Textile Love: stories of colors, textures and techniques

Introducing Madesmith: A Guide to Local Design and Craftsmanship February 10, 2013 00:05

We know you love handmade things, and so we're very excited to introduce Madesmith to you. Madesmith brings you stories and products from makers designing and producing high quality goods locally in the U.S. 

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Naqshi Kantha - a simple social beauty April 19, 2012 10:47 1 Comment

Kantha is a centuries old tradition of intricate and beautiful embroidery practiced by women in Western South Asia, that is in Bengal (India) and Bangladesh. The art of kantha embroidery is often a social activity where two or more women work together on a single piece of kantha. Rural women worked during hours of leisure time or in the rainy season when it is too hot and humid to perform other laborious activities, thus its normal to finish a kantha in several months or even a year.

Kantha designs range from simple straight lines to intricate floral, geometric or animal motifs. The most complex kantha are embroidered with scenes depicting of daily activities, mythological narratives or personal family histories. Although, these textiles were made for daily use, kanthas with intricate designs were sometimes passed down from generation to generation. This embroidery is used to decorate different textiles that serve various purposes including quilts, pillow cases, prayer mats, wallets, book covers, trunk covers, ceremonial spreads, shawls and handkerchieves etc.

In the past, women made kantha quilts by recycling old sarees and dhotis (men’s wraparounds) and stitching several layers of cloth together with a running stitch to make a simple throw or quilt. Even the threads used for the embroidery were recycled and pulled from end of the same sarees. At least five to seven sarees or dhotis are needed to finish a standard size kantha piece. Nowadays, kantha embroidery is done mostly on new pieces of cotton and silk cloth and threads.

We love how the simplicity of running stitch adds subtle yet intricate design and texture to beautiful wild silks and pure cotton.