Artist Beans TLC Collective

Ai in Wonderland

Pastitch Lifestyle sends us a postcard, but from where? The Met Gala? Gala-gala? Why question it when Ai and her terrain of sweet curiosities have the range?

By Meena Shayna Sarsaba

The cicadas are drilling behind your earphones, your constant mild tinnitus cannot quite make you appreciate these insectile sirens of the night. You can still discern the remnants of the eclipse five hours ago bleeding upon the caballero trees and skyscrapers. It’s like a negative film behind your office building window, the earth’s penumbra highlighting the x-ray of its own lungs with a layer of red. Can be touched but it takes away your power to know it palpably. The sheer translucent blanket between you and the world is quite impermeable.

Before you clock out of your graveyard shift, you fumble through some travel shots from natgeotravel’s feed or the sequence of stories from your favorite backpackers, which has long been a post-shift habit, if not, fish for stock memories in your camera gallery that you’re not sure you really miss or just feel compelled to quell that sense of incompleteness if you don’t look at them again. But right now the public wi-fi from the next building is wavering and you’re at the edge of the rabbit hole of your existential paradigms. There’s barely any reception coming through, everything is slow yet transitory at midnight. You hate to admit it but free-falling back into these moments trapped in another time gets you high. An ecstasy, that’s your subconscious exhaling as you banish your cigarette into the bathroom trashbin depths and mask it with perfume.

You have just landed in 2016 on your gallery. A picture is labeled with a specific location meanwhile the rest of the images from that day just have the Philippines on them. It was a pretty image taken of you wildly roaming towering pastures, the coconut tree sweetness, colorful dragonflies and fireflies in daylight, infinite laughter, pump boat ride whirr. This cacophonous peace takes you back to the seabed again. You couldn’t believe sanctuary is one tap away and it’s seeing yourself this happy and untethered once.

You google it but Google on data is inconvenient, jagged, jammed with unloaded images, it’s all ads but still, you proved to be clickbaited by flashing of red text and the link happens to not be broken among the other results on the first page. As it loads, the cicadas’ chorus becomes more mellifluous than an ear-pain. It’s passport dot gov. You follow through with an array of agreements to terms and conditions. You already have an appointment schedule. Manage Existing Appointment. You had an appointment secured, despite the many midnights refreshing on a minutely basis just to find a slot, what is this? You zoomed over to your email in search of the schedule but instead, you find an unread email from an airline confirming a flight along with an itinerary, or rather, a Migration Map of your involuntary trip.

I guess you were too disturbed to pack when you rode to the airport the following day. Wonderland is a state of mind, you wouldn’t have thought it actually exists.

But you now have a ticket to Wonderland.

And your mode of flight: A hummingbird for rent.

Would you get on the flying jewel just to be closer to your touchable daydreams not knowing its stakes? Would you keep going if you’re only led by serendipity to a dimension where your nest of thistles, dandelions, and scraps of memories has yet to be sewed?

Flutter aboard, you have your patchy outriggers and sails, after all.

You’re already at the airport. Yeah, so what, I am still at the airport too.

Ai at the 2024 Met Gala (⌐■_■) (〃▽〃)ヾ(*▼・▼)ノ⌒☆

I tell you, traveler, about Wonderland where I stumbled across the gorgeous and mystique Ai. It’s called Pastitch there and it was swaying on a splendid rainy Friday, the encounter was made warm and balmy to the spirit. She’s a stitch witch and a free bird from the island of Leyte which is in and of itself a grand tapestry of volcanoes, falls, mountains, crests, and forests. The bold, contrasting colors and patterns are the charm to her bucket hats, pants, robes, drawstring bags, all of which are upcycled and patiently handmade by Ai. The colours explode even at night. Pastitch is like a mix of Bisaya and English (for us who’s heard of the term for the first time, I guess), like asking you to stitch for me, stitch for you.

Freedom and exploration play a huge part in creating Pastitch. My creation of patchworks came before we decided to brand it Pastitch. Pastitch, meaning, “an artistic composition made up of selections from different works.” It perfectly echoed the patching of different colors, prints, patterns, and textures, plus my partner told me that Pastitch could also mean breaking boundaries, which is true in my patchworks since different origins of fabrics and prints are merged into one new combination of textile!

