An Institution of Education for Artisans

Somaiya Kala Vidya (SKV) was founded to sustain art traditions and increase both the value and income of artisans. We believe that when artisans determine the innovations and evolution of their art, it will retain cultural integrity. And, only if art and artisans flourish, traditions will continue as an intact cultural heritage.


Honouring Tradition

SKV honors and incorporates existing traditions. Its advisors are Master Artisans. Its faculty includes national and international educators. SKV participants have retained their traditional edge and consistently succeeded in world craft markets.

Somaiya Programmes

Somaiya Kala Vidya offers design as well as business education to working traditional artisans of Kutch, in sustained input through eleven-month courses. It makes "higher education" accessible. The institution's curricula, schedule and language of instruction are designed to accommodate artisan lifestyles.

Learn Textile Traditions

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Kutch weaving is practiced on a 4 treadle, fly shuttle pit loom. The specialty of the tradition is hand insertion of ornamental extra wefts, almost like embroidering. Traditional dhabla/ blankets which used interlocking or tapestry wefts were made with a hand thrown shuttle.


Block Printing

Kutch block printing is largely done with resist, so that the pattern is light on dark. Substances including gum Arabic and lime, or mud and millet flour are printed on the fabric with wooden blocks. When the fabric is immersed in the dye bath, the color cannot penetrate the printed areas. Typical patterns are complex, using two or three blocks to create the motifs. The most traditional fabric, Ajrakh, is printed separately on the back and front. Thus, registration is a critical skill.



Batik in Kutch is a particular form of resist printing. The wax is applied with wooden blocks. Again, the patterns are light on dark. But the technique of printing is specifically swift because the wax must be applied while it is hot.



Bandhani, or shibori, is a tie dyed resist. The fabric is folded for double thickness, printed with a basic pattern, and tied with fine cotton string in knots along the patterns. When the fabric is immersed in dye, the dye cannot penetrate the knots and a dotted pattern results. The technique requires manual dexterity.


Natural Dyeing

Traditional Kutch textiles were dyed with natural substances, including indigo, iron acetate, madder and pomegranate rinds. Natural dyes on cotton fabrics require mordants. So the process is multi-stepped and based on an understanding of chemistry.



Many styles of embroidery are practiced in Kutch. All employ intricate stitching techniques, and setting mirrors. Rabari's work is renowned for its prolific use of mirrors of a variety of shapes, and its wide repertoire of stitches. Suf is worked from the reverse of the fabric in surface satin stitch counted on the warp and weft. Garasia Jat embroidery is a cross stitch variation also counted on the warp and weft, and using minute mirrors. Pako uses nearly the same techniques as Rabari work, but is denser with predominantly floral motifs.


Patchwork and Applique

Patchwork creates a fabric by stitching together squares and triangles of cloth. Appliqué creates patterns by stitching pieces of cloth upon the fabric. Both techniques are relatively easy to learn and can be used to make larger, utilitarian products.

Outreach Programmes

Somaiya Kala Vidya’s Artisan-to-Artisan Outreach Programs share the benefits of artisan education. A mandate of SKV is to share the value and benefits of education for artisans and expand the reach of our work. Artisan Designer graduates work in teams with artisans of the host organization in less exposed areas- as a kick-start to demonstrate that innovation in traditions, and design education are beneficial. The SKV artisan graduates serve as designers and mentors in creating a collection of innovations in the host artisans' existing tradition.

Outreach Programes

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Bhujodi to Bagalkot

Bagalkot is known for hand-woven Ilkal saris, which have a strong and well-loved identity. An Artisan to Artisan Design Education workshop was conducted in 2014 with the weavers of Kamatgi village near Bagalkot in North Karnataka...

Faradi to Lucknow

In May 2015, the first outreach program for Lucknow was introduced wherein suf embroidery graduates of the SKV BMA course, met the chikankari artisans. The chikan artisans analyzed the unique characteristics of chikan by exploring...

Kutch to Kumaon

Outreach project Kutch to Kumaon was conducted in March 2020 with our partner NGO Avani based in Uttarakhand. This was the first course in the design program for the artisan students of Avani wherein six women artisans successfully completed...

Kutch to Ladakh

A Design Education Workshop was organized in October 2021 in Hemya village of Ladakh region (approx. 80 kilometers from Leh). The idea was to provide introductory inputs in design education to the women artisans so that they can...

