April 2012 and March 2013. Our seventh year was completed with a balanced budget! KRV relies entirely on donations.  Nearly 6% of our annual budget was raised through individual donations this year.

 In the coming year, we have the challenge of raising over $72,000 to operate our program.  As we complete 2012 and look to 2013, we thank Global Giving and hope that our supporters will think about making a tax deductible gift!  Your generous contribution can help! You can make a difference in the lives of our very creative constituency!!


Today, Kala Raksha's board of Master Artisan advisors met and brainstormed on the future of KRV.  Their full support gives us strength and hope.  As KRV has focused on becoming more self-sustaining, opportunities as well as challenges are coming our way.  In this year we expect to focus on ensuring the viability of the institute.  In the next year we envision significant and positive growth for KRV. We hope to earn well through participation in the tenth annual Santa Fe International Folk Art Market and a subsequent USA tour of lectures, workshops and trunk shows.  Find details of locations at  And we hope to raise funds through our Mumbai fashion show. Financial sustainability is always a huge challenge for an educational institution.  We welcome from our supporters entrepreneurial ideas –and ideas for increasing visibility.

 Again we thank you, our supporters.  With your support, KRV will realize its mission of relevant, genuine education for traditional artisans!


Ismail Mohammed Khatri - block printer, Ajrakhpur

Shamji Vishramji Vankar- weaver, Bhujodi

Lalji Vankar - weaver, Nirona

Gulam Hussain Umar - tie dye, Bhuj

Ali Mohammed Isha - tie dye, Bhuj

Umar Farouk - tie dye, Badli

Qasimbhai - batik, Mundra



Prakash Bhanani, Kala Raksha Co-Founder and Chief Executive, Member, National Planning Commission

Judy Frater, Kala Raksha Co-Founder, KR Project Coordinator, KRV Project Director, Ashoka Fellow

Ashoke Chatterjee, Previous Director, Crafts Council of India

Nita Thakore, Textile Artist, Faculty Pearl Academy of Fashion, Jaipur  

K.V. Raju, Faculty, Institute of Rural Management

Rajni  Patwa, Architect  

Mira Poonam, Artisan    

Hariya Uttam, Artisan

Babri Moru, Artisan

Haku Shah, Padmashree, Artist & Historian

Jayanti Nayak, Faculty, National Institute of Design

Daya Dohat, National Awardee, Artisan

Rai Singh Rathod, Local Guide

Adil with first colour range
Adil with first colour range
Suresh shows tangalio weaving
Suresh shows tangalio weaving
Lachhuben and Zuberbhai collaborate
Lachhuben and Zuberbhai collaborate
Artisan Design ensemble
Artisan Design ensemble
Soyab teaching printing
Soyab teaching printing



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Organization Information

Kala Raksha

Location: ta. Bhuj, Kutch, Gujarat - India
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Judy Frater
Kutch, Gujarat India

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