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Chikankari – The Floral White Work of India – Guest Blogger: Penny Peters

April 27, 2017

A story is told about the origins of Chikankari, the floral white work of India, that hundreds of years ago a Mughal emperor was scandalized because he could see the body of one of the women in his harem through her garment.  When the lady was asked to explain her immodesty, she showed that she was in fact covered in seven layers of embroidered gauzy white fabric.  Its sheerness was said to be so fine that even seven layers would not entirely hide the body.  Well, true or not, the story explains a lot about Chikankari, Indian white work done on the sheerest of handwoven cotton fabric called mul mul. However, the story goes that Chikankari became a favorite of the Mughal courts during the hot dry summer seasons.  According to Sheila Paine in her book Chikan Embroidery—The Floral Whitework of India, it was a craft practiced by Muslims primarily in the Dacca, Calcutta and Lucknow areas, and reached its peak of popularity in the 19th Century. 

When in Lucknow, I had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Ruth Chakravarty who employs women to embroider colorful non- traditional textiles (silk, wool and cotton) using Chikankari motifs.  She kindly showed historical as well as modern examples of this beautiful work, and allowed me to photograph a few.  The photos I have included here illustrate both antique and modern examples of Chikankari.  In the modern examples at least three strands of embroidery floss are used, even on the sheerest fabric, thereby giving a great contrast in texture. 

Breathtaking Colors of Northwest Spring

April 14, 2017

Endless days of rain in April and dark skies make me yearn for something else.  I never quite know what that something is until the soft colors of spring begin to gently unfold upon the scene. I have been watching the leaves unfurling new green growth, the grass has never been as vibrant.   The moss  is startlingly lush and rich. The magnolias remain as tight as a fist until they all open about the same time.  Has it always been like this or am I more aware? I know that the tulips in the Skagit Valley are about to burst upon the scene this week and claim the glory of Spring.  But it is this slow deliberate awakening of Spring’s softer colors in the Northwest that makes this part of Washington so desirable.    Gail Harker     

Washington Surface Design Assc…. Fiber Fusion Exhibit at the Schack Art Center

April 7, 2017

On March 9th, a group of students, Penny Peters and I drove to Everett to see the Fiber Fusion Exhibit on the Opening Day. This was a perfect opportunity to go for a field trip – a chance to see how others work with textiles. We weren’t disappointed. Over 80 artists, of varied levels displayed their textiles. A few of them were our students or past students. There was an excitement in the air as visitors looked, asked questions and absorbed the color and design.  The Schack Art Center accommodates textiles so well. Such a good time to meet old friends and catch up with their activities while enjoying the artwork. This show is still on until April 15th so you still have a little time to see it at the Schack Art Center  .  Here are a few photos of exhibiting artwork from past or present students attending The Gail Harker Center for Creative Arts.  Thanks for allowing us to show your art.    Gail Harker

 

Lowery G Corona1_full

Corona 1 ©Gwen Lowery – Gwen won the People’s Choice Award at the Schack

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Thank yous to all who participated and organized photo Ryan L. Holdridge

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a little food to provide even more interest

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“In Flight” Christina Fairly Erickson – machine embroidery, photo Ryan L. Holdridge

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Christina and Penny Peters  photo Ryan L. Holdridge

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© 1x1x1 Maura Donegan  – Machine Embroidery

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photographed from the 2nd floor gallery at the Schack Arts Center

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Marie Plakos, Gwen Lowery, Eric Hawley, and Gail

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Happier Days © Barbara Matthews

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Turquesa ©Virginia Turner

Jones_Claire_Outburst_Full

Outburst ©Claire Jones, machine embroidery

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Gail, Christina and daughter and Barbara Mathews

Painted Birds of Taragarh Fort, Rajasthan, India…Guest Blogger: Penny Peters

April 2, 2017

When recently in India I visited an old Rajput Palace, crumbling now, which has remains of fresco painted walls and nooks.  The Taragarh Fort was built on a steep hillside overlooking the town of Bundi around 1354.  The small palace (Rani Mahal) inside the fort was added 1607-31 for the wives and concubines of the rulers. Inside the palace and now exposed to the air are lovely paintings on the plastered walls painted with mineral and plant based paints.  The paintings depict stories of Hindu gods, local festivals and deeds of the rulers.  There are intricate borders and repeat patterns framing the paintings. I was particularly struck by the lovely birds painted with simple brush strokes that were added as decorative elements. Although faded now, they depict native birds as well as some of the migratory birds that flock to the area in winter from Europe, Russia and China.  Also impressive was the Elephant Gate where rulers’ elephants would have entered with great ceremony with the lead elephant bearing a large metal drum beaten to announce the arrival.

