When we think of India, we think of vibrant colors everywhere: in brightly patterned clothing, on the side of buildings, in exotic fruits and spices. We also think of animals roaming around the jungles and streets. Monkeys and tigers. Elephants and birds.
So our buyers traveled all the way across to world to find a pillow and blanket set that brings these vibrant elements of India home to us.
Named Dastkar Ranthambhore, and located in Rajasthan, this workshop was founded after the government chose to dedicate a large area of land to a controlled nature preserve—forcing many of the villagers who lived there to flee to the fringes of the land.
Far from water and other life-sustaining resources, the villagers resorted to illegally cutting wood to sell as fuel. It was clear that an alternate form of income was necessary to help villagers recover from their relocation. So Dastkar organized to help train the locals in skills such as embroidery and tailoring. Their skillsets eventually extended to include textile dyeing, blockprinting, and weaving.
The workshop chose the tiger as their signature animal, so that they never would forget that the nature preserve is what set their work in motion.
One of the women responsible for creating these stunning pieces is Indira Bhawani Shankar. Now 31 years old, she first learned how to quilt when she joined the workshop ten years ago.
She and her husband have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders—her husband (a teacher by trade) is the only employed male in his family, so it falls to him to provide for his sisters, including the education of their children. The income that Indira is able to contribute to her household makes a big difference.
We had an opportunity to ask Indira a few questions… here’s what she has to say:
What do you like best about your work?
I like being creative. I like using different designs and color to make the quilts and see how they turn out.
How has your life changed since joining the workshop?
I was able to build my own house and have my own money in my account. I can meet my day-to-day expenses myself and even save some money. I am not dependent on anyone for money.
What are your future goals?
My goal is to educate my children and help my sister-in-law get married after she finishes school. I want to take care of my mother-in-law who is getting old and has suffered mentally after the sudden death of her husband. I also want to improve the life of my family further.
Is there anything you want customers to know about you, your life or your work?
I am proud of the work I do and the products I make and I hope people continue to like and buy the products so that I can work even harder and fulfill my dreams.
The animal blockprint designs are inspired by children’s drawings and the patterning comes from traditional Mandala designs that local women use to decorate floors and walls all across the region.
The art of blockprinting is significant in itself because it is an ancient technique, used to create the modern motifs we see in these quilted pieces.
There’s no doubt that these unique items from India will immediately brighten up any space, mimicking the heat of summer and bringing joy to even the bleakest winter’s day.