1 hour ago
Wednesday, 12 March 2014
World Textile Day Wales is on Saturday, in Llanidloes. All info is on the WTD website. If all goes according to plan, there will be a yurt outside the gallery, so we should be easy to spot! I have lots of lovely new fabrics - some just arrived today - including the biggest selection of striped cotton tsumugi I think I've ever had. WTD is one of my favourite events. If you can't get to Llanidloes this weekend, I will also be at WTD Scotland and WTD West this year.
Monday, 10 March 2014
There will be an exhibition called 'Boro: Threads of Life' at Somerset House during April. Click here for info. Perhaps I will be able to fit this into my London trip in April. 40 pieces is quite a big collection - mine is probably somewhere around the 20 - 25 mark. The photos above are a child's boro futon and a late C19th work jacket from my collection. Both have fabrics of a similar age.
In the cold climate of northern Japan, cotton could not be cultivated and for the largely poor population that lived in the rural landscape there, it was an expensive luxury to transport it to them. When boats arrived to the northern ports from south of Osaka, they were carrying discarded cotton from the central coastal cities where it was more affordable to commoners but only available in shades of blue, grey, black and brown – colours permitted to them under strict sumptuary laws of the period (more opulent colours were the reserve of the aristocracy). Here they could trade the pieces of cotton for fish or seaweed, taking them home to be patched onto worn-down workwear or frayed futon covers. As Japan’s society shifted towards industrialisation and urbanisation in the early twentieth century, the patchwork practice faded and many boros were simply thrown away, acting as a painful reminder of a poverty-stricken past.
People are always very keen to justify the use of browns and blues in rural Japan by mentioning sumptuary laws. The only thing is, as far as I am aware, these kind of laws were no longer in force by the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, which is when the oldest boro now being collected tend to date from.* Even my oldest piece, a work jacket that features in 'The Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook' has only mid to late nineteenth century fabrics in it, so it can't have been made much before 1900 - applying the same dating 'rules' as vintage quilts i.e. it can't be older than the most recent fabric.
* I checked the point about sumptuary laws online. This is from the V & A - " Many women could afford to buy silk kimono for the first time and, with the end of the Tokugawa shogunate and the sumptuary laws, were not forbidden from wearing them." So clothing from the end of the nineteenth century onward wasn't affected. Since a lot of boro date from the early C20th and a fair amount of boro clothing was produced during the 1930s and WWII, when there was a 'patriotic' emphasis on obvious economy in clothing (similar to 'Make do and mend' - see Lisa Dalby's book 'Kimono'), it can't be argued that tastes in clothing were still entirely due to sumptuary laws that had been defunct for over half a century.
If you can't get to the exhibition, here's a few old pieces from my collection for eye candy. The last one, with the square hole in the middle, is a rug to go around the irori hearth. These are all early twentieth century.
I have made two photo albums for my various workshops - one for sashiko and one for patchwork and bags - click the links in red to view the albums. You don't need to buy a print copy of the albums to be able to view them, but I created them so I'd have photobooks for my workshops that I can show people easily. Click the 'full screen' button at the bottom right of the pages to see the books on a large scale. You can pause the slideshows and flip back and forth on the pages with the arrows on either side. I've included lots of photos of my workshop samples, pieces made in the workshops and class photos, along with information about what you'll achieve in each class. Enjoy!
A while back, I figured that it was probably more economical to make photobooks online and get them printed rather than printing out my photos at home - and there's often a special offer on them too (buy in advance or similar for a big discount). So I made three photobooks with photos from shows, my quilt related travels and this blog - volume one, two and three. I included photos of some workshops (mainly those from trips abroad) and there are some photos that I've been sent, as well as those I took. These are 100 page hardback books, so I wanted something simpler to feature my workshop options, and the notebook format seemed just right.
