Tuesday, June 30

The Cocoon

The Cocoon will emerge from a torn bedsheet. A cotton sheet made soft and with use and washing for more than a decade.
The idea to repurpose the sheet as a kimonoish robe came from Spirit Cloth - Jude Hill's blog as well as the Instagram account @ragmates2020 where like minded people are showcasing their work.
I'm no dressmaker so the kimonoish robe is the result of research on Pinterest.
The king size sheet allowed me to get the kimono as a single piece garment.
I couldn't wait to attach a couple of patches.
A rust dyed patch was the first addition. I attached it to the base fabric with my interpretation of sashiko. The second patch was from an experiment with bleach. I did blanket stitch around the bleached out splotches.
There is no plan as far as placement of patches, it's just whatever strikes me at the moment. So while planning the next patches I decided the sleeves ought to be symmetrical. The rest of the robe will be asymmetrical. That's the plan at the moment.
Started attaching other bits of fabric. The patches overlap and I do running stitch, almost like darning through the patches and the base fabric.

This project of The Cocoon really ties in well with my effort to adopt more sustainable living practises. To reduce the consumption of resources, and see the potential of reusing and recycling things and materials which I already possess.
I'll be looking at Kantha, Japanese boro and Sashiko for inspiration. I want to embellish the Cocoon with things in my environment -  the flora and fauna. I hope I can capture the balance and harmony of the natural world which surrounds me and constantly inspires and leaves we wondering and delighted.

Friday, June 26

Jams, Pickles and Chutneys

These days my interactions with the world happens on Instagram.
It's here that I get inspired and learn a thing or two. It's also the place where I get to participate in projects.

'The plan is to create a printed/stitched fabric quilt that explores your individual experiences, thoughts & emotions collectively about your time in
Your contribution will be made into an amazing quilt, which will showcase beautifully your individual response to the global pandemic.' - Sue Brown.

There was the choice of making a collagraph plate and sending it across to Sue to be printed and then embellished with embroidery or to make one that's the same size - 10 cm × 10 cm but embroidered.
I went for the embroidered option.
The pandemic had me in the kitchen re evaluating what we cook. It's an opportunity to use locally grown seasonal produce - fruit and vegetables in my cooking not that I've been one to scour the pantries online for exotic ingredients. To learn to preserve and buy sufficient ingredients and use them judiciously and creatively.
I made jams, pickles and chutneys during the two month long lockdown. Strawberries were going cheap because they couldn't be transported to the cities. I made two batches in fact. My first attempt at jam making and the results were encouraging.
Then I made plum jam which reminded me of boarding school and the jams which were on the table for breakfast- plum jam, marmalade which I never liked and bilberry jam. Made from seasonal fruit which were grown locally.
It was a bonus if we got a plum seed when we took a spoonful of jam. We would suck on the seed and ultimately crack it open and eat the white kernel inside.

When the lockdown coincided with the start of the mango season  I decided to make Chundo - a sweet and savoury mango pickle which matures in the hot summer sun. It's a no cook pickle which I love and I had all the ingredients as well as two months of intense sunlight, the most important ingredient for making  Chundo the slow old fashioned way. Brings back memories of my years at design school. Lime pickle and green chilly pickle were made and shared with friends.
As for chutneys I was looking for recipes which use parts of fruits and vegetables  like the skin to make chutneys and other accompaniments in a meal.
One chutney was with the  white portion of  the watermelon rind. The other chutney to try is with the peel of the ridge gourd.
A number of these recipes which lay forgotten are being rediscovered during these uncertain times where people are being forced to be frugal.

My contribution to Same Sea, Different Boat. The finished piece with bottles of jams and pickles.
Left to right - Plum jam, Strawberry jam and Chundo. In front is the small round bottle of green chilly pickle.
Now to mail this piece to Sue in the UK.
I hope the postal service has begun to function, last time I checked it was only medicines which could be posted. Keeping my fingers crossed.

I hope all of you are safe and well.
The numbers of infected people are on the verge of exploding I think in India.
Health services are overwhelmed in certain cities. Not long before communities are infected because people are moving from infected areas to districts where the infection was low. Totally irresponsible and selfish.
What a year it's been.

Friday, June 12

Spotting Purple Bougainvillea

There's a particular purple bougainvillea which you see only around Coonoor.
The colour is intense, and in summer - April and May it blooms and it's one mass of purple blooms with no leaves visible.
Unlikemost other bougainvillea this particular one grows large and thick becoming a tree.
This young plant promises to grow into a major show stopper.

This is what I meant when I said it grows into a tree.
This particular bouganivillea plant at a firend's place must be a couple of decades old.
I've got myself some cuttings.
In the meantime I'll continue to spot Purple bougainvillea around town.

Tuesday, May 26


#the100dayproject began on the 7th of April this year.

