Category Archives: recycling

Kantha: Exhibition of Textiles of Bengal

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Mingei International Museum
Kantha: Recycled and Embroidered Textiles of Bengal
October 28, 2017– March 25, 2018
San Diego, California  Learn More

I came across this Exhibition, from one of the mailing lists I am on – yes, I’m still talking about mailing lists.

The image is very striking, and I’d never heard of Kantha before, so I looked up the link above, and this is how it described it.

This exhibition features approximately 40 kantha

from Mingei’s permanent collection.

Kantha is a term used across the Indian sub-continent to denote decorative stitched quilting. In Gujarat, hangings patterned with concentric circles or squares in running stitch are known as kanthas, while in Bengal, kanthas are stitched for a variety of purposes, such as winter quilts, covers and wraps for books and valuables or as mats for ceremonial purposes. They are most often given to daughters on the occasion of their marriage, as a token of love, or as a gift for a new-born child or grown son. They are often, as tradition has it, made up of old cast off saris or dhotis. They can be the work of two or more generations of women and are treasured as family heirlooms.

I’d love to go to the exhibition, but its in California – so if anyone does go there, especially if prompted by this blog, do let us know what you think of it!

COME TO THINK OF IT –
IF ANYONE WOULD LIKE TO WRITE A SHORT PIECE
ABOUT ANY CRAFT EVENT OR EXHIBITION THEY HAVE BEEN TO,
I’D BE HAPPY TO PUBLISH IT ON THIS BLOG FOR YOU!
ANY ONE, FROM ANYWHERE, ABOUT ANY EVENT THAT’S LINKED TO ANY CRAFT

 

DON’T BE SHY, IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A MASTERPIECE

BUT YOU DO NEED TO HAVE TAKEN SOME DECENT PHOTOS OF IT!

WHO’S GOING TO BE FIRST?  

PLEASE GO TO THE CONTACT ME PAGE AND SEND ME A MESSAGE!

LET’S SEE IF WE CAN GET THIS IDEA OFF THE GROUND!

Make An Upcycled Napkin Curtain – copied from Etsy

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laurafenton

Laura Fenton is a New York City-based writer and editor whose work has appeared in many publications, including Country LivingGood HousekeepingKinfolk and Parents. She is also the author of The Little House In The City.

After living for years in a top-floor apartment where curtains were unnecessary, I recently landed in a ground-floor unit that, despite its many selling points, happens to look directly into my new neighbors’ windows. Suddenly, attractive window coverings became a high priority — but one that, I quickly learned, cost a pretty penny. Instead of investing in off-the-shelf window dressings, I decided to make my own from an excess of beloved but rarely-used vintage napkins, amassed over a decade of digging in flea markets and secondhand shops. With a little bit of stitching, my incomplete and mismatched sets of dinner napkins became a charming patchwork curtain that’s sheer enough to let in lots of natural light, while still affording (priceless!) privacy.

To make your own, you’ll need a stash of napkins (tea towels and other vintage linens will work, too), a sewing machine, a few basic craft supplies, and the Tetris-like skills to piece your design together. Here’s how.

Etsy_Napkins_Materials

You will need: 

  • Napkins
  • Iron
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon
  • Measuring Tape

Rough-out-design

First, launder and dry your napkins. Then, rough out your curtain design by positioning the napkins in a pattern on the floor or across a large work surface. Make sure you have enough pieces to create a varied patchwork; when you reach an arrangement you like, snap a pic to refer to as you sew — or better yet, leave the napkins laid out as they are.

Etsy_Napkins_Iron

Iron napkins to remove any creases (and make them easier to pin and sew).

Etsy_Napkins_Pin

Begin pinning napkins together with straight pins, starting with the napkins in the center. Rather than lining up their edges precisely, you’ll want the napkins to overlap each other slightly, as shown.

