The past few days have flown by. Unlike Jaipur, Colleen and I quickly got to the office each morning, spent the day working with the women, and ended each workshop around 5:00pm. Coming from Jaipur, it has been much smoother the second time around. Seeing the skill and speed after the first day, Colleen and I decided with we would switch up the workshop and challenge this group a bit more. We kept the same theme of food and cooking, but rather than working with fabric collage to teach color value, we have asked the women to use the stitch to show the different tints and shades within an image. We were blown away by the results.
The first exercise was to simply take a photograph of food and stitch the image. After a few assisting sketching and words of encouragement Colleen and I took a step back and let the women work. Within the thirty minutes we looked at each other with huge grins on our faces, what we saw was incredible. The women took to the exercise with ease, though unsure at times, they worked with confidence and creativity. The following day the women were asked to complete a second piece using the same technique from the day before. We had previously asked each woman their favorite meal and what ingredients it contained. Today we presented them with images of those ingredients and asked them to create new image using each image. By using one ingredient as the overall pattern, the women were asked to then collage the other ingredients within the pattern. Now imagine over twenty women, over twenty different recipes, and 5 new women all asking for help. When we explained the premise to the women, the blank stares helped us realize that what we had asked wasn’t the easiest task. So one by one Colleen and I walked them through step by step. While we did this, a few women started to do their own thing. One woman handed me her collage with each vegetable cut out and glued to the paper with no rhyme or reason. I giggled with delight. What many had collaged together was completely unexpected and original, so again we took a step back and let them work.
Colleen had mentioned the name Nazia a few times before we got to Ajmer. She told me how skilled she was and how promising her future could be. Nazia is about my age, beautiful, reserved, but very independent. She came to the workshops ready to work, typically sat alone, and enjoyed zoning out to music on her phone. As I watched Nazia work, I saw pure talent. I saw her create things I never would. Her freedom and unpolluted imagination was enthralling. I thought to myself what an incredible success she could be if given the chance. Colleen and I hope to encourage her creativity and hope she will rise to the opportunity. As the day came to an end, each woman came to ask us for a final check. Colleen and I would either suggest a few more lines of stitch or would accept the finished work. Once back to the hotel we spread the pieces out on the bed and took a deep breath, it was a success. Next is the hard part, prototyping new products. Maggie & Colleen