Jewelry and Accessories

Souvenirs of ShahJahan…Delhi and Agra in Instagrams

Taj Majal Agra India

I guess it’s not really fair to call this post ‘India in Instagrams’ as we only had a few days in New Delhi, ostensibly to “watch” our teenage daughters in a soccer tournament. While we did make it to the late afternoon games, the truth is it was an opportunity to dip our toes into the wonder that is India. Resplendent with color, in particular white, pink and green, it provided me with a jolt of energy after months here in the very beige desert. We managed to tack on a quick day trip to Agra for the Taj Mahal, because in the end, we needed to see that pearly resplendent monument itself, but I think we would all agree that it was not necessarily the highlight of our trip.

White marble was unquestionably one of the storylines throughout our days, from the incredible carved Mughal flowers in the walls of the Taj Mahal…

Mughal Flowers marble Taj mahal

…to the ongoing and surprising details at the nearby Red Fort in Agra – which is not at all just red! It seems apropos just after Valentines Day to mention one of the world’s greatest love stories – that of Shah Jahan building the Taj Mahal, over 22 years no less, as a tomb for his beloved wife. He was eventually deposed by his own son, but lived out his days confined to the Fort, with a perfect view of his masterpiece. Because Agra is not at all built up, some of the best views are from a distance, like those from the Red Fort and from the terrace of the Oberoi Hotel (more on that later).

Marble square Red Fort Agra

There were modern-day inspirations to be found everywhere, including this simplified arabesque floor pattern which I am planning to use as a model for a bathroom renovation back in Brooklyn.

Marble mosaic floor Red Fort Agra India

And speaking of marble and bathrooms, I must stop and mention one of my favorite places on the whole tour – the ladies washroom at The Imperial Hotel in New Delhi. This colonial era Art Deco masterpiece is on that list of historic hotels I have been carrying around with me and I was privileged to stay there this trip. The art collection and thousands of engravings that line the halls are worthy of a post of their own. But the ground floor loo with its bank of freestanding back-to-back sinks and mirrors takes the cake!

Imperial Hotel New Delhi Ladies Washroom Bathroom marble

We have all been told that pink is the navy blue of India and it is true. We could not stop snapping photos of the glorious pink saris everywhere, from the Sikh Temple in Delhi…

pink is the navy blue of india lady in sari

…to more subtly in Agra at the Red Fort.

Red Fort Agra Sari

Back in Delhi, we visited Humayun’s tomb which served as a model for the main building of the Taj Mahal. It was peaceful and relatively deserted, in great contrast to the aforementioned monument and therefore magical.

Humayan's Tomb New Delhi

In fact, other than the breathtaking moment when you first enter and the de rigueur perfect photo of the Taj, we often preferred the other sites for their mystery and mood.

Ladies at Humayan's Tomb New Delhi India

No trip to India is complete without shopping – and lots of it – so it is no surprise that green – the color of currency – was one of the other main hues of our visit. We hit many of the major markets including Khan market, Sundar Nagar and Santushi, along with a bicycle rickshaw ride through the streets of Old Delhi. I bought everything from Indian cottons – lots of scarves and kurtis at Anokhi and Fabindia – to carved wooden legs (custom ottomans anyone?) in the back alleys. I desperately wanted the stack of bracelets below, but you can imagine the price tag, so I contented myself with armloads of silver and a particularly delicate gold and raw sapphire necklace.  But all of that shopping was merely a distraction as I had come to India searching for one thing – Indian miniature paintings. At Sundar Nagar market, which sells bits and bobs of ‘antiques’ as well as all the lovely modern inlay furniture so popular today, I picked up a few fairly fine reproduction miniatures. In general these tend to be copies of famous original paintings done on old paper so as to give them a nice patina.

bracelets and indian miniature

In fact I had thought I might be content with my repros until we stopped in at the highlight of the visit, the home of Rohit Kaicker, also known as Gallery 29 Sunder Nagar. In all the rooms filled with spectacular artwork, this turn of the century painting of Shah Jahan himself on a background of malachite, surrounded by a border of Mughal flowers (remember the ones carved in marble at the Taj in the photo above?) screamed to come home with me from the very moment I walked in. I cannot recommend Rohit’s home gallery highly enough as prices are reasonable, his knowledge encyclopedic and seeing his home itself is worth the visit, although I guarantee you won’t leave empty-handed. I’m actually thinking Indian miniature paintings might deserve a post of their very own so let me know if that would interest you.

Indian Miniature Painting Shahjahan Taj Majal Rohit New Delhi Mughal Flowers

And for one more glimpse of amazing Mughal flowers I must share the living room off the terrace at the Oberoi Hotel in Agra. Anyone else would be sharing the view of the Taj from the window, but then I am not anybody else. I wanted to move right in here and stay, or at least try this in a project. Any takers out there?

