Sunday, March 1, 2015

Enjoying the "River Gallery"

Friday morning some members of my Friday group, met at Nakai train station, only four stops away from my home station, for a treat I have been missing for years!

I have to admit that I didn't know something this interesting was taking place in the sleepy little village nearby.

At "Some no Komichi" the whole town becomes a gallery for three days. The Myoshi River and Nakai shopping streets display dyeing works that have been passed down in this area since the Edo period.

Along with the main dyeing centers of Japan, in Kanazawa and Kyoto, Tokyo has also been favored with pure water from the Myoshoji River, essential for washing cloth.

Although the kimono business has been shrinking, the craftsmen have continued their business in this area and kept the traditional hand-dying techniques of Yuzen, Kata-zome, Edo-komon, Shibori, and others alive to today

We crossed the river many times and it was hard to resist taking just one more picture of the 'tan mono' rolls of cloth strung along the river.

These pieces will be cut and sewed into kimono.

As one walked the streets up and down along the river, the many small shops were a gallery of countless "noren", these hanging curtains used in doorways.

I understand that many homes rented out space for shops and displays.

I guess you could tell how popular the exhibit was by counting the shoes in front of the step.
A few of those in my group were wishing by the end that they had worn shoes a bit easier to step in and out of.

Though shops hang out noren to let customers know they are open, ordinary homes use these too to partition rooms where they can pass easily without doors ... kitchens and hallways for example.

Here is another very decorative noren in another style.....

and someone wrestling with their shoes for perhaps the tenth time in the morning....

There were exhibits of work and demonstrations of the various techniques used to decorate cloth.

There were even places where, for a price, one could try their hand at decorating the cloth in one manner or another.

This exhibition had items for sale and lovely examples hanging on the walls.

This hanging of a lotus plant had an explanation in English,

"The Lotus symbolizes the past, present, and future.
The past is the seed,
The present is the flower,
and the future is the bud.

The dragonfly is considered a valiant creature on the side of victory."

Maybe the people in charge of the exhibit should volunteer to help with the Tokyo Dome show to make it more international-friendly.
It was nice to be able to read the additional information.

This dyed piece with a young boy riding a carp was charming and colorful in itself but the English explanation may have been informative to those who are not familiar with symbols of "Boy's Day".

Before leaving at the end of the day, I paid a visit with two other group members to the Hayashi Fumiko Memorial Hall, where we enjoyed viewing the beautiful Japanese home and gardens of this famous writer and her painter husband.

Note the noren hanging just beyond the door to the garden gate.

This house also hosted an exhibit of shibori dyed cloth.

I particularly liked this indigo-dyed kimono.

We studied this pattern for quite some time trying to figure out how it had been done so perfectly.

The garden was large and peaceful with flowers beginning to celebrate the coming spring.

I told an elderly volunteer who was guiding people through the villa that I thought even I could become a writer, or perhaps a poet sitting in this beautiful place and looking at the wonderful garden.

He grabbed my shoulders and said, "Come here with me", and led me to a spot....

He had me bend down to the level of the table, saying this is the room where Hayashi-san wrote her books ... the table holds her writing tools and beyond is the garden ... not so quiet at that time because of visitors enjoying the garden paths.... but that zabuton does look very inviting.

As we made out way back through town to the train station ,,,

more colorful dyes fabric hung along the river.

These look to have been done by students of some school and one had children's hand prints along the strip in an assortment of bright colors along with the name of the school.

And ... along the other side of the river ...

Teruteru bozu ...

A figure that is hung in the hope that the weather the following day will be fair.

Often if the wish comes true, a face might be painted on the figure.

Yes, Saturday the weather was also fair.

I don't know if they reeled in those figures and hung new ones or not ...
But Today ... the final day of the festival began with rain that has become worse as the day progressed.
It was lucky for our group that we picked the best time for our visit and I could see all these interesting things right on my door step.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Getting creative - Tokyo Dome part 5

I am not sure how quilters decide which category to enter their work in. Many of the "Traditional" quilts were very innovative.

I did notice among the "original design quilts" there was more machine piecing and machine quilting and fused applique. BUT, that being said, there was also a lot of hand-work and the same attention to detail found among the traditional ones.

This quilt, "Throughout One Day" by Miyoko Sekiya  is very rich in detail ... and I might add, charm.

Even the appliqued border is very creative. This was a popular entry and hard to get a picture of with all the surrounding fans.

This quilt, 'late Summer" by Yumiko Saita
has a great deal of hand work in the aplique and quilting.

The light brown areas near the border are many small pieces squares to get the mottled effect.

I can't imagine the time this must have taken.

Tanya had a lovely detail of these fish by Yasuko Kawaguchi.

It is all done in Mola style and has a wonderful variety of color  ,,, actually better than what my camera shows.

This cute quilt with the title of "Orusuban".

