Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Copyright Theft

I found out recently that the Japanese Embroidery Center have been experiencing some problems with copyright theft of their designs. It seems that this has become such a problem that the Center have had to go to the trouble and expense of using special copy resistant paper for the design sheets which go with our pieces. I've thought about this for a few days wondering why people would do this or why anyone who knows about it would condone it and these are my thoughts. It is outrageous (not to mention criminal) that Kurenai-kai, JEC, and all the people past and present who have been involved in bringing Japanese embroidery to the west are being taken advantage of in this way. I have no idea who may be taking part in this horrible behaviour, or how many innocent people are being taken advantage of by being sold these pirated designs, but I really hope they are not connected to JEC in any way. I would like to encourage any Japanese embroidery student or tutor who thinks that they may have been a victim of this criminal behavior to contact JEC and report it. Even if you only suspect your design may be pirated please get in touch with JEC and ask them to check it for you. Lets all join together to support JEC in stamping out this dreadful behaviour.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Magnetic attraction

One of our Japanese embroidery friends in America posted about these great magnets a couple of weeks ago. They are perfect for holding protective tissue paper onto our JE frames. I was so taken with them that I ordered some to take with me when I next go to class.

If you'd like to order your own check out www.littleputland.com/

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Japanese Embroidery Taster Course

Japanese Embroidery UK are running a weekend taster course at the Crofters Hotel near Preston on 25th & 26th October 2008. If you would like details please send me an email and I will send the full details.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Stitch and Creative Crafts Show - August 2008

Well it doesn't seem two minutes since we were in Liverpool at Japan Day 2008 and now we are getting ready for the craft show in Manchester. It will take place at the GMEX on 29th-31st of August. Please come along and say hello if you are going to be there. You can find out more about the exhibition here.

We will have lots of pieces on display and will be demonstrating our stitching throughout the day. We are also hoping to announce the details of some taster classes at the event. These will be the first classes in the North West run by our group, so if you fancy having a go at some traditional Japanese embroidery come along and find out more.

Final Dress Up - Phase 8

Kirigami (cut paper) - Phase 2 practice

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Japan Day 2008

Well we had a wonderful time at Japan Day with over 1500 visitors the day was generally very busy. You can see some press coverage of the event at the Japan Society North West website, also there are more photographs in Gallery 3.

Thank you to everyone who came along to say hello and who showed such interest in our work. We were overwhelmed by the interest and by all the lovely things people had to say.

Carol-Anne and Lena deep in conversation with some of our visitors

Sue working on Bouquet from the heart of Japan

Me working on Iris Stream

Carol-Anne and some more of our visitors

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Japan Day 2008 - Liverpool

The Japan Society North West is hosting a Japan Day in Liverpool on the 19th July.

There will be demonstrations of origami, bonsai, ikebana, kimono dressing, and traditional Japanese embroidery of course.

Our stand will host a display of work from a number of students and we will be demonstrating our stitching throughout the day.

Why not come along and say hello - the event is free and you have the chance to win a pair of plane tickets to Japan. For those of you who follow the other blog I'll have Bamboo Circle with me so you can see it in person.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Miyako Odori Kimono

Melissa over at Mboogiedown, who posts some very interesting information and wonderful photos of the geiko and maiko of Kyoto, has posted recently about the kimono worn by them during Gion Kobu's annual spring dance. There are some great pictures - check out the post, and all the photos, here. Photobucket I'm not sure if these kimono are dyed, woven, embroidered, or a mixture, but they are lovely and well worth a visit to Melissa's blog. Thank you for posting Melissa.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Kombuin Fukusa - Important Cultural Properties

From the year 1713 to 1981 the Temple of Kombuin in the Saho foothills of Japan faithfully preserved 31 embroidered fukusa (gift covers) which had covered gifts given by Tokugawa Tsunayoshi (5th of the Tokugawa shoguns - 1860-1709) to his favorite concubine the Lady Zuishun'in. The best craftsmen in Japan were retained to create these fukusa, and they would have covered gifts presented to her on various occasions such as New Year, mid summer, and year end.

We don't know when exactly these covers were created, but we do know that the art of embroidery in Japan reached is height in the Genroku period (1688-1704) so it is likely that they were given during this time. Quite why the covers were kept by the Lady Zuishun'in rather than being returned to the gift giver, as is usual practice, is also a mystery. Perhaps she was such a favorite that she could do as she liked and therefore kept both cover and gift!!

In 1713 Zuishun'in presented the fukusa to the abbess of Kombuin where they were kept for many years. As time went by it became increasingly difficult for the temple to look after the fukusa, and in 1981 after the fukusa were designated Important Cultural Properties they were handed over to the Kyoto National Museum where they could be carefully preserved.

For students of Japanese embroidery these fukusa are a fabulous resource, the colours and stitching are so well preserved that we can study them in order to improve our own work. And of course we can see how techniques have changed over the years.

The black silk has suffered degeneration over the years due to the chemical content of the dye.

