Saturday, July 31

Fruit

 Fruit was the theme in May for the areyoubookenough challenge. 
I've collected the stitckers you get on fruit and most of my journals have pages filled with these stickers.
The tiled backsplah in my kitchen is where the stickers are stuck. A little spot of pop art.      
It was only natural that I should make a book with all these fruit stickers.
That's the cover of the book with a question in Malayalam which translates - Is it the apple which wears a garment? Garment refers to the mesh like protective case which is put on each apple to protect it while being transported from various parts of the world. This was what a crafts woman actually asked me when I was doing a craft project in Kerala.
Made an accordion fold book with brown paper and made circular mandala patterns with the PLUstickers.  
The numbers on the stickers are a code to identify whether the produce has been grown organically, genetically modified or grown conventionally using pesticides. 
A PLU code which starts with 9  represents organically grown produce.
A four digit code which starts with 3 or 4 means the produce is conventionally produced using pesticides.   
The fruit I buy comes from halfway round the world. So I've bought and eaten apples from New Zealand, Chile, Brazil and Italy. 
Not very good for the environment, that's a massive carbon footprint. 
I'm sure they have fruit label designers who must be creative to come up a distinct eye catching label.
Another bit of trivia - the inventor of the produce sticker was Tom Mathison.

I have a lot of blank space waiting to be covered with fruit stickers. So this book is a work in progress at the moment.

Have a great weekend.

Saturday, July 24

Slowdown Studio Art Comp 2021

I'd come across Slowdown Art Comp last year.
The last date to enter had just gone by. I had to participate this year. How can one not when the only real constraint is the size of the artwork. Very liberating if you ask me. 

This is my first entry. A Box of Bespoke Murukkus.
I had got a small spirograph in a Kinder Joy that I had bought. I'm a sucker for the little toys you get. I buy the blue ones meant for boys because the toys you get are so much more interesting. Little vehicles like earth movers, tops and spirographs. I also unearthed a spirograph I had bought outside a temple when I had gone on a project.
Spirography - not sure if that is even a word, is addictive. The forms reminded me of murukkus which are a type of crunchy savoury snack, made in South India. 
My third entry - Heirloom Flowers.
I combined the flower like motifs created with the spirograph with the batik like effect of the wax and ink.

The second entry - Silver Dollar
Gave the spirograph a rest and used just wax crayons, a candle and ink.

I had fun.
There's time, another week infact if you would like to participate.The competition period is from July 1 to July 31st 2021.
You can find the details for the competition on the Slowdown Studio, Instagram page.   

Have a good weekend. 

Thursday, July 15

Fighting the Pandemic with Found Poetry


The book I made for the prompt #areyoubookenough_blackandwhite. 
All of June we were in lockdown because of the second wave. No shops were open except grocery stores, pharmacies and petrol bunks.
So I used whatever was there in the house. Copier paper, old magazines and black embroidery thread.
Limited number of black and white pictures but enough text so I decided to create found poetry.
Since 2019, WFH has become the new normal. Everything is now online it doesn't matter where you work from, as long as there's reliable internet connection which permits zoom calls and online classes for the children. Companies are giving up office space. Home schooling is being adopted by more parents. Remote places with internet connectivity are being favoured over homes in a metroplis. 
People feel imprisoned in their own homes. Single people try to cope with isolation and loneliness. Confined spaces, social distancing and living in a bubble with only virtual interactions have created many mental health issues. 
Virtual graduations - I attended my nephew's graduation from SCAD online, that was a first for me. Made a presentation of my work via Zoom for Parsons School of Design, New York, for the series Community Conversations. Now that was interesting, I don't think this sort of thing would have been thought about had it not been for the pandemic.  
Everybody is dreaming of that trip to visit family, to go on a short holiday. 
Looking to escape the monotony.
Staying at home, with no help and no restaurants open to dine in. People have started cooking. Cooking from scratch, non of the ready to eat tasteless food. Did you try your hand at making Dalgona coffee? People also took to baking all types of bread. Sourdough was very popular where I live. I didn't try to make bread or Dalgona coffee.   

 Cloud Kitchens and delivery services mushroomed. I discovered recipes which repurpose food. Being thrifty and more sustainable. Watermelon rind chutney, lime pickle made with lime peel after the juice has been squeezed out. Repurposing food or parts of ingredients which would have been thrown away usually, such as seeds, leaves, peels etc. has become a little project of mine.
Traditionally in India people have been very thrifty and judicious with the use of ingredients, I have started looking to find such recipes. Some forgotten and others like bread pudding which is a comfort food and at the same time gives stale bread a purpose besides feeding the birds.    
The pandemic, in a year has changed our reality. The way we get our education, the way we interact, how we shop, what we shop for, the way we communicate. Everything has changed.   
Isolation and minimizing social contact will dictate the way we take vacations and interact with friends and family.
The virtual world is becoming more and more our reality. The other thing is that you really don't need much. Creating this book is a good example. I get to view the creations of so many talented people on Instagram and I can participate and create a piece of art with whatever resources I have. There's plenty to work with if you go through your stash and the constraints makes you more creative.
  
