June 14, 2011

Blue Heaven

How was it, how was my trip to Japan? I can hear you are all asking! It was amazing trip. It was well worth the wait, the worry and anxiety. I'm glad I didn't cancel the trip. Many caring people were asking me how was the situation in Japan. I didn't notice anything different in the people. From what I saw on the television the people of Fukushima are well care for from the Japanese government. They are very brave and courageous people and they will come through this. Many of them were worried about me being there so soon after the disaster. 

I don't know where to begin. I thought the tour was amazing, but better things were yet to come. I will just have to blog whatever come into my mind. I will be talking about my trip for a long long time so hope you wouldn't get bore hearing about it. 

OK, my first post is about Blue Heaven. Blue in this case represents indigo blue. I had three chances to visit the indigo artists. First one was with the tour. The second one was arranged by my host family, and the last one I was invited. 

Can you imagine a better looking sitting room? A comfy chair with an indigo cloth thrown over the back! A book in your hand and you can spend the afternoon there. This is the sitting room in the Japanese Textile Workshops studio. 

These two pieces of Shibori were pre-prepared before we went to Someori-San indigo studio. I didn't know if we would get a chance for a dip in the vat (the cloth, not me), but I thought it wouldn't hurt taking a piece to try. The one on the left was mine and the right one was Ayako's (my Japanese friend). 

This is my piece of Shibori after I removed the threads. The colour gets lighter after it dries. 

Elizabeth (I met Elizabeth in an online workshop) and I had a chance to have our photo taken with Fumiko Sato-San. This beautiful energetic lady is a living indigo artist. We were welcome to her studio to see her dyeing in action. I was there as part of the tour. 

These fashionably indigo clothing were on displayed in Sato-San's studio. I didn't get any of the clothing, even though I wanted too! I did get some indigo pieces from her scrap basket. I bet you didn't notice me crushing the bag of scraps in the above photo? 

These are Sato-San indigo vats. They are her treasure. They have pride of place right in the middle of the studio! She has six of them going all the time. We were warned not to fall in. We would have been very blue if we did!

If you ask me what I did most on my trip? I would say I smiled a lot until my cheeks hurt. Ayako told me I was having a party in my sleep! Here I was wearing a real BORO jacket. It was in perfect condition and on my back was a farmer's rain coat made from hessian (I hope I'm right!). Behind me is an indigo vat. It has proud of place by the front door of the house!  

Ayako is kneading an indigo piece between each dye. I have a feeling that she was every happy dyeing too! 

This lady is a student of English, but that day her English lesson was playing dyeing with us. She really enjoyed herself. Wouldn't you be with a result like that!

Bryan the owner of Japanese Textile Workshops was helping us unfold our pieces. He said this is what he likes best. Seeing the result of each Shibori after it is dyed. 

This one is my piece. We got to do two pieces that day. How generous of him! Each of the pieces is long enough for a scarf. I learnt how to fold this pattern that day too.

Let me tell you a bit about my experience with BORO. I have often used this word in my blog.  But this term is seldom used in Japan. It's a forbidden word. BORO means rag, clothing of the very poor farmers. It reminds the Japanes of a sad past in feudal times. 

There I was proudly showing off my BORO patches on my jacket to everyone. I was looked at strangely when I did that. People who know me know that I love vintage clothing and re-purposing my clothes. Today even the Duchess of Cambridge is called a thrifty princes. I just thought I would share with you the meaning of BORO and why the Japanese do not like to use it.


deanna7trees said...

oh i've been waiting for your first post. such wonderful things to see and hear about. i will be following closely. i was surprised to hear about the use of the word 'boro'. loving all the beautiful pieces of indigo. thanks for sharing and glad that you are home safe.

Anonymous said...

Welcome home, I'm happy you had a wonderful trip and I want to hear all about it, it want bore me at all, your fabric is beautiful.
Are your holiday photos on a photo site.


MJinMichigan said...

I'm so glad you had a wonderful trip and can't wait to hear all about it. Your indigo pieces are beautiful. I'm having shoulder surgery tomorrow and won't be able to use my arm for weeks so will enjoy reading about your trip as I recover. Please show lots of pictures and don't worry about boring us.

Queen Of The Armchair aka Dzintra Stitcheries said...

Wow Nat a party in your sleep...ha ha...You had soooo much fun over there...interesting post and good to know the explanation of BORO...you mustv'e learnt so much...Dzintra

Needled Mom said...

It sounds like you had an amazing trip and the pieces you have shared are incredible. It must have been so much fun to be among the shibori artists.

It will be fun to continue to read about your trip. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Kim said...

Oh blog away....I'll never get bored with your trip.... envious yes! bored no!
Lovely lovely indigo......could you ever have too much indigo?

Welcome home Nat and
Happy Sewing...oh yes I saw you clutching your scraps right away!

Simone de Klerk said...

Oh my, this looks like so much fun and so inspiring! Amazing results!

Lis said...

Oh I'm so glad you're back and sharing your trip. Thank you for the info on boro, so useful to know that it's incorrect in Japan. I love all your shibori and those wonderful photos. Wow, you went to Bryan's, was that part of the tour (I was a bit confused about what was what, you were writing so enthusiastically and quickly!) More more more please.

Jeannie said...

Welcome home! I have been haunting your blog, waiting for your first post. I am thrilled you had such a good time that you were smiling in your sleep. Beautiful, beautiful cloth. I love the fact that indigo is so cherished in the homes. I look forward to more reports.

Terry said...

I can feel the excitement in you. The photos are wonderful as always and your smile tell me how much fun you had.
Waiting for lots more.

Penny said...

Just waiting to hear about your trip and see the photos, makes me want to rush back to Japan, so many lovely memories, but if I ever get back I would love to see some of the shibori places, so envious of what you did.

Grand Purl Baa said...

Wow! What a Big Adventure!
The best way to visit another country really, learning something of their arts and crafts.

Off now to look at the rest of your posts.

Michele Pacey said...

You must have had a great time if you smiled until your cheeks hurt and smiled even in your sleep. How lucky that you were able to learn about these dyeing processes and try it on some fabric for yourself. So cool! That indigo vat in the floor is scary. I probably would have fallen in!

Anonymous said...

Hi Nat! I've also been waiting for your post!Thanks for sharing your joy and your lovely pictures. I'm so glad you had a chance of experimenting with as much Indigo as you could! I know how deeply you've lived every step of your journey! You made the most out of every moment, living intensely to your hearts' content! A way of life for you, I know!
Thanks for the picture! Will write soon! love. elizabeth.

Els said...

WOW ! Can't say any more than that right now !!!
I'll enjoy the rest!

Bev C said...

Hello Nat,

What a fun post.Lots of smiles in the photo's.It is very interesting to hear about your trip and yes I don't mind hearing more.
Welcome back.

woman with wings said...

Nat, this was so much fun to read! Your pieces are beautiful and so are you wearing that boro jacket! I'm so glad that you went and had such a great time -- and look forward to more glimpses of the trip!

Astrid said...

Nat, this is so interesting! I love the blue and I love reading about your trip - I've read it twice! :)

Lynda Howells said...

Fantastic blog and what a wondeful time you had you lucky lady. Such beautiful fabric. Oh to be an indigo dyer all the time..bliss.x lynda
ps..did you see holding on very tightly to your bag of scraps. thanks for the lesson on words too, very interesting.

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