Tuesday, 25 February 2014
On my last morning in Yamagata last November, Hiroko took me to several kitchen showrooms. We wanted to have a look at all the latest storage ideas, kitchen layouts etc. to see if I could come up with some inspiration for our new kitchen in Scotland. We had fun with Hiroko doing all the 'catalogue poses' for my photos, and of course we had to play with the plastic food!
I was very interested in the internal storage ideas behind all those sleek drawer fronts. One of my favourites was the various ways the sink fascia panels pulled out or hinged forwards to reveal extra storage for small items - a space that is usually forgotten about in British kitchens. I liked the way the showroom kitchen drawers and cupboards were full, just like in a real kitchen. It helped you visualise the kitchen in use, unlike the usually empty drawers in our kitchen showrooms.
This one was probably the ultimate set up like that -
I had forgotten that Japanese sinks are usually so roomy. After seeing the sinks on display, I changed my mind about having a bowl and a half sink, and bought an 80cm wide sink for our kitchen.
This pull down dish drainer shelf was a great idea. Unfortunately, it wouldn't work in most British kitchens, because we tend to have the sink below the window.
There were pull down shelves, great for those of us who are vertically challenged. There were even motorised top cabinet systems. Ideas like this mean the cabinets can go right up to the ceiling, without the gap we usually have at the top. The movement of these shelves is very smooth, and they are counterbalanced so it is easy to push them back up.
Shelves that slid out were also fitted in a lot of the kitchens, and wire drawer systems. I would like to try this in the one cupboard we will have (the rest will be drawers).
I liked the sliding doors and the clever way the tall corner cabinet doors slid right back into the sides.
I don't think I will be including this idea - I really need all the space I can get under the sink for storage.
This was very neat, if you have an open end on a run of units (I won't have one).
Integrated dishwashers are usually in a deep drawer beside the sink, much smaller than regular dishwashers over here. I don't have space for a dishwasher, even a small one.
I brought home a lot of kitchen brochures but unfortunately the cabinet sizes are different from ours - 90cm rather than 80cm width, so some of the clever inserts wouldn't fit even if I could buy them separately. I would like to adapt the Ikea Faktum kitchen cabinets we bought with ideas like the sink fascia storage. Ikea discontinued their Faktum kitchen this month, so we had to get all the cabinets to match the kitchen doors we bought in the summer - the solid oak framed Tidaholm doors were discontinued in July! I had a look at the new Ikea units earlier. They include a lot of drawer cabinets, which would make great studio or workshop storage, but also some interior fittings that might work with the Faktum cabinets. I got a lot of inspiration in Yamagata, not only of the sashiko kind!
Local artist Ros Arno-Button just called by with a leaflet for the Coupar Angus Snowdrop Festival next weekend. She'll be opening her studio, the Potting Shed, at Easter Balgersho, Coupar Angus, on Saturday and Sunday, 11a.m. till 5p.m. Rachel Bower, basket maker, will be demoing there too, with taster sessions fr adults and children and Maria Nodgren will be showing her ceramics (not those above, which shows Rachel's baskets with Nancy Fuller's pots, at last September's Perthshire Open Studios at Maria's studio in Alyth).
Click here for more info.
I'm not doing any demos personally, but I think we will be going over to the Potting Shed on Sunday afternoon.
Yes, there are quite a lot of snowdrops out too!
Monday, 24 February 2014
I had a good show at the Spring Quilt Festival at Edinburgh last weekend. The new mini workshop, 'A Mini Mariner's Compass in Sashiko', went well. Everyone got three pieces of Japanese cotton fabric, the same plain fabric that goes into my bag kits, and a skein of hand dyed thread from Images of Egypt. Glyn designed this pattern while we were at the Scottish Quilt Championships in September. It works in a similar way to some motifs I saw on an old jacket in Shonai but of course there is no set way to stitch it, so we had to invent it. My friend from Edinburgh, Fiona Flitheridge, stitched the samples above, not all in the workshop of course - it looks like she couldn't stop stitching when she got home!
Glyn hasn't started any new patchwork recently, although he's been doing some tiling that looks rather like patchwork -