Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Yuza Sashiko features in "Patchwork Club" magazine

Following on from my previous blog post, the Yuza Sashiko School course devised and taught by Reiko Domon and Chie Ikeda has been featured in "Patchwork Club" パッチワーク倶楽部 magazine in Japan. There is a photo of the group at work on the top right of the cover, directly under the words "Patchwork Club". They are becoming known more and more for their work bringing sashiko traditions into the 21st century.

As usual, please click the images to see them at a larger size. There are a lot of large photos in this blog entry, so please be patient if you internet connection is slow!

The Japanese title for the article is 私たちがキルトで残しいもの - this can be translated as "What we are leaving (bequeathing) in quilts". The kanji character 残 is the main part of the verbs nokuru (remain, be left over, stay, linger, survive) and nokosu (leave behind, keep back, save, amass, beaqueath). It is also the "zan" in zanshi ori, the leftover thread weaving that used to be made by country weavers for their own family's use.

It is said of Yuza Sashiko that it is passed on "from hand to hand" from one person to the next. Both Chie Ikeda and Reiko Domon can trace back their sashiko learning heritage via Yoshimi Arakawa's lessons in the 1990s to Tetsue Ikeda who taught in Yuza-machi in the 1970s (she was Arakawa-san's teacher), when she was already in her eighties, having learned sashiko from her grandmother. People of Tetsue Ikeda's generation were interviewed about their life experiences for the local archives, so their legacy has been preserved locally.

In places like Yuza-machi, rural life has changed so much even over the lifetime of what might be considered "traditional sashiko", and today's sashiko items need to fit with modern life in town and country. The generation of the Meiji era over 100 years ago had new technology in the form of things like pendulum clocks (every farmhouse seems to have had one) and even cameras (Aoyama Tomekichi, a fisherman who became a wealthy merchant via his fishing grounds around Hokkaido and who built the Aoyama House, was a big photography enthusiast), so it wasn't as if people in an area like Shonai a century ago were living a completely Edo-era lifestyle - and this was the time when sashiko was in its heyday for clothing and household goods. They needed things like sorohikihappi (sled hauling waistcoats) and furoshiki (wrapping cloths) to be hardwearing - we might need a shopping bag and a mobile phone case, but the purposes of sashiko - protection, strength, warmth and decorative possibilities - are the same.

The detail photo shows Reiko (left in photo, wearing the blue waistcoat) and Chie together at Reiko's studio, which has been adapted from Reiko's family's old shop premises. You may recognise them from when they came to the first Festival of Quilts in 2003, when we had the "Magic of Sashiko" exhibition.

The photo below shows Chie teaching one of the sessions. The course they devised covers 30 different patterns, stitched on 10cm squares, the same format I use for my "Introduction to Shonai Sashiko" workshop. The caption title reads - "Japanese Classwork".

The caption at the top of the page reads "sashiko and patchwork collaboration - bag compliation".

Their variation on my Rice Sack Bag from "21 Terrific Patchwork Bags" appears half way down the page. The mustard coloured bag on the left uses patchwork blocks from "Japanese Quilt Blocks to Mix and Match" - the way the centre of one of the blocks has been filled with sashiko makes a very good effect. The photo caption below explains how I came to be in Yuza-machi as an English teacher, and how my Rice Sack Bag is inspired by komebukuro (traditional rice bags). It says how sashiko and patchwork make an enchanting combination. They do! I have romanized my name in the text below.

かつて英語の講師として遊佐町にやってきたイギリスのSusanBriscoeさん。刺し子に魅せられ、刺し子とパッチワークのコラボレーションも心がています。Susanさんが日本の米袋にヒントを得たRiceSackBag は、スクールでも取り組みます。

Below (clockwise from top left) - the sashiko group (top left), Reiko's quilts using sashiko with stained glass applique (top and bottom right), a recent work featuring a phoenix in patchwork & applique with sashiko, the sashiko book Reiko and Chie wrote with Yuza Sashiko history expert Izumi Sato. The panel with yukata cotton rectangles framed with sashiko is the image on Reiko's studio street sign. The quilt at the top right was inspired by traditional kite designs. The page title reads "sashiko and patchwork collaboration - quilt and wear compilation".

The quilt at the bottom right uses hitomezashi sashiko with stained glass applique, but including hand dyed threads from the UK. The design is inspired by Gaudi's architecture. Detail shown below (again, from the 2006 exhibition).

My "New Year's Eve in Yamagata" quilt block layout works very well for framing sashiko samples (two quilts, centre right). The group have been experimenting with printing photos onto fabric as well, with several quilts made with the Yuza Sashiko School hitomezashi samples combined with images of Mt Chokai and the surrounding farmland of the Shonai Plain. Top right you can see some of Reiko's miniature sorohikihappi waistcoats, in the patchwork wallhanging version. She has also made them as actual miniature garments.

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