Posted by: Len

Surayia and some of the women of Arshi.  Photo copyright Anil Advani and Kantha Productions LLC.

Surayia and some of the women of Arshi. Photo copyright Anil Advani and Kantha Productions LLC.

International Women’s Day is the perfect time to reflect on the example set by Surayia and the women of Arshi.  Talent, creativity, and lots of dedication and hard work allowed them to build much better futures for themselves and their families.  Artisan enterprises like Arshi employ significant numbers of people — primarily women — around the world, and are an important source of income that permits self-sufficiency.

It is good to see that my former employer, the U.S. State Department, has joined with other like-minded institutions to establish the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise.  I hope this initiative helps to focus attention on artisans worldwide, today and during Women’s History Month, and also that it helps convince people to support living artists and to buy the handmade goods that they produce.

Posted by:  Len

Thanks to our friend Sitara Ahmed for pointing out this article on the origins of kantha.  The Asia Encyclopedia of Intangible Cultural Heritage is full of information on handicrafts, crafts and artisans from across Asia.  There’s a lot to learn from this site.  Congratulations to the Craft Revival Trust for this initiative.

Posted by: Cathy

This third post by Canadian fiber artist Anna Hergert raises an interesting question about kantha.

Revering the Simple Running Stitch — Hooked on Kantha (Conclusion).

Kantha – is it quilting or is it embroidery?

Quilting is an embroidery technique in which two or more fabrics are stitched together to make a warm, and often decorative, fabric. In traditional Kantha quilting the process begins with pieces of discarded fabric or rags, and is a very effective way of recycling old and threadbare fabrics. Numerous approaches to quilting have developed in different communities to produce varied uses of stitches, patterns and designs.

Ottawa Class 2

Using kantha stitches. Photo courtesy Anna Hergert.

Thank you, Anna, for your personal insights and your interest in nakshi kantha.

What do readers think about Anna’s question?   Is kantha quilting or embroidery?




Posted by:  Len

One of the great pleasures of working on Threads over the past two years has been the opportunity to learn thousands of new things, and to come in contact with many many creative and passionate people from around the world.

Hand/Eye magazine, which we have blogged about before, continues to be a source of inspiration for us.  The stories are interesting, the design beautiful, and the photography is a real treat for the eye.  The spring 2012 issue, with its focus on New Mexico, is a fascinating mix of new and old, photographed to bring out the vivid color and beauty that the artists and craftspeople sought to achieve.

If you haven’t seen Hand/Eye yet, you are really missing something.


Posted by:  Cathy

The eighth Santa Fe International Folk Art Market starts July 8, and International Folk Arts Week has been in full swing since July 3.

The Market is an opportunity for craftspeople from around the world to showcase their work and expand their markets.  “Folk artists preserve cultures and create opportunities,” one of the Market’s press releases notes, something I could not agree with more.  The experience of seeing how women in Bangladesh have been able to not just survive, but thrive, as a result of the work provided by Surayia’s nakshi kantha tapestries has made me more certain than ever that we need to do as much as we can to make people aware of the art being created in developing countries and to support the people who make it.  That’s one of the goals of Threads.

Four documentary films relating to folk art and folk artists will be shown during the week, including Mary Lance’s Blue Alchemy, which I wrote about recently.

It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by since my previous post on the Market, but work on the film has kept Len and me busy over the last 12 months.  Time has flown, but we are making good progress: we have located nearly 100 of Surayia’s paintings and tapestry designs  around the world, finished a trailer and are working hard to raise funds for the next round of filming in Bangladesh, as well as editing a rough cut of the film.  Hopefully we will soon be able to show Threads at International Folk Art Week!