Friday, December 28, 2007

takayama woodblock prints

i took a few days trip last week to gifu prefecture. i saw this store in takayama, that sells woodblock prints, mostly that have been made into paper trays.
the store is in a traditional shop house, which made it even nicer.
they also made these lovely stuffed animals (for all the zodiac years-2008 is the year of the mouse) from block printed fabric.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


last weekend's handmade market it kyoto was the busiest i've been to yet.
so many shoppers!
a batik demonstration from my trip to indonesia last month.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

ashley rose helvey, an amazing felt artist

ashley makes incredible and lovely felt dresses!! they are super pretty and inspirational. seeing her work reminds me why i love felt so much--one seamless wearable material.

i saw ashley's work on craft, you can see more of her work on her blog, and she's also showing her work at ambatalia, a sustainable fabric store in mill valley, CA that seems very sweet.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


last month i went to another natural wool class at my favorite wool store in kyoto.
we dyed wool with gobaishi, a japanese gall that is created on japanese sumac (i was a little complicated and hard to understand in japanese!!) with just alum and gobaishi, it didn't really change the color too much, but with iron, it turned a lovely heathery purple.
the gobaishi galls boiled for an hour in a mesh bag, they turned mushy
into the pot with iron added
the outcome.
if anybody out there knows more about gobaishi, i'd love to hear from you!

Monday, September 24, 2007

felt artwork by naro tamiya

this piece was on display at the tokyo design sight gallery. it's by naro tamiya, who is now working for the designer issey miyake. the figures are larger than the size of a human, and represent a fictional alien character. but how cool is all that felt!
there were also some people making felt (you can almost see them in the background of this second picture), seated, using felting needles next to what looking like a felted dome.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

sewing with kitty chan

i've been feeling a real urge to sew recently, and gave in and bought a tiny sewing machine. it's pink and hello kitty and i've been running it through its paces.
my first sewing project: a bag made from tenugui-traditional japanese towels. my obsession with tenugui continues.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

my lulu

finally, a photo of lulu, my wheel! japan is really really hot...last week we had the hottest day on record, beating the record set 73 years ago. so, it's a little hot for spinning. but lulu and i will have a great fall and winter, i am sure.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

august handmade market

it was so hot! just a reminder, you can click on the tags of this post to see photos from past markets.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

animal mascots made of wool-japanese needlefelting book

i think this book is the cutest japanese craft book yet. full of wacky and adorable needlefelted critters, including the postal donkey (below) which might be my favorite.
ISBN 9784277563109, it's in my etsy shop.

Monday, July 30, 2007

my first yarn

oh my goodness, i love spinning. so. much. and i love lulu, my wheel!

weaving in nishijin, kyoto part 2

earlier this month, i visited the nishijin textile center in kyoto. the nishijin weaving style originated about 500 years ago, when a group of weavers were introduced to silk weaving techniques from china, and lived in the western camp (nishijin) of a general at the time.the textile center is a large and has comprehensive displays, including looms.
mini dioramas of (i guess) traditional silk stores?in the end though, the nishijin textile center is a big souvenir has a variety of mini cultural courses. i haven't tried any of their classes, but for anyone seriously interested in crafts, i recommend orinasu (from the previous post) instead just because the textile center is so cheesy.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

are you near portland, oregon?

this weekend there are 2 swell looking craft fairs, both on sunday.
Handmade Bazaar; Sunday, July 29th; 12 noon - 5 PM
@ AudioCinema; 226 SE Madison Street, Portland, Oregon
Rebel Rabbit Craft Fair, Sunday, July 29, 11 AM - 4 PM
@Hipbone Studio, 1847 E. Burnside, Portland, Oregon

yay for portland!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

i have a spinning wheel!

my wonderful new spinning wheel arrived last week! and she is just as beautiful as i expected. it's a louet victoria, which i decided i needed (ha ha) several months ago. the design of this wheel is just really really nice; very small, compact, foldable and good for traveling, which i seem to do a lot of.
i don't have any pictures of my wheel yet, but you can get an idea from this one.
as an abject beginner, i was able to get it set up and start spinning, after some early confusion about the scotch tension. (um, yeah, so the wire with the spring on it has to go over the bobbin.) not rocket science, but i was pretty sure i was going to have to wait for my crafty friend to get back in town to show me.
tonight i spun and plied a skein, and then spun what i think might be the upper bulky limit. even though it's all hot all the time in japan, i still want to spin. yup, another obsession-inducing craft? sounds perfect! i decided to name her lulu.
if you want your own, i think wendy over at lanas de lebelula is swell and can hook you up.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

weaving in nishijin, kyoto textile district-part 1

last month i did a weaving workshop in kyoto with my mom and my crafty friend rebecca. the nishijin area of kyoto is the textile district, and also the name of a traditional weaving style.
our teacher. the workshop was at orinasu-kan, which is housed in a traditional japanese shop house. they have a textile display section, a workshop space, and next door is a working textile factory. unfortunately, you can't take pictures in the factory section, but it was very cool to see how they are using the traditional looms, but updated with electrical and computer technology. (although they showed us a 3.5 floppy disk during the explanation about technology, so i'm not sure how cutting edge it is;-)
a traditional spinning wheel on display in the museum.
we starting by picking colors of silk to use as our weft.
the looms were already warped, so we tried to match the colors.
our finished work. it took 2 hours, and i think we all felt like we had just gotten the hang of tossing the shuttle with the right motion/speed when our time was up.
aerial view of our placemats with a baby for scale.
and this one's just for cuteness.

i would highly recommend this workshop for people who want an intro to weaving. of the three of us, i was the total beginner, so it was a fine level for me. i think for someone like my mom who has done a lot of weaving, it was a fun experience, but didn't get into any advanced information. the instruction was all in japanese. if you don't speak japanese, i think you would have no problem going and weaving a placemat, but obviously you wouldn't be able to understand a lot of information. they are listed in lonely planet too, by the way.