There is a lot to ponder. Do you think the fall out of the pandemic has more positives than negatives?
I'd like to know. I feel there are more positives. 
Our lifestyles and it's impact on the environment was sorely in need of recalibration and I think the pandemic has done just that. 
It was good putting this book together.     

Friday, July 9

My contribution to 25 Million Stitches published in Embroidery Canada

Writing this blog has put me in touch with so many people around the world, after that I created a Facebook page for Million Little Stitches and more recently Instagram as well.
I have wondered who comes and reads what I post on Million Little Stitches. Some of you are kind enough to post comments, so then I know. Some of us have become blog friends.
The Stats button previously showed the number of people from each country but now it's just a number making it all the more mysterious.    
Then there are surprises which can only be termed pleasant. When Kathryn Robicheau, the acting editor of Embroidery Canada emails you and has this to say - 
'I found your blog through a convoluted trail of links and I'm very happy that I did. I like that your embroidery is bringing attention to the refugee crisis. It's great to have an example of how we can use our artistry to express our social values and bring attention to injustice'.   
Kathryn went on to explain that the theme for the Winter issue of the magazine was maps and she sought permission to publish my post and share my embroidery and the inspiration behind it with the members.
I was delighted and had to marvel at the way this connection was made however convoluted. I was not aware of Embroidery Canada until then.
Embroidery Canada changed to a bi-annual publication so the Spring 2021 issue has my post in the Spring 2021 issue of Embroidery Canada.
Ali Ferguson from Scotland who uses mind maps as a starting point for her embroidered creations.
So many interesting interpretations of maps. It's been a pleasure to view the work and interpretations of different artists. 
Thank you Embroidery Canada for five copies of the Spring 2021 issue.
I must thank all of you who come read what I have to share on this platform. I do believe that we will connect, if it is meant to be. Irrespective of  where we are and however convoluted the journey may be to make that connection. I find it exciting to retrace the steps. I look forward to making connections and collaborations. 
 
Have you interesting anecdotes of making convoluted connections with other artists?
  
Have a  great weekend. 

Sunday, July 4

June in Lockdown

June 1st - 5th

In total lockdown. Living in a bubble.
Small trucks with fresh fruit and vegetables came to our gate. 

Leant how to use slightly burnt rice to make vadams instead of throwing it out. This has got me started making a note of how people repurpose leftover rice and rice based dishes like idlis and iddiappams. Food is never wasted but 
repurposed in interesting ways.
  
A good neighbour gave us roast chicken. A lovely surprise. Made for a memorable dinner. 
One evening the same neighbour sent a little plate with two pieces of honeycomb. It was delicious. 

Entetainment was provided by Netflix and Amazon Prime.   
Mare of Easttown, Maharani and The Mauritanian. 
June 6th - 12th

Decided to participate in the Great British Quilter challenge and make a mini quilt based on the theme - Hope.

Wasp nests had to be burnt. Considered cooking the larvae after watching some YouTube videos but decided not to. The monkeys gobbled up the larvae the next day. So wasp larvae are edible.

Received copies of the Spring issue of Embroidery Canada. My blog post about the panel made for the 25 Million Stitches art installation has been published in this issue.

Obsering the various cloud formations in the sky and roses blooming in the garden. 
Sitting on the deck working, I listened to music and podcasts. I found the the podcasts on The Moth most entertaining and so compelling. 
June 13th - 19th

Made some collages on cards. It was good to play with paper after working with fabric for so long.

Blackie the doggie and Gin the calico cat are cordial. They love the deck, a vantage point. Blackie can spot strangers and wild animals like the Indian gaur and the Malabar squirrel long before we spot them and his barking warns us.
Gin gets to spot unsuspecting birds. She's a great hunter.

The plants in the hanging pots were repotted. 

That little plate with tigers on it was a present from a friend.
The stickers on fruit are saved and stuck on a small area of the tiled  dado in the kitchen. The stickers are the main elements in the little accordion book for the May prompt  of #areyoubookenough_fruit. 

 The recipe for a no bake  white chocolate, cranberry and pistachio fudge. Absolutely yummy. Requested by a friend.

Do watch the movie - Skater Girl if you do get a chance. 
June 20th - 26th

The cloud formations have been very interesting. Every morning there was something very different to see. And, no that is not a jet trail it is a cloud. Unusual wouldn't you say.

The promise of a respectable number of Passion fruit, so I'll be able to make Passion fruit concentrate. 

Lunch at a friend's place. the dessert was appam with a choice of toppings - chopped banana, grated coconut, powdered jaggery and palm syrup. Delicious. 

