The first time I was in Pokhara I discovered the work of the Women’s Skill Development Project (WSDP) and fell in love with the project and the work. They have really great (and practical) bags produced by local women. They are doing a great job at teaching local women skills (including dying, weaving, sewing) and then helping them take those skills and make viable and sellable products.
When I was back in Pokhara in November I was able to go and visit the actual project location where the magic happens. I was given a tour and was able to ask a lot of questions—really helpful for my research. Most importantly, though, I was introduced to the executive director and will be going back soon (probably January) to work with them for atleast a week (possibly longer). They will teach me the dying and weaving and in return I will work with them on design and teach some of the women to knit. I think it will be a great opportunity!
In the past week I’ve been able to meet up with several contacts and see the factories that they run. So far I’ve visited a clothing production factory, a weaving and pashmina/scarf production factory and a felting factory (producing mostly accessories and hats).
All of my visits were introductory visits, but it’s been interesting to see the places that they work, the items that they produce and get their view points on production and fashion in Nepal. I will continue to make visits to these factories and others in the future to get a more in depth view.
photos (c) Bethany Meuleners
And for fun, here’s a picture from my night out with some of my friends at The Factory in Thamel:
Last week I had my first workshop related to making and working on textiles. The Felt Industries Association of Nepal put on a three-day workshop for local businesses and handicraft groups to learn some felting techniques.
As I learned in this workshop, the felt industry in Nepal is one of the only handicraft industries here that is actually growing right now with how the global economy is. With this being the case, the point of the workshop was to teach new skills to these groups so that they can have more to work with for export.
We worked with both wet felting and needlepoint felting. While I’ve done both before, my needlepoint felting abilities are far above my wet felting abilities. I guess that’s how it is when I needlepoint felted for my collection everyday for 6 straight months.
The instructor was a Japanese woman who has been here for the last two years working on her textiles and will be here for another 6 months. She was very interesting and I’m looking forward to meeting with her again to see everything that she is working on and to get her input on the textile industry here in Nepal.
On Saturday night we went to a concert at a local black box theater. The group was called Kutumba (kutumba.com.np) and they play traditional Nepali instruments.
As it says on their website, “the word ‘Kutumba’ holds a special meaning in the Nepali language. It stands for a unique bond amongst community members. As their name, Kutumba is all about bringing together traditional folk tunes and instruments with new and improvised sounds and ideas.” At this particular concert they collaborated with electric guitarists, a sitarist, singers, poets/rappers. It was pretty awesome.
I made my first purchase and it’s totally related to my research too! Here is a photo of my new fabulous felted purse. I’d say this is an example of taking the felting technique and making it something that’s fashionable (in a kind of kitschy way, but I could imagine people carrying these in any major city).