Sunday, February 22, 2015

Obsessing over books

Still trying to make headway with our library. ..
Had a bereavement in the family this week so everything is on hold....The books are in the office and staring at me.
There will be no time for quite a while t cover. Catalogue etc.etc.... I want to get them out to kids but if it is not seen as special and managed they could get the wrong impression.  Rich people with money to throw away. ..they don't have to be looked after.
It needs to be special.
Apply to join the library. Wait for your card. Get Mum or Dad in to promise books will be cared for.
I am trying to keep my face out of is much as I can at this stage 
No matter how long I live here, I am still white. Praveen and I have a car. We are seen as rich,we create fair employment for women so good hearted but maybe a little soft in the head.
The library has be be treated as a privilege to be valued.

Work is so busy, we could start a new training group of women, we have enough work...
We have a group of English women arriving soon for a few days of workshops. We've organized their trip they are in Agra today off to a gold work embroidery class today, Taj Mahal tomorrow. ...
Indian Inspiration Creative Camp starts next week, Yeh. ...
More hours in the day please!!!
Sunday.  Off for a snooze. Bliss

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Books, books

It's all about books this week.
Finally, finally l have started on the library -we have kids books in the workshop.
I've had money tagged with this specific use sitting here for ages, all in a bulging envelope waiting for this one purpose, and truthfully not a second to pour over publisher lists and see what is available.

So excited

We have a possible volunteer coming later in the year to help set up a catalogue system ... the books held protective covers now and a borrowing card in the back. . . Really l don't know how I will get that done.

My recent resolution has been to stress less and take it easier... which as you can see is really working. I can't sleep so obsessing over this at 5.00am !! Hmmm?

Back to books. There is a tutor group held next door -I reckon we can take the box in there and they can use the books for reading practice.
A small start but at least a start.


Praveen was rather distant to the whole book thing to start ... brings up his Insecurities about not going to school I guess ... he was jumping for joy with me when the parcel came and has named our Library " Books are fun '' cool hey?

Other book thing- we have been included in one of the LOVE TRAVEL guides. [ Iam writing on my phone so can't make a link -google Fiona Caulfield] l love her style and eye for interesting, authentic, cultural places and feel it a real privilege to be included.

l am off to try that new thing - chill out it is Sunday. Do you know how stressed l can feel trying to relaxed ? Something to work on there.
Happy Day to you.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Down the rabbit hole...

Not sure how this will work but here goes.
I have one of those smart phones Praveen informed me I had to have it and bought it a year or two ago ...Well I have had to admit many times it is soooo useful.
Got bank apps,email, FB etc.
The camera is better than the last fancy one we had and has resisted the local desert dust far longer than any we have had.
Blog used to be a Sunday treat. Workshop was running but I used to scive off a bit , chat,  look at Pinterest and have a bit a think about what has been happening
Last 6 months or so we have been closed Sundays...
Well now I have just got a Blogger app and using the fancy pen on my phone this is my first hand written missive.
I've popped a few pictures up too but not sure where they went.
Blocks for coming up Creative Camp. and a rose for Rose Day.
Apparently from now until Valentine's day every day is special.
Tomorrow is Propose Day bit funny in a country where the majority of marriages are arranged.
Happy weekend

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

plots, plans and clever tricks...

Probably a mis-quote but a line from one of my boy's books when they were small and when Gillian is around ideas, inspiration and new works always abound.
Such a pleasure to have her here, busily printing and trying out ideas, spinning more ideas together.
Gillian is like me an early riser, so nice to have a little chat at 6.00 am when we both start work...my lovely Praveen does not function until a few hours after waking.
 
OOps something happened and I published halfway through....3 days with Gillian is way more than that!
Generous, she shared some secrets that she uses to give depth to here Ladies pictures...Derwent watercolour pencils especially for textile use.




We pack kits for Gillian- take a look on her website, she will explain it all far better than me.
Good for the gang to see what happens with all the strange odds and ends we pack and send. They were most impressed to see the books she had published and recognize some local views.
She came out with us to visit our Tawla Ladies, interesting to hear her observations later on the way we work....we are quiet exacting with quality, which is especially important in the beginning phases to impress upon Stitchers what we need to ensure all our work. We have lots of laughs through the process, keep it light but as Gillian observed it is exacting.