Taragarh Fort above the town of Bundi, Rajasthan, India

Taragarh Fort above the town of Bundi, Rajasthan, India

Elephant Gate, Taragarh Fort, Bundi, Rajasthan, India

Elephant Gate, Taragarh Fort, Bundi, Rajasthan, India

Taragarh Palace, Bundi, Rajasthan, IndiaTaragarh Palace, Bundi, Rajasthan, India

Taragarh 2

Taragarh Palace, Bundi, Rajasthan, India

Taragarh Palace, Bundi, Rajasthan, India

Taragarh Palace, Bundi, Rajasthan, India

Taragarh Palace, Bundi, Rajasthan, India

Taragarh Palace, Bundi, Rajasthan, India

Taragarh Palace, Bundi, Rajasthan, India

Taragarh Palace, Bundi, Rajasthan, India

Taragarh Palace, Bundi, Rajasthan, India

Taragarh Palace, Bundi, Rajasthan, India

Taragarh Palace

Taragarh Palace, Bundi, Rajasthan, India

Taragarh Palace, Bundi, Rajasthan, India

Taragarh Palace, Bundi, Rajasthan, India

Taragarh Palace, Bundi, Rajasthan, India

Taragarh Palace, Bundi, Rajasthan, India

 

Ari Work from India…Guest blogger Penny Peters

March 19, 2017
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Embroidered shoes – image from Wandering Threads

Ari work is a time honored embroidery tradition in India, typically practiced by the Mochi caste of Gujarat, India.  The Mochis adopted the Muslim religion during Mughal times and belonged to a leather-working caste.  Leather work was done by men who used an ari hook to work lines of chain stitches on decorated leather shoes and slippers.  This work is still done today and can be found in the shoe shops that cater to locals and tourists.  I found a picture of these on the internet from Wandering Threads.  As tastes change there are fewer customers for embroidered shoes and skilled men look for other ways to practice their traditional art. When recently in India I found a group of Muslim men commissioned by Kamlanjni Design Studio (no website) to stitch beautiful ari shawls and wall hangings with silk thread for the upscale Indian home décor market. The men work on floor frames that hold large pieces of handwoven fabric, several men working on a single piece.  The designer has used traditional Mughal themes for the embroideries.  The stitchers work with one hand on top of the fabric and one below. The ari hook itself is like an awl with a tiny hook at the tip.  The thread is held beneath the fabric with the hand on top holding the hook.  The hook is pushed through the fabric catching the thread into a loop which is then drawn to the top. This action is repeated as the hook advances creating a line of tiny or long chain stitches.  In the work I  photographed, the tiny chain stitches are used as filling stitches in a variety of colors as the patterns dictate.  The colors and stitch patterns are radiant, and I am so happy that this beautiful stitch tradition has not been lost.

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Ari work in progress in New Delhi, India

Ari Work Shawl, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Ari Work Shawl 1, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Ari Work Shawl, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Ari Work Shawl 1, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Ari Work Shawl, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Detail Ari Work Shawl 1, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Detail, Ari Work Shawl, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Detail, Ari Work Shawl 1, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Ari Work Shawl, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Ari Work Shawl 2, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Ari Work Shawl, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Ari Work Shawl 2, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Ari Work Wall Hanging, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Ari Work Wall Hanging, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Detail, Ari Work Shawl, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Detail, Ari Work wall hanging , Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Detail, Ari Work Shawl, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Detail, Ari Work wall hanging, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Detail, Ari Work Shawl, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Detail, Ari Work wall hanging, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Ari Work Shawl, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Ari Work Shawl 3, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Detail, Ari Work Shawl, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

Detail, Ari Work Shawl 3, Kamlanjni Design Studio, New Delhi, India

 

 

Looking at Neutrals

March 14, 2017

Neutral is a word that has a number of different meanings. Some people take it to be a color neither here nor there (a wishy washy color) or if based on a discussion – taking a stand somewhere between opposite sides. When studying art, a true neutral is a color or non color that is either greyish, black or brown. Sometimes it is referred to as one of the mud colors, often seen in nature. Making a neutral with paint can be made by mixing 2 complements or near complements from the color wheel. For example red and green make a glorious grey. Colors can often be neutralized a little so that the color is still recognizable  but it is not nearly as bright as that of the purest brightest color. Once again, these dull colors can be made by mixing  2 complements or near complements together with varying amounts of paint. Neutrals can be even more enlivened when they vary in  value from very dark to very light. As you can see below, a range of neutrals or neutralized colors are used together in each of the images. Occasionally a small quantity of bright saturated color is used with the neutrals which makes them and the bright color all the more powerful. Thanks again to my students who have contributed their art work with mine.  Gail Harker

Looking at Green

February 24, 2017

I am met with an exhilarating rush of excitement at seeing the lush, bright green fields below me when coming in for landings at Heathrow Airport.  I can still hear the sound of the lowering ailerons  on the plane as we approach the runway. That sound also enhances my own symbolic image of GREEN. 

GREEN that changes from yellow green corn fields to emerald blue water. Green that has orange, red, purple, white or grey accompanying it. Green that is so pale that you can barely see it to a rich deep blackish green that envelopes like a forest. We humans are able to see more colors and values of Green then any other color.

There are ever so many symbolic association stories that accompany green.  For example : emerald green pigment was made from verdigris and copper arsenite – a deadly poison used for painting and wallpaper in the 1800s. It was said that the noxious fumes from the green wallpaper in Napolean Bonaparte’s, St. Helena home caused his death. Read more if you like interesting diversions. Although this is interesting, it doesn’t tell me anything about how I feel about the color GREEN. The story above does. What is your personal association with Green?   Gail Harker

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