Sunday, 16 June 2013

15 June 2013, Saturday

Yesterday, I picked up my embroidery after a few weeks of just not being able to engage with it.


A fresh slate it was.

I had started afresh with the idea of taking the stains one step at a time. In other words a little at a time because the earlier piece, the one I had started in March had become too daunting to work upon – there just seemed to be so much of those dark and foreboding marks, that I felt intimidated.
So last evening, I took a small fragment of the fabric I had stained with tea – one piece just sort of disintegrated and came apart in my hands and gave me the idea – inspired me to re-think this way.
I envisaged taking this one inch by one inch piece of dark brown fabric and placing it on white muslin and just doing the barest minimum of stitch around it. I had wanted to let the mark speak for itself. It had seemed such a simple idea, at the time, but the enormous contrast in scale and colour and of juxtaposing something so weathered and beaten against a pristine surface was even more daunting.

I started off just tacking the loose ends onto the fabric. I wanted to keep that sense of disintegration and then these threads led the running stitch all over the fabric, but the process is slow and the large expanse of white to be covered, with a kantha stitch that cannot give me as dark a surface as the staining had done, was troubling but it was a pleasure to be doing kantha again.

I love the little ridges that appear and sometimes I even deliberately pucker the fabric, pulling at the thread to create a little bit of tension. I have also layered the fabric. There are two layers of loosely woven cotton [markeen] below the white muslin, which creates a soft quilted sort of look.

I ambled along, going around in concentric circles for a while. They seemed to evoke my confusion and it was also a means to find some order through the process.  I worked for a couple of hours and  then called it a night.


  1. Congratulations Gopika for introducing and emerging with a new craft movement known as STITCH JOURNAL /your blog. The good news is many women who have created needle-craft masterpieces for domestic purposes have remained in home domains . we should bring out those beautiful art pieces in public spaces and be proud of our mothers who excelled in needle craft skills and traditions.we should start sharing images of embroideries done by our mothers on this blog.
    I look forward to this platform, where women must meet to knit, stitch and talk and preserve our culture of stitches.

    1. Thank you Shelly. It is interesting that you should mention the embroideries done by generations of women before us. As far as I am concerned embroidery was not something that was passed down from my own mother but something which I gravitated towards through my work as a textile designer. Inspired by a tradition of crafting In India that is both ancient and also a living tradition, I wanted to be a craftsperson-artist and it is this which motivates me. However I would love to see the work you speak of and hope you will share some personal stories around stitch on this blog.

  2. Congratulations on this new blog!

    What I have always liked about your blog/writings, is not only that the text and texture is interesting but more so, the perfection with which you write. Often, while reading it, I feel that one moment of deep concentration, that happens with meditation. Sometimes the most mundane things like roasting dahlia or cooking brings on this know?

    Thank you for a brief spell of no-mind, meaning total focus!


    1. How lovely of you to say that Julia. Embroidery for me is a certain kind of meditation. It requires concentration & allows me to feel rather than think & I suppose that is what's coming through into the writing too. Thank you Julia for stopping by. Your comments are always encouraging & make me think deeper about things.