Posts Tagged With: silk


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I’ve seen Japanese quilts before, but this show had some very creative ideas and stories to them. Like a series of little kimonos and shirts as wall hangings.

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Kimono portrait here is a beauty, with extraordinary quilting patterns. The fabric is Japanese themed in many of the quilts.

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A wall hanging of closed and opened fans. One, partially opened fan near the bottom.

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On close inspection I realized that part of the quilting pattern inside the fans is chop sticks.

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We Americans, who think we invented quilting, certainly a particular style, anyway, talk of our heritage of using every scrap of fabric, not wasting. Used fabrics, parts of clothing that were once a treasured dress or pair of pants carry memories. I loved the Japanese metaphor of cloth traveling through many hands carrying wishes and thoughts.

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And, here a quilt that expresses the tradition of Sange.

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The Quilt Museum is held in an old Victorian mansion. The third floor held quilts all made by one woman. This quilt is the equivalent of flour sacks quilts in early Americana.

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Utilitarian quilts, using homely fabrics. I’ve done that, made denim quilts, and suit fabrics. Often tied together. Utilitarian fabrics here are quilted in larger stitching but very full, straight fill stitching without any particular pattern.

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Not all Japanese quilt artists use Japanese materials.  This applique is a beauty.

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A gorgeous silk quilt with tiny beads. Not meant for a bed, obviously.

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An origami decoration, several in fact.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibit. I heard three Japanese women talking about this show and comparing it to another that made them cringe. They were very enthused with this one.

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An unusual thing about this show, the docent said we were allowed to handle the quilts by putting on white gloves. I declined because I don’t think exhibit quilts should be handled by anyone except those who hang the show. My own quilt guild has that policy and I think it is a good one.

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The narrow halls of this old mansion make it difficult to photograph these quilts. So, if you can, go see it, and don’t depend on my choices. There were many really beautiful pieces.



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Busing overland to Marmaris on the Aegean Sea, we see apartment buildings with solar water. It amazes me how smart and progressive people are.

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The terrain is mountainous in part, and beautiful. At one point I saw rock walls similar to those we see in the Motherlode. It reminded me of Calaveras County.

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On our way to board our gulet, an old type sailing/motorized vessel, we stop at a Carpetium. Supported by the government to keep ancient hand crafts like this alive, we learn how the famous Turkish Rugs are hand made from silk and wool, a process perfected in Biblical times and handed down from generation to generation.DSC05301 (Copy)

Our first stop is the cocoon vat, where live cocoons are floated. If the worm dies the silk cocoon turns grey and unusable. They are floated in this vat and the worker takes a rough brush and grabs at them.DSC05303 (Copy)

She lifts up her brush with cocoons attached. You can see the many fibers in the teacher’s hand.

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She then takes the fibers and puts them on a hook to the left of the vat.

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The hooks are attached to a machine that winds the silken threads into a batt. DSC05310 (Copy)

The batts are then ready to be dyed. The teacher challenged us to try and break a strand of silk with our hands. It looks fragile but no one could break it.DSC05279 (Copy)

This woman draws and colors in the designs. Most are traditional, some commissioned, some just new innovations to try for something different.DSC05316 (Copy)

Natural dyes are used for the silk and wool.The back as beautiful as front

Hand made rugs are almost as beautiful on the back as they are the front.

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Silk weaving can be so precise, a talented worker can make a picture like this beautiful wall hanging featuring Ephesus as it once looked.

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Pure wool rugs are much coarser and the patterns are not as precise and fine. They still have a wonderful feel, richness and quality to them.

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We watched the weavers work from a small design. It is a matter of counting threads. It takes great dedication to your craft to stick with one rug for over a year or more. This is pure silk in a very fine design.DSC05290 (Copy)

All of us were invited to try weaving. The worker slips her fingers under two strands of the warp, she separates them, inserts a strand of silk or wool, makes a simple loop and knot and drags it down to the bottom of the carpet. Here Joyce B. gives it a try.

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You can see a nearly complete row of dyed fibers across the width of this carpet. This weaver does one color at a time. She will come back and fill in the white.

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After completing several rows, the worker cuts the excess threads off with a wide, flat bladed scissors.

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I’ve made both hooked and braided rugs and I stand in awe of this craft. These women work unbelievably fast; it was hard to see what lightening fast fingers were doing.

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In the show room, the crew rolled out 50 to 60 carpets for us to examine. He describes the types. You notice they lift heavy carpets with a double fold at the corners, so not to damage the carpet.DSC05353 (Copy)

The teacher explains the nap of the carpet.DSC05358 (Copy)

One of the workers gives a little show before we get to think about whether we want to buy something or not.