Etsy_Napkins_Sew1

Use a zigzag stitch to sew along the overlapped edges. The zigzag stitch will add extra visual interest to the curtain (and it’s also a forgiving stitch for less-than-professional seamstresses). After you complete the center section, pin a few more loose napkins from your laid-out design to the edges of the sewn pieces and use the zigzag stitch to secure. Keep sewing and pinning until you have created one full curtain panel.

Tip: If your napkins don’t create a perfect rectangle, you may need to trim some of the perimeter napkins. (Just be sure to leave a bit of seam allowance so that you can still hem those cut edges.)

Etsy_Napkins_Ties

Next, cut several 20-inch pieces of ribbon to act as curtain ties. (Ties should be spaced about five to seven inches apart. We used nine ties for our 48-inch wide panel; measure to determine how many you will need.)

Etsy_Napkins_Ties_pinned

Fold each piece of ribbon in half, measure to determine to its position at the top of the panel, and pin to the back side of the curtain.

Etsy_Napkins_Sew

Next, sew one continuous zigzag stitch across the top hem of the curtain panel and each of the ribbon ties. Use the ties to hang the panel from your curtain rod.

Make-an-Upcycled-Napkin-Curtain

Photos and styling by Laura Fenton.

Some thoughts on “A Gallery of Your Work”

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This is a follow up to the GALLERY OF YOUR WORK, that appeared on 31 May 2015.

this beautiful summer dress was made for Val's holiday - we had a bit of a panic, because it seems Royal Mail lost her package - so I sent her another 4m of this very popular red poppy material - listed in julzcrafts supplies shop on etsy - and on the 85solway account on ebay.

this beautiful summer dress was made for Val’s holiday – we had a bit of a panic, because it seems Royal Mail lost her package – so I sent her another 4m of this very popular red poppy material – listed in julzcrafts supplies shop on etsy – and on the 85solway account on ebay.

I have just updated it to include this lovely dress that a customer of mine made out of one of the fabrics that I sell.

This was the first GALLERY  that I have tried putting together, and it has given rise to various comments from readers, and the information from the POLL I put up, has been useful.

I have been mulling over the idea, and the problems with it – smile.

It takes quite a lot for people to send it photos of their work, and actually, I am as shy about showing some of mine, especially when I don’t think I’ve got it quite right!  I’m not sure I would immediately think – oh what a great idea, I’ll send a picture to this blog – and if I didn’t know the writer – I’d be uncertain about how they would use the pictures.

So, let me try and reassure you – smile.

My intentions are nothing but honourable!

The idea was simply to give people a place to showcase their work, to give encouragement and to perhaps inspire others.  You see a great idea and it creates a spark that leads to you using some element of it to improve the work you do yourself.  It may not even be in the same medium, or directly comparable!

Now, a long time ago, I briefly started degree in Photography – this was after I had already been working as a Photographer for quite a while, and had initially trained with a quite well known commercial advertising photographer in London, so I was a mature student, and joined to see if I could improve my work – and well, to be honest, to get my hands on the large format cameras the college had, which I couldn’t afford!

Not for the first time I was subjected, along with the others on the course, to the vicious system of ‘crits’ – supposedly creative criticism of your work by the tutors.  With everyone else standing by and watching, and waiting for their turn.

I don’t know why these supposed ‘teachers’ thought it was fun to rip people’s work apart – the same happens in art colleges and other creative courses.  At best it might give you some idea of how others view what you have done – at worst – it totally destroys your enthusiasm for the subject!  Makes you feel worthless, and want to give up – even if you are incredibly talented!  And all abilities should be nurtured and encouraged by tutors – that’s what their job is supposed to be about.

this is a standard advertising still life I took years ago!

this is a standard advertising still life I took years ago!

Well I might not have been the best photographer around, but I knew that the course wasn’t going to give me what I wanted after the first term – so I left!  (OK – the courses were free at the time and I didn’t need the degree.)

The point is – besides me having a chance to show off some of my old work – smile – (you can see a selection of some of my other photos on “the spare“)

– that, if you were subjected to that kind of criticism in the past, you probably don’t want to put up a photo on a GALLERY HERE!

