Monday, 20 October 2014

Summerhouse update - more shingles and making onigawara

We've been pushing along with the cedar shingles as the weather and increasingly early evenings are allowing.  Now we are up to the window sills, there have been some small but important finishing off jobs to do, like sealing around the gothic window with bitumen tape - it looks like lead flashing.  Glyn warmed the tape with a heat gun for a good seal and shaped around the top of the window with short pieces of tape.  Fiddly but worth it.  The shingles will go right up to the metal weather strip he made out of aluminium section - Homebase had reduced all their 1 metre metal strips to £1 in the summer sale.  Good for us.  It gives a little extra rain protection around the window.

The rows of shingles are starting to build up nicely.

This is a good opportunity to use up shingles with uneven or damaged top edges, cutting them down to fit under the windows.

We bought hardwood sills to go at the bottom of the windows and will add them soon, probably doing all the windows in one go.  As the bottom of the gothic window is a lot lower than the two small side windows, it will have to wait.

The shingles immediately on either side of the window sills have been cut into L and reverse L shapes.  Because the cedar splits very easily, the cut across the grain has to be done first.

It takes Glyn longer to scrape down and nail on the shingles than it does for me to do the initial cleaning (with a stiff nylonbrush) and follow up with the paint, so on Saturday and Sunday I did some batch cooking for the freezer in between summerhouse work - bolognese, curry and casserole.  Sunday brunch was a 'Mediterranean feast' - olives, tomatoes and felafel, with minted lamb, couscous and aubergine - made with the leftovers from Saturday's dinner (there was way too much lamb!)  So we have been eating well while working.

On Sunday, I started work on the onigawara roof tiles for the ends of the roof ridge.  I looked at tiles when I was in Yuza, but they are very large and heavy items to bring back, in ceramic.  The metal kind would have been OK, but they aren't used much in Shonai it seems.  There's more about onigawara on this earlier blog post. I liked this one I saw on Yahoo! Japan Auctions, made in plastic, and used it as the inspiration for my smaller and simplified design.

 I needed a large 'rolling pin' to make the clay slabs, so Glyn smoothed off the edges from an offcut of scaffolding pole.

The paper design.  I only have one copy and ended up having to back it with rows of parcel tape to stop the clay making it too wet.

I'm using a gritty sculpture clay from Scarva - Earthstone Professional Black Textured.   The tiles will go black when fired and I won't be glazing them.  The slab is rolled to approx 1cm thick.  I had thought about sculpting a model, making a plaster mould and slipcasting them, but since we only need two it seemed just as easy to sculpt each one individually, working with a combination of slabs and coil building.

I couldn't find any of my sculpting tools so improvised with a table knife.  The slabs are drying to leather hardness in between slabs of plasterboard before I start building up the backs and bases.  The front decoration will be done last. These are my main project for the current pottery evening class.

Back to the shingles.  Several still have their 'MADE IN CANADA' stamp on the back.

Shame these are all being painted over.

This was just before our stopping point yesterday - up to sill level on the side windows.  It seems to be going quickly now.

We've been lucky with the weather this weekend, as it hasn't been as wet or as windy as the weather forecast predicted.

Friday, 17 October 2014

The 1718 Coverlet - an online review

Jen and Cyn from Stitch Craft Create have given 'The 1718 Coverlet' book a great online review - click the link above to watch (from about half way through the clip.  Thanks very much!

Sashiko, chikuchiku and boromono

I sometimes get questions about sashiko and other aspects of Japanese textiles by e mail.  Today,  Gerry Kortekaas from the Netherlands asked -

Can you tell me what boromono is exactly? Is it just like "our" quilts a 3-layered piece?
Is it put together like our quilts, or do the pieces also have rough edges? And is the quilting done in sashiko style, or in chikuchiku style?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but is chikuchiku more colourfull and less refined than sashiko?

To me sashiko looks more refined, with delicate patterns and blocks. And chikuchiku looks more robust and all over, with less patterns, using only straight stitches and cross-stitches.

I thought it was easier to reply on my blog, so I could include photos. Click on any photo to see it full size. There are LOTS of links too - please click to follow them.

First, boromono.  The word means 'rag thing' - boro means 'rag' and mono is 'thing'.  They are more like the kind of utilitarian rag quilts that were used by farmworkers and hired hands in places like Wales and Australia (where they are called 'waggas') than nicely made quilts that were used for best.  They can be all kinds of things - clothes as well as bedding.

The photos above and below are from The Amuse Museum in Asakusa, Toyko - please browse their website through that link.  This fascinating and very accessible museum is the personal collection of Chuzaburo Tanaka.  His book, 'Boro: Rags and Tatters from the far north of Japan', is available from, Amazon com and Amazon jp, although they all seem rather overpriced.  It was still on sale at the normal price in the museum shop, so if you want a copy, it may be worth contacting them to see if they could send it.  The text is in Japanese and English, so there's plenty to read - not just eye candy.

He has collected many items from his home region, Tsugaru (nowadays Aomori Prefecture).

The museum has excellent information panels about boro.  Not only the usual kinds of museum information, but Tanaka-san relays all the stories and personal feelings of people about boromono and fabric scraps.  You get a real sense of how these scraps were treasured and used to create something special, with love.


Donja or yogi... (a quilt shaped like a kimono)

Not only does the collection have many boromono, but it also has the little bundles that were the raw materials, carefully piled up and tied with strips of cloth.  These are the personal fabric stashes of the boromono makers.

