The women of India are beautiful no matter their age. Their dress is so colorful and striking.
They seem to glide gracefully no matter what they are doing. In many ways they remind me of the national bird of India.
The peacock! This stunner was sitting on top of a temple as we traveled to a small village by camel cart. Beautiful and so graceful. Peacocks are everywhere in India. In many embroidered pieces of work...
in places of pride in the palaces...
and adorning the tile work.
The feathers are sold regularly bundled together and are used as brooms to sweeps the floors of the temples.
In Gujarat we stayed at a small resort called Runn Riders. Small individual thatched huts were our accommodation. Each hut had a beautiful embroidered cloth at the doorway.
Our sleeping arrangements were simple cots.
Showers and toilet facilities were outside where you could enjoy nature all around you.
Or if you preferred you could use the indoor toilet and there were arrangements whether you preferred to stand (Asian style) or sit (Western style).
Some of the huts had lovely wall designs such as these.
Our hut walls were decorated with typical drawings of the Gujarat area.
This delightful peacock was the inspiration for my second text block. I liked him so much I even sketched him into my journal.
I took some liberties and enhanced my peacock with florescent paint and iron on crystals.
The peacock was Stem Stitched using 2-strands of a 6-strand embroidery floss on cotton fabric which I hand dyed using Turmeric Powder. The green dye around the edge of the block was Distress Ink sprayed on top of the drawn greenery. The script was stamped using Bombay Inks and wooden block stamps.
The block was finely hand quilted, very densely, in the same manner as a Kantha which is a quilt work and embroidery piece typically from West Bengal and Bangladesh. The block was bound in a blue hand dyed fabric.
I like these iron on sequins so much I think I may have to add a few more around the tail. They are slightly addicting!
In Udaipur, our hotel, the Jagat Niwas Palace, was a heritage hotel located on the shore of the lake, overlooking the Lake Palace. It had once been owned by the Maharajahs but in 1989 it was restored and refurbished. It was decorated with gorgeous antiques.
Janine and I felt like princesses sleeping in our high beds each night.
There were lots of levels to the hotel and many nooks and crannies to explore.
The view from the window seat in our room overlooked the Lake Palace. With our windows open you could hear religious chanting coming over the water...very spiritual.
Sometimes on our trip Janine and I would rise early and go exploring just to see what we could find. Early morning on the lake in Udaipur was breathtaking, with the early morning sun casting shadows over the lake and the surrounding buildings.
This woman was washing her clothes on steps to the lake, just around the corner from our hotel. It was amazing how clean she was able to get them by hand. Since it was so early in the morning, she was able to do her chores in peace and quiet.
In India, I asked most people if it was OK to take their photo before I actually took it. Most everyone was happy to oblige and if they said "No" I respected their wishes. When I saw these four gentlemen sharing their morning tea and chatting, I thought how charming they were and just quickly took the photo, without thinking or asking permission. I got caught in the act. They in turn asked me for money. I gave them the change I had in my pocket.
So they were definitely the seed of an idea for my first "text block". Especially when I noticed that they were so well placed in front of all the advertising billboards.
I knew these text blocks would definitely stretch the edge of my envelope and have me working outside my comfort zone. Being firmly rooted in "pretty" and "applique" the techniques used to create a mixed media block don't really fit in that realm, causing some stress, at least for me.
The background of this block is black felt. Behind the photo of the men is news paper from India which has been sprayed with distress inks to achieve the golden color, sewn closely in a grid to the felt, then sprayed with water, and distressed with a brush.
The coins and paper money are Indian Rupees, less than the change I had in my pocket at the time, but they seemed quite happy with the gift.
The photo was printed in my HP printer on fabric that has been prepared using Bubble Jet Set 2000 and rinsed in Bubble Jet Rinse. Both the photo and rupee note where stitched using a very free form stitch, using two strands of a 6-strand embroidery floss.
