CHENNAI: For many it’s just a piece of cloth, but if you have an eye for art and mindboggling designs, Shruthi Dandekar’s quilts are nothing less than a visual treat.
Hailing from Satara and now settled in Sangli, a small town in Maharashtra, Shruthi is a self-taught quilter. What started as a venture into upcycling of old clothes became her biggest passion in life. “I started upcycling in 2010 and then I had my big break in 2013. I did a portrait of my husband’s great grandfather Dada Ajoba,” says the quilter who was once an architect.
Shruthi is considered to be the face of the modern quilting movement in India and is also a Bernina Ambassador. No wonder she loves her Bernina 710 sewing machine. She has even named it Ross (Yes, the paleontologist from Friends)
“Bernina became a blessing for quilters like me in India. When I started there weren’t materials available in India; I can even say that there was no awareness. Bernina helped quilters like me have a strong foothold in India,” she shares.
So, how is awareness about the art now? “Back then when I spoke of quilting, people were clueless. Now, it’s different. But it needs to gain momentum and more people should come forward to learn the art,” says the founder of India Modern Quilt Guild.
Inspired by Alissa Carlton, founder of the Modern Quilt Guild, Shruthi started a forum in India for likeminded people to come together and quilt. “It’s successful and a lot of women or quiltaholics are part of it now,” she smiles.
Why just women? “There are not many men who are into the art in India. In foreign countries I personally know a few. But, there is participation of men only as suppliers. My son is one Indian I know who likes quilting,” she laughs.
Teaching her son to make a portrait at the age of five, Shruthi shares that there is no age limit to learn the art. “I have a student, Riya who is six years old and is working on the portrait of Mala now!” she exclaims.
With a long history of women involving themselves in sewing and embroidering to make ends meet, Shruthi says quilting can give them a new dimension and perception in life.
“I am self-taught and have grown so much as an artist. I try new techniques every time and want to be innovative with every quilt I make. I hope to teach more people in India,” says Shruthi who points to the beautiful Godharis quilts of Maharashtra. “There is an abundance of talent that just requires a platform.”
Apart from making artistic quilts with abstract portraits based on expressionism, Fauvism; face portraits with reverse appliqué portrait techniques, she also makes bed and baby quilts. “There are more takers for art quilts in our country than the commercial one. That’s a good thing… I love making art quilts!” adds Shruthi.
Shruthi eyes to create a record of making the biggest quilt in the world. “It’s going to be a group work by quilters from all over the world.
We are still in the research stage and are hoping to create a new record and that will be another milestone in the quilting movement,” she explains.
(The 3-day workshop will be held at the Square Inch, Thiruvanmayur from May 6. For details, call 9551655776.)