Friday, 30 April 2010

New design

I have this vintage wood block print book, it is from the Meiji period (1868-1912), and seems to be a book on historical costume. The description was that it contained examples of women dressed in kimono from the Edo period (1603-1867). There is writing on the prints but, not reading Japanese, I'm not sure what it says.
I thought it might be fun to take some of these drawings and adapt them into embroideries. It will give me some design practice, and also will give me some practice of developing my own colour sense.
I was rather taken by the lady in the first pair of pictures who is playing with the yo yo. So I spent some time tracing the picture and simplifying the folds and lines on the kimono until I thought that I had a pattern simple enough to stitch. The resulting pattern was sent off to my tutor for comments and a request to create a transfer onto some suitable silk. After some exchange of emails a package arrived in the post and with my design on some lovely cream silk with a shimmer of silver in it.
The design of pines you can see in the photo above will be superimposed over the top of the foundation, but I decided that the waterfall would go in first.
I'd spent some time looking at all my silks and planning out a colour scheme and how to stitch this piece. My original plan was to do the top kimono in orange (#207) and to help to create the folds in the kimono I would embroider the kimono in sections.
I actually got more of the orange silk in than is shown in the photo above, but then I decided that it was just too much, it overshadowed everything else, so out it came!
To come up with another scheme I got out all my boxes of silks and spread them over the floor.
Then sat and stared at them until some of the colours started to attract my attention. I also decided that stitching the kimono in sections would be far too complicated so have simplified how I am going to work this.
Out came all the orange silk, but I left in the waterfall. This time I've started from the neckline and am working from the back forwards rather than foreground first. The under kimono is purple (#616).
The second kimono is white, and the han-eri collar is a light violet (#632). These are also worked with flat silk in diagonal layer.
The main kimono is a lovely soft blue green (#544). I worked the collar in diagonal layer.
And the main section of the kimono in vertical layer. Where the sections of the kimono join or where the different colours meet I am working them right up against each other. No one point open space on these sections.
The obi remains in the original colour I chose (#726) which is working well with the new colour for the obi. Filling in the foundation isn't taking very long, but there will be a lot of superimposed work on top of the foundation which will take some doing. So back soon when I have more photos to show.
Check out this website - Michelle left a nice comment on my picture of himotaba on flicker so I checked out her site. Very lovely shibori inspired pieces, worth a visit.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Japanese embroidery to the rescue ...

... well maybe not Japanese embroidery, but our merry band of embroiderers. Just back from our last class in Garstang, where we had a lovely time with all the students old and new, did lots of happy dancing and rescued a lady in distress. This was my first class since completing Kusudama (happy dance) - you can just see it here at the front of the classroom. Denise was very kind and did not bring her Kusudama this time round but let me take all the glory. Thank you Denise. Colleen had completed her Bouquet from the heart of Japan (happy dance) and started on the large Hiogi. Well done Colleen. Class, as usual, ran from Thursday to Sunday and on Saturday the ladies below joined us for the two day taster course. Actually there were six ladies on the course, but I couldn't get them all in the photo at once.
One of our students, Michiko, also makes the most beautiful Japanese thimbles, yubinuki. You can see some examples on her stitchin fingers page here. On Friday evening after class she did a little workshop on how to make them.
It was fascinating and much more complex than I had thought. These little thimbles are quite time consuming to make so none of us completed them that night. Michiko went through the whole process with us, the level of precision needed is quite remarkable. If ever you have chance to take a workshop on making these I would recommend it.
Below is my first attempt. As you can see I didn't get much done, but I'll definitely go back and finish it. Watch this space for an update.
At each class we always have a display table with some kind of theme. This time Denise had decided on cherry blossom. Although cherry blossom season is over in Japan, here in the NW they are still flowering. The uchikake on display that you can see in one of the earlier photos also had cherry blossoms on it.
Remember the uchikake, fan, obi, obiage, and hair pins - all these will feature in our story later.
Does anyone out there believe in fate, gods of fortune or good luck, or sheer serendipity? Well whether these things exist or not, something was looking out for a visitor from Japan on Saturday evening.
Nicola the very nice manager from the Crofters Hotel where we hold the class had told us she had a visitor from Japan there on the Saturday, and after being told that we would be there at the same time this visitor has expressed an interest in popping into see us and what we were doing. Now we're always happy to talk to anybody about our passion so of course we said that would be fine. During the day on Saturday I asked Nicola if her visitor had arrived and was told she was at the airport where they were trying to find her luggage!
It turns out that the hotel had an event that evening to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Garstang becoming the worlds first Fairtrade town, Asami san (our visitor) was coming for the celebrations and was going to give a short demonstration of Japanese dancing. We had just sat down to dinner on Saturday evening when Denise was asked if she could go to speak to Asami san. So off she went and few minutes later came back to ask if Michiko could help her out.
One by one we gradually filtered back to the stitching room to find out what was going on. Asami san eventually had to give up on the airport finding her luggage in time for the event and had come to the hotel and then to us to see if there was any way we could help out.
Remarkably Asami san was going to do a dance about cherry blossoms - remember the display from earlier? The uchikake came off the stand, obi, hair pins, fan and obiage from our display were pressed into service. Denise found an obijimie from somewhere, make up was collected from rooms and lent, umbrellas were found and a suitable one chosen, Michiko did a great job helping with obi tying, kimono dressing and some interpreting and a little while later Asami san was dressed and ready to go and give her demonstration.
Given that the uchikake is not supposed to be worn like this, the obi doesn't really go and everything else is kind of cobbled together I think she still looks lovely. These photos were taken after the dance so the obi doesn't look as nice as when first tied but as we had none of the usual supporting sections for it I think it has survived pretty well.
We got to watch the dance which was very interesting and even got a round of applause from the guests for saving the day. Eventually everyone also got to finish their dinner so all was well.
So that was our excitement for the weekend - we still don't know what happened to Asami san's luggage. I do hope it eventually turned up.