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To demonstrate how old some of the carpet patterns are, he showed us a portrait from the London National Gallery of England with a carpet pattern called USHAK draped over the table when a peace agreement was signed between England and Spain. I liked that pattern and color which is more red than in the photo of a photo.

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Owen liked this Tree of Life pattern.

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I ended up with two, the pattern I liked is visible on the left. One similar, to the right which I bought instead, along with the Tree of life. Ouch, I said after dickering the price down. I won’t tell you how much I paid. Expensive, but they last for a hundred years, with care. I hope my kids take good care of them. And, the rug makers tell you, walk on them. Don’t hang them on your wall. They react well to use.

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They fed us an interesting picnic lunch in their yard.

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Everything was tasty. Owen, of course, ordered the chicken shish.

We move on to the Gulet after lunch.

To see an album of pictures, click the link below:


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Shangai is an impressive city for its ultra-modern skyscrapers, shopping, culture,  night life. You can easily think you are in a Western city with a grand Chinatown.  With  camera/disk problems I have  few pictures to show you. The night scene photo above has no attribution but it came from a tourism website. Our first night in Shangai, after our daytime city tour, we have dinner at the gorgeous Hilton Hotel and ate bland food. It was decent, but by comparison with the rest of China, we decided it was our worst meal so far.  On balance, we had our first real alcoholic drink. Good scotch.

It has been a long day but that night,  we are taken to visit the tallest building in the world with 88 floors. (Since eclipsed by the 105 story Japanese building with-in sight of it.) We don’t go up an elevator, we ascend, seamlessly, all 88 floors in 45 seconds,  with no sensation of being on an elevator whatever. An endless line of tourists paid $7 for the ride. It goes without saying the views are spectacular. It is a Saturday, and the waterfront is alight with skyscrapers projecting ads 20 stories tall on the sides of their buildings. We see a video of men who illegally parachuted from the building. We drink it in, reluctant to leave. The waterfront buildings are alight on Saturdays and Sundays. During the week, the lights are turned off as a cost saving measure. Smart!

The next morning, we visit the Children’s Palace, very aptly named since Mau took over  mansions from the decadent rich ministers and government employees and devoted them to boarding schools for gifted students. The education is free and only those identified by their teachers with special talent may attend. Children  move to cities all over China where other “palaces” are located. Some concentrate on art, or music, science, dance, sports, martial arts, gymnastics, etc.  We were impressed with the pictures these young kids drew and painted.  The walls going into the school are  filled with exceptional artwork.

Another room held  a music class with students age four to sixteen learning the violin. First they tap out the music, then hum the notes, then  strum the notes. The teacher strikes her stick loudly when a mistake is made and scolds. We cannot understand her words, but we understand her tone.

Next we watch as  five girls play for us on a zither-like ancient instrument, similar to a harp in sound. It may be admirable to help children achieve  their special potential, but we found the fierce discipline offensive. Not a smile  from any student and we can’t help but wonder where goes their childhood? Talented and unhappy is not  a good goal. The parents are honored that their child is chosen and wouldn’t think of turning down this opportunity.

After lunch, we visit a silk factory. Employees stand. Again, we see poor working conditions. The cocoons are drowned and the larvae removed. The fine fibers are twisted into a fine yarn size, then dyed in special batches of color to be woven into shirts, scarves, ties and rugs.  Hard work. Bats of coarser silk, are used to make comforters with a reputation for being very warm compared to their light weight.

The process of making a comforter was fascinating. Each bat of silk is stretched and stretched and fit on a form like a fitted sheet fits a mattress. After several bats are stretched, it becomes a comforter and is fitted into a case for size, queen, king or double. I bought two, at $10 each. Of course, a fancy cover to make them beautiful, costs twice as much. One woman from our group opted to make her own cover. A machine squeezes them so tightly, they fit into a small purse sized case with a handle.  Cool!

After dinner we attend a show that is the highpoint of Shanghai and all tickets have been sold out for months. Chinese acrobats are famous for their extraordinary muscle control and balance as they do difficult feats in slow motion. A girl balances a tray of glasses in her mouth while doing carefully modulated trapeze acts. Another balances on one hand while doing contortions with her body, forming a butterfly, frog, cricket, then she jumps to the opposite hand and becomes her own twin. Breathtaking twists, falls, jumps from unbelievable positions. High jumping, hoops, tumbling comic acts…we hold our breath and gaze entranced at such talent.  On the way back to our hotel, we catch our last look at the fabulous lighted Yangtze River boats and skyscrapers and know we are looking at a burgeoning new capitalistic economy that is rocketing skyward to awe the world.





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