The block was hand quilting using black quilting thread and bound in gold fabric which I hand dyed.
During our time in India, we were very fortunate to visit three different small villages. Our first village visit was to the Mir Village which was inhabited by Rabari herders and their families, located in Little Runn of Kutch, in Gujarat. Because our guide knew that we were especially interested in textiles and crafts, he wanted us to visit the Mir women who made beaded bracelets. To get to the village from our accommodation in Runn Riders, we went by camel cart.
Our driver and his camel.
Our seating arrangement for the trip!
It was slow going but a delightful way to travel. You could smell the fields, wood burning, food cooking, and it was good fun to wave to everyone we passed. It's not everyday the village people saw ten western women riding camel carts. We attracted a lot of attention.
The village was teaming with activity and they were prepared and excited about our visit.
As the women presented their wares for sale, it seems the men were doing the child minding.
If ever you feel you don't have enough material possessions or you are not rich enough, you just need to visit one of these villages. Trust me...you are rich beyond your wildest imagination. This village had no running water, bathing facilities, or toilet facilities that we could see.
This young Rabari woman had a large selection of bracelets to sell.
Note the bracelets she is wearing on her arms and how colorful her clothing is.
My friend Janine shopping...decisions, decisions. Pressure was high to purchase from all the women. Sadly we could not. How many bracelets can one buy, even thinking of all your friends and family?!!?!?
When we were planning our trip and knew that we would be visiting some small villages, Janine and I decided to take crayons, pencils, markers, and coloring books for the children. Things that we thought they would not be able to find in the village or maybe afford. The children were so excited! Janine is passing out crayons with help from our guide Nirav to keep the kids in control.
This mother was pleased to take some crayons for her children. Again, note the lovely bracelets she is wearing.
Some children of the village. The girls are already wearing bracelets like their mothers.
This father proudly showed off his two daughters.
Later in the evening the women from Mir Village came to dance for the guests at our accommodation, Runn Riders. They were lovely in their brightly colored clothes. Each girl wore anklets of bells which made a lovely sound when they danced.
The girls resting between dances.
Our visit with the Rabari women was one of the highlights of my trip and I wanted to portray their colorful clothing and dancing in my last circle block.
The figures of the dancers were depicted in the traditional Warli style of art from western India.
All applique is fusible applique. All dresses were done in silk and Buttonhole Stitched. The head coverings were bits of print fabrics from India and Feather Stitched. Iron on crystals in a complementary color were attached to each head scarf. Arms and legs were Stem Stitched using 2 strands of a 6 strand embroidery floss. Eyes were added using a fine, permanent, black ink pen.
The block was hand quilted using several different colors of metallic thread. The binding consists of various colors of the silk used for the dresses. I Stem Stitched along the edge of the binding with red DMC Size 8 thread, adding the little brass bells, like the girls wore on their anklets, at each spot that the quilting met with the binding. Now my block even sounds like the dancers!
This completes my four circle blocks. They were so much fun to do. Next month will begin with the first of my four blocks with script. I can't believe how quickly the year is passing by.
My name is Cynthia Tomaszewski and I am the designer and owner of Simple Pleasures, a quilt design company with offices in Michigan and the United Arab Emirates. I am also the author of 5 books, "Garden Party - Applique Quilts That Bloom", "Tea in the Garden - Quilts for a Summer Afternoon","Let's Pretend - Whimiscal Quilts for Kids", "Quilts from Paradise", and just released, "Quilting Those Flirty 30's" which are all published by Martingale and Company.
Travel and adventure have been my goals and luckily I have found a soul mate in my husband Mike. We have travelled extensively through out the world, from Mexico, Europe, Africa, and the Far East to the Pacific Basin. After residing in Abu Dhabi for seven years, Mike, my son Zachary, and I took a two-year hiatus and sailed our thirty-three foot Hans Christian sailboat through the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea to Spain. I currently reside once again in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates with Mike and our Yorkie Stanley.