Overstimulating India and the Smartest Artisans - 2016
Written on February 1, 2016, our journey imported from our old website <3
Admittedly, it’s been difficult to chronicle the events taking place here, everything is happening so fast. I have long days full of life and excitement, and come home completely exhausted. I really want to keep this up, reflecting on experiences serves a valuable purpose. When every little thing is so very meaningful, it becomes extremely overwhelming to filter out what to specifically discuss, plugging all figurative mind-holes, so to speak.
I spent some time working with/attempting to work with Gramshree accessories artisans. What they do is extremely complex. When they asked me to sew those little stuffed balls after weaving thread around a chord (pictured above) I thought- no sweat! I've been hand sewing since I was a child. I am a highly educated, classically trained patternmaker and designer who has sewn samples in midtown NYC and worked for huge multinational fashion companies. I got this, I thought.
Except no, I don't "got" that. I fumbled, doodled, and was overall just not good at the very intricate art of hand stitching very small pieces of fabric on top of awkwardly shaped cotton puffs (shapes that these women managed to mold into perfect spheres with their skilled hands). They showed me a few times, how to roll a large pinch of unruly cotton into a perfect small globe They showed me, a few times, how to stitch around the opening to pull the fabric in for a clean finishing. I sat there, focusing, trying, and messing up while they stitched circles around me; popping out the spheres at lightning speed. I felt bad for the bit of time that I hindered their progress. They were kind about it.
It seems so often we volunteers come here from other countries thinking, "I am smart and I have a skill/time/genuine love, and I want to help people!' and hardly realize that we will end up learning more from them. To be honest, that day was a little discouraging. I had to remind myself that coming from opposite worlds means different skill sets, and although I have very little to contribute by means of intricate hand sewing, I have a lot to offer in other aspects. And clearly, the artisans do not need another person to help with sewing those small bulbs, or most other stitching handwork. When it comes to that specific skill, THEY "got this", absolutely.