Working on the black and white book for #areyoubookenough_blackandwhite. Have to be resourceful, copier paper and old magazines and of course black embroidery thread. 

The monkey brigade visit us regularly to raid the tree tomatoe trees.

Netflix and Amazon Prime continues to be our main source of entertainment. Watched Startup and The Undoing.
June 27th - 30th.

A little boy who loves animals got a new pet. A little Blacky puppy also named Blacky. The little boy brought his new pet to show me and Blackie my pet, also got to meet him.

Teamwork - a small army of ants carrying a dead lizard. Food for the troops.

New lawn was cut. The grass trimmings are collected by the cowherd Gopu, for his cows.

Connecting with friends who also live in bubbles. Some easing of restrictions. We have grown to enjoy our solitude but we can't do without human company. 
Waiting for interstate travel restrictions to be lifted so I can visit my parents who have been living in a bubble ever since March.

Hope you, your families and friends are well and safe and have been vaccinated.


Tuesday, June 22

Infinite Hope

Infinite Hope - a mini quilt and my entry to the Great British Quilter, Hope Mini Quilt Challenge.   
I began with a nine patch hand pieced base.
On the center patch I embroidered a Martin Luther King Jr quote.
The central square is white surrounded by dark squares and this is a metaphor for light at the end of the tunnel signifying hope.
A spiral composed of appliqued circles, Buttonhole wheels and French knots.
The spiral is a metaphor for growth and therefore hope.
Ready to start quilting.
I decided to quilt the mini quilt the same way kantha quilts are quilted - an all over running stitch which creates these soft rippling texture.
For the binding I decided to use white.
Another metaphor for Hope - Every cloud has a silver lining.
Infinite Hope quilted and ready to be bound.
Like the rest of the quilt, I was going to hand sew it. 
This was a first for me but I managed to do it thanks to YouTube videos this one by Missouri Star and this one without which it would not have been possible. The binding is not perfect but it's not bad for a first attempt. Encouraged to try again when I make the next quilt which is going to be a crazy quilt.
Traditional Indian quilts don't have a binding.
We must accept finite disappointment, 
but never lose Infinite hope.
 
12" × 12", entirely hand stitched, hand embroidered, hand quilted and hand bound.
We are in lockdown so all the materials used are from my stash. All the fabrics are upcycled. The batting and backing are old bedsheets. Similar to traditional kanthas which use layers of cotton saris. 

Waiting to hear from the Great British Quilter.

Friday, June 11

The Second Wave and in Lockdown

The second wave has hit India hard. The numbers of infected individuals are on the rise in our mountain district.
In our little lockdown bubble we got our vegetable garden going. We've got beetroot, radish, carrot and beans. Some chilly plants and two passion fruit creepers. Will be adding a Chow Chow creeper.
Lopped off branches of trees in preparation for Aadi maasam when the winds blow and there's the danger of trees branches snapping and breaking. There will be enough firewood for the fire places in winter.
The monkeys have been making regular forays to the house in search of food.
They are a delight to watch.
We put out fruit and vegetable peels for them.
Social media keeps me connected with the world. @tenaciousbeehive had a giveaway of marigold seeds and postcards and these pictures of  happy bees gathering nectar won me a package. The marigold flowers should make the bees very happy. I suspect they come from the hives my neighbours have.
Walks in the garden to discover what's blooming. The Monstera bloomed, that was a first. The Angel's trumpet bloomed profusely and perfumed the air with the most beautiful fragrance early in the morning and at dusk. The garden is a delightful place to be in at this time of the year.
Small trucks with fresh produce drive up to our gate so we get to buy fruit and vegetables. We haven't faced any shortages.
A kind neighbour brought a roast chicken one evening and another day we ate pieces of delicious honeycomb when they were extracting honey.
Learnt a way to use slightly burnt rice. Made vadagam.
Beat up the rice with cumin, pepper , chilli powder and salt and pressed out some murukkus which was sun dried and stored in a container. The vadagam is fried and makes a crunchy accompaniment to a South Indian meal.
I completed the commission to embroider two pieces of the same poem. These two embroidered poems are 90th birthday gifts for twin sisters. 
There will a post about this commission sometime soon.

I've entered my quilt - Blooming in my Garden in the Festival of Quilts and I made this mini quilt for the Great British Quilter competition. The theme was Hope. Entirely handmade with materials from my stash. There will be a more detailed post  to follow. 

These are difficult times. Restrictions mean we can't visit family. We are lucky to be able to speak every evening. We live in hope. 
We've been viewing movies and serials on Netflix, Amazon prime and a few other OTT platforms. Watched the Undoing and The Mauritanian. At present we're watching the new season of Lupin and there's a new documentary which released on Netflix today - Skater Girl which I hope to see over the weekend.

I hope you and your family are well and safe. I hope your weekend has something for you to celebrate. Take care folks.

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