On the Effects of Kantha Stitching

Over the past few weeks I have finished three small kantha pieces that have confirmed my belief in the joy and efficacy of this ancient Bengali craft and art form. At the moment I am tension-quilting a large work and my fingers, wrists and neck are protesting that I am putting them under too much strain. This is not the case with kantha stitching. It is gentler on the body and mind as it is easier to stitch through layers of soft, well-washed, old cloth. And there is something mesmerising about making rows of straight stitches form patterns.

March Hare. Kantha sampler for the month of March 2020. 245 x 180 mm (9.5 x 7 inches)

This piece was finished before the month had ended. The hare’s head is fabricated from the kantha stitch called “bricking”, and the body from the “stepping” stitch. Meanwhile April is marching onward and I have not yet come up with an idea for this month’s sampler. I have been pleasantly distracted by the TextileArtist.org Community Stitch Challenge and was particularly entranced by Cas Holmes’ video tutorial on making a collage with fabric, paper, and stitch as a background for a well-loved familiar object. The tutorial on Facebook was accompanied by a clear workbook with instructions and images of some of Cas Holmes’ work. It was impossible for me not to be inspired and this is what I made.

Vase of Flowers, depicting flowers from the garden in a vase potted by Anton van der Merwe, RIP. 300 x 21 cm.

The black and white fabrics are the scraps from the very large quilt I am currently wrestling with. (Apologies for the repetition — I said that in different words in the first paragraph!) The flowers are from an old calendar with beautiful photographs from Manet’s garden. I stuck down the cut out flowers with fabric glue and then lightly machine stitched over the bouquet (just in case the glue wears out). And the tablecloth is created from the kantha stitch called “blocking”.

And last, but not least, I have finished the project I was struggling with at the beginning of the year. Here it is.

Fragmented Flower. 69 x 53 cm.

The piece is mostly kantha stitched, with applique. Laura Bruno-Lilly, look what happened to your gold reproduction fabric. I could not resist cutting out and using all the embossed leaves in that scrap of gold cloth. There were more roses, which I am keeping until they tell me how to use them. I wrote about this piece at length previously, so suffice to say here that the solid parts of the flower are not really solid at all, but are stuck-together bits of thread.

For those of us that observe Easter, it is going to be a strange and quiet weekend. This will be the first time we will not be Hogsback at this time as we are not allowed to travel. I plan to do some more kantha stitching to quiet my mind.

21 thoughts on “On the Effects of Kantha Stitching

      1. I’ll be interested to see what emerges. I know my collage experiences evolved and by using the materials as time went on of course you develop a feel for things. I love that kind of journey.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh Mariss! You turned that repro fabric into spun Kantha Gold. Jaw-dropping.
    The center reminds me of “Ojo de Dios” art from our country’s own and Mexico’s indigenous peoples…
    Your (he)art continues to shine on, dear one.


    1. Oh Laura! I had to make a cup of coffee before attempting to answer your generous comments, and I am still not sure what to say. Thank you for the affirmation and your heartfelt support. (I had to look up Ojo de Dios. As the piece evolved I realised I was making a wonky mandala, the significance of which I have also just looked up and found that there are similarities in the two symbols.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Specially love your March hare. Easter bunny!
    And the still life with Manet flowers is just gorgeous
    I’m even tempted to try a little kantha stitching myself!


  3. All three pieces are fascinating Mariss – and beautiful too. I am intrigued by the interesting textured effects the “simple” kantha stitching creates. I can see how stitching like that by hand could become meditative, mesmerizing, addictive.
    Although I am sure you must be missing visiting Hogsback, I hope that the quietness of the weekend brings its own unexpected dimensions …


    1. Appreciate your looking so closely at them and noticing the textures. It is remarkable how it happens, even from this side of the needle.
      We have settled in to a different Easter weekend experience — as has everyone else — and Hogsback will wait.

      Liked by 1 person

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