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Design Workshop: Textiles as Narrative

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Design Workshop: Textiles as Narrative

Design Workshops for Artisans

You may hear us always going on and on about the power of design or designing change, but what does it actually mean? Anchal was founded with the belief that design can change lives. This actualizes itself in many forms, whether it is our job training program, the actual textiles or conceptually through our global mission. In its most tangible form, designing change comes alive during the design workshops conducted by the Anchal team while we are in India. This unique and stimulating program has been a part of every trip since the very beginning of Anchal’s founding in 2009. While we have certainly grown and expanded since those early days, the core of our design workshops remain the same - provide the tools and techniques for artisans to become confident designers.

Why Design Workshops?

Design can be an invaluable life skill and entrepreneurial opportunity, but also a rare moment of self-expression for our artisans. Many of us rarely have the opportunity to explore our inner creative. This holds true for the artisans we work with too. The joy a single exercise brings to their chaotic day-to-day obligations is magical. Most of Anchal’s artisans were never given the opportunity to take an art class, much less have a personal creative outlet. The design workshops fill this void by providing simple tools and rules as a jumping off point that results in incredible beauty that is all their own creation.


Anchal’s 2-Day Design Workshop Deconstructed

During our two-day workshops, we teach artisans how to use different types of embroidery stitches and densities to create imagery and stories from fabric and thread. The first day is dedicated to a sampler of stitches and learning how to interpret shade and shadow with stitching. The second day is focused on individuality and design. We teach Anchal artisans to translate local imagery into hand-stitched fabric compositions that express their surroundings. This form of self-expression and storytelling is at the core of how design benefits the overall wellness of the artisans we work with. 



Showcasing their Surroundings 

Each artisan carefully selects a photograph of regional architecture and urban spaces that highlight shadow and light. They are instructed to create a textile piece based on the photograph and build up a piece of patchwork and stitching. We intentionally keep instructions vague to help promote creativity. 

Observing Creativity through Textiles as Narratives

My favorite part during the design workshops is watching each artisan decide on how to represent her photo. Some begin with drawing shapes with a pencil or chalk. Others use their needle immediately to make the first line. Some use rulers to measure lines on the photo and then draw it on the fabric base, while others quickly cut shapes of color that perfectly represent what they are seeing in the shaded image. Each stitch and piece of fabric becomes a beautiful narrative. Remarkable designs I would never imagine or think to create myself are innately created through each woman’s creative journey during these workshops. 

A Collection of Design Workshop Inspiration

These pieces of artwork are just a small selection of the incredible raw talent which I am humbled to be surrounded by. I can’t wait to see which one will become the inspiration for our next collection.

anchal narrative textile

anchal textile narrativeanchal textile narrativeanchal textile narrative

anchal textile narrative

anchal textile narrative

anchal textile narrative anchal textile narrativeanchal textile narrativeanchal textile narrativeanchal textile narrative

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