A Day in Surya's Garden - Part 2

by - Saturday, April 02, 2011

Meena Raste (right) trades stitches with one of the Banjara embroiderers (left)
Charllotte Kwon watches.
In Part 1 we identified some of the problems associated with costing embroidery. We closed the post with a hint that we had something on this trip that would be very helpful.

Not something, as it turns out, but someone. We invited Meena Raste from KMVS to help troubleshoot some of the issues that the young co-operative, Surya's Garden, might be having.

Meena and Jan go over the costing of a piece of embroidery.
Meena has been working with KMVS embroiderers for almost 20 years. She can tell how much thread an embroidery will use just by looking. She knows all the tailoring techniques that will finish a piece and give it the best presentation. And she has worked with a large number of distinct tribal groups, each one embroidering in a unique traditional style.

Meena Raste (centre) outside the Maiwa store during the 2005 Textile Symposium.
Latchuben (left) and Parmaben (right) also came from the Kutch region to speak about embroidery.
As Meena worked with the Banjara Embroiderers, she remarked that the names the Banjara had for the stitches were almost the same as the names that the tribal embroiderers from Kutch used. The cloth was passed back and forth as each would complete a set of stitches and then talk about them. Meena was very animated. Embroidery is her world. Visiting this group of Banjara women was like discovering a new continent. Everything was familiar, yet at the same time so very different.

The meeting with the co-operative went very well. Surya's Garden is well professionally run with intelligence and commitment. Through knowledge sharing we are able to give this group an advantage which might be difficult to get in any other way. Solutions to some problems came very quickly. Laxmi, the head of the co-operative had been doing all the tailoring herself. We suggested that we purchase the embroideries without tailoring or finishing. It turned out to be a great idea. We have the ability to finish work in India. We can manage it exactly the way we want. They wanted to focus on the embroidery. The tailoring was not where they wanted to devote their energy. Throughout the course of the morning we completed the costing. We made an order of almost everything they had.

[Ed. These pieces are now finished and in the Main Maiwa Store. If you would like to see them, just ask one of the staff for the Banjara embroidery.]

As all this was going on we were happy to try on some of the embroidered garments they had made  - so we took a few photos.

Embroidered collars.

Embroidered dresses by the pool, complete with blooms.
And so the afternoon drew to a close. With our work successfully accomplished we had a sunset date with one of the famous Hampi temples. read about it in the next post.

Comments are welcome.

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