On the other hand, if you want to promote the work you sell, you might well be interested in getting some FREE PUBLICITY!

But the idea of the Gallery is not just for those few who, rightly, take any opportunity to publicise their work – it is for EVERYONE!

I am just as interested in seeing your first attempt at something, with all its faults, as the work with the professional finish that comes with years of experience.

You may find that someone who sees it can help you out with any problems you are having – and certainly, anyone who puts up their work here is not going to get ‘pulled to pieces’ – I moderate all comments, and will not allow any nasty ones to see the light of day!

It also seems that I have not made myself clear enough about what kind of work I will put up in a GALLERY.

THE ONLY STIPULATION IS THAT IT IS CRAFT RELATED – ANY CRAFT –

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A TEXTILE CRAFT.

There are too many crafts to mention, but I will mention a few, just to make it obvious – there’s pottery, sculpture, glass work, ironwork, jewellery work, leatherwork, paperwork (not your accounts tho – smile), woodwork, re-cycling projects, mixed media etc etc – and of course anything to do with fabric, fibres and yarns.

What doesn’t qualify as a craft for the purposes of this exercise, is art work as in paintings etc (there are plenty of other places to show those) and videos – simply because they take up too much of my storage allowance!

And talking about storage space – please just send in ONE PHOT0. 

If you do send in more, I can, if I think it will show your work better, create a grid to put the other shots into the format of one image.  If you are not sure which photo will be best, you can send in more and let me choose which one to use.

THE PHOTOGRAPH CAN BE OF WORK YOU HAVE DONE IN THE PAST OR JUST RECENTLY.

NB:  If you would like to be featured in a SHOW & TELL you can send in as many photos as you like!

If you look at the bottom of the current GALLERY OF YOUR WORK, you will see that there is a note about copyright.  You own the copyright of the work and the photograph.  By sending the picture to me, you are only allowing me to use it in the Gallery, and I will ask your permission if I want to use it in any other way – as should anyone else that sees the blog – I strongly disagree with the idea of ‘stealing someone else’s work’.  However, it happens, so please don’t blame me if your picture appears elsewhere.  See my copyright info at the end of the blogroll on the right hand side of this page – and all pages!

this useful widget at the end of the said blogroll shows where the viewers come from

this useful widget at the end of the said blogroll shows where the viewers come from

The joy of the internet is that people from all over the world can see this blog and do! – I just took a snapshot of the latest figures for this blog – the widget here tells me where you all come from – and if you click on the actual widget at the end of my blogroll – you can see the that you are a truly INTERNATIONAL lot!

So – of course – the offer to host a picture of your work is open to anyone who reads this blog, or is a customer of mine and doesn’t bother to read it (smile), all over the world.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS IDEA?

How about I keep this GALLERY IDEA GOING?

I am thinking about having constant open submission, without any deadlines.

(Open submission means that anyone can send in a photo of their work – and anything you send in gets published, unless we have agreed that this photo is not suitable for any reason)

However, the current gallery is now closedBUT as soon as I have at least 10 photos waiting to be published, I will create a new gallery and then the next set of photos will form the basis of the next gallery – with any luck this could run & run!

Your comments & ‘likes’ would be greatly appreciated – I am not on twitter or facebook, but would be happy if you would spread the word for me!  I will direct my mailing list of customers – who are several hundred in number – to this blog in my next “newz from julz” – so hopefully we will find that there are enough people interested in this idea to start the ball rolling!

(If you would like to join the mailing list – please fill in the form at the bottom of the SHOP TALK PAGE)

I LOOK FORWARD TO RECEIVING YOUR PICTURES!

If you don’t have my email address – I took it off the site because I was getting too much spam – please either fill in the form on the SHOP TALK PAGE or the one on the CONTACT ME PAGE – and I will reply to your email address so that you can send me some pictures!

