Wednesday, November 18, 2009

International Quilt Week Yokohama 2009

This week was one of the largest quilt shows in Japan. I knew about the Tokyo Quilt Show, it’s already on my 2010 calendar, but I was not aware of the Yokohama show. Thank goodness my friend Kathy, savvy Gaijin that she is, not only knew about the show but had planned an outing to attend. Sign me up!

Upon exiting the subway we had a fairly good idea which way to head but it became obvious as we followed the masses. It was like a slow flowing river with all these side tributaries feeding in, flowing in a steady stream towards fabric, buttons, and lots of inspiration.

I’ve mentioned in previous blogs about the Japanese attention to details, so it should have come as no surprise upon entering the exhibit hall you immediately saw these huge patchwork balls and then looking up with out a doubt the largest quilt I have ever seen (see slides). The message was clear – this was not going to be like any quilt show I’ve seen in the U.S. (just in case any quilters out there get all riled up – no, I have not been to Houston – but I have been to quite a few nationally ranked shows, Mancusco does a nice job but they should come here and take some notes). The quilts are displayed like a real exhibit (not hanging on what is basically curtains), with exhibit walls and proper lighting – now maybe that sounds a bit picky, but all my fellow quilters out there will know exactly what I’m talking about. It makes a HUGE difference in how the quilts show.

We enjoyed the quilts immensely. As usual, I was fascinated by the many different techniques and stood there wondering, “now how did she do that?” My photos are of the entrants, none of the professional quilts nor the special exhibits were available to photograph. The octopus quilt you see in the slide show was one of the three grand prize winners. It was drop dead gorgeous. The attention to detail was amazing.

After feasting our eyes on the quilts and getting high on inspiration we headed over to the vendors. When we turned the corner it was like … oh, boy – maybe we should have come here first! It was packed – solid. I was getting my daily work out just trying to get through the crowds. There were so many great vendors there it would take me quite a while to get through them all so I’ll give just give you the cliff notes (an aside – did you know that cliff notes are now passé and that Sparknotes are “in” – I discovered this doing research for one of my books for bookgroup. They are great and you can go online – just FYI for any of you out there with kids who need to understand the importance of books like Catch-22, like we had to do this summer.).

Purses and more

OMG!! The Japanese appear to really be into making purses. And I have to admit, I could see getting sucked into this. There were vendors selling nothing but handles – all kinds of really cool handles – like nothing I’ve seen back in the states. And weaving, there were vendors selling tools to help you basically stitch fabric and weave purse bottoms – sort of like those placemats we used to make when we were kids. But way more sophisticated. Now I stood for quite a while watching a demonstration and it was very cool but the one thing that was holding me back was I put my sewing machine in storage for three years. Why? Well I knew my space here would be limited and I figured it would force me to focus on hand stitching – exploring new areas fiber art. My mom said I’ll never make it three years with out caving in and buying myself a sewing machine. I have to admit, standing there watching the endless demonstrations – it seemed like nearly every booth had a demo going on – I was starting to think she may be right. But for now, I purchased a few items I could make by hand and if I really can’t control myself I might just have to hit up one of my unsuspecting sewing friends here and ask to borrow their machine.

It was a great day, I loved seeing the many different techniques. From what I understand, this is just a warm up to the Tokyo show in January. I can hardly wait.

Till next time, sayonara.

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