Tilonia, a small village in the desert regions of Rajasthan, India, is home of theBarefoot College. Since 1972, the College has worked to improve the lives of the rural poor by addressing basic needs for water, electricity, housing, health, education and income.
Appliqué is an ancient technique of creating beautiful and decorative items with cut pieces of fabric. Pieced and appliquéd household items are sewn by women for their dowries. Each region in India has its own particular aesthetic.
Block printing is an ancient tradition -- evidence has been found of block printed fabrics dating back to 2000 BC. Today, it is a skill practiced in Rajasthan, a revival due to efforts by Anokhi and others passionate about this cultural tradition.
Embroidery is traditionally a skill of the women of the Sind area in Pakistan, but is now found in Barmer, Kutch and parts of Bikaner. Elaborately embroidered items were given to a girl at the time of her marriage. A bride's kanchili, or blouses, are embroidered by her mother.
The Tilonia® chair originates in Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh. The traditional design was streamlined and enhanced with an embroidered leather back by Tilonia in 1982. Local carpenters were trained to produce the chair and the side tables in sheesham and babool wood. Traditional peedas, or stools, are also made in Tilonia with either embroidered leather or woven seats.
Avani is a voluntary organization based in the Kumaon region of the Himalayas in northern India. Avani provides employment and educational opportunities to over 600 artisans in these remote mountain villages. The artisans use wild silk, Tibetan sheep wool and natural dyes to produce elegant, handloomed Avani textiles.
Weaving was traditionally a scheduled caste occupation restricted to a community called Balais or Meghwals. These communities used pit looms that produced a 24" width fabric. Handlooms were introduced as they produced fabric wider than than the pit looms, and thus were more efficient. With the change in looms, people from all communities became weavers as the caste associations of pitloom weaving were removed. There is also a group of Rajput women from the village of Kada who have broken tradition to learn how to weave.