Taking the decorations down last week left me feeling a little doleful. Thick grey clouds and rain didn’t help as I mourned the colour and sparkle of Christmas. Fortunately I had the first Embroiderer’s Guild meeting of the year to look forward to. Ours is a vibrant and thriving group of tremendously creative and talented stitchers and we enjoy an exciting schedule of speakers and workshops.
On the program for January, we had speaker Saima Kaur sharing her textile journey and bringing a selection of her own stitched creations, along with examples of the vintage Indian textiles that have inspired her. What a feast for the eyes it was!
Above is an example of a Phulkari textile that would be hand-crafted by Saima’s great-grandmother’s generation, often for wedding shawls or dowries. They are stitched from the back typically in orange, green and pink silk. The family of the girl might be judged by the skill of the maker, so high quality work was very important! Saima told us that a Phulkari might be worn by someone proud of their Punjabi heritage in the same way as a Scot would wear his tartan kilt.
Shisha (mirror-work) like this above is one of Saima’s favourite techniques. Geometric patterns tended to be made in the North and West Punjab, whereas in the East, cloths are more likely to show stories and images in a folk art style, often without perspective or proportion. Village life, wrestlers and animals such as horses, camels, peacocks (representing fertility when the rain comes) and parrots (to symbolise beauty) would be typical.
Saima’s own work is influenced by this narrative style; symbolic, meaningful and highly personal to the recipient or herself, such as the textile from the year her daughter was born, stitched with images of things she saw around her that year.
You can see more of Saima’s work here on Instagram. Meanwhile I’m inspired to go off to find something bright and beautiful to begin my next project….