THANKS

julz signature

Handmade Felt Transforms Lives in Nepal

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logo  This article was published on 14 May on the Cloth Roads blog 

I thought you might like to read it as its very topical


This is a story of transformation that began before the earth shook Nepal twice in a few weeks, when women artisans were transforming scraps of saris, silk, and wool through a hand, wet-felting process into fashionable, felted art-to-wear scarves for the U.S.-based company, The Red Sari. It’s a story of what women can co-create when a vision is shared, changing lives of isolation and financial insecurity to ones of enhanced self-worth, status, and independence.

Taking a Leap 
Sometimes it’s best not knowing something. This is how Julie West felt when leaving a career in healthcare to pursue graduate school at the University of Arkansas, Clinton School of Public Service. It was while working on an international public service project in Nepal, when she became inspired by the country and its artisans.

Julie remembers, “I returned to Nepal after graduation for a four-month stay, working side-by-side with the women artisans in the Kathmandu Valley. It was through a collaborative process of testing, failing, and testing again that we designed our signature product, the felted vintage sari scarf. After that, we continued to collaborate on many other products.  In the fall of 2009, I launched The Red Sari.” Prior to working with Julie, this artisan group of fifty women did outsource work for many people so they’re thrilled to be working with only her, being paid a fair trade, living wage.

 

 

 

 

 

Returning to Nepal at least annually, Julie works directly with the women on product development. When she’s not there, she’ll send photos or sketches and the women will riff off of them or come up with designs on their own. Making felted scarves is a time-consuming process of bonding fabric with fiber, one which requires hand scrubbing, rubbing, and rinsing layers of materials with hot, soapy water until disparate elements transform into one colorfully rich scarf.  The use of repurposed old saris is really important for the environment as well as using natural material. And while some products veer away from the old saris, the artisanry and uniqueness of the products make a fashionable statement.

Why Red

In the Nepalese culture, the color red is both auspicious as well as a symbol of transformation. It’s a color in constant view of daily life. From the painting of household portals to applying a tika (a red dot) to a married woman’s forehead, red conveys protection, purity, dignity, and honor. For women, the wearing of red begins at marriage, an outward symbol conveying their cherished status, and ceases upon the death of a husband, no longer cherished but abandoned to the restrictive life of widowhood.

A married Nepali woman wearing red sari, vermillion hair stripe, and tika dot (red nails too.)

A married Nepali woman wearing red sari, vermillion hair stripe, and tika dot.

Widows are many, having lost husbands during the ten-year civil war which ended in 2006. And now, with lucrative industries beckoning able-bodied men elsewhere, both widowed and married women are carrying on the work of family and community. Constitutional changes are beginning to address long-needed provisions for widows.

Shortly before the first earthquake, Julie was working on a humanitarian project of establishing a short-term living and training center for women in transition. The center would offer basic education in reading and math, to teaching skills such as machine sewing and hand embroidery. The training would prepare them for living on their own. This project is now on hold due to the earthquakes.

Triaging From a Distance

The felting group couldn’t be reached for three days after the first earthquake. Julie’s on-the-ground coordinator, Bishnu, skypes with her regularly and she finally heard from him, learning that her group was fine, although some of their village housing wasn’t.

Julie said, “We had just gotten the factory back into full production and felt like we were doing really well until the second earthquake hit. The factory was hit this time–the pillars cracked and the aftershocks will continue. The factory is shuttered until engineers can assess the safety.  This work is the only livelihood for over 50 women and families.  The rebuilding and recovery phase is long. Everyone is looking for space, and the monsoon season is coming soon.” But Bishnu assures her that temporary space is being set up and things will move forward. Julie says a common saying is, “Don’t quit us. We’ll figure this out.” Her response is, “Why would I quit? This is a partnership and we’ll work together to figure it out.”

What You Can Do 

Can you help rebuild The Red Sari factory and help fund the costs of lost wages for the women and their families and the price tag associated with relocation? The link to The Red Sari’s crowdfunding campaign is www.gofundme.com/theredsari. No donation is too small. It all adds up.

Thanks to Julie West for providing information and images for this blog. But most of all, for her efforts to not quit. Pass it on. 