This simple picture speaks volumes about Gillian, she is incredibly hard working, 6 am and stuck in, all day busy experimenting in the workshop, catch every tourist opportunity and bubble of fun. Inspiring woman.
Take a look at these few snaps- my vegie guys are always quiet, polite and have the very freshest and best quality around...take a tourist along like Gillian with such interest and a cute little camera and they become movie stars posing for photos, discretely checking out the camera, impressed. You realise travel is not just about the sites, really it is about people....we may look different but friendliness and a big welcome come out the world over.
Whilst she was here, many discussions of her upcoming trip to Ghana- our friends Magie and Bob of the African Fabric Shop are there now, if you can't join us on tour to this Craft heaven, you can get a great fix from them. Stay tuned for her pictures next month.....oooohhh wish we were going too! Here are lots of pictures from our trips and other images to whet your appetite. Most of Africa would be wonderful to explore but for a tour we must be practical- look at stability, are there health concerns, infrastructure....Ghana comes up trumps on all these fronts, unlike many African countries unfortunately and has a very active craft scene. Must find time to go again soon. Do email us if you wish to be in the loop
And
and, and
Bucharest to Budapest - a new tour, we have all the info in place, lots of contacts etc we just need to do a walk through and check all details. Gillian got us enthused on this one and we are going to meet up July 2016 for a wander. It will be on the Agenda 2017. Yippee.
Really this is just a fraction of all we talked about, new plans for the future, new kits Gillian will have available, playing indigo and resist prints, just a lovely time having her buzz through our lives
BIG SMILES
 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Fact finding- natural colour

 
We are trying to refine exactly what we want to work with in our designs and the type of ingredients we would like to be able to offer prospective clients.
we are VERY CLEAR it is people and the work of the hand we value.
  • Home spun, hand weave fabrics....and who made them
  • Hand block print...environmental impact- low water volume needed for clear up, water based, solvent free pigment ink. Colourful and permanent...we have been watering these ins down and washing them onto the fabric for greater colour.
  • In the 'natural dye' range we have indigo, mud resist to make pattern and iron black.
  • Hand stitch- we have 77 women now gainfully employed- big, big yippee!!
The question of colouring fabric has arisen again....and it goes through my mind regularly....chemical dyes are so polluting and questionable. Add to that the difficulty of colour matching and colour fading and it is a nightmare we really want to avoid...but what is there to use that gives a good coverage of colour???

Yesterday we visited a new workshop that offers a range of options, rather limited and subdued but realistically all there is that can be sourced fairly close to us and won't fade out first wash.
1. INDIGO- love it, do lots of it
2. Natural iron black- fabric treated with halda - a plant extract mordant, the cloth is aged 3 weeks and then printed or dyed with natural iron black which is achieved by fermenting iron and jiggery sugar cake for 21 days. after printing/ dying and drying it is then boiled to become a very permanent black. nice and inky.
 
3. Kashish....still trying to translate exactly what this one is....been explained in hindi.
lovely soft grey colour, can be dyed. Here is it with mud resist creating the white.

4. this red is called Alizarin red, comes from a tree extract, again permanent, typical of our area of India
This is realistically the range of colours you can get on a scale for clothes/ home wares production.
not bad, not huge 

Monday, January 05, 2015

Happy New Year

Not sure if I am late from the last one or early for the next....the way time flies it is hard to tell.
My Grandmother - Nan Charlton used to always say time speeds up...never understood it as a kid but I really get it now.
 Even my chatting to friends has become via quick Viber texts and pictures or half finished emails...where I keep having to bail out and say I'll be back later....Anne - sorry :)

These are some lovely shirts we have been working on...a frisky breeze and they would not stand still!!
Our first order of the year involved printing
LOVE
LOVE
LOVE
all over metres of fabric as part of a special order for one of our clients....Pretty cool....
computer and phone won't talk to each other at the moment so I can't load it???? what is that anyway??
 first work in production is covered in indigo kisses....

Madly working on details for a private tour of 14 embroiderers from the UK- will be great to have them with us, our first Indian Inspiration Creative Camp is a whirl of bookings our end and excitement for me....look forward to all that creative energy here in the workshop....Friday we will be taking our block designs up to our block carver - yeh!

Not long later will be Textile Traditions of Vietnam's North....love Vietnam. All in all our chance to share some of our textile enthusiasm and connections with our through Creative Arts Safaris is rocking along...oh and our next Rajasthan and beyond tour is all sorted and listed on the website as well.

shhhh... I don't want to spook them but our 2 office guys are proving helpful at getting through paperwork......

