Thursday, 26 January 2012
I was up early in the morning and the thermometer read minus seven. It had snowed a few more centimeters but this was easily shoveled away. Layers are the best way to go with clothing on a trip into Tokyo on a day like this. Leave the heavy leather coat in the jeep and make a mad dash for the train. The heat was on in the Tokyo Dome for the 'Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival'. (Couldn't they come up with a name that slid a little easier off the tongue?) I could swear I heard the old Sesame Street tune, "One of these things is not like the other , one of these things just doesn't belong...." on the PA system as I walked in. Thousands and thousands of quilter women and one rough looking snow shoveler bumbling in.
I was still bundled up toasty warm not quite sure why I was even there. I suppose I wanted to see quilts made with old Japanese textile scraps and there were some antique textile dealers from all over Japan. Great stuff. Always makes me smile. And to check out potential shops that the tour members would be interested in visiting. I brought along a few recent magazine articles about my work to make it easier to approach someone and strike up a conversation. For Japanese I can look a little scary with a beard fresh off the road cleaning crew.
My first stop was at Lynette Anderson's booth. She is beautiful and holding down her fort with her daughter and a Japanese translator. I was not quite in sync with the mood of the of the place, slightly sleepy from the snow and train ride and ten layers of clothes. I was fumbling around in my bag to find magazines and explain what I was doing at a quilt show. My face was red for some reason and then I realized it was partially because I was a walking sauna. Try peeling off a few layers of sweaters and keep a casual conversation going with someone you just met. Suddenly wet sweaty hair stuck to your forehead...
I couldn't find my camera to take a picture of the booth until Lynette reminded me that it was hanging around my neck and not in the bag. Her daughter giggled at my stupid face as I struggled to get it off my neck and take the picture. What a geek. Jeesh.
Look a the expression on their faces....entertained by the bumbling silk farming dork.
This is the same view yesterday morning as the 'Fresh Green' on the right side of the blog.
It snows and it gets shoveled, then it snows again....someone has hit the repeat button.
I have trouble getting links in this blog. I have a feeling it is Japan. Here is Lynette's quilting website. http://www.lynetteandersondesigns.com.au/
Wednesday, 25 January 2012
It is hard to digest all the work there. It is impressive to see how much thought and work go into making the quilts. An old line from a high school text book popped into my head. It was from Kennith Clarke in his "Civilization" TV series on the BBC. "It is hard to define what civilization is but not so difficult to see what it is not."
I prefer the quilts that would actually be used on a bed to keep warm. Most are made to hang on the wall. This is fine but still... A little wear and tear would make them look more beautiful. And hundreds of quilts hanging up under fluorescent lighting in a huge sports/rock concert arena. I would be nicer to see them in a venue more respecting the the millions of hours spent on the stitching and designing.
So many things impressed me. Here are some pictures.
Small scraps of silk Oshima tsumugi. It was good to see this precious silk used on something that will be kept for many years. Often these old kimono are taken apart and made into western clothing.
This was a clever usage of the old linen/cotton bags that were used to filter miso and make soy sauce.
Here the overall design is Japanese and the colors are very Japanese. The small shape motifs are so clever as well.
Of course their were plenty of blossom theme Japanese quilts.
This one was just crazy creative and cool.
A lot of indigo in the quilts,
Thursday, 19 January 2012
I have been a Apple/Mac fan and Steve Jobs admirer my entire adult life. OK. He wasn't the perfect human but he stood where humanities met technology and did about as good as a job as it as I can imagine. I read and re-read his biography over the winter vacation. And checked out that old ad campaign for the Crazy Ones...
Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.
(the link might not work from Japan. Just search on youtube for 'Think Different.')
The ad featured short clips of Bob Dylan, Amelia Earhardt, Picasso, Muhammad Ali, Jim Henson (muppets) , Martha Graham, Maria Callas, Alfred Hitchcock, John and Yoko etc.
Near my house two dear friends live and work. Their studio is called, 'Saiseiryu'. Recycle Way. They are both Japanese. She was born in Japanese occupied China and grew up in Tokyo and Moscow during the cold war. She later worked for several top Japanese designers,(Issey Miyake) and later worked as a clothing designer in Hong Kong and then many years in New York with their own brand (Pluto Cat on the Earth) with her husband. They never thought about selling as a priority. The fun and integrity are priorities. They don't think about integrity but instinctively work with materials that reflect their ever evolving relationship with this over-crowded and over consuming human species that is amusing itself and the planet to death. They make all their own clothing. Like John and Yoko they sit and talk about ideas and then actualize their ideas. (In their clothing.) After September 11th in New York they moved back and live a quiet life in the mountains near me. My town is famous for artists and I often wonder where they are....there are a few talented and famous and successful writers and painters and potters near by and I have been lucky to know them all these years. But Saiseiryu are special. They are still growing and their work has substance because it is real time as well as connected to the world at large. We had circled and eyed each other from a distance for a few years before becoming friends. Now I tear up thinking of the privilage it is to be near them.
They use only cloth they have picked up and re make it into...I could write volumes. But this post is about the New Years precious present they gave me.
They are almost universally seen as crazy. To me they are about the only sane ones in the town. They showed up at my house to pick up some stuff dressed in The Jetsons meet Space Janitor self-designed white nuclear clean-up uniforms with comical non-functional hard hats and Dalai Lama pictures and 'Toxic Waste Beware' printed on their plutonium clean up crew jumpsuits a week or so after the nuclear accident. "We were either ten years ahead or ten years late when we were wearing these in New York." I just kept a straight face as we had coffee and cookies but my other visiting friends thought they were actually heading up to Fukushima in these nutty outfits to clean up the reactor. I had a much needed laugh for days at their genius and guts.
Last year just sucked. Nuclear......grrrrrr.
It is an old tradition that the neighborhood guys put on a dragon/lion suit and come in through the front door and dance around your house uninvited to clean out the last year's bad energy and bring in new energy.
They showed up on New Years Eve with Jun dressed in a hand-made green robot bird and danced around my house with incense purifying the house and bringing in fresh energy for the coming year. Why a bird? "I don't want to be a human anymore....look at the stupid things they do. I'd rather be a bird and fly away from this mess."
Snoopy was feigning disinterest but she later winked and said that it is better to just play along with a straight face. I could have swore I heard her giggling insanely in her sleep that night.