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Reviving the art of smocking through embroidered masks

When the pandemic broke out in March, city-bases corporate trainer Jyothi Thomas came to know that there aren’t enough masks for police personnel in the city.

Reviving the art of smocking through embroidered masks
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Masks that has smocking embroidery; Jyothi Thomas (right)

Chennai

Under the Care for Cops initiative, she distributed around 22,000 masks to the police force. And these masks were made by daily-wage workers during the initial phase of lockdown. A few days later, Jyothi stumbled upon her daughter’s baptism dress and she noticed smocking embroidery done on the bonnet. Smocking is an embroidery technique used to gather fabric so that it can stretch. This got her thinking that these days, nobody does smocking on dresses and it has almost become extinct. She decided to revive the art of smocking and launched a project called Mission Mask: 2.

 “I approached the people who made masks for Care for Cops project to be part of Mission Mask 2. Also, I got in touch with the Little Flower Convent School for Deaf and Dumb. A few of their inmates also joined for making masks. They learned the smocking technique through vocational training. These masks are made by differentlyabled, senior citizens and marginalised women,” says Jyothi.

 As soon as she sent out the details of the mask, Jyothi received a huge response from people around the world. “My daughter, Kavitha Thomas, is living in Canada. When she shared about these masks to the Tamil community there, they were ready to support the project. There are two objectives with this project — one is to financially support the marginalised women and differentlyabled and second is to revive the art of smocking, an embroidery technique. The artisans take 2.5 hours to make these masks with smocking. I think this is the best way to reintroduce smocking technique,” she adds. 

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