Monday, 27 October 2008

why and wherefore

the purpose of the passage to India was to bring a group of women from Australia to work together with a group of women at Vikasana training centre in Mandya village in order to try to establish a range of products that could be hand-crafted there for eventual on-line selling so that the makers could have the chance of earning an income.

the tour was organised by Marion & Jon Gorr (more familiarly addressed respectively as the Bird and the Elephant) of Beautiful Silks, the Melbourne-based company where I purchase silks for my costume work. While most participants paid their own way, the Bird and the Elephant covered travel costs and expenses for Nalda Searles (West Australian textile artist) and your correspondent. Nalda was along to teach string-making and netting techniques; I went along to assess the potential for a plant dye project.

the Hapa-zome technique proved popular.

teaching in a crowd requires inner calm (and very careful stepping)

my usual practice of stacking a dyepot and leaving it to its own devices was sabotaged by eager participants who insisted on jiggling the bundles as if they were teabags...

the Bird and the Elephant organised for bales of "silk waste" to be delivered to Vikasana. Calling the material silk waste was to my mind a complete misnomer. The bales were stuffed full of jewel-bright silk loom ends, weave & dye samples and silk pieces up to 4 metres long.  At Nalda's suggestion, participants began making dolls as well as metres of beautiful silk string and netted billum-like bags. (the doll pictured above was made by me as a souvenir for the Bird...but for some obscure reason somebody later signed their name in ink right across the delicate pink leaf-print on the apron. it's an odd world)

this doll came home with me, bearing a red leaf-print from the teak tree (see earlier post)

and this one was made by the Bird a a souvenir for Nalda (click on the label 'string' below to find a much earlier post mentioning her work)


  1. I love these dolls. I also love your book, which finally arrived - postage to USA is astonishing! - wonderful book. :-)

  2. Hmm..the jiggled tea bags must have taken their toll in self control on your part. Cast not pearls before the swine, it will not fatten them.

  3. mmm, sorry about the postage cost, Morna. sadly my publisher remains unconvinced the book has a future in the Americas!
    oh, and as regards pearls...they may not be fattening (did the opposite for Cleopatra when consumed in vinegar, if history is to be believed) but at least they bring a glint to the eye...if only for a short while.

  4. Welcome home, u were sorely missed and it is exciting catching up on your adventures with the ladies in India. Loving those cloth folk too. The tea bag technique huh? Very funny. It is always tempting to try and fast track results, patience not being one of my strong virtues. love that macro shot of pretty flower, compels me to wish harder for a new camera. Blessings. R.

  5. India, I've seen your work in germany a couple of years ago (I'm a dutch feltmaker).I saw your comment at teresa's blog and went to you immediatly to say how much I admire your work. Unfortunately I can't order your book here because they say it's sold out. Do you still have books and is it not to much to ask if you can send me one? I'm thinking seriously coming over for your winter symposium also thanks to teresa's wonderfull offer.....I'll put you in my blogrol (links) to make my feltfriends happy seeing your fabulous work.
    love yvette

  6. thanks Yvette - sadly i don't have extra copies (publisher's don't approve of authors selling through theback door) but the book is being reprinted for Europe. you could try clicking on the image at the top right of this blog. it takes you to the Textile Fibre Forum booklist...scroll down a bit to find Eco Colour.
    the postage is astronomical but at least you'll get a copy.

    there's a plot afoot for me to come to Europe next year. I'll be teaching in Denmark and possibly Belgium and it occurs to me that the Netherlands are situated between those two points...if you felt that a workshop there might be useful I could make a stop there...

    oh and Rachelle, that macro pic was made with a tiny happy-snapper about the size of a cigarette box. miracles of modern technology!

  7. I guess this means I have a rare, out of print first edition! :-)

  8. Fabulous dolls. What an amazing journey, so much colour, a country of contrasts, joy and sadness. I hope your mission was a success, these ladies deserve a break.
    I also use the silk loom ends, they make beautiful beads.