X is for Xtra, Xtra – read all about it!

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XThis is the newz according to Julz!

Readers of this blog may have noticed I have a campaigning streak – I’m not sure what you think about it, but its in my genes!  When I was doing blogging101 in January, we were asked to pick a prompt, and write a post around it.

I chose “Never Surrender, and I wrote about my Dad.  You are welcome to click on the link and read it.  At the time I was feeling a little awkward about publishing a series of posts about the “cock ups” the Royal Mail were, and still are, making – and wasn’t sure whether I should keep them up.  Writing that post convinced me I should, however silly it made me look – smile.

I thought I would use this last week of the A-Z Challenge to write an update of the results – or not – of my little personal campaigns.

me messing around with a picture of postboxes

messing around with a picture of modern postboxes

I am vehemently against the privatisation of Royal Mail – as are may other people who rely on it.  Shares were offered at the end of 2013 and the price was far too low, which resulted in the ‘company’ ending up in the hand of the money men, who are simply interested in reselling them for a quick profit,  and not interested in providing a good service for their customers!

The public service had served us well since 1840, when the first postage stamps were issued – costing just one penny.  They are worth a lot more now!

Privatisation and the need to make a profit, has resulted in the loss of previously stable jobs, and a very unhappy staff.  Worse, the people now running it, have never worked within the system, but have been drafted in from other industries, so they know nothing about its traditions and how to make workable changes.  They have messed around with the pricing structure for the last couple of years, and made major mistakes.

close up of notice - last collection on saturday - 7 am, weekdays - 9 am!

close up of notice – last collection on saturday – 7 am, weekdays – 9 am!

It was a silly thing that got me started on this complaint!

I went to my nearest post box, to post some small orders, one Saturday morning at around 8 am, only to find that, without prior warning, there was a notice saying that the only collection on Saturdays would be at 7 am – ie I’d missed it!  Saturday collections have been at noon for EVER!

Worse, as I was on my way to Asda, and passed another post box, I stopped to look at the notice there, and it still said 12 noon, and the post box at Asda said 9.15am!  Even the guy who runs the local Post Office knew nothing about the change when I asked him!

There followed a series of encounters with Head Office, who were as obfuscating as they could be, and with the local Sorting Office, where I got laughed at.

Even sillier, I finally found out that the notices had been put up but the changes hadn’t happened yet!  

You can follow the series of posts I wrote HERE if you can be bothered to – its a long read – smile. (You will have to scroll down to the bottom to see the first one, and then scroll upwards for the next instalment!

Although nothing specific came out of the fuss I made, a new sticker is to be seen on all the local post boxes, giving the phone number for any queries the public would like to make about collections etc.  I was very heartened to hear a whole section on complaints from all around the country about the change in collection times from rural postboxes,   on Radio 4’s programme, You & Yours, this week.  Whether much will happen after that exposure remains to be seen.

I still don’t know for sure when the collections are, and whether the changes have yet been put into effect- I wonder if they’d tell me if I phoned up the number on the sticker!

cropped-3vert-dry-stone-wall-version-2.jpg In January, I also wrote a post about the new VAT MOSS scheme, which seems to have been introduced to force large companies, like Amazon, to pay their fair share of tax, but is instead making it more difficult for small businesses, and especially craftspeople, to trade.  There have been various petitions, to the European Union, whose legislation this is, and to member country parliaments, but as far as I can tell, no one has done anything to change the scheme.  My plan to open a separate shop on etsy selling digital downloads of my old photographs is still on hold.

the large bin was replaced by the small bin

the large bin was replaced by the small bin

In February, the local council came and changed our large wheelie bins for small ones, apparently in an effort to get us to recycle more.

I was curious as to how much the new bins had cost and whether the old bins had been usefully recycled, so I asked them.

I did eventually get some answers, but did not pursue the issue to the bitter end – it was enough to be able to show that people all over the world had read my blogs about this.

