Victorian textiles: Growing up in a family that makes a ceremony of brewing the perfect cup of tea, I’ve seen tea cosies all my life. Those little jackets for the teapot that keep the tea warm while it is steeping. The other day I posted my Queen Elizabeth 1 tea cosy on social media and was surprised to see the reactions. Many were amused. But most said they didn’t know what a tea cosy was! (more…)
Embroidery As Art: Last week, I attended Shobha Broota’s new show, where she used techniques like crochet and knitting to create unique art. This is, fortunately, a growing trend, but embroidery as art is still a problem area, being associated as it is with women’s work, one that is coming into its own, though. To take an educated look at the history, we will have to go back to the genesis of needlework. (more…)
Cross-Stitch – The inspiration for this article came from our cross-stitch expert Shobha, who joined as our first full-time cross-stitch artisan in June 2021. Shobha has been practicing this craft for the past 17 years. When she was in her twenties, she joined the training group led by father, Colombus, and has never looked back. The crafts were introduced to her village by father Colombus almost 70 years before. Father Columbus visited India through a missionary and trained women in more than 25 villages.(more…)
Crochet: My grandmother had a straw box that contained mostly white hanks of thread and red beads. She would take this box out when she wasn’t busy, and magically little doilies with a bead edging would emerge from her fingers. These doilies were used to cover jugs of water and glasses. I didn’t know it then, but she was crocheting these. Her creations are lost now, but I saw similar ones in a tiny shop in the mountains and immediately bought a few.
Ainu: We who love textiles know what it is to revere an exceptional piece of weaving or embroidery. But there is a community where this is literally practiced. And that is by the Ainu.
History of Ainu
The Ainu have lived on the island of Hokkaido for millennia, populating a culture distinct from the Japanese. Following a Hunter-gatherer lifestyle, they, like most communities that live off the land, revered all things natural. This reverence interestingly extended to tools and clothes, the minutiae of daily life. One fascinating aspect of their culture is the reverence of bears, which are seen as gods. The Ainu would often collect bear cubs and bring them up in their homes, exactly as they brought up children. Eventually, these bears were sacrificed in a ritualistic ceremony, with their flesh and fur highly valued as divine. (more…)
In 2019 we did a lot of research and development in hand knitting, knotting, smocking, and bead-making techniques. We worked with a group of women artisans in the villages of Western Uttar Pradesh in India. Before making the trip to these villages and meeting these women, I was under the impression that these techniques are almost similar to each other and created similar looks. However, once we worked with these masters, we learned about the nuances of different techniques and various design possibilities associated with them. Together with the artisans, we co-created beautiful and chic panels.(more…)
Headgear in contemporary times is associated with the outdoors, with events like Ascot, or with pop culture. There are notable exceptions, like the clergy or royalty. And of course, other than where headgear is associated with religious affiliations, it is no longer de rigueur as a part of daily life. This wasn’t always the case. There was a time when headgear was an essential part of apparel, denoting status, religion, and profession, right up to the early 20th century.
Screen Printing: Past week in Delhi, we started developing a screen print on custom-made chiffon linen and satin silk created with a weaver in Varanasi. Our team learned and documented the process of screen creation, paint and print development. I found it fascinating to understand the processes and see our ideas come to life. I thought of sharing my research and information on screen printing with our readers.
History of Screen Printing
Screen printing originated in the East in China during the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD) to transfer designs onto fabrics.
Filigree: In the miraculous world and history of jewelry, there is one technique done in precious metal, but visually exactly like lace. And that is filigree. As the etymology of the word suggests (filum =thread, granum=grain), filigree involves twisting and curling precious metal threads into elaborate designs. But that is a tiny part of the story of how complicated the process is.
Enameled Jewelry: In the story of my career, I’ve had much to do with the popularising of fashion jewelry in India. But that’s another story, which I will tell one day. For the moment, I want to start a new blog series on the various genres of jewelry, not just in India but worldwide. (more…)