I've decided to create 100 collages. 4" × 6" collages, upcycling materials found in my home, between the pages of my journal or from my surroundings. Quotes, poems and general words of wisdom. 
So why not celebrate them and make them a set of 100 cards which one can pick at random and feel inspired when one reads a quote and find reassurance in the words of a poem. At some point I did consider 100 Covid19 jokes.  

I've become a hoarder of all sorts of scraps and bits. Bills, moth wings, beer bottle tops, envelopes, plastic casing of tablets and the twine used to tie a package. everything has potential.

Here are the first five of hundred.

1/100 - Diwali sweet box base, poem - Finding Courage, Blanket stitch.

2/100 - Moonsoon Harvest muesli carton, quote - Robin Wall Kimmerer, faggoting with embroidery thread done to hold the pieces of the card together.
Cutting the pieces of the muesli carton so that they fit was an exercise in balance.
Must find ways to give back. 
3/100 - envelope to which strips of paper from a Tupperware flyer were woven and stuck.Further embellished with cross-stitch done with embroidery thread. Quote, hand written on brown paper from an envelope.

4/100 - Teacher's 50 whisky carton, brown paper envelope, Ferrero Rocher foil, handwritten bit of wisdom.
Have to learn to focus better and stop getting involved in too many projects. Oh! But there are so many interesting ones.
5/100 - Citibank flyer for the blue base, Scottish leader whisky carton, cotton twine which was used to tie a package for the embroidered quote and embroidery thread for blanket stitch along the edge.
Need to set the benchmark high.

100 cards in a 100 days is not going to happen. It's going to take longer than that. 
The coming together of the base card, the quote, poem or recipe and the ephemera takes time but at times it all happens in a day. 
It's going to be a 100 cards following a slow process but the 100 collages shall be made.

How are you doing in your corner of the world?
Hope you and your families are well and safe.

Sunday, May 17

The Birthday Present - a commission

A prayer for a best friend's 40th birthday and I was asked to interpret it as an embroidered piece.
I was introduced to Michael Leunig. An Australian cartoonist, writer, painter, poet and philosopher.
One of my favourites is Bunker.  Absolutely delightful little characters and a reccuring motif is the teapot, probably why the the cartoons appeal to me even more.

Found this font trawling the internet and felt it resembles Leunig's style

From my stash of fabric swatches I chose indigo,blues, blue greens and some shibori because the recipient loves the sea and on a strip of muslin I cross stitched a wave pattern in blue thread.  

A variation of darning used to join the strips of fabric together. In the lower right hand corner I embroidered what I think of as coral. Growing slowly.

This is the finished piece.Wonky edges, a slow cloth. A piece to invoke contemplation. 
I'm contemplating a tragedy unfolding in the country.
These are troubling times,uneasy times. 
An uncertain future for millions across India. 
Millions of migrant workers make their way on foot criss-crossing the country to reach home. Pregnant women,young children and men carrying all they own on their heads making their way home in the summer heat which is at 40 degrees centigrade now across most of the country. 
They have not been paid their wages and have no access to food or drinking water. 
Everyday there are more horror stories to be heard.  
Empty promises. Talk is cheap.
Government assistance to transport migrant labour back to their home towns has come too late. 
This crisis over shadows the pandemic. It's a lethal combination. 
It's a cry not just a prayer - God help us to live! 
Millions are contemplating - emptiness.
What will the heart create for us? 
A revolution me thinks.    

Saturday, May 9

21 Kusudamas for the 21 day lockdown

With the announcement of the 21 day lockdown in late March, I set myself a personal challenge, to use the time to learn to fold and create 21 origami kusudamas.
The Kusudama or medicine ball is believed to have originated in the Heaian Period (794 -1192).
Fragrant woods and herbs were put into a small cloth bag, decorated with blossoms of sobu, iris and other flowers, long silk threads of five different colours were attached to the bag.On May 5th this bag was hung in the house to ward off evil spirits and disease.  
The Emperor at the time would invite officials to Butokuden palace and give each one of them drinks of sake and a kusudama, this custom continued until the beginning of the 17th century. 
Going forward the connection of the kusudama with court functions ceased to be and instead became an ornament in the homes of the common people and a plaything for children.

Sorry about the spacing, can't rectify it. 
 I didn't know at the time that I would commit myself to a few more challenges so instead of completing 21 kusudamas in 21 days,it took me a good month and a half.
The process was meditative because of the repeated folding of modules for each kusudama. Some required as few as six modules whereas most required thirty or more.Especially the larger ones. I used old Tupperware flyers with their colourful pages to cut squares for the origami.     

