365 Days Of Creativity Challenge, Creative Exercises And Prompts, Over a cup of tea.. (Online Journal), Textiles

Design A Suzani

365 Creative Exercises and Prompts/CollectiviteaHere’s a completely fun and creative challenge! Can you design and draw a section of a suzani, the textiles which has become a hugely popular design accessory? (Day 112) We did a related exercise back on Day 35 when we drew patterned pomegranates (click to read more about suzanis) which are a popular design motif on suzanis. Suzanis are hand-embroidered and may have formed part of the textiles that a bride would take with her. Other common motifs are twirling vines, fruits, and small and big flowers. Some suzanis have bold graphic motifs. You, of course, are not limited by these. Use your imagination and design a section of a suzani or the entire rectangular piece. I have attached a few pictures of some of the vintage suzanis in my collections as inspiration, though I urge you to come up with your own patterns and to have fun with it! I first heard about these beautiful textiles about a decade ago and I started collecting them, both from local stores as well as online sources. They form the perfect backdrop for many of my photographs and are a constant source of inspiration. More than the vividly colored red and black suzanis, it’s the beige fabrics with the vividly patterned embroidery that I find most alluring. Happy Textile Tuesday and for more suzani-related posts, please click here. See you tomorrow. – Priya

Suzani / 365 Creative Exercises and Prompts/Collectivitea

 

Suzani / 365 Creative Exercises and Prompts/Collectivitea


 

365 Days Of Creativity Challenge, Creative Exercises And Prompts, Over a cup of tea.. (Online Journal), Textiles

Kantha Stitch (365 Creative Exercises & Prompts, Day 38)

Kantha Stitch/ Collectivitea

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?

Kantha Stitch / CollectiviteaIt 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.

Kantha Stitch / Collectivitea

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. Kantha Stitch / Collectivitea

Kantha Stitch / Collectivitea

 

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


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365 Days Of Creativity Challenge, Creative Exercises And Prompts, Over a cup of tea.. (Online Journal), Textiles

Patterned Pomegranates (365 Creative Exercises & Prompts, Day 35)

Pomegranates/ Oh suzani!/ Pattern happy/CollectiviteaWelcome to Day 35 of the 365-Day Creativity Challenge! Today’s creative prompt is inspired by our love for textiles and the #TextileTuesday hashtags on social media. The creative exercise is for us to draw a pomegranate, and second, see how many patterned pomegranates we can create. Why pomegranates? Pomegranate flowers and fruits are a very common fertility motif on suzanis, the heavily embroidered panels of cloth that are part of a bride’s dowry. The word suzani comes from suzan or sozan meaning ‘needle’ in Persian, and large suzanis are highly sought-after, boho-chic decor accessories. Apart from their popularity as textile motifs (the Philadelphia Museum of Art had an exhibition, “The Pomegranate in Textiles” that I would have loved to have visited), the pomegranate is also fun to draw and as depicted on these textiles, lends itself to a quick caricature. Ready to draw some pomegranates? Draw solid colored pomegranates, polka-dotted ones, striped, checkered and more! Remember the only limit is your imagination! I have a photograph (below) on my table of a suzani that I saw some years ago at the Louvre gaily patterned with pomegranate flowers and fruits that may help you get started.Pomegranates/ Oh suzani!/ Pattern happy/Collectivitea

Day 35 Creative Exercise: Draw A Pomegranate

Go For It: Once you have drawn the basic pomegranate, let your inner child out to play and create as many patterned pomegranates as you can! Pomegranates/ Oh suzani!/ Pattern happy/CollectiviteaJust 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


Background: Welcome! We are now at Day 35 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


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365 Days Of Creativity Challenge, Creative Exercises And Prompts, Over a cup of tea.. (Online Journal), Textiles

Design A Wood Block Print (365 Creative Exercises & Prompts, Day 31)

Welcome to December. It’s my favorite time of the year and I hold each day as the precious gift it is. I wish I did this year-round but I’m more successful in the fall and winter. This year has special significance for me because next week I finish 9 years of blogging. On the surface, it’s just a blog. But for me, it’s been a path towards my most sacred self. To all of you who have been part of this 9 year journey, thank you for your company. It’s been a privilege.❤️ We are now onto the 2nd month of the 12-month, 365-day creativity challenge. The first month was relatively easy because of the excitement of starting something new, and the expectation that accompanies everything new, that of immediate reward. We don’t know what the reward will be, but we expect them instantly nevertheless. I feel the satisfaction of having shown up as I promised to do. And it makes me feel really great to end every day here, talking about my favorite topic, creativity and the journey towards it.