Oberoi Hotel Agra Taj Majal Mughal Flowers

I must give a final shout out to Fiona Caulfield‘s Love India, billed as a ‘Handbook for the Luxury Vagabond’. This book was our bible, albeit a carefully annotated one by our dear friend Lisa who used to live in Delhi. Other cities in India appear in the series and I am tempted to buy them and dream. Be sure to notice the accent color ;-)

Love India Guide Fiona Caulfield

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Inlay All Over the Map…A Peek at my Collection
Toran on Provenance at Cloth & Kind
A Little More Toran Goodness
(Fabric) Bordering on Obsession
Renovation Report and a DIY…Using Indian Wood Blocks to Create “Wallpaper” in the Master Bath
A Possible DIY…Painted Inlay Vanity?

Great.ly…Connecting the Dots for Makers & Tastemakers

great.ly front page

So in addition to a brand new blog design, this week holds some other big news about an exciting new project I am involved in. Today is launch day for Great.ly, a brand new e-commerce site designed to put tastemakers together with makers and create a platform for them to market and sell work. As my long time readers know, one of my missions has always been to showcase and support artists and artisans and their creations so I am so excited to be one of the initial 50 tastemakers on the new Great.ly site. I have been busy curating my online boutiques which you can get to by clicking this link or using the Great.ly button on the side bar. You’ll find work from familiar faces as well as new ones.

No surprise at all to see George of papergluebamboo there. As I hinted in my last post, she has been busy creating new colorways and patterns for her modern ikkanbari and Japanese shopping baskets to sell on Great.ly. From bright yellow lucky gourds…

ikkanbari papergluebamboo yellow gourd tray

…to absolutely on trend African motifs

African pods papergluebamboo ikkanbari

…to ume (plum blossom) and ichimatsu (checks) in bright new colors on Tsukiji market shopping baskets, her unique line of homewares and carryalls is spectacular. To read more about her modern take on this ancient craft, take a look here and here. Remember, every piece is one of a kind, so shop the boutique here early!

papergluebamboo ume shopping baskets

Another long time Tokyo Jinja favorite is the gorgeous handmade textiles of LuRu Home based out of Shanghai, China. Liza and Claire are working with modern versions of nankeen, a dense hand-woven cotton fabric which has been stencilled and dyed in an indigo bath. With their beautiful products, all made from the custom hand dyed fabric in updated versions of traditional Chinese patterns, they are taking up the banner of preservation of this ancient form of craft, while innovating at the same time.

LuRU Home indigo pillows
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Their blue and white textiles bring a sense of cool to my very hot – both literally and colorfully – backyard here in Doha. They also play very well with pillows in other colors and textures. Be sure to click here to read their full story and see the pillows in action and here to shop the boutique.

Luru Home pillows

One of the most exciting aspects of Great.ly for me is getting to know new makers with interests and aesthetics that align with my own. Link Collective produces contemporary furoshiki (Japanese wrapping cloths) through a network of artists and designers from around the world. They “aim to cross cultures and generations by creating beautiful and functional products, merging international design with traditional Japanese production methods.” Their modern furoshiki with whimsical names such as Mountain Blossom or The Hida Express can be used for their traditional wrapping purpose, be worn as a scarf…

FUROSHIKI

…or be converted to a cross body bag with their ingenious strap. Seems like a ‘must have’ item for a good textile junkie, creating the possibility of a purse from any piece of cloth.

DOTS FUROSHIKI BAG (BLACK) & BLACK LEATHER CARRY STRAP SET link

Their furoshiki are all made in Fujisawa, Japan, hand-printed and sewn by a family owned business with over 50 years experience in furoshiki production. Although Japan’s craftsmen often spend a lifetime perfecting their artistry, much of that skill and knowledge is being lost as today’s mass production, cost cutting and on-demand culture drives ever more business decisions. Invaluable knowhow is disappearing as tools are put down, and the last small factories and workshops die out. Like LuRu Home in China, they are playing a part in keeping these crafts alive by showing what can be achieved when creativity and craftsmanship come together.

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For toting your heavier items, I am loving the work of the Tacoma, Washington-based duo Jacqui and Scott of Year Round Co. They hand make every bag themselves, from cutting each piece of fabric, to designing and screen printing it, then sewing and applying all the leather and hardware in their home studio. For a glimpse into their workshop this great video really demonstrates the artisanal quality of their products. Their collection is inspired by stormy seas, mossy rocks, and earthy travels.

Year Round Co

And as you all know from my past ten years of deep involvement with hanga, modern Japanese prints, I have long been a champion of works on paperWorks on paper, about paper, using paper, are some of the most affordable and charming artwork to be had. I am just beginning to explore some of the talent on Great.ly, so be sure to keep watch on this boutique as I add items in the coming weeks.

art collage

In clockwise order: Gretchen Kelly Rosy Mist on the Hudson, watercolor, Shelley Kommers Blue Diamonds, Print, Candy Le Sueur Silver Flower, monotype, Shelly Kommers Sparrow, mixed media collage

To quote one of the new artists I am just getting to know, Shelley Kommers, “I am always on the lookout for beauty, and I find it everywhere: in the decayed, the imperfect, and the ironic; in the small, tucked away places no one else looks.” I’d like to adopt that as my personal mantra.