A stroke of freedom is evoked in me when I look at Ai’s creations. It makes me feel like the winds are calling me. Mixing and matching patterns take a great deal of exploration & Ai has pulled it off. Something I wanna be wrapped around in when I’m snorkeling on earth, eating a good mango, enjoying a book like Ai, guarded by the coconut gods.

Just like our inclination to snap memories, how we gravitate to beauty and the good, patchworking picks the best parts of something that has gone bad or not quite to be transformed into a wonderful version of itself, and without a crumb of its old form, it will never be what the grandeur it is now. We can turn a grave into a paradise and dictate our own laws. An homage to memory, artifacts from a happy or borrowed time, the past and the new, what it means to live, to love, to lose, and to remember. Hummingbirds have adapted to gathering nectar to regurgitate it as pollen and feed wildflowers and plants splashing iridescence and life onto our landscapes.

I don’t think this is a write-up anymore but a thesis that attempts to draw the parallels of Pastitch Lifestyle and hummingbirds.

Patchworking picks the best parts of something that has gone bad or not quite, to be transformed into a wonderful version of itself.

There’s no bird quite like a hummingbird that’s born with a needle for a bill and tongue and give them their uniqueness in the aviary. Almost like Ai’s needle is the spirit of a hummingbird meticulously preening and probing over her fabrics and bonds each divergent patch together, convergence of fear and serendipity. Hummingbirds fly upside down too, and backwards, and sideways and switch their locomotions in an instant. Maybe it looks like you’re against the flow but you’re not, you’re simply attuned to your rhythm. It’s just astounding that these discordant beats cohesify into plangent harmonies. The bucket hats have its own hum. Can you hear it?

What drew you into patchwork designing?

One of the main reasons why I decided to push through the idea of patching is a great deal of its sustainability. I could make something new from a cluster of discarded somewhat still good clothes. Aside from it’s cheaper to source from ukay-ukay’s and hand-me-down’s, for me, I find more variety from these sources. The uncertainty, the excitement I feel whenever I enter an ukay-ukayan is a significant part of the creative process!

The Pastitch Lifestyle is making a statement without words but with patterns, being built small but living large, to adapt and be resourceful in the wild as do hummingbirds evolving their foot size for efficient flight. She’s a witch with a cause indeed. Making a move to relay the aesthetic projection of the very human inclination to repair broken things putting over holes to make the whole durable again and rebuild for whatever reasons. These small pieces become magical growth.

You source the patterns via ukay ukay & donations of old articles of clothing from friends/strangers, but how does a pattern pass the Pastitch Lifestyle test? I have a strong feeling you sing to your textiles/sing while stitching.

Now that I think of it. There is no certain criterion, I can’t explain exactly but I just know when the combination worked, it honestly depends on my mood or the music or silence or even the conspiracy podcast I listen to at the moment. I just flow with the moment.

There is something about uncertainties in patchworks that give me freedom. It’s like a fabric puzzle with no right answer

That’s what makes it special though. No other patchwork is like the others, there is something about uncertainties in patchwork that give me freedom.

I really wanted to know how sewing makes you feel. Your creations radiate naturalistic energy, like if you went into the forest you kind of camouflage but stand out at the same time too. The burst of pinks & neutrals & dark greens, all of it!

During the process of piecing together the variety of fabrics, I really don’t have a fixed or expected outcome. The magic happens during sewing, at first I get intimidated and excited from all the chaos of fabrics! There are no same designs/combinations, sometimes I cut the fabrics into smaller pieces. Sometimes bigger, or angular, it depends.

It’s like a fabric puzzle with no right answer. I can do whatever I wanted with them, the finished patchworks would surprise and excite me every. single. time. Patchworking/sewing is a VERY therapeutic activity to me. I didn’t even think I’d be enjoying it as much as I did. It has been, so far, a very personal journey to me for sure.

Just for kicks, if you were invited to style at the Met Gala with your chosen theme, though I reckon nobody else could carry your masterpieces like you would! The world needs more of that free and beautiful spirit.

Yes, I admit that I’m very interested in pop culture. Especially the Met Gala where I could review the fits and looks of celebs. It’s really fun to see some designers showcase their creativity and personality through fashion! Met Gala, though for me is a very distant delusion of mine, is something I would love to be able to do [fingers crossed] …someday. I’m not sure who to style yet, but I’m thinking of anyone who has the same passion for expressing themselves through fashion as me.

