This piece of fabric comes with a long story, starting with our tiny house on wheels in the pleasant after-heat of the end of summer in Spain, ending in the ever blissful Atacama desert.
I started the piece in a state of agitation, wanting to be in the mountains of Spain while we were at the overly touristic coast near Benidorm. When I got a chance I was off for a 6-day hike. With the curcuma dyed hemp cotton and a few glass mirrors, some thread and scissors I walked and was in nature again, I was more in my element.
Soon after we started our motorbike trip through South America and took the piece with me. Although we had to pack the motorbike as light as we could, I exchanged heavy boots for more embroidery stuff. That was a mistake indeed. Now I took off with one pair of sandals and soon would be battling ice cold toes but I had plenty of material.
We started our trip in Paraguay, where we took a bus from Ascuncion to Filadelfia, the heart of the Mennonite community. Here is where I met my husband, on a ranch of my friend Marilyn. Our motorbike awaited us here, but a rack system for it had to be made. While my husband Geo had the Kenton done, I enjoyed a long treasured wish. We could stay in a indigena house, formerly from the Indian cowboy and his Ayoreyo family. I kept it rather authentic and only lived outside, with a well, a fire, outhouse and shy cat.
When the motorbike was ready we started the journey through Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Ecuador. From the unimaginable beauty high up in the Andes to the dense, sticky jungle of Peru. From glittering salt lakes and synchrone running vicuñas over surreal landscapes. I did not touch the mirrored fabric as I was working on another little piece of, in my eyes, art. It was securely stashed away when we passed whitewashed churches at high altitude, mossy boulders covered with hars and the desolateness of the impassable coastlines.
Sometimes we stayed in shabby, cold places but most times in our tents with the fantastic views and gripping cold. The 150cc motor-block of the Kenton had difficulties hauling us over loose sand, steep altitudes and treacherous gravel.
Than, at last, we managed to stay 2 nights in the place where I experienced the height of my cycling odyssey: Atacama desert. This was only the very beginning of the driest desert on earth but Geo was not eager to go that direction, instead we rested in the little shadow we could find. I lay the last hand on the pouch here and went a bit overboard with selfies. But hey, I was overly excited to be in this desert and knew I had to take full advantage before we would drive on (not my choice of travel as it turned out).
When the piece of fabric with the Indian technique called shisha mirror application was fully finished, I admired the mirrors on the checkered pattern while we were at the coast of Peru, the sea and its clear colors.
The hemp cotton I dyed back in Spain, in a haphazardly manner. I should have used soda ash to clean the fabric and use a mordant to have the natural dye stick to the fabric but I only boiled it with salt and curmcuma. It doesn’t matter really, as this pouch has become the typical old-fashioned local style pouches I bought in bazaars in Afghanistan or Pakistan. That means it is dirty, as hands who embroider are not always clean when the life the embroiderer is living is outside, with soot, dirt and little hygiene.
This pouch is not meant to be washed in a machine. Or washed at all. Beauty also sits in used items, stained and greased by the touch. However, the pouch is clean save from a few faint crayon lines.
It was with us when we rented a little cottage close to the Amazon in Ecuador. Boarding the plane with the pieces of fabric in carry-on luggage, the pouch arrived with me on our kickbike trip through the USA. It followed to Germany and on to Hungary where it lay awaiting to be stitched. Very much activity followed and the fabric was never touched. When it was touched it became a flop. The fabric and its mirrors proofed to be super sturdy as I had to fold, bend and wriggle it many times in trying to figure out a beautiful design.
It frustrated me, that I could not come up with a beautiful design. This was the 3rd failure, another pouch which was not stitched in one go. Agitated I went to bed and overthought how I could fix the Problem Pouch: there are worse things in life to fret about. The next morning the pouch was stitched in one quick go. Hurrah!
This piece of fabric had to be a beautiful sleek, simple design as the embroidery is rather prominent. It had to be an eye-candy to me because it had been to places so gorgeous that I wanted it to be worth of where it had been. I think I succeeded.
The outer material is hemp cotton from Nepal. The mirrors are from India, taken by my friend Rita. The yellow cord and inside are made from a discarded pair of 60% wool/40% polyester trousers from the dad of my husband. The cream colored lining comes from the cooperativa in Mennonite community Filadelfia, Paraguay.
I used shisha mirror application with a chain stitch around each mirror. The checkered blocks are in Romanian couching as are the blue dividing lines. The cord works like a tie, and is adjustable.