Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Sunday, September 07, 2008
It's beeen a bit of a bumpy landing but we're there. Please keep your seatbelts fastened until you're well inside the new terminal building...
No passports or visas needed. You'll feel quite at home the minute you arrive, I hope. Do come and visit An Elegant Sufficiency at its new address. Oh, and leave a comment and let me know what you think, won't you please?
For the time being, An Elegant Sufficiency 365 will stay here on Blogger. It's comfy there!
Saturday, September 06, 2008
A New Adventure
Anyway, in the last few weeks, as I've posted photographs and stories of our travels, I've become aware of the slight flakiness of Blogger. Don't get me wrong - I still think it's a great tool for simple blogging and will continue to use it. But as I've got three years worth of valuable (to me) blog sitting there with no easy way of backup, I thought I'd explore an alternative and signed up with Squarespace for a free trial.
Very impressed so far. Lots to tweak, much to learn. But quite straightforward, the "create" interface is remarkably familiar and the ease of use comes as a relief. I've managed to import the whole of my blogger blog across in seconds and I think I'm committed enough to sign up for a paid account pretty soon.
It's a powerful beast though and I can see it being a great new toy to fiddle with.
Monday, September 01, 2008
a number of meetings,, most of which will have a distinct focus, likely to be...
...the imminent OFSTED inspection
planning, prepping and facilitating several training sessions
three other workshops to plan, prep and deliver
a serious, professional training programme to complete
finish some samples for display
three speaking engagements
a report to write
two competitions to judge
and all the fun of the fair here at home, where I'm trying to have a bit of a sort out.
Life is never dull - and that's just the way I love it!
Sunday, August 31, 2008
one Stuart Singers concert tour to Hertfordshire
and one Red Cross Ball.
Treasures from the trip
A good job then, that some beautiful treasures were purchased and stashed away at the bottom.
After all, a girl can't have too many bags, can she? (Dont answer that, Mark) The combination of indigo and scarlet is a classic, isn't it? The geometric batik patterns are intricate and seem to be individual to the piece - I don't know if each woman had her own, personal design or if a family or tribe used the pattern to identify themselves. All I know is that hours and hours of work must have gone into the creation of these wonderful fabrics and that I, for one, am a very appreciative owner.
The scarlet cotton applique has been applied by hand with absolute geometric precision. Mitred corners are beautifully neat and there is little or no bulk. Traditionally the base fabric would have been hemp (as the Hmong woman in the workshop was using) but I am not sure that the fabric of my bags is coarse enough to be hemp. I don't know.
And those batiked patterns underneath the applique continue to delight and amaze me with their precision.
The hours of work spent on the batik and applique do not complete the process, however, for there is the cross stich section too. This is worked in a variety of fibres in the samples I have - some stranded cotton and some thin woolly thread, worked on an evenweave cloth with slightly less precision as the applique! Fuchsia pink, lemon yellow/lime green and white seem common to all, with hints of emerald green, teal blue or primary blue here and there. I understand the Hmong women work the cross stitch from the back of the cloth and having watched a couple stitching, have no idea how they can produce such elaborate embroidery with such apparent ease. I guess it's practice!
They work four or five arms lengths of fabric for a skirt and may only make one or two in a year. The beauty of their skirt reveals their personality - if they are not full of beautiful batik and embroidery, the woman may be thought of as lazy!
And on each of my bags (ooops, yes, I did buy - ahem - more than one) there is a large red rectangle in the cross stitch panel. On one of them, there's a couple more appliqued squares too, though I didn't see that elsewhere.
To put all of this into context, here's a photo I scanned from the Legends in the Weaving book, showing a Blue Hmong woman making the pleats in her fabric to create a skirt. Sadly, these skills are disappearing and we spoke of this with Ming, our guide. Young people want to wear the same blue jeans and T shirts as their counterparts worldwide - why not? For those who do want to keep links with their heritage, cotton cloth is purchased and synthetic dyes used rather than the traditional plant materials.
Workshops such as Ock Pop Tok are doing a great job in educating visitors about the skills and traditions of the Lao people. I felt privileged indeed to learn from them and feel ambivalent about my bags: sad to think a woman has cut up her beautiful skirt to create a product to sell on a market stall but happy to own such a treasure and to share a few details about its background.
Some wonderful photographs and more information about these people and their fascinating textile traditions can be found here.
Everything you wanted to know about the Hmong people (and possibly a little more) can be read here
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
A few more good things from the trip
Uploading photographs from our trip, I came across a few which didn't quite fit in earlier posts but which I think are interesting in some way, for example, these shampoo and shower gel bottles in an hotel.
Is buying rice a simple purchase? A market stall in Saigon, Vietnam.
On the Mekong, in Laos, the flowering teak trees of the forest are doing fine above the high water mark from last weekend's flood.
A store selling handmade paper and books in Luang Prabang, Laos.
The outside of the same store
Rice cakes drying in the sun, Luang Prabang, Laos
Bead store in the Night Bazaar, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Woven wall hangings for sale in hotel shop, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Three characters from the garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
In case of boredom, a basket of wooden puzzles from the bar, Chiang Mai, Thailand.