Friday, March 16, 2007

The History That Starts Today

I have talked and talked about doing this -- and now, I have finally done it -- I have started my textile blog. I am going to write --alot-- about textiles, the techniques used to create them, and the design impressed upon them.

My love for textiles and fiber started young and has been a common thread through all of my studies and work. I learned to sew and knit from my Grandmother when I was 6. Fast forward to college, I landed in Rajasthan, India, to study Art & Art History. While shopping in a market, I found an appliqued quilt and was instantly in awe. I started to research the possibilities of where it was from and who had made it and came across a nomadic group named Rabari. I read everything I could get my hands on about the Rabari and Indian textiles. I found out that the Rabari lived in Gujarat in a region know as the Great Rann of Kutch. I packed my bags and headed to the desert. With help and guidance from, Vankabhai Rabari, Judy Frater, and Kala Raksha Trust, I was able to begin my research on the Rabari's appliqued quilts, wall hangings, and bags. Upon returning to the U.S., I finished my degree in Art History, applied and was awarded a Fulbright Grant to continue my studies with the Rabari.

I left for India in September 2001. I immersed myself in the study of Indian textiles and culture. I learned everything from the technical aspects of designing and appliquing quilts to making rotla, a handmade flat bread eaten by the Rabari. I also developed a relationship with a very special family who specializes in Bandhani, the Indian version of Shibori or tie-and-dye. Even though sometimes in India, it seemed like I had been there for a lifetime and that I had learned a tremendous amount of things about textiles. Really, it was just the tip of the iceburg. And only two years of my life. I have alot to learn.

When I came home from India, I decided to switch gears, clear my mind, and take a job that was unrelated to fiber or textiles. About 6 months into my job, I decided that I needed to make up for this "lost time" and start a little side business. I started designing and sewing bags for knitter's. They are made of natural materials: wool, cotton, and silk. They have pockets for long needles, short needles, and circular needles. But it was hard, to work essentially two jobs. Then, I decided to spin and my world really opened. I had always wanted to design and create my own hand knit accessories but could not make the figures work with store bought yarn. Also, the idea of having my own handspun yarn made the product more interesting and appealing. Finally, I decided the obvious, I needed to quit my day job and refocus my energies on fiber and textiles.

This has taken a series of steps. The first step: I quit my day job. The second step was to decompress. And, the third step was to actually start writing, experimenting, and growing. So here I go...