Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Textile Scout™

[Indian (Punjabi), 19th century. Cotton plain-weave embroidered with silk. Gift of Barbara Deering Danielson to the MFA, Boston.] 

Admittedly, it's kind of confusing. Phulkari, a term for a specific type of Indian embroidery, literally translates to flower work. But the antique examples I shared before the holiday break appeared abstracted; more geometric than floral.

[Indian (Punjabi), 19th century. Cotton plain-weave embroidered with silk. Gift of Denman Waldo Ross to the MFA, Boston.] 

And it's the same with these additional, brilliantly colored pieces from the MFA, Boston. Contemporary textile designer Seema Krish explains, in part, why the flower work can be so linear. She says a darning stitch, worked from the reverse, is traditionally used by women working at home to create iconic phulkari motifs like stars, flower blossoms or peacocks. Since the linear stitches are made at varied angles, the designs typically have a highly stylized, symmetrical, geometric look.

Phulkari and historic textile craft in general had a direct influence on Krish's latest collection, launching this month. While I can't think of a modern designer who hasn't been inspired by the past in some way, vague or obvious, Krish recently pointed out to me that her work is intimately linked with her Indian heritage. She truly understands the old techniques.

Tribeca, shown above in Cherry Lane Red, is hand-screen-printed and embroidered to reflect Krish's own aesthetic: pattern that's a bit less dense with doses of white to keep the reds crisp and fresh.

Union Square, also pictured in Cherry Lane Red, is hand-block-printed and embroidered.

Soho, shown in Hudson Indigo, is produced by Krish using the ancient Japanese shaped-resist method, Itajime Shibori.

[Except for the MFA images, all photography courtesy Seema Krish.]

During the process, accordion folded fabric is secured between two pieces of wood kept in place with C-clamps. Dye goes only to select parts of the cloth, resulting in a desired pattern. Again, Krish prefers simplicity. Soho, a linen-wool blend, will be offered in gray with white or the always-on-trend, rich indigo with white. Learn more about the artisan's hand behind all Krish textiles here.


Lisa Hjalt said...

Thank you for sharing her work on your blog. I loved watching the video on her website, seeing the artisans at work, especially the block-printing part.

Happy New Year!

Style Court said...

Glad you like it, Lisa! Happy 2014.

seema said...

Thanks for this wonderful post, Courtney!

seema said...

Thanks very much for this thoughtful post, Courtney. I loved seeing the antique phulkaris you have referenced.