Artistic Ali Alnajjar unlocked his creativity during the pandemic and kept the Covid-19 blues at bay one stitch-at-a-time with his eclectic embroidery designs.
The 30-year-old Bahraini always wanted to try his hand at embroidery which is the embellishment of fabric with decorative stitching.
He found solace in the craft after being struck by boredom and sadness at the start of the pandemic last year. “It has helped me a great deal,” said Ali, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in interior design from the University of Bahrain and a Master’s degree in urban design from the University of Colorado, Denver.
“I’m not someone to shy away from mental health and I think speaking about it publicly helps break the stigma.
“Embroidery, which I think is such a beautiful art form that can be implemented on so many mediums, really supported me especially throughout the previous one year and a half.
“I was hit by a wave of sadness with the start of the pandemic, as everyone has had some form of that emotion, and I noticed an increase in my frustration and anger, which is something I am still working on.
“Embroidery gives my mind this amazing blank moment to just focus on what’s in my hand and clears my thoughts and brain completely. It has turned into a fantastic coping mechanism from these emotions and from boredom, which for me personally, tends to lead into a sadness lull.”
The former Ahlia University lecturer, who works in the retail side of interior design, initially started to embroider things for himself on his own clothes before friends, family and social media followers were hooked with his looks.
“I started embroidering random things that represent me and what I like,” said Ali, who has loved art in all its forms growing up from dabbling in illustrations and fashion design to graphic design, anime art, clay making, sculpting and carpentry. “And, when I say random, I really mean random! I embroidered a UFO, 90s memorabilia, a jelly fish, foliage and so on!
“My inspiration comes from everything and anything. Gradually, as I saw people really enjoyed and liked what I put out, I thought this would also be nice to share with others and I can make my own small business out of this.
“I’m an avid believer in supporting small local businesses in Bahrain and I decided to be one of them in the process.”
Aside from yarn or thread, embroidery can also incorporate materials such as pearls, beads, quills and sequins on just about anything such as caps, coats, blankets, dress shirts, denim, dresses and stockings … which are some of the materials Ali has used on his pieces that can take either a day or a week to complete.
“I can finish a small icon piece in a day,” he explained. “If it’s a piece that requires full filling, it could take a week just because I can’t work for continues hours on it, mainly also because it gets tiring and sitting down for a while with my head tilted down can give me neck cramps. It’s the ugly side of embroidery!”
His dream is to someday see his handy work showcased and sold at a shop.
“I would love to eventually have my work being sold in a shop,” he added.
“I would also love to someday have pieces being sold that are collaborative works with Bahraini artists and painters and featured at gallery exhibits as well.
“But, in all honesty, I would also be completely happy just working with embroidery by myself at home and selling the few pieces as they are produced through my social media accounts and through word-of-mouth.
“Honestly, I just want to embroider forever and be happy and share it with people. If there is something that you like and it brings you joy and happiness, do it, pursue it and enjoy it!”