SURYA blocks for printing. Photo: Anil Advani

We were at Ameneh Ispahani’s home a few evenings ago along with Cathy and Len, talking about her long friendship and association with artist Surayia.  She told us that Surayia had created the design for their stationery paper. I am unsure if SURYA was the name of an organization, or the name of a “label”.  I will have to speak with her again on this subject and get the details. She brought out these metal printing-blocks – which are absolutely amazing!  A small block with the words “SURYA” [the Sun] and a set of 4 plates with a designs based on the famous Jamdani weave of Bengal. The traditional Jamdani motifs and “butis” [flowers/leaves etc] incorporated into a multi-layered letter paper design. The metal blocks were probably used to print different colors with each block – making a final multi-colored print. The blocks have markings on the sides, some with a number and some have the name of the color written onto the wood side of the block – which are “LAAL” on one block [meaning RED] and “KAALA” on another block [meaning BLACK]. I will need to do a few test prints from these blocks to see if all 4 are to be layered into one print or [what appears to me] into two separate designs from 2 blocks each.  I will post an update to this blog as soon as I have been able to obtain prints from these blocks with the assistance of an artist / print-maker friend who has very kindly offered use of their ink, press and other equipment at a print-making workshop.

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Kantha quilts, along with the artisans who created them, are featured in a “dazzling” display at the International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.   “South Asian Seams,” now on through November 7th, is curated by guest curator Patricia Stoddard and IQSC curator Marin Hanson.  How refreshing to see an exhibit that not only displays beautiful works but also tells of the lives of the women who created them!

"Women of the World Fight to Live."

The 10th Anniversary of the Gig Harbor Quilt Festival did the heart good.  Not only were there stunning quilts all around us, there was loads of energy toward breast cancer cure and care.

Sandra Gicomini’s quilt “Women of the World Fight to Live” (pictured above) reminds us that breast cancer kills around the world.   As I listened to brave women tell of their journeys with cancer, my thoughts went to Bangladesh and to Rahima.  Rahima has cancer.  She is one of the most talented embroiderers who worked with Surayia since the early 1980s, who created so many incredible tapestries for over 20 years.   Len and I will see Rahima in mid-November in Bangladesh, and I will pass along messages from each and every one of you who wants to send her a message of hope.    Hope is part of the cure, and would it not be great for Rahima to know that there is a world of women (and men) behind her!    Pass the hope along…..

The photo is by Susan Burnett,  copyright by Memories Forever.  Used with permission.

Copyright Kantha Productions LLC

When I was home visiting my mother recently, she asked me if I would like to keep some of the petit-point embroidery that I did when I was a small girl.  Of course I would ! My mother was a talented seamstress, often going to charity bazaars to find special fabric – velvets, woollens and prints – to make clothing for me.   Princess collars and polka-dot dresses are etched in my memory.  Mom also taught me to bake, to stitch, and to wash dishes!  These petit-point pictures are not perfect, but they are special as Mom and I made them together.  Mom was my teacher, and a very talented one.  If I have a chance to show Surayia my petit-point, she would be very pleased, but she would probably make me redo many of the stitches.   She was, after all, a perfectionist teacher.

From July 9-11, hundreds of folk artists from 52 countries will gather at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market to showcase and sell their special crafts.  How precious is something that is learned from one’s ancestors and unique and beautiful in the modern world!

Another “must-see” is the Museum of International Folk Art, where exhibits in the Gallery of Conscience will explore contemporary issues about folk art production and consumption in the 21st century.  The inaugural exhibit opens July 4th:  Empowering Women: Artisan Cooperatives that Transform Communities. A better environment? A safe haven? A community bonded by art? A heritage preserved? An economic incentive?  What motivates these inspiring women?  “Now I can buy milk, pens and books and pay tuition for my children” Nepal “Give a woman money and watch the village grow” Swaziland “Art heals the helpless soul…Weaving is hope for tomorrow” Rwanda

Jessica Winter’s article in “O – The Oprah Magazine” this month captures the flavor of what is to come at the Art Market. We also look forward to Hand/Eye magazine’s reports from on-site.