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Stitched stories

Cushions made under craft workshop at Vadaj, Ahmedabad

Craft workshop intends to bring the sensitivity and design perspective for the craft sector. Indian crafts are organized in their own peculiar ways. There can be many different stories on how the craft originated but one thing that remains constant is the sheer dedication and hard work of artisans. The skills passed on from one generation to another and also allowed the evolution of craftsmanship.

Applique is an ancient craft and it finds its roots in the narrow lanes of Vadaj, Ahmedabad. The community settled in Ahmedabad after moving from the Sindh region post-India-Pakistan partition. The close-knitted network and the love they share is an inspiration in itself. The small area of Vadaj has a culture of its own. There are clusters of houses, temples, shops, and narrow lanes that connect everything like a beautiful story. Women’s’ lives revolve around the craft and it has become an integral part of their daily routine. The Applique in Vadaj grew into a craft as a practice for zero waste and upcycling the worn-out clothes. 
 

Craft cluster visit

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Getting familiar with techniques

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Visual Reference

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The fabrics used in the applique have a huge variety. The swatches belong to different places and people.

The whole process of bringing all different pieces together is the specialty of the craft. 

Every piece of fabric has a story of its past. All these stories are stitched together and the result is another piece of art ready to tell its own story.

The idea is to bring a variety of fabrics together with different textures, colours, and patterns to create a statement with the composition. The running stitch unifies the diverse pieces in one story. It brings a rhythm to the composition of patchwork. These are the explorations while playing with forms, colours, and textures of the fabrics.

The clothes are collected from my friends and every piece of clothing had a beautiful connection with the person. The clothes were not in wearable condition but the attachment was so strong that they couldn’t be given away. The idea of having something even more beautiful and utilizing the clothes for a greater cause made them give away their loved pieces of clothes.

Techniques-

  • Contrasting a variety of fabric.

  • The visual play of colour, texture, and patterns.

  • Complementing running stitch throughout the applique

Explorations

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The placement of pieces is as abstract as it used to be back when the craft was born. The women had no control over the waste clothes and the whole placement with the color palette used to be very intuitive. I tried bringing that element of abstraction here when the clothes patch their own story together. The overlapping of pieces and a tinge of running stitches bring everything together. 

 

I started with deciding the size of cloth pieces by placing cut newspaper pieces and narrowing it down to 7 different sizes. After finalizing the size, I explored different compositions for the first layer of applique. The pieces started building upon each other and the color story took a shape on its own very intuitively.

Handcrafting the stories

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Pair of the cushion is inspired by stories of people and their love for clothes. So much love that the clothes found a permanent place in a corner of the wardrobe until this project. Everyone had a story of their love affair with a piece of clothing. The union of all these stories becomes a piece of art in itself.

The patchwork and applique celebrates the heritage of Vadaj through contemporary design stories that revive their traditional practices and techniques. Inspired by people, enchanted by their stories, and crafted by hand, this throw cushion is a reflection of joy in everyday living.

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Photo: Tamojit Bardhan