Monday, 31 August 2015

LUST LIST: Yumiko Higuchi

Did you detest your SUPW (Socially Useful Productive Work) classes when you were in school? Did you ever embroider cushion covers, make pen stands with ice cream sticks or wall hangings with plastic wire? Or did you beg, bribe and butter up your mum, older cousins and aunts to finish the work for you on the pretext that these classes did not really add any value and in no way contributed towards your larger goal of becoming an engineer or doctor? Well, I know a few people who did. :) As for me, I was one of the few who diligently learnt how to embroider, stitch, crochet, knit and make the zillion other artsy crafty things that were taught in these classes. Uncool you say?! Well, you might think otherwise once you finish reading this post ;)

For the past year or so I have been nursing the urge to start embroidering again. Of the million and one DIY projects that I try my hand at, the art of embroidery is one that has not taken precedence yet only because of the patience, meticulous care and time required for the same. But when I came across Japanese embroidery artist Yumiko Higuchi’s work, I was totally smitten by her intricately embroidered creations. And now I can’t wait to rediscover the art of embroidery and relive the joy of painstakingly creating a piece of art with a multitude of colorful threads and fabric.

Yumiko has worked as an embroidery artist since 2008 and also makes bags, purses and other accessories, using the fabric she embroiders. Her website has detailed photo instructions that serve as a pattern guide and you will find clear guides on how to make coin purses, pouches, bows, headband, decorations and collars. Yumiko’s breathtaking designs, crafted with precision and a drool-worthy colour sensibility, will leave you lusting for more. I will now let the pictures speak for themselves and leave you to ogle at these beautiful creations. You can buy Yumiko’s embroidery pattern books on Etsy. 


Friday, 28 August 2015

Via Kerala

Minarets and spires, cottages and caves, monkeys and rakshasas, losing the way while finding yourself, discovering Kerala, truly GOD'S own country.

This was my first impression of Kerala on my very first visit, a few years ago. The trip, although a very short one, most of which was spent on the road (we lost our way more than once and had a tough time finding the way back to our resort),  left me yearning to experience more of the cuisine, culture and coastal charm of Kerala. I have visited Wayanad several times since then but always for short weekend getaways. There is so much of this state that I haven’t yet seen but hope to explore  to my heart’s content, some day.

Kerala, as most of you probably already know has the highest literacy rate, highest life expectancy and highest sex ratio in the country. But did you know that it also has the lowest positive population growth rate in India? Most of Kerala follows a matrillineal system of inheritance called Marumakkathayam. In the Marumakkathayam system, descent and succession to the property is traced through females. The mother forms the stock of descent and kinship and the rights to property is traced through female members of the family. However, what is most evident about this progressive state is the manner in which the Hindu, Muslim and Christian population harmoniously coexist. 

So, what better day than today to showcase a brand that aims to capture the true essence of the Malayalee culture. One that is steeped in karimeen, coconut oil and communism. 

Viakerala is symbolic of contemporary Malayalam visual culture. Their products range from local awareness, Malayalam letter form design application and various other quirky interpretations of traditional Kerala motifs. All this translates into various contemporary products for everyday life such as handcrafted bags, toys, stationary items etc

Viakerala was started as a collaborative forum in 2010, led by a small group of designers in Cochin. It is a collection of the work of artists, illustrators and graphic designers and has now evolved into a platform for the modern Malayalee and also anybody interested in Kerala, Malayalam and local culture.

You can buy Viakerala products here.

Happy Onam! Onashamsakal!

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Blue blooded

No matter how hard I try I can never have enough of the color blue and the indigo family. I know a lot of people who almost always wear blue clothes or accessories and are partial to this colour while doing up their personal space. I think it would be safe to assume that there are many of you out there who share my affinity to this colour that dominates the sky as well as the earth. Blue is the color of the sky and the sea, hence often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith and truth.