Modern copies of these works stitched by students of Kurenai-kai were on display at the World Exhibition in Cambridge in 2007 - a CD of the exhibition is available which features all of the fukusa exhibited.

For those of us not lucky enough to live within easy visiting distance of the Kyoto National Museum there is a wonderful book on the Kombuin fukusa. Most of the text is in Japanese although it does contain a short introduction and list of plates in English. It's a large format book (about A3)the photographs are fabulous, one per page so also large format, and include great close ups of the stitching. It's very expensive (about £300!), but is well worth it if you can find the money. My friends over at Art Garage sometimes have copies, the number is ISBN4-87949-516-7.

I'm stitching an adaptation of one of these fukusa for my Phase 9 piece, check out my other blog.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Shibori - tie dye technique

Another post on fabric, this time a type of dying technique known as shibori. We often represent this in our Japanese embroidery, the photo below is a shibori cherry blossom from my phase 2 practice piece. Even though this is a beautiful technique, it in no way represents the amount of time and skill that goes into creating a shibori kimono.

This incredible shibori furisode was on Ichiroya quite a while ago, I wanted to buy it so much but someone else got there before me. It must have taken hundreds of hours to make. This is all really by way of saying that if you're interested in Japanese fabrics there are some very interesting videos by Narablog on Youtube.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Types of fabric

I wish there were some way to add touch to blogs as I'd like to talk about the kinds of fabrics we use to stitch on in this post, and it would be nice if you could feel what they were like.

The silks we use to stitch on are the same as those used to make kimono or obi. They come in different weights and can be dyed or decorated in various ways before we start our stitching. Some of the fabrics used by the Japanese Embroidery Center are dyed or woven for especially their designs, check out the link above to their site for some examples.

Great skill is needed to choose the correct weight, type, and colour of fabric which will suit the design. For example if the fabric is too fine to support all the stitching, the fabric will buckle and warp when removed from the frame and many hours of work will have been wasted.

Below are listed a few of the types of silks used for our Japanese embroidery (this isn't a full list):
Habutae - a kimono lining fabric which has no pattern. Available in a variety of thicknesses but we use only the thickest. It can be dyed before use.

Tsumugi - this silk originated with farmers who made use of cocoons left over after they had sold their best silk to market. They collected the floss from the cocoons, span (tsumugi) it by hand into thread and wove kimono for themselves. Tsumugi is generally only used for informal kimono, but it has a lovely surface texture for embroidery. This link will take you to a bolt of tsumugi silk at Ichiroya, or check out the Forest Wisdom design on the link to JEC above.

Chirimen - this is a silk crepe fabric, it comes in different weights and can be used for both kimono or obi. Chirimen at Ichiroya. This fabric is often used for designs featuring fuzzy effect because the weft valley lines are easy to see.

Shioze - this silk is woven in a way which creates more distinct weft vally lines than on chirimen. The Cherry Dawn design from JEC is stitched on shioze.

Shusu - has a very smooth, shiny surface, this fabric is substantial enough to use for designs using a lot of metallic threads. I've only seen this in a black (but it may come in other colours) and it is generally used for our phase 4 piece Karahana. However Carol-Anne from 'Threads Across the Web' is using a red shioze for her phase 4.

Nishijin - in this fabric dyed silk threads and thin gold leaf strips are used. It creates a strong, rich fabric used for the most expensive obi. Bamboo Circle is being stitched on this type of fabric. The picture is an extreme close up of the Bamboo Circle fabric, the gold strips form the weft of the fabric.
Ro - a lightweight fabric used for summer kimono. In ro a space is left in the weft of the fabric forming horizontal bands. For our embroidery it is generally used for more advanced designs. Check out Falling Stars on the JEC site.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Traditional Japanese Crafts

For those readers who may be interested in seeing some videos of traditional Japanese crafts check out the Tokyo Tourism Info site.

There are 40 sections of different crafts, not all have videos, but those that do are fascinating.

The crafts are very wide ranging, weaving, yuzen dying, glass ware, hair ornaments, embroidery, and many more.

Embroidered obi from my collection

Friday, 25 January 2008

Meiji Period Fukusa

This supreme fully embroidered fukusa has just arrived from Ichiroya, it dates from the Meiji period (1868-1912) or possibly a little earlier. It features a Houraisan (an imaginary island on the back of a turtle), a crane, and treasures.
It must have been a treasured possession and been very well looked after, there are a couple of slight frays in the fabric, but the the embroidery is in perfect condition. I was very lucky to get this, pieces of this kind don't come up very often and they are usually snapped up.
It measures about 25 x 26 inches, it is made of navy shusu silk and is backed with orange silk.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Craft Show

Japanese Embroidery UK will be exhibiting at the Stitch & Creative Crafts Show at Manchester Central (GMEX) from 1st to 3rd February 2008.

Please come along and say hello if you are planning a visit, we'd love to see you.

Hoitsu Scroll - summer, designed by the Japanese Embroidery Center

More details have now been added to the organisers site, including a list of exhibitors, find out more here