We like to think of ourselves as pretty green when it comes to our arts-and-crafts leftovers, but the truth is, Indian artisans have us beat by a mile. For centuries, they’ve been reducing, reusing, and recycling in the most creative ways—without the Frankensteinish “My God, what is that?” experiments that sometimes result from the attempt to repurpose materials.
Take chindi, a traditional technique that involves weaving leftover strips of fabric or leather into rugs, bags, scarves, placemats, jewelry, and more. Although the roots of chindi go all the way back to ancient times, in the past 25 years, it’s become a major industry in Agra, a riverside city in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in India. The fabric is first shredded into small strips, and artisans hand select and insert each piece in their looms individually to create the final designs. Finished items are trimmed and washed, then checked for durability.
Some chindi items, especially rugs, are woven of a single color, while others are a riot of vibrant shades. No matter which fabric or pattern you choose, chindi lends character and energy to a room. Here are a few ideas for decorating with chindi.