Decorating with Textiles: Boisali Biswas
I am Boisali Biswas, a studio Fiber Artist and Art educator, originally from India. I am a real enthusiast about textiles and love to be immersed in their beauty, their feel and their creation. When we came to this country (USA) some 20 years back as students, we lived on very little income and in very tiny apartments, filled with stuff from garage sales, hand-me-downs, etc, But even then, I had to make an environment, which was my very own.
Cardboard boxes, neatly covered with exotic handmade fabrics from India, and created by me, became pedestals, book rests, corner tables, and made me feel at home. After we moved into this big old house, much bigger than our needs, with all the space, it seemed like a palace to us. From day one I started making it our own. I painted walls, doors, covered closet mirrors, painted murals on fences, painted closet doors in kids bedrooms and an old kitchen table with Kandinsky (our favorite Artist), went on and on, until I could make it look like my very own.
Even though we were no longer students, we couldn’t get out of our thrifty spending habits. We didn’t spend a fortune buying expensive furniture but did with what we had and added some more but nothing very exotic. Cardboard boxes, covered with fabrics still played an important role. They were flexible, could be expanded, adjusted according to needs and fun to assemble, and we could change the look completely with no expenses at all.
With this I share some spaces in our home. Enjoy!
This is a seating arrangement in our living room, made with a set of box spring and mattress, covered with an Indian block-printed bed cover. The backrest is a big cardboard box covered with my screen-printed fabric. Pillows printed and painted by me, handmade durrie from India, small raised platforms to hold artifacts or books are made with cardboard boxes covered with fabrics, created by me. Art quilts on the wall are by me. This room pretty much serves as my gallery and our music room. The artifacts are all collectibles from different parts of the world, mainly India and some of our creations.
A wider view of the same room. The sitar on the couch, which my son is learning how to play, is a beautiful Indian instrument. At the right hand corner is a cd cabinet made by us, on which we installed an Indonesian mask.
A view from a different angle. At the right hand top corner is a wallpaper weaving hanging from the ceiling.
On the left is my second Art quilt, about my association with my first born child, my daughter. Everything seems to be more fascinating as a first time mother. I had just learnt how to silk screen with discharge paste, and was so excited about it! In the center is an Art quilt I had made for my son’s 10th birthday. Next to that is a piece, made with discharged/overdyed cotton velveteen and photo transfer.
A close-up of that favorite corner of mine! Below the quilt is a ceramic/weaving sculpture, by me, and 2 raku rattles by me. On the floor is a kilim rug, from India.
A close up of the arrangement, with a painted rain stick in front.
A close up of the other corner. A little painting by my Cypriot friend on the bottom shelf, a ceramic sculpture by me at the left and some acquired pottery/artifacts from different parts of the world, and dried flowers from our garden.
A closeup to show how I use cardboard boxes for pedestals, and book rests, etc. I am a little too obsessed with fabrics, so the inexpensive arrangements work perfectly for me. All of the fabrics are created by me, either printed or woven.
Things in this room change from time to time, especially the walls. I hate empty walls, so when a piece goes to a show, it has to replaced with something else. The same goes with collectibles: a new piece acquired has to get squeezed in somewhere.
Turning a little to the other wall… My large piece “Padharo maro Desh“, (Welcome to My Country), an Assamese floor cushion cover over the box (actually it is a harmonium, an Indian instrument, that me daughter plays), with an Indian wooden horse on top. At the back of the piano is my oldest weaving, purely from scraps. and on top of the piano are 2 potteries by me on each side and various collectibles from around the world.
Next to the piano, on the opposite wall of the main wall.
My wallpaper weaving on the left, to be sent off to Tanzania through the Art in Embassies program. To the right is discharged piece with stamps and embroidery. Next to that is a hand carved wooden stick from Africa. And on the bookshelf are various collectibles, ceramic sculptures, etc.
The corner beside the opening into the room, another cardboard box covered with a block-printed fabric from India and various collectibles on it.
The entire corner, with my multi-layer woven sculpture hanging from the ceiling.
As you enter, this was how our foyer looked until few months back. A terracotta pot painted by me with Mexican motifs, a cardboard box covered with block printed Indian fabric. The lampshade was a tacky lampshade, covered by me with fabric that I painted, inspired by Moroccan lamps. On the wall are African and Indonesian masks.
The foyer as it looks now, a newly acquired table, hand painted table and a rug, all from India. And there is a Moroccan lamp! On the wall is photograph by my daughter, a very magical effect of the stairs, shot at this angle and hence the location… a little strange 🙂
As you enter through the front entrance, a woven piece with ceramics, at the right. Those coat closets had the 60s mirror doors, and I couldn’t stand them. Instead of going through the expense of replacing them, I covered them with paintable wallpaper and painted on them.
