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Hand embroidery- what an amazing thing!

On my recent trip to India found a new textile to fall in love with: nakshi kantha! The combination of skill, heritage and artisan know-how coming to life on a fabric is to me a wonder- something to be cherished. How it’s made is a lengthy process, laboriously undertaken in the verdant villages of rural West Bengal. The designers of the works now at Nest Factory are overseen by 60 year old Takdira Begum, a national awardee for her kantha work, 100 skilled women artisans hand embroider this beautiful fabric.

The first step in this process is to create a pattern to be embroidered, which is then drawn onto tracing paper. Next, the lines of the pattern are punctured with a pin and the paper is then laid over the silk fabric. A paste of chalk and turpentine is then rubbed over the paper, and seeps through the small pin-holes onto the fabric below, leaving lines which guides the artisan in her work.

Once the pattern lines traced onto the silk have dried, it is ironed and distributed amongst the artisans who take it home for stitching. Once complete, the fabric is hand washed several times to remove any stains and the tracing lines. Any variations or irregularities are part of the design and inherent to the production process. It’s a tell tale sign of handmade which adds character to the fabric.

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