Meaning loosely,"Home Alone" Shows
what this quilter's dogs get into. ... and I thought Nikko was naughty!

It was made by Toshiko Maeda.

Enjoy this detail of those naughty dogs.  Plenty of embellishments too.

This bright cheerful quilt is called "My Town".

Sakuko Sumita  may have machine pieced these houses but the quilt is all finished by hand.

I might have expected to find this quilt among the "Wa" quilts.

The title is "Why Don't You Try to Take One Step Forward".

It is the work of Ritsuko Ishizuka.

It is also hand quilted.

This one has been machine quilted and is by Kimie Kawaii.

the title is Perpetuity or maybe Eternity.
Whatever the title, it is a real eye-catcher.

This quilt looks like mosaic tiles and is quite stunning in detail.

It is called "Paris, My Dream" and was made by Ikuko Shigemasa.

This quilt called "Anne Shirley"

is the work of Fumiko Nakanishi.

Just red, black and white but quite an interesting variety of fabrics used ...

and some fussy-cut text added in.

Probably machine pieced but hand quilted with embroidery on the faces.

           "Viva Cotswald" is another lovely pieceof hand work. It was made by Keiko Iwatani.

 "Green Curtain"  is the work of Sumiko Aoki.  It is almost so busy with detail, you hardly know where to look.

 "Halloween Midnight Party" is machine made by Kinuko Ota. This year there were two Halloween quilts.
The other one I only got a small detail of an owl and I think that quilter makes a Halloween quilt every year.

"Silent Night" is by Tamiko Umawatari.
This looks a bit like a Wa quilt to me. I like those fussy-cut hexagons in the tree.

This quilter makes an entry every year of black and white cats. This one is called "Zen Practice Studio of Neko Theatrical Company" and is made by Naoko Suzuki.

This is raw-edge applique and lots of embroidery and hand quilted.

No way I can tell you what the writing says!

Here are the Original design winners. I can't say I agree with the judges choices  but they are interesting and certainly Original.

"Tightrope" by Jim Hay received the third prize. I wished I could read the description to see what was the idea behind this piece of work. There was a lot of machine appliqued raw edges. I don't think one would see this quilt on a bed.

Second prize was "Rose Garden" by Takako? Ishinami.

And the first prize went to Yumi Odajima for "Log Cabin II" . Probably machine pieced but quilted by hand. I cn
t say I am a big fan of "Wonky" but the colors are bright and attractive and probably it wouldn't be as interesting if all the blocks were orderly

 These are the over-all winners. I wonder which categories they were entered in to begin with.
This quilt by Reiko Hatakeyama received the "Friendship award.

 I think this second prize winner by Akiko Watanabe would have been my first choice among the winners. The detail has been done to perfection.

 The Grand Prize went to Etsuko Misaka for this quilt. .. Maybe a "Wa" entry.

And this ... "My sweet house with KIRARA" won the "Hand Making Award". It was made by Ayako Kawakami and certainly does have plenty of hand made detail.

So, this is about it for this year's Tokyo Dome show. In early May there will be another show of 80 pieces at Mitsukoshi, The Oedo Nihonbashi  Show... something about May Weather is the topic.  My friend Yasuko Kuraishi will have a quilt in that show again this year so I hope to go. I can't remember if  photos are allowed at that show or not.

I wish I had some work of my own to post. I have been slowly working on a Christmas tree skirt for my elder daughter, though her birthday has past at the beginning of the week. Scout stuff comes in big hunks and I was busy with a Pack meeting Friday, teaching knife skills on Saturday and a den meeting Sunday afternoon. We are getting ready for a pinewood derby and everyone is curious about what my car will be this year. I have to admit I am having trouble coming up with a new idea every year.  Luckily, an owl whispered in my ear and gave me an idea so Tuesday I got out my knife and the block of wood and today I added some paint. I will introduce my entry when he is finished. For now ... it is time for some shut-eye, This took a lot longer than I thought it would!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

What's a tradition? - Tokyo Dome, part 4

Were you to attend a quilt show in Japan, you might begin to think these quilters had an obsession to detail. Many years ago, before the advent of big quilt shows, I went to a comparatively small gallery quilt show. I never knew if the work was connected to one "school" of quilting or how it was sponsored and put together.

When I entered the first section, most of the quilts were copies of Baltimore Album Quilts. They were just perfect down to the last detail. I was in complete awe! THEN, I entered the hall and ALL the quilts on display had the same degree of perfection. By the time I came to the last quilt on display, I was thinking "this is a case of over obsession"! More recently I have noticed quite a bit more individuality and creativity but the attention to detail can still be seen and admired.

These quilts are from the "Traditional section of the Dome show. It is interesting to me that in addition to pattern choices, tradition still seems to mean "Hand piecing and Hand quilting"

 Take a look at the detail on this quilt by Hisako Murai, named Furu Furu.