If you feel blue, you are feeling sad or unwell, a colour mainly associated with depression or unhappiness. The use of blue to mean “sad” dates back to the late 1300s. There are many theories regarding the origin of this phrase. One of them being its connection to rain or storms. In Greek mythology, the god Zeus would make rain when he was sad (crying) and a storm when he was angry. 

The phrase "feeling blue" is also linked to a custom among many old, sailing ships. If the ship lost the captain or any of the officers during its voyage, she would fly blue flags and have a blue band painted along her entire hull when returning to home port. However, in modern times, colour therapy suggests a more positive imagery for the color.

If your décor is coastal or beach inspired, Blue would be the obvious colour of choice. However, you might want to use this color despite not being too crazy about coastal décor. If you don’t already have enough reasons to OD on Blue, here are a few more reasons to incorporate this regal colour into your décor. 

· From the perspective of color psychology, blue is reliable and responsible. This color exhibits an inner security and confidence.

· You can rely on it to take control and do the right. It has a need for order and direction in its life, including its living and work spaces.

· This is a color that seeks peace and tranquility above everything else, promoting both physical and mental relaxation. Blue is considered beneficial to the mind and body. It reduces stress, creating a sense of calmness, relaxation and order.

· The color blue enhances self-expression and our ability to communicate.

· Blue's wisdom comes from its higher level of intelligence and a spiritual perspective.

· Blue is nostalgic. It is a color that lives in the past, relating everything in the present and the future to experiences in the past. A person who loves blue is bound to be sentimental and love things from the past.

If blue is your favorite color, most of these qualities will reflect in your personality and using this colour in your space will enhance the qualities and benefits that blue represents. But how much blue is too much blue? This is a predicament I struggle with very often. Have I gone OTT with this colour? Do I limit the use of blue to only a few accents? Do I add another colour to the mix to tone it down? Do I 'hear' you nodding in agreement? Been there right? 

My advice to you would be to listen to your heart, follow your instincts and do what pleases your eye. At the end of the day, there are no rules to be followed when doing up your personal space. No rights and wrongs. No such thing as too much or too less. After all what you love is a reflection of who you are and there should be no limitations to how you choose to express yourself. Isn't that what self-expression is all about? And that's what this month is all about-freedom. If you are truly ‘blue blooded’ and have an eye for beautiful things you can't  possibly go wrong. 

If you like this post you might also like thisthis and this.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Drool, dream and dance

This creative journey of mine started a long long time ago but its only been a year since I started this blog. Although I was on a hiatus after i wrote my first post for reasons I hope I will be able to share with you someday, there are a few things I did not stop doing during that time. I did not refrain from stopping and staring in wonder at awe inspiring creations. Did not stop looking for beauty in imperfection, embrace the flaws and make it work for me. Did not forget to react with ecstatic joy and cheer with child like glee every time I was inspired to create something beautiful. In the last few years, I have come across so many spaces, products and creative people who have sparked my interest, pushed me to ideate and inspired me beyond words. So today I have put together my picks from the posts that have made me drool, dream and dance. 

 My guru would tell me that to desire materialistic possessions so much so that it takes over your entire existence would be foolhardy. (Yes I have my very own 'Ketut'). However as you all know my overwhelming love for beautiful spaces and things turns me into a lout & makes me loud, lecherous and lustful. Here are some such spaces and things that have made me drool in the past year......

There is a process in creative visualization wherein if you desire something, tangible or intangible, you imagine or visualize every aspect of it in great detail. If you do this as often as you can, the event, situation or object of your desire will draw closer to you and eventually become a reality. So that's what I do when I come across spaces and things like these (Below). In the hope that if I stare at them hard and long enough, they might just manifest themselves and appear out of thin air ;).......

People who know me, will tell you that I am not much of a dancer. But every once in a while I come across spaces/things that make me want to get my tush off the couch and do a little jig. The jig - worthy spaces/things that have been (un)fortunate enough to witness this....

