Jute, Nature's golden fibre, has come a long way from its sackcloth and gunny bag days. Today jute has reinvented itself into a lifestyle statement bio-degradable, recyclable, ecologically sensitive and attractively textured.
The jute's stem also has a high volume of cellulose procured within six months of planting and therefore capable of meeting the cellulose and wood requirements of the world!
Best of all, it fibre blends itself with other fabric yarns, is silky smooth, and its versatility can be morphed into curtains, yardage and saris, mats, table linen, bags, jewellery and a host of other products. At the Navaratri Jute Fair organised by the South India Jute Association it's about bags, bangles, burlap and more.
The fair presents the creative skills of entrepreneurs, mostly women working singly or with self help groups. Their products include jewellery, slippers, stationery holders, office files and so on.
The variety of bags displayed catches the eye. Craft work such as Kalamkari, block prints, hand painting, embroidery and beadwork embellish party, shopping, travel bags and more. Janaki Ananth's jute bags which include party pouches, travel bags and those for packaging gifts have touches of Kalamkari and are dyed in vegetable colours. Her designs are innovative and she uses many varieties of jute. Usha Shivaramakrishnan, who runs a unit that employs ladies, also handicrafts a variety of bags, folders etc.
Jute offers financial stability for economically marginalised women working with self help groups. Bharathi, who is part of a self help group, weaves ingenious durries and mats with twisted cotton on a wooden frame!
From Warangal artisan Nagendra brings a range of block printed Kalamkari durries. There is jute jewellery from Kolkata, designed and created by Manoj. “I buy the thick metal bangle frames from the bazaar,” says the artisan. I then wrap the entire frame with thin jute strands after which I cover the surface with black jute. Over this I stick tiny jute and bead florets with adhesive.” His attractive jewellery range includes necklaces, hair clips and bangles.
The Navaratri Jute Fair is on at Vijaya Raja Kalyana Mandapam, 58, First Avenue Road, Shastri Nagar, Adyar, Chennai -20 , till October 5.