The Council Officials were prepared for some criticism on this policy, but they do not yet have a culture of recognising that freedom of information means transparency and accountability.  It would be nice if they got into the habit or publishing information like this without having to be cajoled into doing so!

Still they have come a long way from the petty officialdom that WAS once the prevailing culture – and unfortunately still is in many parts  of the world.  If I lived in India, China or Russia, to name but a few of the countries that abound with petty corruption – I might have found myself in prison just for asking those questions, or at the very least, would think nothing of having to pay a bribe to a local official to get my rubbish collected at all!

You can read the sequence of posts here.

photo of Matt Mullenweg, taken in 2014 (found on his website)

photo of Matt Mullenweg, taken in 2014 (found on his website)

My most recent campaign has stalled.

Ironically, its about WordPress and the changes they have made, and they seem to be the least open to discussion – or, if you like, on a par with the Royal Mail!

It would seem that Matt, who is a co-founder of WordPress thought it would be nice to be able to post short blogs from his mobile, so he wrote a program for it.

He thinks we all should use it – whether we are posting from our computers, i-pads or phones – but it doesn’t work!  I call it Edit Lite. See my postTest on Chrome“.

I spend a great deal of time formatting my posts, so that they are readable, and was finding that when I went back to edit them, the formatting got screwed up.

I was most upset to find this had happened to the last post of the Big Bin Swap series – see above – just at the time I had sent out invitations to the ‘Big Wigs’ from all the Local Councils to read it!

I have fixed it now, so the only thing wrong with it is that a paragraph in the middle has been squashed up.  I purposely haven’t been back to do that on the ‘Test on Chrome’.

I have tried contacting Matt – but he’s unreachable.  I put up a couple of posts, trying to get his attention – see “Message to Matt – 1 & 2“, but answer was there none, not even thro’ the very helpful Happiness Engineer – still makes me laugh, that title!

What she has told me is that they haven’t been able to fix it yet!  Edit Lite is the culprit, and we are being steered towards using it, whether we have up-to-date mobile phones or not!  I’m one of those who doesn’t!

The Classic Editor is now almost impossible to find.  However, I have followed the advice the ‘HE’ gave me, and returned to the Blog Post Page every time, religiously, where Classic Editor can be found by clicking “Add New” at the top of the page, and if I want to edit a post, I do it in that page – and have not had any real problems since!

I am steering well clear of any contact with Edit Lite – it has caused me too much grief!

I am not the only one who has had problems with this, and there are various forums and groups out there that I found when I was trying to get answers, who are extremely angry about the changes that are being made.

AND – it occurs to me that WordPress, of all organisations, should be listening to their customers, and be concerned about how the platform they provide performs.

The internets’ greatest strength is that it allows FREE SPEECH, and has been an important tool for the implementation of those ideals – its a shame to find WordPress, inadvertently perhaps,  acting in a similar fashion to those old fashioned, all powerful dictators!

 

 

W is for Wonderwool

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W I went to Wonderwool yesterday and thought I’d share my day out with you.

Wonderwool?  Its a ‘trade show’ (or as they call it ‘A Festival of Welsh Wool & Natural Fibres) for spinners & weavers and other crafters, and was held at the Royal Welsh Show grounds in Builth Wells.

The forecast was for rain, and it looked like it was right on the drive there, but by the afternoon it was a brilliantly sunny day!

I found some new suppliers, and bought some lovely silk fibres, which I will be putting up on etsy & ebay in the coming weeks, but this post is just about some of the people, and animals (!), who I came across during my day out.

Apologies to the others who haven’t got featured, it was a big show and I didn’t get around it all, and I kept getting distracted by all the nice stuff there, and forgot to get my camera out!

So here is a gallery of the photos I DID take – hover over the pictures to see the caption, or click on them to get a slide show – you may need to do this to read the full descriptions – I have given the contact details for all those featured.

And look out for the May/June issue of Yarn Maker whose editor I met several times in my meanders, and who was also taking pictures for a feature. (www.yarnmaker.co.uk)