Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Full Day of Classes

Today wasn't so much about making art so much as learning how to make Japanese arts. At the moment I'm usually pounding out art pieces for my show at Hastings College in October. But today I had two classes scheduled and both of them are art related!

My first class was Ikebana. We worked with really different materials today. Some of my plants were a little damaged from bugs so they were difficult to deal with. Apparently, in the fall it's important to show the places where the bugs have eaten the leaves but in the summer it's not necessary. There was a lot of pruning of my leaves. I learned how to bend willows and found out that branches need to be cut at an angle and flowers need to be cut straight across. I also learned that you should dip the leaves in the water so you can use the sheen to find the best angle and also that the leaves should be pointing but because that's how plants grow in nature. I'm still not very good at arranging though. I think I did better last time. In the photo album There are four photos of my arrangement. The first and third photos are my arrangements and the second and fourth are my teachers. I have a long way to go. Her arrangements just look so natural, dynamic, and alive. I'm not sure why mine keep looking so static. I managed to get into the class next month thank goodness, so I have one more month to try and learn some more. I think I should try and check out some books. Now that I have my own frog and vase I wonder if I can just clip plants that I see every day and try and arrange them on my own. I guess I could always try.

I ran back to the house real quick for lunch and then I was off to an famous onsen (hot springs bath house) where our Sakiori class was being taught. I'm going to be taking a tour back there next month to do a little bit more exploring. There are all these shops that you can get the Japanese amber and other regional trinkets. I guess you can call and make an appointment, or just stop by and sit down and weave on an open loom. It's such a treat I am going to have to go back on the weekends and get a little loom action every now and then. The ladies were really impressed with my color choices and how quickly I picked it up. I guess the other girls that went weren't so good at it. But then again I've done a lot of reading and I know a lot of weavers. Sigh, another fiber art that I want to pick up.
 Just for a little background, Sakiori is a Japanese folk textile tradition that uses old fabric cut into thin strips. The result is something akin to those multicolored woven kitchen mats that you see in dollar stores or these woven scarves made from sari scraps. Except, from what I've gathered from a little web surfing, this technique was used to make obi (the tie around the center of kimonos) for around the house. These often used scrap silk from worn out kimonos. The ladies had some really beautiful examples hanging on the walls.
So this is how the loom works. You have a little woven fabric girdle that you tie around your waste. This is then looped around the bamboo and the end of your woven piece. So when you lean back you are keeping tension on the weaving. You are like locked into this thing. Then a cord is looped around your right foot. If you put your foot out and up it raises one set of strings. If you bring your foot back it raises the opposite set of strings. This allows you to pass the little fabric strips through without a lot of plucking of threads. You also have a board with little slits cut in it that all the threads have been passed through. After you pass your shuddle with your fabric through the threads, you slam the board down on your threads to make the weaving tight. Now it is also important to giggle and say tok tok along with the lady because she's giving you the instructions in Japanese and that is the one thing that you can understand and repeat. When you have done this for a while and you are done adding fabric. The lady lets you loose from the loom and she gets in it. It's almost like strapping yourself into a car. She takes some red thread and weaves it back and forth on top of your fabric weaving. Then she puts glue on the last thread and weaves that around and tok-toks it down really tight. Then she snips it free and you've got a really pretty coaster.

Here's the web album with the rest of the picture...Ikebana and Sakiori.

It's been a fun day so far. The weather's chilly and it's the second day of rain in a row. I'm pretty soaked from all my walking around between classes. I'm going to make a cup of tea and get back to art making. Ian has been working 12 hour days for the exercise. So if you get a chance email him some encouragement. He's wet and cranky when he comes home.

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