to use or not to use….

shisha embroidery from India

shisha embroidery from India

I bought these shisha (or mirrored) embroidered pieces in India sometime last century, they’ve hung around in my workshop for at least 15 years. I intended making them into wearable belts, didn’t happen, and to be honest I think the market for mirrored belts is somewhat limited to belly dancers . They are very heavy and inflexible due to the large number of mirrors on each one, and that limits their usefulness on clothing. There were a few mirrors missing, and I liked the look of the exposed red fabric. I removed all of the mirrors  from a couple of pieces and used them to customise some jeans….

customised jeans

customised jeans

Now, I had a pang of guilt as I prised the mirrors out, thinking of those women in the villages of Rajasthan carefully handstitching them in place. Is it disrespectful to their efforts for me to deconstruct them? Anyone who works with vintage fabrics must be faced with these same feelings when faced with a delicate doily or an exquisite piece of embroidery – leave it as it is, but keep it in a drawer or make use of it?
I came to the conclusion that it’s better for me to alter them so that I can use them than for them to languish in the dark depths of my workshop. I salvaged most of the mirrors, which are actually made from mica rather than glass, and I will re-use them in some other manner, maybe on my textile art .

shisha mirrors

shisha mirrors

There’s a tutorial on how to attach them  to fabric here
What do you think about using vintage handicrafts, should they be preserved or reworked?