TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Monday, May 7, 2012

Guest Artist Erica Harris on Scavenging in India

Click on the images to see them full size as a slideshow.  It's worth it!

Scrap Potential- 
Scavenging in India
by Erica Harris

Many folks ask where I find my materials to make collages.
Here are some scraps, sources and experiences from my last trip to India.

While an Artist-In-residence at Chhaap Foundation for Printmaking Trust in Baroda, Gujarat, I used a batter of coffee grounds and tea leaves, Bindi powder, turmeric, and Celuclay (a dried paper pulp) to experiment with paper sculpture. The texture was made with a fork.

Some of this paper I've paired with old portraits:

These were found at the exquisite 'Friday Market' on the outskirts of Baroda.

This is a sprawling maze of live goats, tin charms, chai carts, torn saris, wooden game pieces, broken toys and, most lovely for me, old photographs.

Scavenging for mid-century photographic ephemera outside of the States is quite challenging, our Kodachrome generation being unparalleled, so this particular market was really a gem. (On a side note however, it seems India's snapshot culture of today is certainly catching up).

The upcycling at Friday Market also deserves some attention. Some wonderful hand-stitched oil-can cozies:

I experimented with using some of the found objects as stamps, such as these keys:

Moving south, in Fort Cochi, Kerala, I picked out some paper goods at Junk Junction (Kumbarramukku, if memory serves)..  Looking through newspapers, game cards, old books and ledgers, this passerby wanted to document a dusty picture of a famous 70's movie star:

The language there, Malayalam, has a beautiful alphabet, and I was quite inspired by it.

I was in India for a number of teaching projects, as well as dumpster diving, and the scraps came in handy for those, too. In this bookmaking workshop at Chhaap, students rummaged through a rag bag donated by a local fashion designer, Rupali. They used the pieces to customize their book covers. It was an honor to have Jyoti Bhatt, one of India's most renowned printmakers, among my students.

In a nearby school run by the organization Koshish Milap, I brought in scraps of handmade paper and fabric in all colors and shapes. It was a great ice-breaker for them to teach me the colors in Gujarati (new to me), and having a full-spectrum palette easily accessible helped them to jump right in and start collaging (new to them).

The kids were overjoyed and seemingly not intimidated at the process of building their own beautiful compositions out of scraps.

Thanks again, India, for all the inspiration and generosity. See you next time.


Isn't this just wonderful?  I "met" Erica when she was fundraising for an India project she was working with last year  (Buddha's Smile School).  I invited her to come on as a guest on this blog (and have been begging her to join TAFA!) and we finally have this beautiful experience that she is sharing with us.

Make sure to visit her website (packed with great images!) and please, support her with some purchases in her Etsy shop!

Want a nice chuckle?  Watch Chinterviews!


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