Barmer applique was traditionally sewn on bedspreads of black or brown bases. Motifs were almost entirely inspired by nature: trees, leaves, flowers and animals. Women in six villages in Rajasthan produce these appliques. An elaborate bedspread may take nearly a month to complete.
Tilonia applique, the style of applique taught to women by the Barefoot College, uses designs adapted from mandanas which are traditional patterns on floors in Rajasthan. Abstract motifs are cut from fabrics and then stitched onto the base.
Only one family in Roopangarh in Ajmer district in Rajasthan continues to practice the traditional craft of bandhej, or tie and dye. Also known as bandhani, bandhej dates back nearly 5000 years.
Fine threads are wrapped tightly around small pinches of fabric to create an intricate pattern once the fabric is dyed. Traditional dye materials include indigo for dark blues and turmeric for bright yellows. The women specialize in tying and the men in dying the fabric.
Our duvet sets, quilts and decorative pillow covers are sewn by women artisans of Tilonia from block print cotton fabrics handprinted by block printers of Bagru in rural Rajasthan.
Block prints can range from a simple, single-color print to complex, multiple color prints. Each color is printed from a separate wooden block carved to print that specific pattern. Block printing is a centuries old craft still practiced today by artisans of India.
Embroidery is traditionally a skill of the women of the Sind area in Pakistan, but is now found in Barmer, Kutch and parts of Bikaner. Elaborately embroidered items were given to a girl at the time of her marriage. A bride's kanchili, or blouses, are embroidered by her mother.
Whether simple geometric patterns, elegant floral patterns, and colorful and ornate bedspreads, cushion covers, wall hangings or bags, Barmer appliqué and embroidery give an essence of Rajasthan rural desert culture and environment as well as design sensibilities and detailing.
The Barefoot College, began working in the Barmer district in 1988 in an attempt to pay fair wages, develop new designs and preserve the craft.
The Tilonia chair originates in Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh. The traditional design was streamlined and enhanced with an embroidered leather back by Tilonia in 1982. Local carpenters were trained to produce the chair and the side tables in sheesham and babool wood. Traditional peedas, or stools, are also made in Tilonia with either embroidered leather or woven seats. Furniture is available only to wholesale buyers due to shipping requirements.
Avani is a voluntary organization based in the Kumaon region of the Himalayas in northern India. Avani provides employment and educational opportunities to over 600 artisans in these remote mountain villages. The artisans use wild silk, Tibetan sheep wool and natural dyes to produce elegant, handloomed Avani textiles.
Avani textiles have won the UNESCO Seal of Excellence and are certified handcrafted by Craftmark.
Read about Avani in HAND/EYE Magazine >>
Weaving was traditionally a scheduled caste occupation restricted to a community called Balais or Meghwals. These communities used pit looms that produced a 24" width fabric. Handlooms were introduced as they produced fabric wider than than the pit looms, and thus were more efficient. With the change in looms, people from all communities became weavers as the caste associations of pitloom weaving were removed. There is also a group of Rajput women from the village of Kada who have broken tradition to learn how to weave.
All Tilonia Barefoot Handloom products are dyed, woven and stitched on campus at the Barefoot College campus in Tilonia, Rajasthan, India.