These are links to some of my earlier posts on boromono and boro, and our visit to the Amuse Museum in April.  The current special exhibition is also on the topic of boro, so you can read more about it here - I hope it is still on when we visit in January, as it will be a chance to see more bormono than are usually on display.  The exhibition in London displayed boro as artworks, rather than with the more human touch, and also took them out of context.

Very simple sashiko is used to hold the layers of boro together, like the sashiko on this tebukuro (hand cover).

Sashiko is not physically delicate, although it may look so - it is one of the toughest stitching techniques around.  Also, whether or not it looks delicate depends on what kind of sashiko you are looking at.  Yuza or Shonai sashiko has very dense stitching.  These are old work jackets displayed at Yuza Sashiko and Peaceful Hearts Quilt Group's exhibition in 2006 - sorihikihappi (sledge pulling jackets).

For contemporary work by Yuza Sashiko Guild, follow this link.   There are photos of their most recent exhibition last month in these blog posts.

Chikuchiku is more colourful and more random than hitomezashi (one stitch sashiko) of the kind shown above, where neatness and even stitching are highly prized.  I wrote about chikuchiku on an earlier blog post here. The name is onomatopoeic and is the sound of the needle clicking through the fabric - it also seems to describe the way the fabric is pleated onto the needle very well.  It is also known as crazy sashiko. Junko Maeda (not to be confused with the fashion designer of the same name) and Ginka Niigata ('Silver flower of Niigata') aka Akiko Ike are both known for chikuchiku. Maeda-san recently exhibited in the USA and some of her work shows the influence of Korean pojagi, as well as sashiko and boromono.  Ike-san blogs about chikuchiku and other crafty things - she is the silver haired lady on the right in the first photo.  She exhibited at Pour L'amour du Fil in Nantes in April - there are photos of her exhibition on Minick and Simpson's blog, there was an article about her in Quiltmania issue 100 (still available as a back issue), and photos here.  Coincidentally, a friend in Japan visited her only a couple of days ago, so I'm looking forward to hearing about Ike-san's latest projects. I would love to meet her and study with her - if 'study' is the right word! Chikuchiku is very playful.

I hope that's answered the questions.  Have fun following all the links!

UPDATE - 20/10/14 - Blue and White, the famous shop in Tokyo, has just added a very nice blog post about crazy sashiko - read it here.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

1718 coverlet exhibition and first workshop

 The Quilt Museum at York held a private view for the current exhibitions on Friday evening. There are three exhibitions at the moment - 'Sign Here!', 'Patchwork and Quilting in Britain' and 'The 1718 Silk Patchwork Coverlet'.  The museum has launched some new souvenir items to mark the 1718 exhibition and there was a '1718' display in the shop, featuring the book.

Ceramicist Cathy Daniels, who makes dishes inspired by quilt blocks, has made a number of one off pieces to commemorate the 1718 exhibition, for sale at the museum. 

Another museum exclusive are Oakshott fabric packs, available as fat quarters or eighths, selected in the 1718 colours, plus some half metre pieces.

No photography is allowed in the galleries, but of course the centrepiece of the 1718 exhibition is the original coverlet, displayed flat at one end of the Bailey Gallery -

The 1718 replica coverlet is displayed at the other end.  It was great to be able to see them both together.  There is a video slideshow of the high resolution photos taken for the book, so you can study the blocks in great detail and compare them with the replica's interpretation.

Maureen Poole's 'Cantata', made specially for the 1718 book, is on display next to the replica.  I was surprised to see that they actually share some fabrics - a pale gold dobby weave.  If you visit, see if you can spot the same fabric.

Another fascinating exhibit was a set of early eighteenth century patchwork chair covers, which showed the higher class silks of the day - brightly coloured silk brocades, much more expensive fabrics than those used in the 1718 coverlet.  These chair seat covers had never been used and the papers are intact, from printed pamphlets and copybooks.  The colours are still vivid and the silver metallic threads really sparkle.  I'm sure someone said that these had been acquired for the Museum's collection.  I don't have photos but I am sure we will be seeing images soon.

The signature quilt exhibition was very interesting and featured a large number of quilts on loan, as well as pieces from the Museum's collection.  As well as for quilters, this exhibition could be a wonderful resource for family historians, as the signature quilts are very well documented, usually having the name of the organisation, often a chapel, and location on them.

On Saturday, we had the first of two '1718 Revisited' workshops.  We explored making some of the blocks in patchwork and applique, dealing with fussy cutting stripes for diagonally quartered blocks, piecing bias edges, piecing mitred corners (all by machine), and various methods for applique, including the monogram block using Steam-a-Seam II, the heart block with freezer paper applique and the basics of needleturn applique - all modern techniques that weren't used in the original, but an alternative (and quicker) way to make the blocks than by mosaic patchwork.  The quatrefoil fleur de lys blocks in the foreground in the first photo below, which are the two top corner blocks in the original, are my workshop samples.  The bright and well equipped workshop is on the ground floor at the museum, next to the shop, and the computerised Brother sewing machines are provided, so you don't need to struggle bringing your own machine to the museum.  The museum also provided the Steam-a-Seam and freezer paper, as each block only needs a very small amount of each.

We had fun playing around with different fabric combinations, especially with the directional fabrics and I'm looking forward to seeing more 1718 projects started at our second workshop on 5th November, when we are running the same workshop again.  I think it would work well as a three day course too, with much more scope for making many more blocks, so I'll have to work on that.