Sunday, July 25, 2010

gion matsuri floats part 2

after my last post about the gion matsuri parade, i realized i completely forgot to mention the textile aspects of the floats!
i'm not sure how that happened! but here are a few more photos showing more close up views.
in my opinion, the most interesting thing about the tapestries on the floats is that they were collected from far away exotic places several hundred years ago. for example, china, persia, or europe. so the floats are actually like moving museums. and, it's like these collections that the wealthy kimono merchants of the edo period (1600s-1800s) were then preserved over time, because they are still used for the floats today.
so it's a traditional japanese festival, but even traditionally, it includes textiles and tapestries (and other treasures) from other far away countries that were exotic to the japanese of the edo period.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

gion matsuri

last weekend was the biggest event of the huge kyoto summer festival, gion matsuri, the big parade called yamaboko junko.
there are 2 kinds of floats, the tall ones called hoko with the long pole, and the shorter ones called yama. this photo shows one of each.
this float had an amazing moving praying mantis on top!
and this one was exceptionally boat-like.
i watched towards the end of the parade, at one of the larger intersections where they turn the corner with the floats.
the men riding inside are playing flutes and other instruments to make the traditional gion matsuri music.
the floats are huge, heavy, and pulled by ropes. and the reason the that these big intersections where they turn the corner are popular places to watch the parade is because of the way they turn them.
the wheels don't turn. so when they get to the intersection, they put wet bamboo strips under the wheels, which are held immobile. and then all the people pulling the roles go the the side, and pull the wheels SIDEWAYS to make the float turn. it takes several times.
and the whole time there is music and coordinated shouts. these 4 men on the front gesture with their fans turning the actual turn. it was really fascinating to watch. and really hot.

i made a flickr set with more photos here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

make your own pick up sticks

last week i was telling my students about pick up sticks. my students are all japanese adults who take english conversation class, and once a week we have a chatting hour. i don't remember how we got onto the topic of games, but after comparing hide and seek, and different kinds of tag, which are pretty similar across cultures, they wanted to know about games that i used to play as a kid, the kind with toys. oh, and jump rope is international too, although what we called chinese jump rope is called something else (i forget) in japanese. the 2 games that involve things that i thought of were jacks and pick up sticks. i loved jacks as a kid. and apparently it doesn't exist in japan. although according to youtube (very helpful for chatting hour) it's an 'ancient' and international game. we found a set of pick up sticks at the school, and enjoyed a game (also the first time for my students). although they were the plastic kind, not the nice wooden ones.

and, if you fancy making your set of pickup sticks, here's a tutorial from chez beeper bebe, via whip up.

what were you favorite games as a child? i also loved hopscotch and foursquare.

Monday, July 19, 2010

crochet covered stones

beautiful pattern from margaret oomen for sea urchin crochet covered sea stones on the purl bee.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

a lovely rest

i actually love my very busy life. i am so very grateful that all the things that are making me feel busy are the opportunities i am so fortunate to have, and i really enjoy them. but recently, i have been especially enjoying some 'lazy' time when i can find it.

just looking at this cushion couch by christiane hoegner (via bloesem) makes me grin, and feel a little rejuvenated. i was always a blanket nest-builder as a kid, and i've always loved pillows. i can just imagine a wonderful nap on that couch.
christiane also made these lovely paper sugar packets, which look like they are just sewed around the edges and then you tear the top off to use them. i love sewing and paper.

i hope you are having a restful weekend, whether you are taking a nap or having a leisurely cuppa.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

new nani iro fuccra double gauze

nani iro fuccra double gauze, in blue, and eggplant.
ok, this fabric was released earlier this year, from the wonderful nani iro line from kokka. but i just got around to finally putting it in the shop. it's the cotton double gauze we have come to expect, with whimsical, abtract, pretty patterns. every time i see it, i am consumed with thoughts of what i would like to sew with it. for myself!
a similar thing happens every time i visit the inspiring simply iro flickr group, where i saw this great project from filminthefridge (lovely blog by the way!).

actually, i am the very excited and proud owner of a new sewing machine! and my first project that i started is a shirt using this fuwari fuwari nani iro double gauze. it's a little girly compared to what i usually wear, but i've been in japan for a while now, and that sure brings out the cute and girly in anyone. it is not, however, the first project that i have finished; in fact, it's gone a bit astray...for sure because i thought i would just wing it. so that project is on hold until i redo the collar.

but as a new sewing machine owner, i picked up a couple books for inspriration, inlcuding this one, also for nani iro (or other) double gauze. the title is "made of soft gauze." isbn 978-4141878872.

here are a few clothing patterns, but it has more household objects/gifts.
and of course this nani iro book is still one of my favorites to leaf through and be inspired.

Monday, July 12, 2010

castle peeps summer camp

have you heard of castle peeps summer camp? it's a brilliant idea from lizzy house, with craft projects using her new castle peeps fabric line.
this is the 2nd project, a memory game made from fabric that is laminated. i love this idea! it's so simple, but so brilliant! also, i have a used laminator that i haven't tried yet...
here's a photo from the 1st project-finger puppets! more castle peeps summer camp projects are coming every thursday for 8 weeks this summer, check them out.

Friday, July 09, 2010

tuulikki titine and poppytalk 'oil spill response market'

i love textile jewelry like this piece from tuulikki titine. this is one of the many many wonderful things in the poppytalk handmade market, which is currently the "oil spill response market," with each participant donating one item's proceeds to benefit the gulf coast. check it out and support these folks!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

happy 4th

for those of you celebrating the 4th of july in the united states, i hope you are having a wonderful holiday weekend and some tasty potato salad.

for me, the 4th has always been a pretty mellow holiday, and being in japan i don't miss it so much. in grad school, when i was part of a international summer studio posse, it seemed like we would always wind up in asia for the 4th, taipei or china, and go to pizza hut to 'celebrate.' (sorry, i know pizza hut is gross and corporate, but until you've been a cheese-lover in asia, don't knock it!)

when i lived in seattle, we could see the fireworks from our front yard, which made for a nice yearly bbq party (ohh, i do miss bbq, or 'grilling out' as we say where i'm from).

in college in portland, mostly i think we watched fireworks from roofs of warehouses, or later the roofs of people's apartment buildings.

when i was a kid, we usually stayed home for the 4th, with some small fireworks in the backyard. i always was fascinated by the smoke snakes (cobras? is that what they were called?). and of course we had sparklers, and tried to write our names with the light before they burned out.

i love this photo from emily follow the white rabbit on flickr. when i was a kid, we didn't have time lapse photography, and the image only lasted as a memory of your eye.

but the key is, when someone hands you a sparkler, you have to move! wave it around, make circles, run around barefoot in the grass with the fireflies and crickets in the backround.