The genius of exceptional embroiderers

The embroidery tradition of Bihar, India presents the genius of exceptional women who have created distinctive works of art for their homes and families.

This ancient needle craft has taken several directions since the last two decades. From simple recycling of worn out fabrics, to serving ritual purposes, to becoming narrative embroideries. Surfaces created in sujani out of simple running stitches moving in transient intensities sizes and color suggest natural processes and also reflect the spirit of the creator. This conspicuous character of sujani enticed me to explore textured surfaces using this traditional hand craft. 

My interface centers on emerging layers, depth, gradations, rhythms in nature that have always caught my eye and have gradually become my vocabulary for ornamentation.  And I believe that a hand has a brain of its own. It thinks and creates surfaces that neither programed machines nor the human hand can recreate. Thus my efforts are largely focused on marrying the unmatched skills of the traditional artisans with an aesthetic spirit. 

I collaborate and engage with traditional artisans in intense creative workshops and processes to unleash the artist within themselves and create distinct pieces of work that's on the edge of craft and art.  Over an intriguing give and take process and inconceivable twists and turns, the pieces emerge with a unique design vocabulary that connotes timelessness, understated elegance that highlights the quirks and anomalies that stemmed from the process of creating.

My latest work, MINOR,  is a collection of embroidered garments, created with an extraordinary group of sujani embroiderers from Bihar. The creative processes are dynamic and highly sensitive to initial conditions. MINOR differences in the initial conditions yield widely diverging results. An ode to the most MINOR factors become points of divergence, and unpredictable shifts in a piece of work.

Swati Kalsi is a textile and fashion designer based in India. She has worked with handcrafted textiles for a decade. To learn more, please visit



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