This one is an exciting one, a transformer. It's called the Revealing Flower or Pop Up Star. Designed by Valentina Gonchar  and I followed this tutorial to make it.
There's more than one reason why you should use contrasting colours for the outside modules and for the revealed flower modules - first reason impact. Kind of lost in the one I've made, shall rectify that and make another one with contrasting colours and a tad smaller.
The second reason is that you won't go and mess up while assembling the modules.A lot of time wasted in reassembeling! Totally unnecessary.   

This one is called Electra. Designed by David Mitchell and here is the video tutorial if you would like to try your hand at making one. The tutorial is in Portuguese but it doesn't matter if you don't understand the language because the folding of the modules is clearly demonstrated.      
This delicate and pretty kusudama made with just six modules is called a Traditional Kusudama the tutorial can be found here.

This Kusudama is my favourite. The tutorial and all other information was in Russian so I don't know the designer or name of the kusudama. Unfortunately I didn't save the link to the tutorial. 

 Nine kusudamas, these are larger. Twelve in the picture below. A total of 21 kusudamas.

 These are smaller and require anywhere from six to twelve modules.
Some kusudamas can be created with twelve modules and increasing the number of the same modules to thirty gives you a kusudama with a whole different form.
I'm going to give these kusudamas to friends to hang in their homes or verandahs and hopefully there will be healing of the world at large and in their homes.I'm also going to leave them for people to find.
Here are the links to some of the other kusudamas which I made
1. Top left corner - The Kusudama Spiky Ball Star - uses just 6 modules. No need for glue. Makes a great Christmas decoration as well.  
2. Top right corner -  Origami Kusudama Little Turtle - requires 30 modules.
3. Bottom left corner - Origami Kusudama Star - requires 30 modules.
4. Bottom right corner - Crystal Star Kusudama - designed by Denver Lawson. Requires 30 modules  
I was surprised to discover a Coronavirus Kusudama as well. It requires 30 pieces of paper 1:4 proportion. Does not use square pieces of paper. I tried it but the paper I had was too flimsy.

I find origami like embroidery a meditative process. A slow process, requires precision and the results are rewarding.
I can watch my movies on Netflix and fold modules for a kusudama or do a bit of mending for #mendmay2020.
Have you got involved in any creative challenge during this period of social distancing and isolation?  Hope you are well and safe. 

Tuesday, April 28

Project 21

Sometime during the 21 day lockdown that we went through here in India, there was a challenge posted by  Bombay Sapphire on Instagram. Stir Creativity. 
 The challenge required the use of 21 objects, 21 lines to create a drawing or painting, 21 cuts on a fabric to make a garment, or  a 21 words poem. Stir your creativity using 21 of anything.
I used 21 small brown paper envelopes and put into them prayers my mum had handwritten for me, recipes which I tried and had been shared during the lockdown, origami which I had done and other little things.   
25th March - prayer, 26th March - recipe for Lime pickle, 27th March - modules for an origami kusudama.
28th March -  shopping list, 29th March - my mother in law's recipe for Molaga Podi, 30th March - handwritten prayer.  
31st March - recipe for Pineapple Upside Down, 1st April - Origami hearts, 2nd April - handwritten prayer. 
3rd April - Recipe for sun dried tomato pickle, 4th April - modules for a pinwheel kusudama, 5th April - recipe for slider buns. Oops! forgot to stitch around the edges. 
6th April - sampler of Up and Down Buttonhole Stitch for week one of the community stitch challenge organised by TextileArtist.org and led by Sue Stone, 7th April - handwritten prayer, 8th April - a schoolmate's recipe for Krackjack biscuit pudding.
9th April - shopping list, 10th April - handwritten prayer, 11th April  recipe for green gram or pachai payaru payasam.
12th April - origami Easter chicks, 13th - my mum's recipe for pancakes, 14th - modules for an origami kusudama. Everything used for this challenge came from my stash.  

The little origami hearts were made for the Hearts for Hope. The challenge continues on instagram if you wish to join in and contribute an image of a heart you discover or create. it could be a heart shaped stone you find,  heart shaped cookies you bake or a heart tattoo someone you know has. You never know where you'll find a heart or like me create a heart using whatever you have on hand  - a length of wire perhaps?    Post your picture on Instagram and use the following hashtags #2020heartsofhope #mendingmayhem #isewlation   
This recipe is very special. I lost my mother in law to cancer on the 16th of April and this is one of two recipes I have from her. The other recipe is for dosa batter.Now each time I make either molaga podi or dosa batter I shall make it to honor her memory.Sorry about the spacing, can't seem to fix it. We continue to be in lockdown until May 3rd. The question now is whether it's going to be extended beyond that date or if there will be an easing of restrictions. 
 How are you coping with lockdowns and quarantines? I'm going to be participating in #MendMay, starts on the 1st of May. Check out @visiblemend on Instagram if you're interested. Until the next post
 stay home and stay safe.