Friday, 9 April 2010

The journey continues ...

I have received so many messages and congratulations on completing Kusudama that I am quite overwhelmed by the kindness of everyone, I am still not able to articulate all my thoughts and feelings in writing. However, I would like to take a few minutes to say a few thanks and if I miss anyone out I do apologise. To Pat and Jenny, the tutors who started me on my journey in phase one. To Margaret who has been a constant presence and support and friend, and who never stints of her knowledge, time, understanding, or enthusiasm (and who lets us raid her library of wonderful things!). To Sue who started on her own journey with me at phase one, and who has become a wonderful friend. To Carol-Anne who has helped me to come to see how I can be an positive influence on other students on their journey. To Denise who asked me to join her on her journey to bring JE to students in the North West of England. Learning from Denise in a supporting role in class has been a great way to start learning about teaching. To Maggie and Cathy, my lovely friends who were with me in our phase 10 class. And to all the other students I met in this class. To all the other students who have made my time in my classes in Bournemouth so much fun, Carol, Jennifer, Betty, Pat, Pat, Janet, Lena, and everyone else too many to list. I will be back sometime soon. To Iris who is on the other side of the world in Australia. To Susan, who is developing her own path away from JE, but her work and her blog is an inspiration to me and to many others. To my non-stitching friends and family. To Dolly Fehed and Mary-Dick Digges who I met many years ago and whose work first inspired me to take up Japanese embroidery. To Kazumi Tamura who taught our phase 10 class and who was a wonderful teacher and who never tired of our many, many questions. To Master Tamura and Mrs Tamura who brought JE out of Japan to the JEC and so to all of us in the west, to the rest of their family and all the staff of JEC. To Kureni-kai in Japan, to the Saito family and all the professionals and staff there. To the late Master Saito, his Master and all the masters and professionals before him who developed and kept this art form alive, and to all the other Masters of Japanese embroidery who are working to keep it alive today. I feel truly privileged to be part of this embroidery family which stretches so far back into history and into the future and which crosses so many borders.
To all the people who read this blog and who leave their great comments.
And last but by no means least, to the new students of Japanese embroidery here in the NW who are only just starting on their journey, and to all the other students of JE all over the world.
Hanayama - phase one - started February 2004

Kusudama - phase 10 - completed April 2010 "The Hands are the Exit of the Spirit"
Let the journey continue ...

Friday, 2 April 2010

The End

Kusudama is finished.
This post marks the end of a most interesting journey and also the beginning of a new one. I was going to use this post to say thank you to everyone who has travelled with me on my journey and to the tutors. students and wonderful friends who I have met along the way.
However it all got complicated and a bit emotional so I've decided just to post a picture of the completed piece and let it speak for itself. I must say one thank you to Massa san who designed the colour scheme which is wonderful. I'll try and get a better photo which will show it off in its full glory.
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