EMBROIDERY AS ART
Asif joins The Cultural Intellectual Property Rights Initiative as cultural sustainability enabler and textile luxury craftsmanship ambassador.
A life dedicated to the art of embroidery: Asif was born in a middle class family in Ahmedabad, a city world renowned as a textile hub, home to traditional artisans and textile mills. He was fascinated by embroidery from a young age watching his mother embroider and transform a plain piece of cloth into an object of beauty and art.
He finished his schooling and studied Interior Design at the School of Interior Design (CEPT). His deep sense for aesthetics, attention to detail and thirst for understanding how things are designed and produced made him explore different traditional textile techniques.
He developed thorough knowledge of weaving techniques, printing and dyeing, natural colors, embellishing techniques, yarns and threads, and all the different tools and apparatus that go into making and presenting a finished textile and garment.
He established his eponymous studio in 2002, embroidered himself and taught different embroidery techniques to a team of artisans.
The studio has created a variety of embroidered garments embellished with fine embroidery specially Aari (chain stitch) and zardozi (zardozi is derived from the Persian words 'za' meaning gold and silver thread and 'dozi' meaning craftsmanship - so it is an embroidery technique with metal thread). In recent years, Asif specialized in miniature embroidery of such beauty that is best appreciated when seen through a magnifying glass.
For more than 26 years Asif has been experimenting and reinventing textiles and embroideries. The highlight of this textile heritage journey has been the redesign of the karchob or the scroll frame in 2012 (the karchob, traditionally a horizontal floor-mounted hardwood frame, is the tool that assists needle workers to create fine embroideries). This redesign simplified the tedious task of mounting the fabric on the frame for the best embroidery results, saves working time and energy, and is also fabric friendly. In 2015, Asif re-introduced real kasab gold thread embroidery.
His endeavor has been not to copy the heritage pieces but to create masterpieces inspired by the past. The textiles created at the studio are contemporary pieces of beauty and prove that aesthetics, quality, techniques, craftsmanship have not been lost post industrialization, liberalization and production on large scale.
Resurgence and Confluence of Birds are two of Asif's exhibitions that travel the world showcasing the luxury of Indian craft and embroidery. In all his works Asif credits the artisan that has created the fabric on which the embroidery is coming to life.
Base Fabric: Woven peacock feather
Embroidery: Gold plated silver thread and beetle wings from Thailand
Asif Shaikh at his Studio in Ahmedabad (April 2019 for #onevoiceforcraft)
CONFLUENCE OF BIRDS
In February 2016, Asif Shaikh and Villo Mirza, both Ahmedabad-based textile and fashion specialists, founded the Craft Design Society Art Foundation (CDS Art Foundation) aiming to take beautiful, handcrafted Indian textiles to the world stage to share space with the best global textile and fashion brands.
CDS Art Foundation organizes a one-of-a-kind fashion show in India focusing on co-design with artisans and placing the artisan and designer on equal footing as knowledge partners.
At its 4th edition in 2019, Walking Hand-in-Hand is an initiative where artisans work with leading designers and together produce a line of couture garments.
Symbolically, the artisan and designer walk together on the fashion ramp, showing the vital role of the artisan in contemporary fashion creation.
CDS Art Foundation commits to support cultural sustainability in India and to recognize Indian textile artisans as custodians and transmitters of traditional knowledge.
A collection by Asif Shaikh for the IVth Walking Hand-in-Hand "Indigo Exchanges", Ahmedabad, 2019
"ARTISAN AND DESIGNER WHEN THEY WORK Together they create some kind of bonding. THIS WE HAVE TO NURTURE."
An article featuring Asif Shaikh, master indigo dyer artist Aboubakar Fofana, about the extraordinary qualities and benefits of natural indigo dyes.
ARTISANS WHO HAVE SPECIALISED
IN NATURAL DYES SAY THAT
NATURAL INDIGO HAS VERY
INTERESTING, SACRED, AND