In two rooms in Kondhwa, crammed with scraps of cloth and women with needles or sewing machines, an international upcycling project has brought together experts from The Netherlands and India. At the centre of the activity is a humble running stitch —Godhadi, traditionally used by women to create quilts out of worn-out clothes, faded scraps and torn bits of fabric.
The project titled ‘Beyond Quilting’ was initiated by Edith Rijnja, Harald Schole and Rucha Kulkarni. It also involves designers Mae Engelgeer, Richard Niessen, Simone Post from The Netherlands and Karishma Shahani and Studio Alternatives from India.
“At the Dutch Design Week — one of the biggest design events in Europe — we noticed that from young designers to big companies the focus is on sustainability. Back home, the tradition of Godhadi in Maharashtra was already doing the same. Godhadi is the aesthetics of leftovers. These two currents of change were, however, operating in pockets. What we tried to do is to set up a channel of communication or a cultural platform between Dutch and Indian designers and the local craftswomen so that new and innovative ideas emerge,” Kulkarni said.
Along with Archana Jagtap, Kulkarni had initiated ‘Quilt Culture’, a small-scale organisation that promotes women’s empowerment through Godhadi and is the venue for the present collaboration. The 30 craftswomen engaged in the project, Kulkarni said, were mostly homemakers from Kondhwa, while the material used for the designs were scraps sourced from tailoring shops, besides others.
After a two-week-long workshop, the products were unveiled at Sudarshan Kaladalan. The display, she said, will continue till November 30, while another curated exhibition will be held at Monalisa Kalagram at Koregaon Park from December 6 to 11. The products range from patch-worked curtains, colourful lampshades to bed runners with patterns inspired by Indian architectural designs.
“Women make quilts for personal use, which are private and stay in the house. At our workshop, we tried to take a step towards universal memories. We did this in many ways, from a form given by the women to, in my case, using abstract designs of Indian architecture to create a universal approach,” Schole said.
One of the craftswomen, Parvati, said traditionally, they use faded, worn-out and leftover scraps for Godhadi. “I had never thought, Godhadi could be used on new pieces of cloth to create designer products.” Another craftswoman, Rijnja, said if Godhadi has to make its way into the international market, then one would have to think big. “We have to adjust to different colour schemes and work with graphics to make it export worthy.”