Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Xmas show

My Christmas Show

Its the time of year again and my exhibition is finally happening.   I am very excited about it and want all you textile bloggers to come. I have made 4 trips to different parts of India this year designing new quilts, clothes, scarves, cushions and tablewear.  Giant hand stitched calico parcels are still trumbling through the door as I write.  I have worked with new people in Gujurat from Bhuj.  They work with natural dyes and are magnificent tie and dyers and ajrakh printers.  From their exquisite fabrics I have scarves, clothing and childrens patchworks.  In Bengal I work out in the weaving and stitching villages and from their beautiful work is my new range of handwoven, hand-stitched quilts.  In Jaipur I work with Sunny, Meeta and Pintu famous for their natural dye mud resist block printing.  I make a range of men's shirts from their delicious printed cottons.  Not to mention the great shibori sister team Prabha and Kusum and their amazing indigo designs I cannot resist.  From their fabrics I make clothes and patchwork quilts.   Also dotted round all these foreign parts are marvellous, shrewd antique textile dealers.  I sit and have my tiffin lunch with them while I drool at which fabulous old kanthas or phulkaris.  Greg my partner in crime has to deal with all the fierce bargaining. They are all so talented and mostly fun to be with (not mentioning the hiccups along the way).  I am constantly stimulated and learning from them.  After every trip I am pouring with new ideas.  Its the great seduction of heavenly textiles of course.  And I am a total addict. 


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Desert People of Bhuj

While I was working in Bhuj in Gujurat I headed off  to explore the desert villages famous for their embroidery.  Bouncing along in our jeep we picked up local tribals that squashed in the back with me. Dressed in purple and hotpink turbans,gold and ruby earrings,dhotis and curly toed shoes with chiseled faces and piercing eyes I couldn't stop staring at them and they at me.  A riveting experience.  And these were just the men.

The men are shepherds, always looking after their sheep and goats using their crooks to herd them into line as they slowly meander over the road.  It is such a pleasure to just follow them at snails pace checking out every detail.

When we finally arrive at a village taking endless detours the first person we see is the head woman with her cows.  She is a blast of colour, embroidered head to foot in swirling skirt, jewels, tiaras and anklets....not to mention the cows with beaded necklaces and horns.  She takes us into the village which are mud and thatched huts on the outside and inside the walls are sculptured mud designs inserted with tiny mirrors everywhere.  All sublime.

No electricity or running water.  It's down to the well with the earthenware pot on the head and a good old gossip with the girls.  Some villages are just starting to get running water and the women don't like it as they are shut up inside their huts and can't meet and gossip at the well anymore.   The temperature is over 50 and I can barely cope with the heat.  The women have little embroidered fans made with fabric and mirrors. 

 It was monsoon when we were there - mozzies and malaria are common. The women only have the neem leaf and their light cotton shawls to protect themselves.Flooding regularly causes the mud huts to disappear. Rebuilding damaged huts is always necessary after the monsoon.

The children, who are drop dead gorgeous, make their own beaded jewellery. There are no schools in the area, so they help out at home.


All the beautiful work in the village is done on synthetic fabric using synthetic threads.  They buy it in the market and it is cheap. For the women to afford cotton thread and fabric requires an NGO organisation to work with them.  This is a very slow process.  The tourist industry is just starting to open up again since the devastating earthquake of 2001. And tourists want to buy cotton not synthetics.

 After being served delicious tea in saucers we said our goodbyes and the wonderful head woman, with tears in her eyes, said to the translator I was too short in their lives.  This of course broke me up totally.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Belle's Nomad Champagne launch

 Yesterday was the perfect sunny afternoon for a champagne book launch.  Sibella was signing and selling heaps of her heavenly new book Nomad at her lovely shop Society Inc.  Full of exquisite photos by her and her brother Chris Court she brings  her inspirations and ideas from her travels to Japan, Syria, Italy and Mexico right back into the home.....showing us with a blink of an eyelid how to make our environment a special world so everywhere the eye rests is a source of stimulation and interest. As the bubbles went to the brain I noticed heaps of people shopping while they gossiped, whether it was a feather xmas ball,  miniature wooden limbs or tinsel flags that cash register was going ..........kerchunk, kerchunk, kerchunk.