Amongst all this our workshop has been busy, busy, busy.
Pushing a bit and drawing patterns myself because our pattern guy is still a bit dozy and we have not found anyone new but we are making headway.
Think you can see some images here...still got to get more in our shop and in our catalogues on Pinterest but we are making headway!
Mr Mahendra our print guy is fabulous to work with ....Gillian Travis has given us the thumbs up on the printing in her new batch of flower kits....I am getting to try ideas out and have him pull them off. A very quite man he has a lovely cheeky humour and good grasp of care and quality.

off to see what is happening...I have new samples hald way through and must watch they don't get sidelined.....

Yeh a bit busy, I have visitors this week and next in the studio so hope to be able to sit and talk a bit, play with new ideas, find the bits and pieces from my Vietnam stitchied journal I have been playing with for years....lots of things.

OHH goodness yes visitors- I have to sort out the Upstairs studio!! it looks like a bomb went off....my space and so only one to blame is me- or perhaps Praveen! he can help fix it.
 Happy happy to 2015 :)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

been there and back- Artist-in-Residence

I feel very boring, it is always the same story, based around running like crazy, but if I actually draw breath and think about it, a little something new happened yesterday. My office guy sent me through invoices all set out correctly and ready to send on- he did it not me!!...the office work learning curve has been a huge millstone this last year... but that felt like light at the end of the tunnel.
Another observation- Praveen's job is to look after tour bookings, I do all the email/ interaction stuff because I am more vocal but he handles the organization....as you know he has been working since 8 so school really did not happen, supporting his family on a rickshaw from 12 [thought I would throw that in it always wrings my heartstrings]
When I first met him, he could read Hindi slowly but English was not possible....I was watching him go down through the itinerary yesterday on his own. He is amazing, my man. So proud of him and it is a bit more office work I can allocate to other people.....
I have this sneaking feeling next year might be a little easier....I might have more time to work on new ideas in the print room, hand stitch samples- all those yummy creative things possible in our beautiful workshop!!
It is always good to dream
 Here are some of our dreams come true, a new women gets the pat on the back and becomes a Stitching Lady....
 Really lovely to go to Bangalore and meet Kusum of Timri, kindred soul and new friend. Bangalore is amazing- felt like we were out of India, so affluent compared to where we live....down side for the locals is the traffic- 2 hours to drive 23 km.
and then we went onto Hyderabad- beautiful architecture.....want to go back...lots of handloom in the surrounding area, just need time to look for the connections.
Then off to Oz and back again- ohh my boys are gorgeous and my mates great to see.
Back again and scurrying to get through things until that moment yesterday I noticed there might be light at the end of the tunnel.

My mate Dawn chortles some days and says "Be careful what you wish for" when I am having a bit of a moan about how much work we have on for our Stitching.....
there are other days when "Be careful what you wish for " has a whole different flavour....one of those things I have wished for since I came here was a studio I could create in and a space I could share with us....thanks very much to Praveen we have a workshop we are so pleased with- space for us to be creative, a place to create work for others and now I am realising we finally have the space to polish up the Studio side of our workshop.....
Really it is already happening with our visiting student groups, workshops we do for passing visitors and our tour groups, The Indian Inspiration Creative Camp is a Pukka Studio experience.....[ still time to join us for the whole time or a few days]

3 conversations in the last week have happened upon the idea of making our space available for Artist-in-Residence" experiences.
Wouldn't that be wonderful?
We would be happy to share our workshop, but need to define the experience. Artist-in-residence suggests it is a space to be used as part of an arts practice, so there would need to be clearly defined goals, what are they coming to pursue...not just a place for someone to lob up.
If people want to learn - we do workshops, if they want to visit they can ring and be invited,
For the artist-in-residence programmes I looked at in my teaching/travelling days you applied had goals etc.
I would also ask residents bring a skill or idea they can share with our women...impromptu learning not formal it would scare them....but secretly we would like to train them up to be micro-entrepreneurs who make things of their own design- we could put them in the workshop shop for sale for them.....more dreams there.....another story.
So thanks for listening....writing to you I am talking the idea through in my head...any comments, observations, suggestions greatly appreciated. details to consider....
Applicants? drop me a note.
All the best wishes for the season
Fiona