Craft Arts

India-Inspired Fabric Art at The Gallery at Flat Rock

First 2. Suzanne Ball, photographer

First 2. Suzanne Ball, photographer

The Gallery at Flat Rock will host a trunk show, Goddess Rags: Indian Fiber Infused with Love, featuring the East Indian-inspired creations of Weaverville fabric artist Janice Schmidt on Saturday, June 22, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Schmidt will give demonstrations of her sewing technique and display the variety of kantha fabrics she uses. The exhibition will evoke the colors and smells of India with appetizers and images of photographic work by Suzanne Camarata Ball, owner of The Gallery at Flat Rock. The event is free and open to the public.

“Working with the Indian kantha fabrics is especially fun for me,” Schmidt says, “not only because the colors are so unique and vibrant but because I’m intrigued by the tradition of kantha. Like Japanese boro and American quilting, its roots are in necessity—taking old scraps and hand stitching them together to make a functional, warm and beautiful piece. My favorite kantha blankets to work with are the ones that are patched, pieced and oddly colorful.”

Schmidt’s mother was a skilled seamstress and tailor who taught her that it takes time and diligence to become good at making clothing. “Having been in the craft field for many years, I’ve been exposed to makers whose work I admire and who inspire me, and I learned about the leap from sewing skills to wearable art,” Schmidt says. “I love the resurgence of ‘slow stitching,’ which focuses on taking time, hand stitching and doing it right, not fast.”

Kantha Vest. Janice Schmidt, artist

Kantha Vest. Janice Schmidt, artist

She is continually searching for kantha fabric from suppliers, often working with co-ops of women. Some of the fabrics require restoration in the way of hand patching. “I study the fabric to see what kind of garment will work,” Schmidt says. “I wait for the fabric to speak to me.”

Clients appreciate the versatility of the reversible garments she creates as well as the ease of wear and the original designs since no two bits of kantha fabric are alike. “I recently had a woman who travels the world tell me how easy her jacket was to pack and take everywhere, and that she felt the love that’s infused in the jacket,” Schmidt says.

While she works, she says, she creates an image in her mind of the women who do the hand stitching on the cloth that later falls into her hands. “I imagine them sitting together doing their hand stitching, sharing their lives, laughing, teaching each other— much like the tradition of our quilting bees.”

The Gallery at Flat Rock is located at Flat Rock Square at 2702-A Greenville Highway, Flat Rock. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.; or by appointment or by chance. To learn more, visit GalleryFlatRock.com or call 828.698.7000.

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