Two weeks spent at AMMA

[This guest blog has been written by Sascha Pare. Sascha spent a few weeks with us working in our Nuwara Eliya workshop, the mums loved her being around and the following words express her experience.] 

The AMMA workshop is a little wonder, hidden away amongst the leeks flourishing in the vegetable patches this time of year. A visitor would step into a world of bubbling pots of water brewing with madder root or eucalyptus leaves, a rich tangy smell hovering in the air, the hammering of sewing machines overheating under a confident woman’s hands and the purr of the washing machine whirling colourful fabric around. It’s a small room for the number of things going on at once, the atmosphere is balmy and cheerful.

AMMA workshop, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

It’s astounding how many shades can be extracted from food waste. The process is lengthy and unpredictable and Josie quickly realised that giving out colour samples for customers to chose from was a promise bound to go unkept, but what a pleasant surprise when an expected grey turns out taupe! Josie tried out carrot tops this week, which gave out a vibrant green, and here lies the beauty of respecting nature’s swings.

AMMA workshop, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

On the ‘to do’ list written out in the workshop is a set of 100 golden turmeric pouches for the Wunder Workshop, a food brand selling everything turmeric based in London. The process started last week with the making of the bright yellow drawstrings, and Josie is now waiting for the AMMA labels to be printed in Colombo before the serious sewing begins. In the meantime, the focus has shifted to embroidery, a task I have become enthralled with. We came up with the idea of embroidering the fruit, vegetable or plant used to dye the fabric on the finished product so I have been practising stitching avocados and nelli berries at home. The result, Josie and I agreed, is very sweet indeed. Besides the embroidery being adorable, who doesn’t want to know the exact recipe for the dye used on their scarf? On my last day at AMMA, the mothers stitched pomegranate after pomegranate, hardly pausing even at tea time, to perfect their embroidery.

From what I have seen these past weeks, AMMA seems ready to expand. From employing more mothers to moving to a larger space, to registering as an independent NGO, to setting up a pop-up store and an online shop, Josie hopes and works hard to see AMMA bloom in 2018. For me, this little workshop has been a comforting cocoon, the opportunity to unleash my creativity and appreciate the effort that goes into producing sustainable textiles.

[This post was first published on Sascha's personal blog, to read more of her work follow the link.]