Friday, March 16, 2012

Handmade Textile Treasures

This past Wednesday I drove up to Lancaster, PA to attend the AQS Quilt Show. I didn't have much time...it's almost a 2-hour drive and I had to go in the window between dropping Jack off at school and picking him up...soo...it was a quick trip.

I don't think I've been to a quilt show in almost 10 years. And, to be honest, I didn't have enough time to look at all the quilts...though I did see the winners...

Instead, I had a targeted mission of trying to find imported Japanese dobby cloth. It's that wonderful 100% cotton fabric with the nubby texture that I used for the cover of the Hari-kuyo needlebook. Well, I've been asked to teach it again and my sources for dobby cloth was quite slim...and searches on the internet didn't turn up much luck.

Yet, I knew there were Japanese importers who go to the quilt shows...so...I went in search...and hit the jackpot! Dobby cloth!


It turns out that Pat Maeda of Maeda Importing has quite an extensive selection. Not only that, she's very knowledgeable about the various designers of dobby and was able to explain her difficulty in importing the fabric.

Luckily for us all, she has a shop online but you may want to call her with your requests...I noticed her website doesn't show nearly as much as she physically has in stock. And she hasn't created a separate "dobby cloth" section on her website which might explain why she didn't come up in my search.

It seems like my day was going to center around imported, handmade and handwoven fabrics because I hit the jackpot again when I visited the booth of Susan Ball Faeder next door, owner of Quilter's Express to Japan.

She had this collection of handwoven, indigo-dyed (aizome)...I haven't seen this quality since I lived in Japan...all dyed in a vat with live bacteria using no chemical additives or fixatives...she even has that super-deep blue indigo-dyed fabric that's almost black...


But here, the story was similar...the dyer and weaver is in his eighties and not likely to continue to manufacture these hand-made fabrics for much longer.

A story that continued when I met another Susan, Susan McCauley from Mekong River Textiles...It was there that I found these wonderful, hand-woven silk ikat fabrics from Thailand...


And yes, she's telling the same story. There are fewer and fewer weavers.

I only had 15 mins left before I had to make my drive back to get Jack, but I hadn't yet gotten up to the third floor. So I sprinted up the stairs, and the one booth that caught my eye was yet another import booth...Batik Tambal.

Turns out Batik Tambal was just bought by Judy Gula, owner of Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria, VA. (My BNF [blogging needle friend] Elizabeth Woodford has been telling me I need to make a trip to this shop for the longest time and I have yet to make it there...)


Without a doubt, it seems like the theme for the day was unique, imported hand-dyed and hand-woven fabrics. Isn't it funny how some trips are like that...you tend to focus on just one thing...

And perhaps if you, like me, have trouble finding sources online...I've helped you locate a few gems...which also helps the importers and, ultimately, the weavers and dyers themselves.

Though the stories amongst all the Susans sellers were the same...not as easy to find, skills are being lost, the artists are aging...

Is that the same story you're hearing?

Happy weekend to you all...

P.S. Touching my heart today, Ode to Adolescence by Janell Burley Hoffman. I am there too. Thanks Maura.

P.P.S. And Wow. And this post too...from Tricia. Wow.

12 comments:

Shirlee Fassell said...

Looks like you had an "eyes glazing over time"!! It's such a shame in this age of technology that such irreplaceable techniques may be lost. Looking forward to visiting these web stores!

Marie Costa said...

Jackpot indeed!!! Wow, those fabrics are incredible.

Thank you very much for being so generous with your info regarding suppliers.

And as always, I'm in awe of your photography!

Rachel said...

Sounds like a great day, although the news of ageing craftsmen is disheartening. Are there enough keen customers in the world for any of them to be able to take on an apprentice, I wonder?

Wendy said...

Those fabrics are just yummy! Such beautiful color everywhere! Lucky girl you are.

Laurel's Quill said...

Susan, what are you going to do with each of these wonderful selections?, especially the dobby cloth (I had never heard of it). And thanks for sharing the "ode" with us. I even think about that with my 18 year old grandson! They change so fast! Have a great weekend! Laurel

Catherine said...

Such lovely fabrics! It I fun seeing the different colors, patterns and textures and I am sure you will make beautiful things with them all! So sad how many art forms are slowly fading away...

Elizabeth said...

Well My dear you certainly managed to find some treasures in your SPRINT!!! And to top off your day you have finally met Judy Gula and seen that Artistic Artifacts and Batik Timbal are now one and the same!!! I am so excited and then next weekend I will see you at Artistic artifacts for a Margot Duke Class! It doesn't get much better than that with blogging stitching buddies!! Can't wait!!

Createology said...

How wonderful that you found so many perfect pieces for your collection of fine and unique fabrics. Each one beautiful and so special. I completely understand the aging factor and lost art...very sad indeed. Thank you for sharing your new found sources. Blissful Inspirations...

Judy S. said...

Catching up with you this evening, Susan, and I see you've been very busy creating more of your beautiful work....love your snow production. Thanks for the 2 wonderful links in this post... both are terrific!

Juli said...

What a great selection! I am certainly jealous. =)

Allison Aller said...

Lovely scores! It is a beautiful mystery how we are led in certain directions at different times in our textile lives. Yours is a fine one, honoring these traditions from across the sea.
As for me, I am staying up late bidding on 1880s blocks on eBay...I still am not sure why!!!

Cyn ;-) said...

Wowzer, you hit several JackPots with your 'quick' shopping trip thru the show. Glad it worked out for you. It is sad they we are losing so many of our really good suppliers. I appreciate the links; thank you for sharing.

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