Monday, June 30, 2014

Festival Crafts and Culture

I am in China, at the Folklife Festival, and of course I'm drawn to the textiles section of the Crafts area. So many crafts here this year, from painting to woodcarving, to batiks and quilts and more.

In this tent I observed men and women making batik fabric with molten wax, and these natural dyes. I am not sure what the mordants were but these pans had lumps of flowers, wood shavings, etc in them.

There were fabrics dyed with the natural dyes that had color so intense it was like flags flying on the racks.

I was unable to communicate with the dyers as there were no interpreters but here is a picture of cotton dyed with yellow gardenias. I've never seen a yellow gardenia!

Next to it is one of the batiks.
Remember you can click on pics to enlarge them.
I enjoyed watching all the fiber related crafts being made but when I discovered a quilter... why I had to chat with her somehow.

She had many beautiful quilts on display, and was wearing a lovely sheer long vest made with a Korean technique of piecing sheers. There were
three-D flowers of silk, improvisational quilting with tiny scraps and quilted with gold threads.

Through sign language I told her I also quilted. She beamed a smile, and reached for my hand to hold.
Across borders, quilters can communicate with the love of fabric and stitch.

 She and I began trying to talk, when a lovely young man began to interpret for us. I learned about her process and can share some of it with you.
Her work is done by hand while traveling. She enjoys little bits pieced together, and quilted with gold thread by hand using something like an outline stitch. It did not feel like it had batting to me but it's likely warm there, and her quilts were for the wall. She showed me a picture of a quilt in her book, that she made for her family on their wedding. Every part of it was symbolic to her, little squares representing the mother, the father, the children to come, the number of larger squares representing a lucky number and the value of listening to each other, and taking time out when angry, working through problems, respecting the grandparents.
 Oh it was so special the moments we shared, the three of us. Two women who share a love of symbolism and stitching, and a polite kind young man who took his time to help us connect on this day.
It was a gift. She asked me to sign her book with my website as well. She gifted me with her book and we both wanted pictures to remember the moment shared.

Yikes! Why didn't my husband say take off that hat?! And why didn't I put some make-up on that poor migrained face?! Ah, well, we connected  heart to heart, and that's what matters.

Here is another fiber craft, embroidery on screen with delicate silk threads.

Beautiful embroidery, color next to color, lovely line creating a picture of nature made by the hands of a craftsperson who knows that it's not how fast a piece of art is to make, it's the making of it that matters.
More crafts from Kenya next post.


  1. Lovin' the last two posts. You and your hubby like exactly the same things as Mike and I do. I love those dimensional pieces. Awesome!

  2. What a great day it must have been. At the Houston IQA last year there was a big exhibit by one Korean woman whose work was exquisite. As you said, no batting , but beautiful hand-woven cloth and embroidery.
    I have been to China and saw some incredible hand work. I purchased a "painting" made of tiny French knots using silk thread.

  3. Thanks for sharing your day. Can't wait to see Kenya. You are your Chinese friend are quilt sisters. Beautiful work!

  4. Hi LeeAnna,
    Creativity crosses all borders! Brings people togheter! That was quite an expereince you could enjoy toghether!

  5. That's such a special experience, making deep contact like that: from so far and yet so near.

  6. You have some great pictures and a great story to tell - sounds like an amazing trip!

  7. Wow ! Looks like a great time. Thanks for sharing!