Fairy tale palaces rise in the air, princesses dance to their heart’s content, flowers bloom and rainbows splash across the sky when Manju Manoj lets her needle fly through her fabric canvas. She does not spin a yarn. She needles stories.
The latest 100 day challenge on social media, which prompts people to do something continuously and differently for 100 days, has thrown up many surprising talents. Manju Manoj was one of them.
The US resident who traces her roots to Ernakulam has gone viral with the photos of 100 breathtaking embroidery works she posted on her Facebook page. Interestingly, she could not even mend a torn dress until a few years ago!
Revelation in Japan
Manju Manoj was initiated to the world of embroidery in Japan. When she accompanied her husband and child to the alien country, she did not know a soul around. The language, lifestyle, culture...everything was new to her.
Gradually, she warmed up to Japan. During a visit to the house of her daughter’s teacher, Manju was enamoured by an elaborate piece of embroidery that filled an entire wall. She asked about the work. That was her window to a new world.
The teacher’s 60-year-old mother took her under her wings and imparted basic lessons in stitching and embroidery. Manju worked on it. By the time she left Japan after 12 years, she had already exhibited some of her works in the country.
100 days of passion
The social media challenge was an opportunity for Manju to keep on doing the thing she loved to do most. She has spent four or five hours every day on each of the work. Her commitment shows in the works. Her favourite is the peacock with which she topped the challenge.
Manju also dabbles in the exotic Mola craft of Panama. The traditional costume of the Guna tribe of the central American country is hard to make. The meticulously made layered clothe takes many years to master. Manju, however, has given Mola a Japanese touch.
The costumes are expensive, given the time invested on each item and the painstaking details they demand.
Though Manju is fond of making designed bags, Christmas wreaths, bottle works and other decorations, her first love stays embroidery. Manju’s husband Manoj and children Nandana and Nived are all praise for her works.
Manju hopes to organize her own exhibition in India some day. She is mulling an exhibition in the United States.
She is forever perfecting her art. She wants to learn the traditional embroidery in Japan. What she has picked up from Japan is slightly different from the famed embroidery of the island nation.
She also plans to join the Royal School of Needle Works in London, the only institution which offers a degree course in embroidery.
Manju’s art works are showcased on her web page www.facebook.com/sewingwithheart