Hello! It’s Friday, and a very welcome one! I hope you had a wonderful week and are ready for some relaxation during the weekend. I hope you will find time to do what you love, and that the to-do list takes the day off. I am on Day 38 of the 365-Day Creativity Challenge which is that part of a journey when the newness and excitement has worn off. Instead, I am faced with the reality that Day 38 is very far away from Day 365. I have to encourage and tell myself that it’s not too far and that I can show up everyday! So far, so good. I started this 365 day challenge with a vague idea of the prompts that I’d like to undertake and share, but I also want it to be fairly organic and go where the path leads. Which brings us today’s creative prompt. Do you know what the kantha stitch is?
It is a type of running stitch embroidery used by women of eastern Indian states like West Bengal, and in Bangladesh. In it’s most basic form, the running kantha stitch is used to sew together old saris and other fabric remnants to repurpose them into quilts or cloth wipes intended for household use. At the other, more decorative end of the spectrum, the kantha has been likened to stitch painting, and the embroidery is used to embellish bolts of silk and cotton. These are used on saris, stoles, scarves, and other personal accessories like purses and bags. At its most beautiful, the fabric is a mere backdrop for the extravagant, fanciful loops and twirls of the embroidery as it seeks to recreate scenes from nature- gardens of blooms swaying in an imaginary breeze, bees in flight, curious birds, all painstakingly embroidered by hand. Though global awareness of kantha work has risen over the last decade, many people still equate the kantha with a basic running stitch. Since my love affair with textiles began, I have come across and photographed many kantha works, from simple, gapped lines to ornate religious depictions. On a recent visit to India, I saw some lovely kantha work, both clothing and bedding materials. The hand stitched kantha results in a heavier, and very slightly ruched material, and I prefer that. Hand embroidery tells more of the embroiderer’s story, don’t you think? And the machine embroidered kantha, seen more and more these days, seems flat, as if removing all the stories and nuances.
The basic repeating, running kantha stitch looks like a meditation in thread, much like the repetitive and calming patterns of zentangle drawings. For today’s creative prompt, draw the kantha stitch (stitch painting) on paper. You may repeatedly create the basic version and cover the journal or a magazine page with dashes that look like swiftly falling rain or you may design a more involved pattern, deriving from nature. The sky and your imagination are the only limits. The only thing to keep in mind is to use dashed lines. It will be a meditative practice to cover a magazine page with these dashes or you may design an intricate scene – the choice is all yours.
If you’d like to go and see some beautiful works, the Mingei International Museum in San Diego, California has an exhibit until March 2018. I was thinking today that there a couple of things I’d like to do in 2018- one is to write a book (a storybook), and the other is to be the photographer on a book on textiles or jewelry. Dear 2018, pretty please! (Which is when the kantha prompt popped up.) Here’s wishing you a wonderful weekend and I’ll see you tomorrow. – Priya
Background: Welcome! We are now at Day 38 of the 365 Day Creativity Challenge, and I am excited and happy to have you here! I use the terms ‘creative’, ‘creativity’ or ‘creative exercise’ very loosely. While they have very specific meanings within the art or business worlds, I define it as any activity that allows us to access an inner stillness. Where the mind’s incessant chatter decreases, and for that short period of time, we are in the presence of a magnificent quietude. Where we feel joyful and recharged as if accessing a powerful, bountiful source of imagination and ideas. It makes what we do- draw, write, paint, work in a science lab, dance, sing, play music, photography etc. etc.- a spiritual experience. It has nothing to do with talent and skill level, and everything to do with joy. Whether you take part in all 365 days, or 7, 21, or 30 days, or join us when you can, I hope you will take the time to relax, slow down, and be your joyous self! Want more details? You may want to read this introduction to the 365-Day Creativity Challenge. Just as a reminder, it really helps to have a dedicated journal or notebook because you will see a continuous record of your creativity expanding and changing as you devote time to it every day. You will also be creating a year’s worth of creative work. As you work through the prompts, write down other things that strike you because you may want to revisit these ideas. Have a wonderful day and I will see you tomorrow! To share what you are doing, please use the hashtag #ctea365 on social media and /or leave me a comment below. – Priya
Join the Collectivitea community and let’s be creative together!