Friday, July 11, 2008

It's a Blue Thing

About a week and a half ago my cell phone rang at 8am. Really the fact that it was 8 was not such a big deal because I am usually up padding around the house. The exciting clincher was that India was calling. It was my friend Jabbar. He was calling to let me know that he's coming. On July 15th. Whoa! That's soon!

One time, a seemingly long time ago, I lived in India. I was there to document nomadic camel herders embroidery and applique. I apologize if you have heard this story already. If you haven't let me know in the comments, and I will actually give you a fuller description. I really wish blogs were alive then. I would have a hell of a blog.

I first met Jabbar's father, Mohammad Husein, in the Fall of 2001. He worked as my translator in the desert. Mohammad Husein has a vast knowledge of textiles and craft in the desert. He has a particular interest in photography and bird watching. On Saturday mornings in Bhuj, there is a small flea market. Mohammad Husein would search the piles of this and that for a corner of a yellow cover, that would lead him to a National Geographic. This was a rare find and very precious. I learned from Mohammad Husein that the National Audubon Society designates days throughout the year specifically for bird watching. Teams across the world go out with a map and list, supplied by the Audubon, to document which birds are found. On our time, of 6 Indian men, Hindus, Muslims, and Jain, all over the age 0f 50, and me, one American girl, age 25, found many birds, one of my favorites was a flock of flamingos, perched on one leg in a large puddle in the middle of a salt flat. A salt flat that reached as far as the eye could see.

I love India because people love to invite you over for dinner. This is not the only reason I love it -- but one of the top 10. I began to share meals with MH's family. His wife cooks a mean fish curry. We would sit on the floor on a cloth and plate after plate of food would drift out of the kitchen. His wife, yelling in Kutchi, a language that I know not a single word, that I never eat enough. Outside, in the courtyard, there were huge pots, the size of pot that the witch in Hansel and Gretel probably had sitting next to her infamous oven. And, in those pots, were dyes. Mohammad Husein's lat name is Khatri. This is the name of the dyeing caste in Gujarat, India. In his family, there are generations of dyers. Hundreds of generations. MH, as a young man, did not have an interest in dyeing, and had the intelligence to become a banker. This was his life's work. However, his sons, decided to follow in the tradition and were out in the courtyard, 6 days a week, the propane cranked up high in 110 degree weather dyeing cotton and silk. This is how I met Jabbar, my friend who will come on the 15th.

Jabbar's specific dyeing craft is bandhani. This is a type of resist technique. Here, is a close up of his work.
Each dot of white the you see has been tied by wrapping a bit of fabric with thread. Thus, creating the resist. By tying all of these bits, you create a pattern, like you see here. And, this pattern, creates a beautiful scarf.

Next week, Jabbar and I are going to host a 2 part workshop: Bandhani and Indigo.

Here are the details:
Tuesday, July 16th 6:30-8:30
Saturday, July 26th 10-2pm
$110, includes all materials

Here's my idea. In the first class, Jabbar will demonstrate how bandhani is tied. And talk a bit about the history of how bandhani has been used in his region of India. Everyone will have their own piece of silk and thread. I thought that each of us can create our own design and pattern, and start tyeing it. Then, when we meet again, each of us will have our tied scarves ready. Together, we will create an indigo pot and dip your pieces.

I know economic times for some may be tight, please do not let money stand in the way of your participation. I am happy to try to make accommodations where ever possible. Also, if you would like to come only to the first part to meet Jabbar, and to learn about his textiles, you are welcome.

I am happy to answer any further questions. Please email me through the AVFKW website if you are interested.


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful new aspect in your fiber world - hope the workshop goes well. I forwarded the info to a hs teacher I know (he takes students every yr to India!)-he would love this! That is very thoughtful of you that people may not be able to afford the cost - very thoughtful! Hope your friend enjoys the Bay Area - lots to see :) Terry

Sonya said...

Aaaaargh! And double arrgh. Not only will I be out of town on the 26th, but I am teaching a class on the 16th. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

wow! what a great post. what a great opportunity to learn an ancient dye technique. I am sorry that I will not be able to attend.

Unknown said...

I wish I were on the West Coast so I could attend - what a great story and a wonderful technique. It's a great idea for a class and I hope it goes well. Cheers!

KatDee said...

OMG I had so much fun with the two Jab(b)ars. Thanks for inviting us to participate in this, Kristine.