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Japan Tour 2018 – Day 7 – We left our lovely Japanese inn this morning for almost a whole day of traveling on various trains. We left at 9:30 and got to our hotel In Yonezawa around 3:00. This is the garden at the inn. There were beautiful compositions where ever you looked in the gorgeous garden—complete with koi swimming around, of course.
A partial view of our breakfast at the inn this morning. Notice the fire cooking something good.
We rode past many rice fields. If you look closely you can see snow on the mountain. It was cloudy all day so all the scenery had a shadowy feel to it.
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Finally we saw cherry blossoms. They have all been finished wherever we’ve been. We are farther north but I only saw these from the train. I kept looking for them in the villages we rode through. Many houses had something blooming but the cherry blossoms were all gone. We have seen evidence of beautiful cherry trees along rivers in several places along our trip however.
This is my best photo of snow on the mountains. They were quite a distance from the train.
This picture doesn’t belong here but I couldn’t resist it. This was in a tiny shop in the little town where the Japanese inn was. We love soft ice cream and had to stop when we saw the sign outside this mans shop. This was new technology to me.
I leave on May 5 and return May 30! The map shows where we’ll be travelling which is all new territory for Cathy Cerny and me. We’ll be more in the countryside (I think) this time. We fly into Tokyo at Narita Airport and soon take off to the north for Nagaoka after one day to visit our most favorite places and regroup. I marked our locations on the map with black spots. You will notice that there will be a lot of area to cover in 3 1/2 weeks. We’ll be staying in 10 hotels including our two times in Tokyo. At the end we have 5 nights in Tokyo for some time to revisit places and a flea market. We’ll be joined by two friends of Cathy for about a week or so and that will help a lot with translating and company. Otherwise it will be just Cathy and me. She did all the research for textile workshops, studios, shops and museums along the way.
I am almost packed to leave in the morning. We can ship our big suitcases ahead to the next town and they will be waiting at our next hotel! This makes travelling in Japan really easy. We only have our carry-on bags with us on the train or when we have a hotel for just one night.
I hope you can keep up with us (and that I can, too)!
Adela Akers – Red Sticks
This piece is one of two I have by Adela Akers. She weaves narrow strips on her 4-shaft floor loom. Here are two stitched together with black horse hair woven in. Between the folds she has attached little red twigs from a tree in her yard. The red is the natural color, she painted the black color. The piece is 12” wide by 14” tall. [click images to enlarge]
Adela Akers – Horse Hair and Diagonals
This is another piece woven by Adela. Here, three strips are joined. Again, she has woven in horse hair. It is about 12” x 11”.
Sandra Brownlee – Black and White
This piece is by Sandra Greenlee. I love the simplicity/complexity, borders, everything. She weaves in the black patterns using inlay technique. I read that she opens the shed then decides what black threads she wants to lay in, each weft at a time. Originally I thought she had a jacquard loom—and I was crazy about the fact that she used it so sparingly. How mistaken I was—but I think it would be a good thing to try. Dimensions are 9 1/2” x 12 1/2”. Notice how nicely she finished the top and bottom and designed the selvedges.
Lia Cook – Pressed Work
The last piece is by Lia Cook. I remember fondly when she was weaving these lovely twills in fat rayon butchers string and then pressing them hard to flatten the large wefts. Dimensions are 7” x 8 ½”. I often wondered if it was one of her original samples. It gave me the idea of framing some of the experiments that I wove.
How these have inspired me:
Each artist has inspired my own weaving. I have used horse hair in my sheer silk pieces. I wove rose thorn twigs in other sheer silk pieces. I have always been fascinated by selvedges and little warp face patterns. And I pressed some linens I wove after hearing Lia talk about flattening her pieces using a rolling pin. I have these pieces on my walls in my living room and they continue to bring pleasure and inspiration.
Ethel Stein. The Three Graces, 1995. The Art Institute of Chicago. Gift of Ethel Stein. © Ethel Stein – click to enlarge
When I was living in New York in 1983 I began volunteering in the Textile Department at the Cooper Hewitt Museum (now part of the Smithsonian). Milton Sonday was the curator and a wonderful mentor for me. He introduced me to Ethel Stein and I visited her home and studio one day. She taught me the secret for using the warping paddle and was friendly and generous with her time .