Though the individual blocks are the same design, there is a variety of fabrics used, some even with text and different shades of background.

I have to add that in Japan, "traditional" also seems to mean "made and quilted by hand".
The quilting here must have taken hours and days.

Here is another detail ...

And I might add here, that with the crowds as they were, it was practically impossible to get pictures of whole quilts without heads and arms and elbows thrown in....

Flowers are Blooming, is by Toshii Naoi.

Again there is a variety of blue diamond pieces and color values in the flowers. The quilting is also superb. How could any judge pick a winner from just these two ? ,,, and there is more to come.

And this one ...loosely translated as
"Flowers Blowing in the Wind"
is by Sumie Kiyota.

Just look at the perfection in that quilted background!

 And here is still another...

a detail of "Fountain" by Junko Fujiwara.

Another item we saw in rather large numbers among these medallion designs was backgrounds that were shaded from center to borders.

We mused that there might be a quilt school that supplied this type of fabric because it was used in so many quilts.

How about this one?

A little different take on the background, but the same attention to detail.

"Looking up into Blue Skies"
is the work of Toyoko Nakajima.

I think this may have been shown on one of Queenie's posts,

"Work Number 11 for my Daughter"

by Kiyomi Deguichi.

(By and large the lighting was much better than the spotlights used at the Yokohama show but a few has shadows falling across)

Here is a detail of that same quilt.

Note the variety of fabrics selected and the stitching around the interlocking circles.

This "Pattern of Autumn"

is by Mitsuko Shimizu.

This effect of a graded background was all done by piecing little squares of assorted fabrics.

Imagine putting an applique over the top after going to all that trouble!

Another lovely quilt called "Reborn"

made by Yukiko Tanaka.

Each repeat of design, white on red or red on whits is so precisely done.

And that border work ... what a labor of love.

"Courtyard of a Maiden" is another of the medallion designs with shaded background.

This one is by Masako Kumakawa.

All that feathered quilting has to be see close up to be appreciated.

"Wishes for Roses" is another quilt using the shaded background but in a different configuration.

It is made by Yoko Masuda.

Note the feathered quilting on this one!

And, lest you think "traditional" means medallion patterns and flowers to Japanese quilters,

Here is a detail of a quilt called "PEKE" by Hiroe Omori.

I was attracted by the bright colors and variety of fabrics in this work.

The blocks also seemed to be quilted as individuals, each asking for something a bit different from it's neighbor.

Or how about tradition with a twist?

You get almost dizzy looking at this piece by Miyoko Takada.....

called Moment of Green,

And here is a detail of  "Kaleidoscope"

made by Misako Ohnizuka.

Even with all these busy prints, the design is not lost among the black and white alternate sections.

This must have been a fun quilt to make.
...and plenty of work.....

Another corner detail of an amazing piece of work by Megumi Yokoyama,

this one called "Ocean Story" is full of mariner's compasses appliques.

If you are a fan of Lucy Boston as I am, you will appreciate this wonderful rendition.

Though this show is given the word "International" in its title, there were very few quilts that I found that were not made by Japanese quilters.

This quilt was made by Suet-Fern Lee from Singapore.

Having made two quilts in this pattern, I can appreciate the work that went into this piecing.

Another detail I just have to share is this piece made by Kazuko Harada.

Called "Wind Time" she has used one of my favorite Japanese fabrics, Tosa tsumugi, a product of Shikoku which is becoming more and more rare, as it is woven by hand.

The loom is strung with one color, most frequently black, and the color stripes are woven across. I love the muted tones and can identify a number of fabric patterns I have used over the years.

I think this "Light and Shadow" quilt by Michio Arata was presented by all three of us.

It is also a stunning piece of work and I love the way she has managed to ues light on dark and dark on light.

Maybe a new twist on a traditional idea.

How on earth could the judges come up with three awards when every one of these quilts was a prize winner in its own right?

Here are those that were selected.

"Masterpiece of Bricklayer" (looks like it might be Tokyo Station) by Chizuru Naito. 3rd prize

"A Thought"        by Mihoko Taguchi          1st prize
And one more for the road, the second prize winner,  "A Twisted Spool" by Yoko Koizumi.

And, as a parting shot, a birthday girl!

12 years ago in May, my kids brought an orphan puppy home from Tochigi.

When I took her to the vet the next day to get a check-up and shots, the vet said she was about three months old. Counting backwards, that put her birthday on Valentines day.

No longer the skinny little pup, she is pampered and loved by her adopted parents (and over-loved by her Papa who thinks Love =food)!

And, for a dog that is afraid of fire,

she has become pretty cozy with the space-heater.

(Actually, when I picked up the camera, her nose was resting on the base of the heater)

Hope you winter climes people are keeping warm too.