Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Day 74 1/2-76-Stools For The Spinners

I have been making little Indian stools for Ranjit's spinning wheels for three days now. One a day. Not because it took me that long. Rather, I kept making another because I thought I could make it better. Alas, that was not the case.

It started because I wanted to see if I can replicate the real one (pic left), a typical traditional little stool I bought when I was in Pakistan in 1994. That was the mini version of what I really wanted, a charpai , which is the bed (right pic), made using the same method. Of course it was too big to lug home so I got the next best thing. 15 years later, my little stool still look like it was bought only yesterday, largely because we hardly, if ever, sat on it.

I made the mini stools using Japanese tooth picks, wooden beads and twine (jute). I am sure from the series of pictures below, you can tell how I did it:

I tried to weave the seat like how it is done in real life but the strings was too thick for such a small chair (1 1/4" diameter and 7/8" high). I tried with many material , almost all that I used in my baskets project, but the results were all the same- yuks!

Inspired by the spinning wheels (alright, you got me, I wasn't), I decided to fall back on the tried and tested and made a "wheel" seat.

Although I am not thrilled with the stools, I am over the moon with my spinning wheels. I wished I made them and I wanted to but then luck has it that Daiso sells them for S$2 each. So I grabbed enough of them to start my yarn factory in The Emperor's Emporium.

I knew spinning wheels or charkha will play a part in my palace project because of its significance in India. How many of you know that Mahatma Gandhi's spinning wheel is so important that it is on India's flag?
Here is the famous picture of Gandhi reading by his wheels, taken for Life magazine.

I first saw Gandhi's charkha in the book "Indian Interiors" where they featured the Gandhi museum in Ahmedabad, India (pic below)

His room was so bare, I think there were no more than 6 items in that room and that includes his walking stick. This was his permanent ashram since 1916 where he lived for 16 years. After he returned from his apartheid fight in South Africa the previous year, Gandhi bought the land with the help of an Ahmedabad merchant and pitched a tent on it, hoping to create self reliant communes. Soon, trees were planted and cotton fields irrigated. Whitewashed huts were built for his family and co-workers. They prayed, fasted, grew their own food and wove handspun fabric. This was Gandhi's way of boycotting cloth and fibers of the British ruling class which took away many jobs in India.

The spinning wheel is the most important item in the museum and in that room were 23 exhibits of various charkha, one of which, the double wheel (faster spinning) which could be folded into a briefcase style box was invented by Gandhi himself (see pic above). It became a symbol for self-reliance. Till his last days, Gandhi worked on his spinning wheel , claiming that he felt like he was eating stolen food if he did not work.

Here is one of the last notes left behind by Gandhi in 1948, expressing his deepest social thought.

"I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?
Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away."

This was the T-shirt I bought for FaiZ when I was in India this year.


Mary said...

Regardless of what you say about them, I think your little stools are lovely. I've never seen Japanese toothpicks before hmmm...something to add to my list of things to find!

Liberty Biberty said...

Great stools and spinning wheels! Well done, especially proud of you for persisting!

rosanna said...

You are too hard on yourself. Anyway, what about trying sewing thread next time? it comes in different thickness and so many colours. You should find something apt to your stools. Hugs and keep going

Sans said...

Thank you, Mary and Mercedes :). Mary, I will post/email pics of the toothpicks. They are ordinary toothpicks but the Japanese versions have grooves on the top so that once it is used, you are supposed to break it off at the head to tell people "you don't want to use that again!" LOL. Anyway, these toothpicks are great for making Indian chairs for 1:24 scale but are a bit small for 1:12.

Sans said...

My goodness, Rosanna! Of course you are right! Sewing threads! Silly me!! I think also I may use a proper spindle instead of toothpicks because the proportions are not so nice. It's just that I am stingy with the spindles because I bought them in Taiwan..I may make JUST ONE more after I find the right thread.

Katie said...

I was thinking you could use cross stitch material and take out some strings to get that weaved look?? Might work??

I love your little stools....and those spinning wheels are great! Think of all the colors of fiber that can be placed about the room!!!

Anonymous said...

This is my first time here and am amazed at your meticulous detailing. Great work! I will be back to read more.

Ana Anselmo said...

I loved all the things about Ghandi, no words to described this man, isn´t it?
About your stools all the ideas I had, someone had already given you.

MiniKat said...

I agree with Katie. I think cross stitching fabric or needlepoint canvas would give you the look you want for the stools. Needlepoint canvas already has more of an open weave, so that might look more like the real thing.

Pubdoll said...

Nice work on the stools, and I love your story of Gandhi! So much there I didn't know, but it also gave me a bit of bad conscience for spending so much money on doll's houses. I guess that wasn't your intention?;)

Chris V. said...

I was going to add also that the brown needlepoint canvas looks just like the weave in that stool. But you did a great job on yours, too,. what a fascinating project! (an idea is you could gain a whole new audience compiling all your photos and descriptins into print).
Christine Verstraete
Searching For A Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery

Sans said...

Katie and Kat, isn't it just mind boggling how I have been cross stitching everyday (my next mini afghan)and it didn't cross my mind to use the threads?? Takes Rosanna and peeps like you to remind me again that I have yet to acquire the "mini-eye" i.e see the potential to make miniature from everyday material. Katie, it is exactly what I intend to do, hang colourful yarns outside my tent :). Kat, using canvas itself is a much shorter and easier way ( I think) . Fabulous idea..I can just spray paint it??? wow. Thank you!

Sans said...

Aditi, welcome to my blog and I will be so happy if you visit often and let me know what you think of my little poject. I love your blog and all its colours. I will visit often for inspiration.

Ana, you and me both. Huge fan of Gandhi and all he stood for. Self-reliant and independent! My motto in life as well :). One of these days, Ana, you must show us how to make a marquetry table :).

Chris, you know what, this canvas idea is becoming more attractive by the minute and I have half a mind to change what I have already done because the canvas substitute should be fast and easy? I am going to read Chapter 1 of your book over the weekend :). Print should be for real writers like you :).

Sans said...

oh , Helene, I think spending money on dollhouses is good especially if it makes us happy :) and you know they are heirlooms that your descendants can inherit and then sell for a huge sum 100-200 years later and maybe donate a good portion to charity. Now, if you spend money on gambling, excessive drinking and womanising or manising, now that is a no-no! ;p

Pubdoll said...

Thanks, Sans! Just what I needed to hear:)
Not that I had really considered quitting my longterm relationship with ebay...

Ara said...

Sans, The stools are great!! They go perfectly with the wheels! Thanks for the info on Gandhi and the flag as well. What an amazing man....

Sans said...

Ebay- you can checkout any time you like but you can never leave!

Ara, I think I am going to change the seats..can't decide because they do match quite nicely, don't they?

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