On the left to the entrance, a small beautiful quilt made by friend Donna and a lovely glass wall vase made by my friend Sue.
The other coat closet, at the a side little piece of woven belt from India.
An antique embroidered piece on the table below the salt lamp, above is an original papyrus from Egypt.
A corner in our most used room, the family room, the pizza boxes hanging from the ceiling were painted by my well-known painter aunt Shanu Lahiri, when she was visiting us. We love to recycle 🙂
On the left my quilt Dreamtime II and a small weaving made a long time back, holding dried flowers. On the right, a raku clock made by me.
The opposite corner in the family room with an embroidered piece from India covering an inexpensive table 🙂 From the ceiling hangs a mobile made by me woven with shredded photographs.
The fireplace with miscellaneous collectibles, quilted pillows by my friend Janet, my weaving on the wall of my kids.
My first quilt “My Little Sunshine”, for my daughter, when she was born, hanging in a very messed up toy room, with very complicated Lego contraptions by my son 🙂 The quilt was a discharged, screen printed on over-dyed fabric, with photo transfers of my daughter and her favorite associations.
Our formal dining room with a beautiful kantha hanging on he wall which was done by an old woman in an Indian village. On the two sides are Gond paintings, from a folk tribe in India. Ikat table cloth, and Indian table runner. Before this kantha was up, I had my Ecstatic Trinity hanging there for years.
A favorite corner in the dining room, with a marionette from Thailand, Madhubani, Jamini Roy from India, and an exotic begonia. The little table has piece of the handwoven bedspread from India, that we used to reupholster our dining chairs.
A fabric doll made by my friend Janet, named after me !
Another favorite corner with a group of baskets made from birch barks by my friend Mary Horning. On the wall is a wooden walking stick from India.
Our master bedroom, with an Indian handwoven bedspread stapled to the wall, curtains made by me, woodcarving from India. The dresser is an inexpensive one painted by us.
Ours being an older home, we don’t have any walk-in closet, so the screens behind the bed are my effort to make one. Sometime I want to change those reflecting copper panels into oxidized ones. From the ceiling hangs my first ever screen-printed fabric!
From a different angle. A block-printed, hand-embroidered bedspread. On the wall, one of my wallpaper weavings.
Maintaining fibers and textiles has not been much of a problem to me in this country. Growing up in India, we were used to see surfaces being covered with a thick layer of dust, unless someone dusted every day. Compared to that, things stay pretty clean in the closed environment over here. I often take my fabrics outdoors during the summer and shake them out. I haven’t tried any sealants yet because I don’t know of any. If anybody recommends something, please share in the comments.
Two of my wallpaper weavings from my India series.
The stairwell… with an old frame tapestry by me and a Kalamkari wall-piece from India.
Guest Bedroom and Bath
Our guest bedroom, with a quilt on the wall, woven pillows by me, block-printed bedspread from India and my small weaving on the bedside table.
The guest bathroom wall with an applique wall hanging from India.
Downstairs Half Bath
Half bathroom, downstairs. An assemblage on the wall. A fabric bird mobile from India in the corner.
Well, this gives you a good idea of how we use textiles in our home. If you come through Michigan (USA), please visit us! We love having visitors and making new friends, chatting over a cup of tea or coffee. An advance notice will be appreciated to make the house presentable! We don’t want you to be disappointed after seeing these pictures 🙂
Decorating with Textiles Series
Many thanks to Boisali for this enthusiastic sharing of her home, work and sense of style. I had the pleasure of meeting her and her family in Paducah as they passed through on a family trip in the summer of 2013. Boisali is as vibrant as her home! It’s so fun to meet people in real life that we connect with online!
Would you like to share your home with us? The Decorating with Textiles Series will be an ongoing project on this blog. Boisali is a TAFA member, but this offer is open to all of you out there who love textiles. Many of our members make beautiful decorative textiles and functional work as well and showcasing these homes can help stimulate new ideas of what to do with textiles. Seeing a photo online is much different than seeing how a textile will function in an environment. Many people appreciate textiles but have no idea how to display them or what to do with them.
You can see that Boisali also used paint to pull things together into a cohesive palette. The same things might look completely different against green or blue walls. That’s why it will be so fun to have many people participate in this series, each bringing in their own ideas and tastes. Make sure to leave a comment for Boisali. I know that would please her immensely!
Contact me if you are interested would like to participate in our series.
rayela [@] comcast.net (remove spaces and brackets)
Visit TAFA to see inspiring art quilts, weavings and accessories for the home. Maybe you will find the perfect thing for your walls!
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