Tuesday, July 31, 2007

animal mascots made of wool-japanese needlefelting book

i think this book is the cutest japanese craft book yet. full of wacky and adorable needlefelted critters, including the postal donkey (below) which might be my favorite.
ISBN 9784277563109, it's in my etsy shop.

Monday, July 30, 2007

my first yarn

oh my goodness, i love spinning. so. much. and i love lulu, my wheel!

weaving in nishijin, kyoto part 2

earlier this month, i visited the nishijin textile center in kyoto. the nishijin weaving style originated about 500 years ago, when a group of weavers were introduced to silk weaving techniques from china, and lived in the western camp (nishijin) of a general at the time.the textile center is a large and has comprehensive displays, including looms.
mini dioramas of (i guess) traditional silk stores?in the end though, the nishijin textile center is a big souvenir emporium...it has a variety of mini cultural courses. i haven't tried any of their classes, but for anyone seriously interested in crafts, i recommend orinasu (from the previous post) instead just because the textile center is so cheesy.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

are you near portland, oregon?

this weekend there are 2 swell looking craft fairs, both on sunday.
Handmade Bazaar; Sunday, July 29th; 12 noon - 5 PM
@ AudioCinema; 226 SE Madison Street, Portland, Oregon
Rebel Rabbit Craft Fair, Sunday, July 29, 11 AM - 4 PM
@Hipbone Studio, 1847 E. Burnside, Portland, Oregon

yay for portland!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

i have a spinning wheel!

my wonderful new spinning wheel arrived last week! and she is just as beautiful as i expected. it's a louet victoria, which i decided i needed (ha ha) several months ago. the design of this wheel is just really really nice; very small, compact, foldable and good for traveling, which i seem to do a lot of.
i don't have any pictures of my wheel yet, but you can get an idea from this one.
as an abject beginner, i was able to get it set up and start spinning, after some early confusion about the scotch tension. (um, yeah, so the wire with the spring on it has to go over the bobbin.) not rocket science, but i was pretty sure i was going to have to wait for my crafty friend to get back in town to show me.
tonight i spun and plied a skein, and then spun what i think might be the upper bulky limit. even though it's all hot all the time in japan, i still want to spin. yup, another obsession-inducing craft? sounds perfect! i decided to name her lulu.
if you want your own, i think wendy over at lanas de lebelula is swell and can hook you up.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

weaving in nishijin, kyoto textile district-part 1

last month i did a weaving workshop in kyoto with my mom and my crafty friend rebecca. the nishijin area of kyoto is the textile district, and also the name of a traditional weaving style.
our teacher. the workshop was at orinasu-kan, which is housed in a traditional japanese shop house. they have a textile display section, a workshop space, and next door is a working textile factory. unfortunately, you can't take pictures in the factory section, but it was very cool to see how they are using the traditional looms, but updated with electrical and computer technology. (although they showed us a 3.5 floppy disk during the explanation about technology, so i'm not sure how cutting edge it is;-)
a traditional spinning wheel on display in the museum.
we starting by picking colors of silk to use as our weft.
the looms were already warped, so we tried to match the colors.
our finished work. it took 2 hours, and i think we all felt like we had just gotten the hang of tossing the shuttle with the right motion/speed when our time was up.
aerial view of our placemats with a baby for scale.
and this one's just for cuteness.

i would highly recommend this workshop for people who want an intro to weaving. of the three of us, i was the total beginner, so it was a fine level for me. i think for someone like my mom who has done a lot of weaving, it was a fun experience, but didn't get into any advanced information. the instruction was all in japanese. if you don't speak japanese, i think you would have no problem going and weaving a placemat, but obviously you wouldn't be able to understand a lot of information. they are listed in lonely planet too, by the way.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

roketsuzome-japanese wax resist dyeing

roketsuzome is traditional japanese wax resist dying, a batik process. my mom and i did a class at the yamamoto roketsuzome studio in kyoto. they are very relaxed, and used to foreigners. they have lots of info on their website, and the whole experience is set up for you to take a nice handmade souvenir home. they have tons of designs to choose from (you can draw your own too) and you can transfer them to many different cloth articles: T shirts, handkerchiefs, scarves, etc. my mom and i both chose to do japanese noren curtains (the kind you hang in front of a shop in japan). mom's finished work is at the top of this post: irises and maple leaves.
mine are bamboo, which you will see a little later.
the inside of the studio, with the master working on an intricate design. the fabric hanging above is kimono fabric, which is dyed with this process using rollers.
the studio has a number of these desks, basically a pair of light tables with a wax heater pot in between them. example works are hanging all around.
the rollers used to dye kimonos.
roller close-up
these are the machines that apply wax with the rollers. each kimono fabric is 12 meters long, and is run through these machines. most of the work visible in the studio is not this rolled kimono fabric, but rather the hand painted wax designs.
the beginning of my design. the paper pattern goes on the light table, under a piece of waxed paper. then the fabric. then you apply wax with a brush.
the grandma instructor (and my mom!). she gave my mom a lot of pointers, and was not at all bothered by the fact they didn't have a language in common. i asked her how long she had been doing this, and she said: "forever. ever since i got married." their website says the studio has been in business for 50 years. so that's a lot of experience!
more wax
the brushes are dipped in the hot wax, wiped off on the edge rack, and wax should be applied right away to the fabric.
the dye kitchen. the fabric is going in the indigo vat. this is commercial indigo, different from the plant dye mentioned in previous posts. so the square metal vat is indigo, and the plastic bucket on the floor has water for rinsing. on the stove are the pots of boiling water (to melt the wax off the fabric) and soapy water (to get rid of the wax).

the fabric is circulated in and out of the vat for about 20 minutes
and hung to dry. at this point, the dyed cloth looks almost black (it will become dark blue after it's washed out and dries). the yellow wax is still on the cloth.

melting the wax
after the wax is melted off, the white fabric is visible, but the cloth is still darker because it's wet. next we ironed the fabric, which was basically to dry it faster and press the wrinkles.