Ai, you were a genius for that amazing patchwork corset. I hope all other great things are coming for you. Not only are her pieces a sight to behold but sustainable wearable artwork is still missing in the high-fashion world and the Met will just be a bonus for the success she already has right now. For as long as the energy put & wielded is protected. Sometimes good clothes fall into the wrong hands and they lose their spirit/sacredness.

Aside from sewing, what brings you joy? And if you feel like your designs don’t fit your flow as of the moment, what would you do?

Spending quality time with my loved ones whether it’d be staying at home and cooking or exploring outdoors brings me so much joy which I very much do every day. Staying with my partner, Soika lately has also given me a certain amount of freedom, being away from my family in Cebu has been liberating too when it comes to creating my art. I can’t do much there since I don’t have enough space for my stuff and patchworking could be a very messy job. And whenever I don’t feel like IT, either I start a new patchwork or set it aside for later to redo it, something like that. Or spend hours having a staring contest with the fabrics.

It’s so refreshing & nostalgic for me because Soika’s graffitis have roamed the entire Cebu (e.g. the end of Busay, there’s a mutant/vomiter looking at you while you pee in the woods) and I haven’t been to the city in over a year so it would also be like wearing the city/home with you. Keeping my eye on what’s in the Pastitch cauldron! Mutants in textiles within mutated textiles.

Romantic ug tripping si partner nako, si Soika. Dako kaayu siya help nako especially when it comes to artistic impact namo sa usa’t usa. And actually we are planning a lot of collabs for now and in the future, which is very exciting jud!

Personally, every time maka finish kog hat or dress or anything Pastitch, maka-ingon jud ko I would wear this but mostly kay naa na man tag-iya dapat mu let go.

You will find more of Ai’s artistic voyage in her patchwork Wonderland and taking care of her baby cat at Pastitch.Lifestyle.

Pastitch is not only about clothes but the appreciation of your own plumage and our unique coloration. To look at parts of your sum, so you can better appreciate you as a sum. we are asymmetrical, we are full of wonders. Just like you put two hummingbirds together, we can reconcile that we are made of similar parts but we will never be the same persons. We honor that difference by returning to our roots, imagine having that part, different but built for a similar function, having to rebuke that part of someone is a reflection of you just calling down that idiosyncratic part of yours too.

The body is our vessel, vase, carrier but so can our clothes provide that protection in our own individuality. They are the paint that holds our soul profoundly and frivolously. Some of us feel sheltered in the presence of wearing clothes. Isn’t it ironic, humans can have clothes even their pets, but the more we hoard this unnecessary waste for ourselves, we strip off the earth of her natural landscapes, her own draperies, and garments, of her shelter. She is barren and naked without her hearty green and blue spectrums. It is not enough that we keep planting seeds, but if you do, then you’re doing amazing and keeping being an example, there is a need to urge wasteful tycoons and monopolists to reduce their carbon footprints. A community can grow into something national, global, universal. After all, we started as cells, every living being with a heart for the future of creatures and our home planet is a very vital compound.

Though hummingbirds migrate in solitude, a flock of hummingbirds can be referred to as a bouquet, a shimmer, a glittering, or a tune. And isn’t that what it means to come together? That solidarity is indeed magnificent, luminous, and powerful. If we could only do it together and I have a foolish belief that a better world is possible. And this is how we start small, growing bigger every day, upcycling, recycling, being sustainable and ethical in most of our means, that’s our share in sewing and stitching the green back onto the earth’s crust, to remove the benign growths on earth’s lungs. I have so much hope sustainable and ethical fashion can slowly patch up the torpor and bald portions and wounds of mother nature. The earth deserves more than just band-aids.

Be like a hummingbird, to go with our own rhythm, if you see a flock that doesn’t share the same heart as you, keep going anyway. You’ll find your bouquet, your glittering, your tune eventually. Different species, same feathers, you are made of me, I am made of you, made of earth and each other.

゜✭・ . ✧ ゜・. ・✫・ ゜.

Wonderland Playlist:

   ✧ Atom Dance – Björk
        ✧ Ojos Del Sol – Y La Bamba
        ✧ Nada – Lido Pimienta, Li Saumet
        ✧ Smokey Taboo – CocoRosie
        ✧ Buzzed – ¿Téo?

Meena Shayna Sarsaba graduated from the University of San Carlos and is now spending most of her days as an opalescent pink poisonous soft coral scape klepto dreaming inside an umbilical cord (yes, you read that right) and being an advocate for kindness since day one. She is officially Team Love Club’s fairy.

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