Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Recycling recycled quilts

In 2000 I made a whole series of quilts using recycled clothing. I liked them and galleries liked them but nothing really translated into sales so now 10 years later my airing cupboard is overflowing and when I was asked to take part in an 'Eco fashion' show as a graduate of Whitireia Polytech, I decided to use one of the quilts to make a coat. I hadn't quite worked out exactly how much fabric I would need.  I ended up using 3 quilts but I am pleased with the results.

 It is amazing how good it looks on the size 12 model who wore it for the photos, it makes me look like a mushroom. It weighs a few kilos though.

The fashion show is on the 22nd of May at Pataka Museum/ art gallery in Porirua. Tickets are $75 and profits go to Child Cancer Foundation

Sakai and Osaka, our last night

We spent our last day in Sakai and Osaka with friends. Sakai is Wellington's sister city and my son James and I went there last year as part of a sister City official visit with the Wellington - Sakai friendship group. We stayed with a host family last year and stayed our last night on this trip with them again. My mother will stay with them for a week as well, she is currently in japan with the wellington Potter's Association.
This is not a painting, it is a photo I took in the Sakai gardens.
 It was getting close to Children's day (Boys day) and there were lots of carp kites flying.

In the evening we went to Osaka's Dotonburi area which is real sensory overload. There are lights flashing and pachinko chinking and recorded voices telling you stuff. Chris found it exciting and I find it a bit overwhelming.

We also managed to arrange to meet James there with the host family he had been staying with all week while attending Hannan High School in Osaka. James is easy to see in a crowd. It was a also a chance for our friends to catch up with James before we all flew back to NZ the next day.

If you get a chance to go to Japan, make sure you go for at least 3 weeks. Last year I went for 2 weeks and it just wasn't long enough. I felt like I had unfinished business there. A couple of unexpected commissions for quilts meant that I had enough money to go back this time which was only 6 months later,  and I feel a bit better now. I still want to go back but it doesn't feel as urgent :-)

James was also in Japan at the same time with his High School Japanese class. Chris, and I travelled to and from Japan with the school group then we went off on our own and me them at the end of the trip.

I hope I haven't bored everyone too much. Now back to normal life


On one of the days in Kyoto I managed to visit the Shibori Museum. The Nishijin Weaving Centre and Aizenkobo Indigo Workshop. I also managed to get to the Nishiki food market (in a street which runs parallel to the main shopping street).
On my wanderings I found a Jazz Cafe and Chris and I went there. From there he found out about a jam session being held at a jazz bar and disappeared off for the evening leaving me to go on the walking tour of the Gion area where we learned about Geiko and Maiko (called Geisha in Tokyo). It was a really nice little tour, not expensive and you don't have to book , you just turn up.

On another day in Kyoto we had arranged a free guide through the Kyoto free Guide service. It needs to be booked in advance, the guide is free but you pay for their lunch and travel expenses. We also paid for our guide to come with us to see the Cherry Dance by the Maiko (Geiko in training) which only happens in April. After the show we staked out the back of the theatre like paparazzi to try and take photos of the Maiko leaving the theatre. It felt a bit mean so we didn't stay long. The above photo is of a Maiko leaving the theatre after the show (she is moving FAST)

These are school girls dressed up as Maiko and visiting Kiyomizu temple where they are admitted for free because they are in Kimono. Something fun to do with your friends on a Saturday.

Icecream flavours near Kiyomizu. Chris had sesame, honey and green tea and I had cherry blossom and green tea.
Maneki Neko (lucky cats) near Kiyomizu. I wish I had bought the middle one but that would have been $90.
 Chris and I at the bamboo forest in Arashiama, Kyoto.

This guy above is Daruma, a Zen priest. He is always shown with big eyes because he wasn't from Japan and he always has a beard.Some of the pictures and sculptures of Daruma look a bit like David (my husband)

Its always good to look at the plastic food in the windows of restaurants.


We did a side trip to Nara from Kyoto but it was a miserable day. My son James went there the next day with his school group and the weather was fine and they also got to see the Crown Prince.

These deer can be a menace

Kyoto 20th April - 25th April

We went from to Kyoto via Himeji where it rained all day.

Himeji castle is the cutest little castle but it has incredibly steep stairs inside. Probably this kept invaders from getting to the top floors but it is pretty hard to climb up while carrying handbag, raincoat, umbrella and shoes (inside a plastic bag) whilst trying to hold onto the handrail because it is so steep.


Zen temple.
The end of the cherry blossom season in Kyoto.

Well just about the end, we still saw some different varieties which blossomed later. I claim this shot above.

Even samurai go to MCDonalds.

I planned the trip to Kyoto to coincide with both the big flea markets but in the end I went to both but didn't buy anything at either of them as the prices were much higher than I had expected. I found a jacket I liked which was marked at 28,000 yen  (NZ$437) and decided just to take photos rather than bother to shop. There were lots and lots of second hand kimono at around NZ$10-$15 if anyone is looking, in fact the markets were flooded with kimono.  

 J'Hoppers hostel in Kyoto is handy for the Toji temple flea market on the 21st of each month as it is about 15 minutes walk from the hostel.

Shirakawa-Go and Hida Furukawa

In the morning we went to Shirakawa Go to see the Gassho Zukuri Houses. It was about an hour by car from Takayama and hard to get to by public transport so we took a tour run by the hostel. The houses are all hand lashed with no nails. They need to be re-thatched every 30 years or so. The biggest fear up there is fire so each year they have a fire drill and test the fire hoses.
Top photos are the Gassho Zukuri houses. In the middle - A digger kept nice and cosy with it's own patchwork quilt.
The bottom photo is silk worm cocoons up on the top floor of the Gassho houses. Silkworms provided an income when the weather was bad outside. It is also hard to grow crops in that area with a short summer and poor stony soil. It was obvious that the lifestyle must have been pretty dire up there in winter.  Deep snow outside and hard to keep the giant houses warm.

In the evening we went to Hida Furukawa which is close to Takayama, to see the festival.
Tall festival floats are towed around the old streets of the town.

Above - My son Chris who took many of the photos and now it is hard to work out who is winning the cherry blossom classic photo competition because we can't member who took what, as we were both fighting over the big digital camera.

Everyone from the town seemed to be involved somehow with this parade.
Including the teenagers and older guys who look like they have seen it all before.

Towards the evening, groups of young men started gathering, dressed in these white outfits. They started imbibing rather a lot of sake.

Which led to acrobatic feats at the end of what looked like a large cotton bud.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Takayama is inland and up in the mountains, north of Nagoya so we had a very long journey to get there from Naoshima Island.
 We stayed at J'Hoppers hostel and really recommend it. Very friendly staff and bigger rooms than most places. Plus it is very centrally placed in the town.
 Takayama is cooler so was right at the start of the cherry blossom season.. The weather was great but freezing cold.

Cherry blossom (sakura) and sakura family crest on the door of a shrine in Takayama.

One of the streets in the old town area of takayama.

Takayama was the only place where we found soy bean flavoured Kit Kats . Other areas sold green tea kitkats (which are green) and apple flavoured kitkats. There were also these Winnie the Pooh T-shirts. Chris and I were looking for very strange 'Jinglish' t-shirts at the time.

At Hida Folk Village we were able to see how the old farm houses were constructed. They are all lashed together using no nails. Bet our scouts couldn't do that!

Parking space is at a premium...