Sudha Pennathur, LP.


As evening settled over the Corte Madera Town Center, the Ninth Annual “Sudha Sale” got off to a fine start on Friday, November 9 with crowds of expectant shoppers entering a world of Sudha Pennathur’s imagination.   The old Ann Taylor store had been re-imagined as a colorful, jewel-toned gallery selling artisanal goods from India and the Far East, all designed by Sudha and crafted by her team of hundreds of artisans.   Playful kantha scarves held their own; finely-woven pashminas and gem-encrusted necklaces contrasted with costume pieces; colorful skirts and jackets anchored one side of the room while whimsical bags, holiday ornaments, and decorative items highlighted the other.   A buffet of pizza, ceviche, brownies and drinks kept energy high as shoppers took in the scene.

The highlight of all, of course,  was the fact that all profits from the sale of these goods would benefit Bread and Roses and Angel Island Conservancy, two local non-profits supported wholeheartedly by Sudha for many years.   With the room full and buzzing, Doug McConnell  introduced Sudha in a short talk that underscored her great commitment to her community over the years and the grace with which she manages it all.    Sudha followed, to speak of her long appreciation for Bread and Roses and the remarkable work it does all year and and for the historic and natural significance of Angel Island  She also thanked the dedicated volunteers and staff from both organizations who had helped set up the sale and are critical, day in and day out, to the continued success of these groups.

 
 Photos courtesy Jon D’Alessio & Jim Prigoff
 


What is unique about this technique from West Bengal is that long before sustainability was a buzz word, the women in Calcutta region would embroider on old cotton saris and recycle them for homes.  Many of the saries were so well worn they would be patched together and that would lend an air of authenticity.

To create these works of art, women would gather multiple layers of assorted cotton saris and  sew them together. Then with weights placed on each corner to stretch the fabric, the women do a running stitch through the many layers. The stitches often are interspersed with alternating long and short stitches.  Often the threads for the embroidery are drawn out of the edges of the saris! Because the saris have been worn for long and washed repeatedly, the colors are often muted and to our modern eye look sophisticated.  Since it is as lovely from either side, it is reversible!

Each woman uses her imagination to do the quilting.  Every piece thus becomes one of a kind.

The works of these village women is carefully brought to the West by Sudha and is now available at select stores and on the web.

 



Chikan is the traditional white-on-white embroidery of Lucknow in northern India. Artists start by block-printing a design onto the fabric, which they trace using a variety of stitches to create a textured, lacy pattern. This semisheer, short-sleeve blouse features chikan work (chikankari, which literally means “embroidery” in the Urdu language) covering the front, along with a squared neckline and side vents.

Women’s sizes S (4–6), M (8–10), L (12–14), XL (16–18).

Get it here!