Monday, November 24, 2014

Japanese Adventures - Yokohama Quilt Week

The main reason and the timing for our Japan tour is the Yokohama Quilt Week.

There is always an enormous quilt on display at the entrance which is breathtaking.
Lots of different booths are selling a wide variety of fabrics and notions. The Japanese are very into handbags so it's great to have such a selection of handles and clasps and bits and pieces.

Lovely to see the ladies in kimonos shopping for patchwork fabrics

Some of the clothes available for sale are magnificent. This is my favourite booth where all the fabrics is brown persimmon dyed linen (I think). The fabric appeared to originally come in small sacks stitched and quite stiff so I don't know how it is treated to make the clothes so soft. Unfortunately they are very very expensive - a jacket is about $1000. Lovely but well out of my price range. 

We actually saw the sacks later in the tour when we visited the traditional Sake brewery and they seemed to be the sacks the rice came in. They had some lovely small pieces made out of them there too but still quite expensive.

There are lots of stores selling recycled kimono fabric including my favourite indigo dyed pieces as well as some magnificent boro (recycled) fabrics. These are stitched together with a sashimi style stitching in a patchwork manner. They feel lush and rich and full of history.

Of course there are lots of quilts on display but unfortunately most of the exhibits won't allow photography - you have to buy a Show book. This year Modern Quilt guru Weeks Ringle and Kaffe Fassett had exhibitions and I believe Kaffe's fabric sold out the first day. I was very pleased to meet up with Weeks as we have been Facebook friends for ages.

They even have much more interesting food than other quilt shows. I succumbed to this iced grape drink which was delicious as well as mochi (rice paste) balls on sticks and delicious fried chicken.

Very popular was the frozen chopped fruit salad complete with condensed milk topping. The guys even came around a little later to top up your condensed milk - yum!
As an added bonus this year - in the hall next door was the Antiques fair which captivated me. I spent hours wandering around looking for interesting fabrics and was really really lucky to find a stall selling vintage yuzen stencil screens. I bought quite a few and must admit that I went back the next day and bought even more and can't wait to try them out.
Here are a few

I really wanted to buy this chest of drawers with a different shape mold in each drawer but when I went back the next day I had misread the price by an extra 0 which made it a little out of reach but it was really lovely.

You could really find anything in the antique market from Samurai suits to dolls to pottery.

I even saw some hexagons for sale.

 I was very luck to have a play on the new Bernina Sit down mid arm which was very exciting
 So I guess you can see I had a great time at the Show - I know my tour group did too as their bags were bulging on the trip home.

Yokohama Quilt Week is around 12/13 November next year so if you want to come with us, just contact Asia Discovery Tour for more details.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Japanese Adventures - Workshops

If you don't follow me on Facebook ( you may have wondered where I have been.  I have just come back from my tour to Japan which, as always was a fabulous adventure. 

I will do a few blog posts with the highlights over the next few days just so you don't miss out.

This trip we did even more hands on workshops which I thought I would share with you.

Indigo Workshop
As you know I am wrapped in indigo dyeing and so to visit a traditional indigo dye works was an amazing adventure.
We all made small handkerchief sized pieces in a variety of designs. I was already familiar with these designs but more interested in the actual process

There was a water bath where all the pieces were soaked first after tying and then to the vat room. These vats are 2m deep and are kept alive by underground heating.

I was so excited by the processes that I asked the master if I could dip my Kantha jacket in the vat. A scary move but as he agreed I lowered it into the vat. I've had the jacket for years and a change is always (or sometimes) welcome

 Not sure if it was the best idea I've had as now a lot of the wear which was hidden before is now showing but it was interesting to turn my Indian Kantha coat into a Japanese Shibori coat. I had lots of comments about it for the rest of the trip.

We also did a Washi Papermaking workshop

We all ended up with a set of hand made paper postcards which will be treasured mementos

Japanese cooking lesson which was not only a lot of fun - we got to eat our results.

The Yuzen Stencil workshop is always a lot of fun. I have done it before so this time I spent talking to the master who has been cutting stencils for 'a hundred years' - well that is what he told me anyway.

So you can see we had a lot of fun. I'm doing it all again next November if you are interested in joining us.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Adventures in Houston

I've just got back from the International Quilt Festival where I had a wonderful time teaching and demonstrating. However the best part of Houston is catching up with friends and seeing amazing quilts and generally having a fabulous time.

The first major function is the Awards Ceremony held in the Ballroom and always an amazing affair with the prize winners announced and displayed around the walls as they are announced. Seeing them up close after the awards is usually a bit manic but the atmosphere is wonderful.

After the Ceremony the Jewel Pearce Patterson Scholarship winners always have dinner. This year there were many of us in town as we finally had our long awaited retrospective exhibition as part of the main show.

I had two quilts - my Orvieto Memory from my original exhibition and Japan Love which is a recent piece.

I did a class with Hollis Chatelaine on dye painting which was very interesting. I didn't really grasp the skill in one lesson (or the colour matching) but I think that with a little (or a lot) of stitching I could turn this into something. Or maybe not.

 I also did a class with Paula Nadelstern on angle piecing. I learnt quite a lot - including the fact that I have never actually done it right. So that was a definite bonus for me. These are the classrooms with enormous ceilings.

The teacher's room is the best room in the whole convention centre as you get to just sit and hang out with the absolute cream of quilting. I grabbed my moment with Hollis and Paula between classes.

 I ate far too much of course as you know I love my food. This selection of deserts was at a special teacher only function. No I didn't eat all these - I just grabbed them for a photo. The table cloth was included in the door prizes which we hotly contested.
Yes I did look at quilts at the show - this masterpieces was the centre of the 40th Anniversary Red & White quilt show. It was awe inspiring.
The 8 major prize winners are displayed along the main corridor and always had crowds in awe around them.  The best time to see them are early morning or late afternoon without so many people but they usually have the thrilled quilt makers there answering questions which is great.

 It was Halloween as usual during the show. I was going to wear a witches hat to class but decided against it but Jill - one of the hardest workers in the Education Team always dresses the part.
 My classroom was 361 F (I think I have finally worked out the numbering system after 4 years. It is always a thrill to see your name in Houston
 My class was on quilt design using construction paper and some really interesting designs were created. Their feedback was wonderful and made me feel very special

I did do some shopping but not much. There are 18 aisles each with about 50 booths and it is a major achievement to see them all but I think I managed.  However I spent more time chatting with friends as I found their booths than actual shopping.
Here I am with Shelley Stokes of Cedar Canyon

 Paula Nadelstern successfully sued the manufacturers of this carpet which used designs straight out of her book. She gets paid when they have to replace it due to wear and asked us to help scuff it so they will have to replace it again. I did my bit much to the amusement of the passing staff member who I asked to take the photo.
 I had a wonderful time as usual and was sad to go but could have been tempted by these boots and luggage sets at the airport. Very Texan.