Friday, November 30, 2012

Trip to Japan Part 2 - Indigo Dyeing

Part of our visit to Japan earlier this month involved a visit to the Aizumicho Historical Museum of Indigo in Tokushima.

This area in the northern district of Awa province, the historical origin of Awa Indigo since 794AD.  The museum is the former residence of Ai-merchant Mr Okumura, built in 1808.

The museum offers 'hands-on' experiences so Craig and I opted to each dye a cotton table runner, at the modest price of 2000Yen (approx $25AUD), I'm going to wear mine as a scarf as the material is more suited to our warm climate.

We were able to choose from a selection of designs, I chose a random crumpled look whilst Craig wanted to do stripes.

After donning apron and gloves, we proceeded to start our dyeing, dipping our bundles in and out of a large van of dark, pugent indigo.  Our tutor could only speak Japanese, but as usual we were able to communicate sufficiently using hand gestures and smiles and a modest smattering of essential Japanese words.

Indigo dyeing samples in the Exhibition Hall

The designs we could select from

Dyeing in progress

Rinsing our scarves

Hanging our finished pieces out to dry

When we returned to the city area of Tokushima, we hired bikes to explore the area.  Bike riding for commuting purposes is really popular in Japan, I guess that cars aren't practical in a country with a high population density and not much carparking space.  We hired our bikes from the bike-parking lot in the basement of the train station, its just amazing to see thousands of bikes parked like the equivalent of the underground carparks of our big shopping centres.

The bike-parking lot where we hired our bikes

 There aren't many rules about how you ride your bike in Japan...

Baskets are SO cool

 Exploring one of the shopping arcades on bike,
you can't do that in Australia!

AND don't we just LOVE the food!
I'm standing outside a typical department store restuarant,
complete with plastic food display.
...when's our next visit???? we're thinking about it already.....


Monday, November 12, 2012

Trip to Japan Part 1 - Visit to Awagami Paper Factory

I've just returned from a quick trip to Japan with my partner Craig.  Its our 4th trip in 11 years, this time we visited Osaka and Tokushima.  We love the culture and the food!

I'll be blogging about parts of my trip over the coming couple of weeks.

This blog is about my visit to the Awagami Paper Factory in Tokushima.  'Factory' is perhaps the wrong description...all papers are made by hand, and we were able to watch the papers being made by several craftspeople.

A highlight was an opportunity to go onto the factory floor and have a go at making the paper.  We did some simple sheet forming using a small mould and deckle with mulberry pulp, then decorated with coloured paper pulp.  It was interesting to be able to use their vacuum machine and steam dryer.

The wonderful lady who instructed us knew no English (and we don't speak Japanese) but its amazing how much can be communicated through hand gestures and demonstration (my knowledge of papermaking helped too!).

A most enjoyable day with some time spent in the onsite paper shop afterwards!

The Awagami Paper Factory

A beautiful garden in a neighbouring house

Couldn't resist an arty photo!

The factory floor

Picking out the impurities

Taking the sheets off the cloths and attaching to a board
for final drying

Craig looking down into the factory space

Craig and I making our paper and having fun!

Craig working the vacuum table

Above me, a huge mould and deckle

In the shop - so much paper, so little time!

washi, washi and more washi...
how much luggage allowance do I have?????

A stop at the toilet, Japanese style

Ice-cream whilst waiting for the train afterwards,
from a vending machine of course!

Friday, November 2, 2012


It was only a couple of weeks ago, but our Basketcases exhibition 'WOVEN' seems like a distant memory.....

11 artists, over 300 visitors, and sales of 78 baskets - everyone had a fantastic time over the 4 days of the exhibition.

The exhibition space at the Richard Randall Art Studio at the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens was the perfect venue for our woven works - the exhibition featured works using plant fibre, wire, vintage kimonos, rope, paper patterns, ceramics and wool. 

Our collaborative project 'VINE' along the main wall of the gallery was a eye-catching imaginative feature work, thanks to Christine and Natalie who constructed the installation using vine and artworks by all of the artists.  The visitors to the gallery were drawn to it, loving the attention to detail and the works that moved with the breeze. 

The sales table was also a drawcard, and many visitors were able to take home a small basket at a very reasonable price.  Its a pleasure to be able to share our work with people who wouldn't normally visit a gallery, as the gardens has lots of tourists and families enjoying the facilities.

Congratulations to all who participated, I must say that it was one of the easiest exhibitions I've ever had to curate.  Special mention goes to Floss who worked tirelessly and energetically on her task of 'display co-ordinator' arranging plinths and covering boxes.  Also many thanks to Jill, Natalie, Christine, Robyn and Jan for their valuable help during the exhibition as well.

It was agreed by all that the Basketcases should hold another exhibition in 2014, hopefully at the same location.  Stay tuned!

The artists (Robyn was absent due to illness)

'Tea for Two' by Jan Pearce

'Torus' by Floss Wainwright

'Cyclone Basket' by Natalie Billing

'Guardian of the Space' by Jill Brose
'Cascade' by Sandra Pearce

Opening next week....