Through our design development initiatives, we have the potential to create diversity in the crafts community. This is one of our key areas of focus here at Commitment To Kashmir, and a source of much success for our non-profit.
A considerable chunk of CtoK's work in the valley has been to provide design intervention in an effective way that help the craftspeople of the valley expand their aegis, move out of the local market and look outside the state as a viable retail point. The consistent engagement of design mentors and artisans, has helped build immense confidence in the latter; they now view themselves as businessmen and businesswomen with capacity and not just craftspeople at a disadvantage. This comes as a consequence of the artisan making products that appeal to a variety of people and are relevant in the current market, made possible via design intervention.
Pattern Making Workshop
A pattern making workshop was conducted at the NIFT campus in Delhi for aari entrepreneurs Sajad Dar and Anjuman Ara, to enable them to expand their existing designs and use them on a variety of garments and textiles. They worked under Vandana Narang and K.D. Sharma. Garment construction was explored extensively as both Sajad and Anjuman were keen to include contemporary twists in their traditional product range.
Every craft process in incomplete without the support from an ancillary craft worker. Tailors, dyers, wood turners, felters, printers, welders and moulders are some of the important people in the artisan network that CtoK attempts to maintain and expand in the valley. An extremely important facet of our groundwork is to establish links between an entrepreneur and an ancillary grid, which is mutually beneficial. This, of course, is done keeping in mind the existing tradition of an ancillary supporter and primary artisan-a relationship holding myriad roles.
Raw Material Sourcing
The economy often faces the brunt of the conflict in the valley. Shops are shut, and basic amenities sometimes unavailable. Part of CtoK's mission to empower the entrepreneur/artisan is to establish raw material linkages both in and outside the state, that are reliable and provide quality material. This has been made possible by the facilitation that CtoK has engineered between artisan and design mentor. Many of our associate artisans now have their own raw material provider, increasing the impact network of their craft.
CtoK's design intervention does not stop at expanding the artisan's aegis, but also involves refining his/her existing skills. CtoK has so far, successfully helped pashmina weaver Saleem incorporate ikat techniques into his loom and work on improving the finishing of sakhta products, a much ignored craft skill of the valley.