This interview of Tulsi Ben was taken when we first met her. Since day one, her playful spirit, enthusiasm and infectious smile has been a constant. She belongs to a community in Kutch that practices Suf embroidery; a painstaking craft form that requires patience, imagination, and a skill that can never be replicated on machines.
How did you learn embroidery?
In 2003, I dropped out of 7th grade and started learning at home.
How did you start working?
I worked for NGO’s first, but was not happy with the pay as it required a lot of effort. I also wanted to create my own designs.
What made you become an independent Artisan Designer?
One day I saw the Kala Raksha Fashion Show, where artisans showcased their designs and I wished I could be part of it. My aunt then got my name registered at Kala Raksha Vidyalaya. She made two cousins of mine Laxmi and Tara join the program too. Encouraged by the learning, I joined the Business Course at Somaiya Kala Vidyalaya.
“I value my art more now. I see that people buy more Bandhani not Suf embroidery. I want to take my art further and see people value it more.”
Judyben (co-founder at Kala Raksha and Somaiya Kala Vidyalaya) gave us a new opportunity at Kala Raksha Vidyalaya. My first exhibition was on traditional lines featuring art work around ‘matki’ (clay pot), my second exhibition in December 2014 was inspired by butterflies. I am excited about the future and what it holds for my work.
Thank you Tulsi ben! You are the best!
Note: Tulsi ben has had several more exhibitions and has also collaborated with designers. Her designs were a part of Lakme Fashion Week. She continues to create Limited Edition Designs for Ruas camera and guitar straps.