So here we are in the 2nd month! If you haven’t been able to follow the challenge every day because of time or commitment constraints, it’s okay. Do it when you want to. Do it when you can. Do it on days you feel like it. Do the ones that resonate with you. Go gently.

I have a Collectivitea-themed creative prompt for today, the first day of the second month of the 365 day creativity challenge. We are going to design a wood block print. Teak or mango wood blocks are carved with patterns which are then hand-stamped/ printed on textiles using color dyes. Talk of block prints is often accompanied by an eye roll these days. It seems like everyone, and their friends are running a block printing business. Block prints are also sometimes seen as dated, and not in tune with the demand for sleeker, more contemporary textile design. Whatever the gripe that some may have with block printing, this long-standing, multi-step and collaborative artisanal tradition continues to have a devoted fan base. Present company included.

Wood Block Prints / Day 31/ 365 Day creativity Challenge/ Collectivitea

Day 31: Imagine that you are a designer. Maybe you already are. If you’ve never thought of yourself as one, here’s your chance! Your creative exercise today is to create a pattern or design for a textile, specifically that which can be carved onto a wooden block and used for printing. Popular motifs are drawn from nature (leaves, flowers, vines, trees, peacocks, etc.), or are mandalas. Paisley patterns are also immensely popular. Your goal is to design a wood block print. Make it as simple or as complex as you’d like. Draw it out/ paint it into your journal. I’ve included a few of my photographs. Use them as inspiration or imagine your own!

Day 16/ 365-Day Creativity Challenge/ Collectivitea

Go For It: Design a repeat pattern and fill the page of your journal.

To share how you are interpreting these creative prompts or following the challenge, please use the hashtag #ctea365 on social media and /or leave me a comment below.  – Priya


Background: Welcome! We are now at Day 31 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


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Textiles, Travel

Textile Travel For Makers (Guatemala, August 2018)

I want to share with you a wonderful opportunity coming up in August, 2018. Mari Gray of our favorite Guatemala-based textile brand, Kakaw Designs is offering a unique opportunity for creatives and makers, Textile Travel For MakersTextile Travel For Makers/ Collectivitea

This Guatemala textile tour is geared towards an exchange of ideas between participants of the tour, and local artisans. Interested? Let me give you a little background. Mari runs Guatemala-based Kakaw Designs with the goal of sharing and keeping alive the textile heritage and traditions of Guatemala. Because the artisans often live in rural areas, their access to other creatives, and to benefit from the exchange of ideas and skills, can be limited. With that in mind, Mari has organized a travel itinerary that will involve you learning about weaving, embroidery, dyeing textiles from the artisans. In addition, you as a participant in the tour can share your creative skills and strengths, and be a part of this fantastic initiative for creative exchange. In Mari’s words, “We will be hosting workshops to exchange ideas.  Of course, there is so much to learn from the traditional artisans: backstrap weaving, dyeing with local plants, making ikat knots, different weaves, and embroidery techniques, too. This is all valuable for the participants, and the artisans are so excited to share their crafts.  But again, we want our partner artisans to benefit in this idea exchange too, so we’ll be arranging workshops for the participants to share their creativity with the artisans.  Things like different dyeing techniques (think shibori or wax-resist), or color preferences, new embroidery techniques, or just different products we might use in non-rural settings.  These ideas will be for the artisans to use on their own if they wish. I can’t wait to be sharing different textile traditions from around the world, flipping through books and physical samples, and I hope that you’ll join us.” – Mari Gray

For so long the language around artisans has been about ’empowering’ them, with lesser acknowledgment of how much we learn from each other. I love the idea of this trip, and if you are able to go next August, do so! I am sure it will be awesome as Mari takes you on an insider textile tour of the Guatemala she grew up with.You can reach Mari via email if you are interested in this trip! Have a wonderful day!- Priya

Image courtesy of Mari Gray/Kakaw Designs

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