day thirteen. well, more like day 15 but colleen and i decided to jump to our final day back at udayan with manju, the project manager, and dungar das, the tailor. it was a momentous morning as we sorted through the piles of recycled saris we acquired throughout our trip and lumped them into 2 piles – ‘inside’ saris and ‘outside’ saris (saris interesting enough to be the top layers). we then made groups of 3 ‘outside’ saris for our next batch of raliya quilts (some are shown below). dungar das was then going to stitch these top layers together for manju to take with her to ajmer on january 20th, the day when the women met to collect their quilting materials. since each quilt takes at least 15 arduous days to complete we expect this shipment by early march.
but in the meantime we have gorgeous, narrative, handmade pillowcases and wall hangings to brighten up your dreary winter days! (you can see dungar das sewing the quilted panels into pillowcases made from khadi cotton – the homespun cotton mahatma gandhi promoted as a means for indian independence). so check back to our website often http://www.anchalproject.org – fun things are on the way!
we had the amazing opportunity to visit barefoot college’s old campus this morning. this is where the handicrafts and solar energy workshops are held. we were able to watch threads being dyed, journals being stitched, and materials being laid out in preparation for appliqued quilts. it was a treat to view these complete processes underway and at such an impressive scale. barefoot weaves, dyes, sews, and prints all the materials on the campus.
in addition to all the craft production, barefoot trains women in solar technology. we glanced into a workshop where 40 women from various african countries were learning how to engineer and implement solar panels in their villages. the women chosen for 6 month workshop arrive with very few skills and are often illiterate. but upon their return to their communities in africa, they’ll serve as leaders and experts in solar technology. the solar cooker is also one of the many programs at barefoot where indian women cut and weld large solar panels that reflect into an oven type container which cooks food. amazing!
on this last day of our workshop, the artisans worked for almost 8 hours finishing up their compositions. as women completed their work they immediately joined fellow artisans to help them finish up – a gesture of sisterhood and community colleen and i both cherished.
throughout the day, colleen, manju and i we were kept busy answering final questions about material and palette choices. by 5 o’ clock we celebrated the workshop’s end with rose-water infused treats, gifts, group photos, and heartfelt goodbyes.
old news is better than no news! check out our rooftop report from day 7:
the third day of the workshop commenced with the women’s final piece. each artisan chose a photograph devon and i took in their neighborhood and started the layout of the 18″ x 24″ fabric composition. one of the artisans, nafisa, selected a photograph of the water tank you see in the background – an image you see throughout the rajisthani landscape. we helped select certain materials but she decided how to layout her work and what elements to highlight.
rooftop workshop today!
here is our youtube video report from the rooftop! check it out…
today our 5-day workshop began! our main objective for this workshop is to inspire a new line of quilts that more specifically reflect the culture and surroundings of the artisans, who are sex workers living in ajmer. the day before, we took photos of fruit stands, bags of chilis, brightly painted walls and rickshaws. we printed these and gave them to the workshop participants to translate into fabric collages. throughout the week we’ll continue to develop these into 18″ x 24″ textile artwork and will use some for future quilt templates.
today we traveled to ajmer where the anchal artisans live and work. the journey from jaipur to ajmer is around a 3 hour drive. at the vatsalya office, where they offer health education programs to commercial sex workers, we ate a quick lunch and then set off to spread the word throughout ajmer about the workshops . here is a glimpse into the landscape and culture of ajmer…