Sunday, December 26, 2010


Babaghuri was another fascinating shop, a blend of ethical fashion, home-ware and publications selected by Jurgen Lehl. Lehl specialises in natural materials and dyes with limited editions for the discerning customer. The garments were cut in really interesting ways and the website shows a good selection. The tables and large baskets were superb but out of my league in both price and transport possibilities.
I loved the hand hammered copper kettles the smooth, classic, shaping of the pot was such a textural contrast to the crazy stainless steel handles. They were not as heavy as I feared and I was very tempted to bring one home.

I also took a shine to their short stools, hand carved from a single block of wood and finished with linseed oil and bees wax. I'm sure I could have got one in my suitcase if I'd tried really hard!

After this some of us, who had not slept on the flight, headed back towards the hotel to find something to eat. Seven of us ended up in a tiny eatery where we made our selection from a machine which produced a ticket that was placed on the counter behind which was one man and his vats for frying and boiling. To give a sense of scale of the place; there were only two spare seats when we had all settled ourselves.

I chose number 4 which turned out to be a vast bowl of noodles in broth with a large vegetable fritter in the top. It was excellent; hot, filling and cooked to order - although I must admit that tackling the fritter was an amusing game. Rosie had fried aubergine on the top of her bowl of noodles and Mary seemed to get a very interesting selection including an egg broken into the broth and left to gently cook itself.


On arrival in Tokyo we dropped our luggage at the hotel and then visited the Nuno shop.
The wonderful Reiko Sudo generously guided us through many of the fascinating fabrics on display.
Nuno are famed for their innovative combinations of threads such as those with different shrinkage rates which produce highly textured surfaces when heated after weaving. I treated myself to this black and white scarf which would also make a great wall hanging. It's a double cloth weave that has been crinkled to give it width wise stretch. The vertical slits not only add interest to the design but allow you to pass one end through to keep it in place is wear.
The fabric that I found most interesting was this one which has a standard synthetic woven base fabric with floats of paper yarn which are cut by hand to random lengths. Apart from being a stunning fabric it reminded me of the way in which the surplus outlining threads had to be cut away, by hand, from the surface of early machine made laces.

Friday, December 24, 2010

UCA Textile Study Visit to Japan 2010

This study visit to Japan was based on textiles but encompassed a broad spectrum of cultural experiences.
Three nights in Tokyo afforded us an experience of fast paced life in the ultra modern capital. Our hotel was always easy to locate as it was not far from the Tokyo Tower, shown above at night from the observation deck of the Mori Tower.
Our Tokyo experience was followed by four nights in the gentler surroundings of Kyoto with it's myriad temples and shrines. Here we also had an ultramodern beacon to navigate by in the Kyoto Tower, just north of Kyoto Station.
I'm extremely grateful to Diana Harrison, Linda Brassington, Louise Anderson and Hannah White from UCA for all of their hard work in organising the trip and to Nao Fukumoto, our Artist in Residence, for her wonderful translations and excellent introduction to the workings of the Tokyo subway system.