University of Moratuwa, Katubedda, Sri Lanka.

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Making someone’s designer dream into a reality through volunteering.

At the beginning of the RI Year 2022-23, we received multiple requests to conduct a physical workshop for En Vogue 1.0, which we newly initiated in 2022. In response, we organized En Vogue 2.0 Phase one,  a three-day Beeralu-making workshop collaborating with Nifty Looms held at National Craft Council premises from 21st to 23rd December as a physical event.

In this phase, our focus was to facilitate young designers with on-hand experiences with ancient crafts in Sri Lanka, as learning these crafts on their own is a real challenge with time and cost. Therefore, as the first technique, we chose Beeralu Weaving because that is a technique that needs more time for practice and skill development.

Beeralu is the art of making handmade lace work with threads and a Beeralu pillow, and it was introduced to Sri Lankans by the Portuguese and the Dutch people during the time they were ruling our country. Over the decades, Sri Lanka has created many crafts, and now we have our designs and techniques passed down from generation to generation. Beeralu art is most popular in the Southern area of Sri Lanka.

Considering our Beeralu Making workshop of ours, the main objective of this workshop was to teach ancient Beeralu craft to the younger generation of the country to preserve it for the future generation. Moreover, it provided the current undergraduates interested in learning the skill the opportunity to learn new fabric-making techniques for an affordable price.

Our instructor was Mrs.Stella Edirisinghe, a well-known instructor in the field. Her institution, “Nifty Looms” partnered with us in this great cause. With her invaluable support, we could deliver a better experience for the participants while creating great memories for them as future designers.

A PR campaign was held to raise awareness of the workshop by us, which was done by members, and from that, we could reach out to 4 main institutions where fashion undergraduates learn, and 8 enthusiastic participants participated in the whole 3 day workshop series. Participants were provided with all the raw materials that are needed and the Beeralu machines to use during the workshops. During the workshop, the participants were given knowledge about Beeralu making practices in the past and the main basic practical lessons they want to master further.

We could successfully conclude the Beeralu workshop with positive feedback from our participants and a new request to develop another advanced workshop in the future. In addition, we were lucky enough to connect and create partnerships with 4 other different institutions and participants from various cities and districts in Sri Lanka.

Our effort towards preserving ancient valuable craft practices will benefit many designers. Especially as the ancient techniques gradually fade away with these fast-forwarding developments, it is very vital to preserve those techniques and bring them up with modern trends. It is a great pleasure to help pave the way to someone’s dream of being their own fashionista while volunteering and making new bonds with learning experiences. We will strive to come up with many more valuable and creative projects in the days to come.

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