I caught Cathy Hay today on YouTube, historic dress designer, researcher, reconstructor. Check her out. She's a person who creates calm, very helpful now, as well as great design knowledge and expertise.
One of her big, years' long, project focuses on reproducing the famous Peacock Dress. Designed for Lady Curzon when she was Vicereine of india and stitched and beaded by Bengali stitchers in Delhi, it's a museum piece now.
it was a massive artwork, and Mary Curzon specified that the beading and stitching be directed to Indian artisans as a way of publicizing their skills, surprisingly benevolent for the colonial period, turn of the century, early 1900s.
Cathy went to the trouble of finding the name of the workshop where the men, all men, worked. It's not mentioned in contemporary accounts, a less benevolent colonial attitude there, listing "unnamed" embroiderers.
The workshop Curzon commissioned for this work, and for Queen Alexandra's coronation dress, among others, was Kishhan Chand. So now we at least know the workshop if not the individuals working on the dress fabric.
Below are my attempts to catch details of the sample Cathy had made in India via Bernadette Banner, another stitcher I recommend to follow on YouTube.
She's in New York and delivered paper drawings and samples of beads and threads to Mystic Beading, which gets work done in Mumbai by Bengali embroiderers.
The idea of the sample is to get an estimate of the total cost of the dress fabric. Cathy tried doing it herself and found it would take her about thirty years of working days, doing nothing else. So she had to outsource.
Here's my rough start of a drawing of the peacock feather motif, because I am planning a sample in beads and gold work and silver work, to install on the robe, as a homage to the unnamed artisans. For once, anonymous was not a woman.
And in the spirit of respecting the artisans, Cathy also made sure to get the name of the principal worker who created her sample. So it's not an unnamed worker this time.
The embroiderer who took this design from the sketches you see here, to create the sample of which I show details, is Irshad Ahmad.
Another little blow struck for recognition!