Freak Out! 5am wake up call. And we are off to Vhrindavan for a cheeky boat ride then to the traditional artisans studio to begin the real reason we are in India, the old UTS assessment. Vhrindavan encapsulated everything I imagined India to be; winding alleys, cows on the street, monkeys stealing belongings, street venders and blessings. Vhrindavan was one of the first villages in India, and is some what a pilgrimage for the people as it is believed to be the birth place of Krishna, hence it is a very old and sacred place. We got to experience a small piece of this spiritual culture with a boat ride on the Yamuna river that runs along this village. We also performed a ceremony on the boat called Puja, where we light candles in flower dishes and let them float down the river. The sweetest Indian girl sold us these and was a wizard with the lighting of the candles.
After the boat ride, we walked to the traditional artisans studio and once again India blew my mind. I could not fathom what I was experiencing and felt so privileged to see what these talented men can do. Ashok, who is the owner and a 5th generation artisan in traditional embroidery walked us through what was possible with our designs. He sat with us one on one and heard our concept and mood boards, and then showed us hundreds of incredible samples with the various techniques achievable in the week. This was so inspiring and I cannot wait to see my designs after a week of his teaching.
Originally, today was just going to be an introduction day (considering none of us had bought the fabrics we had sourced to Vhrindavan), with the artisans just ‘pinning’ our designs on the tracing paper and transferring them onto fabric. Pinning involves the artisan pricking the line work of the design with small holes to enable the designs to transfer onto fabric. This transferring is done simply using a mixture of chalk and kerosene, that is rubbed all over the design, that shows the design lines subtlety on the fabric. However, Ashok was kind enough to then let us begin to embroider/ sequin/ bead our designs today. This was amazing, what these artisans can achieve in an hour would take me days and days. They move so fast and are so accurate with it all, it is incredible to watch. I felt a bit hopeless as I couldn’t do anything to help them and felt very ignorant when attempting to explain what I wanted.
Today’s workshop was also slightly tricky as we thought it was just samples on Ashock’s practice fabric, yet we were able to choose fabric and beads that matched our colour and concept board and start a legit sample. I found it very hard to choose a technique, also because I went first with the artisan, and it difficult to communicate that I wanted a gradient effect in terms of colourings. Also, not having my sequins and fabrics and beads threw me in terms of creating a design and I am now concerned the sequins I bought (which have the side hole) may not work but we will see. After seeing what the artisans are capable and all the techniques I will work out exactly which technique I would like where on my designs to make the most of the time I have with the artisan.