Meeting 19th October
A very busy day with two excellent speakers. In the morning we listened to a fascinating lecture by Helen Philips about the master craftsmen of Kashmir and the search for the real Pashmina. Pashminas were introduced to the court by Marie Antoinette who had a large collection, Helen showed us a number of slides of portraits by artists such as Ingres of aristocratic beauties wearing these beautiful embroidered shawls. However Helen reminded us that "All pashmina is cashmere, but not all cashmere is pashmina". The pashmina yarn comes from the belly hair of the Lena Rama goat and is a third finer than cashmere, and is gathered, spun, woven, block printed and hand embroidered by master craftsmen in a remote area of Northern India. Helen showed us a number of examples from her collection, we were in awe of the fine stitching the men do on the pashmina following black inked designs that are printed by wood block, many several hundred years old. Helen is involved with many projects in India which encourage women to learn skills and get involved in a number of self help projects so that they can earn money and provide for their families. These are small, remote rural Himalayan communities and all of the products she sells are ethically sourced and individually hand-crafted. Helen buys whatever textiles the projects produce and resells to the public via her website www.doortothehimalayas.co.uk. Her charity Operation Shanti raises money from Helen's talks and a percentage of all her sales which go back to the producers encouraging "Trade not aid".
After lunch we had an interesting talk about Paper and Paper Making by local Lincolnshire artist-craftsman Jonathan Korejko. He gave an entertaining and fascinating talk about the history, manufacturing and uses of paper. We were introduced to the many ingredients that could be used for paper from rags and tree pulp to daffodil leaves, complete with animation, songs and music! Jonathan then demonstrated papermaking and showed us a range of samples and papers that could be used in textiles.