Ethel Stein. Red, Yellow, Blue, Green, Orange III, 1995. The Art Institute of Chicago. Gift of Ethel Stein. © Ethel Stein – click to enlarge
She had just finished building her drawloom after figuring out the mechanics to make it work. She began with a countermarch loom and converted it to the drawloom after studying damask fabrics at the Cooper Hewitt with Milton.
thel-Stein-Moon-Wall-2008-The-Art-Institute-of-Chicago-Gift-of-Ethel-Stein-c-Ethel-Stein – click to enlarge
Her woven work is beautiful and especially so given that she didn’t have a computer or computer generated drawloom at that time.
I was thrilled to find this video of her working and think you’ll love it. I hope to have a video of me working to play at my memorial some day! Other weavers might consider doing the same thing.
“Shiny” by Peggy Osterkamp – silks dyed with black walnuts [click to enlarge]
I was busy over the holidays making this piece. All the fabrics were dyed with black walnuts I collected in early December. Some I put in iron water for a short time to “sadden” or grey the colors. There were two different fabrics which were shiny so I could play with the color differences when I turned them 90 degrees. I cut the squares and turned them 90 degrees from each other to get the same effect as changing the nap in corduroy or velvet. I mounted the pieces on cotton fabric strips and moved them around to make the composition. Then I mounted all the strips on black fabric. Everything was joined with long straight pins. Some time ago I realized the straight pins in my pin cushion were too fat for silk fabrics so I got “Extra-Long Satin Pins”.
Last night when only one light was on in the room, the pins themselves shimmered for further effect.
When I got started I wanted to know what fiber my fabrics were made of. I went to my files to look up “burn test” and there was a page from my own book! I’m still not exactly sure of what I have—it came from a warehouse sale I went to in November. I think they are silk. Here is the chart from my book, “Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth“.
I seem to have found myself finding vintage clothes and loving them and not being able to resist them. These are from known designers from the 60’s and before (I think). Jeanne Marc I remember from the hippie days from North Beach in San Francisco. The yellow outfit is a copy of Adolpho. Jigsaw from London designed the navy blue and white one.The dress with the bow is by Cynthia Steffe. And the Marimekko dress reminds me of dresses I made and wore. Anyhow the fabrics are delicious and some of the construction is haute couture. What a find for a textile lover.
Shopping. Here is a bit of my stash.
Thimphu. A Fantastic place for a great hot chocolate. Like drinking chocolate pudding. The pizza is good –recommended by a reliable source. Try not to miss it when in Thimphu.
Great bookstore in Thimphu. Lots of books in English and books about Bhutan. I’m sorry I didn’t buy a book about the fabulous birds in Bhutan.
Paro. Today was our next to the last day. It’s the place where tourists enter or depart from western Bhutan. It is in this lovely valley. Most of our group is hiking up to the tigers nest tomorrow for the day. Cathy and I are going to hang out in the town and shop and figure out how we will pack our suitcases.
Paro. Our last views of rice fields. We’ve seen rice paddies at all stages on the trip in India and Bhutan. These look like they will be harvested soon. The patterns are so beautiful. There are lots on terraces in the mountains.
The famous Tiger’s Nest monastery where everyone but Cathy and I are spending most of the day hiking up and back. I’m glad not to be going. Hiking all day doesn’t appeal to me even though I know the view at the top will be great. They are leaving the hotel at 7:00. I think we’ll set the alarm for then. We have to leave the hotel at 5:30 am the next day for the airport. The official name of the monastery is Taktsang.
Around the market stalls are the mothers’ children. These posed and mugged for me. First one then the other was ready for the photo. Finally they were in sync. A really nice way to end my reports.
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The loom used for weaving wool. A four-shaft floor loom. Very primitive with re-bars on top to hang the pulleys from. Quite a change from back strap looms with fine and dense warp threads. The wool warp and weft threads were not so fine or dense.
A close up of the wool loom that shows how primitive the mechanism is to hold tension on the warp beam. Re-bar again. Making a ratchet is difficult and many other solutions to keeping warp tension exist.
This is how the cloth beam folds the tension.
This is the woven cloth. It’s a plain weave with supplementary wefts.
This guy took my picture. Up close.
This guy held on tight to his toy at the festival.
On our second day in Jakar in the Bumthang district we drove out to the Chumey Valley to see wool weaving which the Bhutanese call yathra. This handicraft shop sells finished goods and does a lot of natural dying of local wool.
Here are dye kettles and the wood fireplaces that would heat the dye baths. It’s interesting how the wood fires we’ve seen work. The end of a log or piece of wood would be lit and as it burned it would be pushed farther into the fire.
The women gathered to pick up the dyed yarn to weave at home.
A women leaving for home with her yarns for weaving.
This woman couldn’t lift her load no matter how she tried.
With help she got her basket up onto her back.
One woman’s load of dyed yarns.