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Stitching Stories
May 15, 2013
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I have long imagined a group that stitches stories, collectively and independently in a caring creative environment.

We made our first step towards that exact space today.

I am blessed to work on this project with Eva, who has been enthusiastic and determined that we will see this project fly. Eva painstakingly worked on preparing the material, cutting and drafting the collections of fabric that will stimulate our stitching stories.

My participants are precious – Tarini and Ashni, Svetlana and Aditi and we our quarto is set. 

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We began by pulling cloth out of the basket that evoked a memory and a connection. Aditi and I both had the same bit of checked cloth which said different things. I loved that the checked evoked a memory of her dad who works out of Goa and the checked shirts he wears. Mine evoked the story of Niju who wore that fabric as a school uniform and had a different memory . Same symbol – different connections and as always if there is a space to share and talk about memory, we get along with each other.

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Svetlana pulled out this gentle brown patch and remembered her grand mother and her dresses and that is often the power of fabric – it brings to mind people who are important and also anecdotes and sensations in one rush.

Tarini shared how she loves rainbows and pretty flowers and her fabric choices resonated with that gentleness that comes from loving natural things and Ashni is drawn to patterns and found a bit of fabric that brought to mind the Warli tribal designs and one for its colour.

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Eva pulled out her first swatch of fabric for its history. It was not a new piece of cloth and she sensed that the patch had a story all of its own, and so we were set. We had communioned together to understand and accept that fabric can be part of our medium to tell our story.

We have begun with self portraits. Like all Great Masters it seemed practical to do what we know best, ourselves! So we sketched and began to compose our pictures of how we would like to represent ourselves.

But not before we were inspired with a presentation on different kinds of stitching projects so that our own images can take shape and become more reflective representations of us. 

It was singular to see that each person began with an element from nature. Despite every sketch starting with drawing of ‘self’, each composition has begun with either a tree, a patch of grass, a bit of heaven in a rainbow or water. This is worth reflecting upon. The process by which we turn back to elements in nature as we begin to think about ‘self’.

We broke our morning up by watching Mukund and Riaz a profound film, a true Stitching Story that is all done in fabric by the gifted Nina Sabnani and I know the children will remember this one, long after we put our needles away. 

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As the clock ticked it’s way to 1.00 pm we were joined by Niju who is also stitching his way into our workshop and we had to request our story tellers to pause, step away and assure them we will come back. If you can’t leave the stitching table, something good is emerging from all of this and that makes all worthwhile.

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