Design Craft

Somaiya Kala Vidya facilitates direct contact between world markets and the Artisan Designers we represent. Design Craft offers a juried selection of the best of artisan designed and created textiles. We represent and promote artisan designers who have created as well as operate their own labels. Design Craft provides artisan designers with a great opportunity to present their individual brands to the world and use the profits to fund design as well as business education for additional traditional artisans.

News & Latest Updates

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Godavari Biorefinearies Ltd

Bagalkot is known for hand-woven Ilkal saris, which have a strong and well-loved identity. Sourcing from nature and directly dyeing yarns in these colors was a highlight

In Conversation: ‘Lahore: Part 1 Of Th...

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I visited Somaiya Kala Vidya as a guest faculty on the Market Orientation Course for the Women’s Batch just before the first lockdown in India in March of 2020. It was a wonderful experience that connected the instinctive knowledge the women already possessed with real-life market experience that allowed them to visualise wonderful, innovative approaches and designs for their respective crafts. My own design practice and the way I now work with crafts and craftspeople has radically changed. A truly enriching experience in so many ways! Judyben and SKV are manifesting a truly brilliant vision for the future a lot of us want to see for our family of craftspeople.

Anahita Ginwala, Visiting Faculty, Design Course


As a design faculty, who has been associated with SKV for a very long time, I have felt great pride in knowing that our heritage crafts , the future and well being of our artisans in Kutch, are truly in safe hands through SKV's CSR support. SKV's alumni, now confident in their own status, are making a mark for themselves not only in India, but across the globe. With SKV's educational intervention, the artisan's of Kutch have found a voice and vocabulary with which they communicate and interact with the world!!!

Nita Thakore, Visiting Faculty, Design Course


Having taught a module on marketing back in 2017, SKV opened a whole new world for me by introducing me to bright Artisans from various backgrounds and age groups. This unique one of its kind design school for Artisans -SKV has made an impact at grassroots level. The impact is very much visible in the form of the success of the alumni graduates. I feel immensely proud to be a part of this journey.

Risha Roy, Visiting Faculty, Business and Management for Artisans Course


It was an opportunity to learn weaving from the weavers and understand this craft traditionally.

Rimpal Patel


It was phenomenal- the trip of a lifetime! I apprenticed with the best practitioners. Learning about the traditions associated with the practice deepened my understanding of the craft.

Stella Weinert


I was skeptical, but the Somaiya Kala Vidya workshops were the best part of the trip. They gave me a whole new appreciation of craft." - Claire Pratt, 2014 "Practical knowledge is the best process to learn something."

Tehmina Pathan

Get Involved






Somaiya Kala Vidya conducts a graduate ‘Design course’ and a postgraduate ‘Business & Management for Artisans’ course for traditional craft artisans of Kutch that fosters self-sufficient and sustainable craft based enterprises owned and run by artisans. It focuses on acquiring knowledge and skills that will enable artisans to use design effectively, to successfully reach appropriate new markets, while strengthening traditional identity.

Are you a craft enthusiast, who is willing to teach traditional craft artisans at SKV, then please fill the google form and specify the courses you would be willing to take

Working with artisan designers is rewarding. Stay with SKV and volunteer your expertise. We have a variety of projects ready, or you can tailor-make your own.

To work with us, fill the google form and elaborate on how you wish to contribute, collaborate and learn with Somaiya Kala Vidya.

Are you an individual, organization, company or government entity that foresees a synergy through exchange of ideas, concepts or projects, then we would be happy to collaborate! Write to us by filling out the form below or e-mail at

Donate Now

We have an ambitious road ahead- building a new campus, and developing a range of programs for artisans and others. We offer education free to traditional artisan women, and for a token fee to traditional artisan men. This year, in addition to our capital campaign, we have the challenge of raising over $32,000, to operate our programs. Think now about making a tax-deductible gift!

Your generous contribution can help! You can make a difference in the lives of our very creative and courageous students!! Sponsor an Artisan Student and enjoy his/her success for just Rs 70,000 ($ 1,135). Every contribution in affordable increments will count!

Contact for details. With your support, we will surely take education for artisans forward.

Be the change that you wish to see in the world.
― Mahatma Gandhi

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