The past year has taught me that when one journey ends, another one begins. In the words of Richard Bach- what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly. My little bug has turned me into a colorful, confident butterfly. So before I take flight to yet another destination, many thanks to each one of you for accompanying me on this journey of self expression. You people have been excellent travelling companions so far and I hope to see more of you in the coming year as well.

Happy B'day to my little bug! To many more adventures together.....Cheers!

Eleutheromania (n)

Eleutheromania (n): An intense and irresistable desire for freedom.

On this day 68 years ago, our country attained independence from the British Empire following a movement largely noted for its non-violent resistance or Ahimsa. On the 15th of Aug 1947, the first prime minister of India Jawahar Lal Nehru raised the Indian national flag for the very first time over the Lahori gate of the Red Fort in Delhi. Gandhi first proposed a flag to the Indian National Congress in 1921.This flag was designed by Pingali Venkaya, a freedom fighter. Venkayya's version was subsequently modified in 1947.

The saffron colour in the flag denotes renunciation or disinterestedness. It implies that our leaders must be indifferent to material gains and dedicate themselves to their work. 

The white in the center stands for light, the path of truth to guide our conduct. 

The green shows our relation to the soil, our relation to the plant life here, on which all other life depends. 

Finally, the "Ashoka Chakra" in the center of the white represents the eternal wheel of the law of dharma. Truth or satya, dharma or virtue ought to be the guiding principle of those who work under this flag. The wheel also denotes motion. There is death in stagnation. There is life in movement. It implies that India should no more resist change, it must move and go forward. The wheel represents the dynamism of a peaceful change.

This independence day lets collectively pledge to give our children the FREEDOM of thought, the 
FREEDOM of expression, the FREEDOM of spirit and the FREEDOM to be themselves. Let them experience what it means to be truly FREE. So they may be sufficiently equipped to create a future strongly rooted in tradition yet grow wings that will enable them to impartially follow the path of truth and justice. This is the only way to live out and live up to the true essence of the tricolor. Happy Independence day!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Elephant memory

They say elephants follow the same paths and even hand down genetic memories of directions and places across generations. Each elephant clan has a certain burial place, like many human communities, and always help the dying ones get back there if they are not killed traumatically first.

In addition to their travel and burial patterns, it has been demonstrated that elephants also have a high friendship skill with humans. They also develop lasting relationships with other elephants, and in fact do remember individuals of the human and their own species even when separated for decades.

The saying that elephants never forget has been backed by science. And it seems that the old adage may be particularly true in the case of matriarchs, who lead the herd. A study of wild African elephants has revealed that dominant females build up a social memory as they get older, enabling them to recognize "friendly" faces.

They signal whether an outsider is a friend or foe to the rest of the herd, allowing family members to focus on feeding and breeding when there is no danger. The older and more experienced the matriarch, the better she is at recognizing old friends, and the more calves the family is likely to produce.

Asian cultures admire the high intelligence and good memory of elephants. As such, they symbolize wisdom and royal power. Elephants have been the subject of various cultural depictions in mythology, symbolism and popular culture. They are both revered in religion and were respected for their prowess in war. In Buddhist tradition, the Buddha picked the form of a white elephant as one of his many incarnations, thus the rare appearance of a white elephant is still heralded as a manifestation of the gods.

They also have negative connotations such as being a symbol for an unnecessary burden. Ever since the stone age, when elephants were represented by ancient petroglyphs and cave art, they have been depicted in various forms of art, including pictures, sculptures, music, film, and even architecture.

The Hindu god Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, has the head of an elephant. In India you will find elephant figurines and motifs in almost all art forms, textiles, murals, linen as well as architecture.

Elephants are tough when protecting others and gentle when nurturing them. There is so much we can learn from these ginormous but gentle creatures! Elephants have emotions that are comparable to human emotions of love, joy, jealousy, rage. So today, on world elephant day let’s celebrate these regal creatures that stands for power, strength, peace, wisdom and learn a thing or two from them about love, communication skills, family and loyalty.