So come on over and check it out. Just click here and start exploring. There are many other makers and categories I don’t have room to mention here. I think you’ll like what you find. To be honest, there are still quite a few kinks to work out, so please be patient and let me know if you are having any trouble making a purchase. Be sure to keep coming back as I will be adding to my boutiques regularly.
And if you are a maker or know someone else who is, looking for an outlet to sell and show your work, please contact me, either by leaving a comment on the post or via email at jacquelinewein[at]yahoo.com. Maybe Great.ly and I are just what you are looking for!

 

More Repurposed Kimono Fabrics…Purses from Cheeky Leopard

As a quick follow-up to last week’s DIY post, for those who are not into sewing and want a purse right now, Katie Gordon of Cheeky Leopard is making lovely clutch bags out of vintage Japanese textiles too.  There has been a spate of birthday gifts circling my friends right now and this is the lovely one I received.  My friends had no trouble picking as it actually screamed my name!
cheeky leaopard mine

Some others recently given include this one…

cheeky leopard jill

…and this one. One of her signatures is the contrast lining found inside the bags.

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She even makes them out of Japanese indigo fabric for a more casual feel.

cheeky leopard boro indigo

Tiny coin purses, eyeglass cases and small cosmetic bags are also available in cheeky little prints!

cheeky leopard teapot coin purse

Cheeky Leopard is based out of Tokyo, but she has an Etsy shop and sells all over the world!

Related Post:
Modern and Ancient Collide…Obi iPad and Kindle Case DIY

All photos via Katie Gordon of Cheeky Leopard

More Irreverance…Obijime as Modern Belts

IMG_0155 obijime

Let me stop and praise the humble obijime. As the outermost belt on traditional Japanese dress, it provides that final bit of color and contrast. Usually made of woven silk, it can also serve as a base to a jeweled obidome, which looks like a tiny belt buckle. But in its own right it is a beautiful thing, soft and silky, often with much detail in the fine weave.

Every market I visit has at least one stall piled with used obijime, usually available for a song. Better quality and/or unused ones are often displayed with obidome and tend to be more expensive. I invariably pick up a few here and there, with an eye towards a project (like the one I wrote about yesterday) or for my favorite new use!

obijme

The irony is that the use, while a bit irreverent, is actually quite appropriate really. Lately, I’ve been wearing them as casual belts with jeans and trousers. They perk up the most ordinary combination. And while midriff selfies are brutal, I want you to see how they really look on.

pink and green obijime belt

obijime belt

So cute, no? I’m also planning on pulling some out for spring dresses – I see lots of possibilities.

I haven’t been the only one doing some serious repurposing around here. Visiting friends from Doha came to the Tomioka Hachiman shrine sale last weekend and made a beeline for the dealer with all the high-end samurai gear. My friend’s excellent eye went straight for the antique sword portepee, a woven cord that wrapped around the sword handle to keep it from slipping away during a fight. Now you know how I normally avoid all the “male” antique stuff – and frankly I could not tell you the name of this item in Japanese – but I just love what she did with it.

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Her fresh view saw it as a necklace and it can even be worn two ways, or maybe even more with thought put into it. The detail work on the weaving is absolutely spectacular and it almost feels like it is made of metal but I believe it is actually silk.

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Talk about irreverent repurposing!

Related Posts
Modern and Ancient Collide…Obi iPad and Kindle Case DIY
The Magpie Gene…Vintage Kimono and Judyth van Amringe
Saving Coral…Finding Treasure in Shrine Sale Junk

Modern and Ancient Collide…Obi iPad and Kindle Case DIY

Each year after the ASIJ Quilt is completed, I am left with a crafting hole in my life. Last year, the lovely and talented Erin Leong brought her hand sewn iPad case to one of our last quilting sessions and the oohs and aahs were deafening.

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Using vintage and antique obi, kimono and haori lining fabrics, coupled with obijime as closure ties, she fashioned cases pretty enough to stand on their own as small clutches in addition to their proscribed use.

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We decided to meet and all make a case or two for ourselves. Erin brought a sample that she had just begun (click on photos throughout this post for details). Obi brocades are just thick enough to provide some soft cushioning for electronics and they are just the right width for a standard large iPad. For a Kindle or iPad mini, the width needs to be cut down to fit. Since obi are thick and reinforced inside, she takes them apart to cut the outside layer of the bag. Soft silk, rayon or cotton lining fabric is perfect for the inside.

Each one is simply a long rectangle of fabric, folded in thirds, with two sections sewed together to make the pocket and the third section left free as the flap.

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The play between the colors of the wrapped detail edge of the lining and the obijime, contrasted with the outer obi fabric is what makes these bags so fun to design. Erin has also included a bit of sashiko embroidery on her two bags, giving them extra depth and detail.

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This one was custom sized for a Kindle.

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She and I pooled our stash of non-valuable obi for the group and the creativity began. Combinations were tried out and tested.

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In the end, this traditional brocade on the left looked best paired with the indigo cotton in a stylized bamboo pattern on the right. We decided that a curvy flap went best with the pattern too. If you compare Erin’s two bags above, one has an angular flap, while the other a soft scroll similar to this one.  Aesthetic decisions were left to each person and dependent on the fabric and taste.

The outer fabric is cut to be about half an inch wider on each side than the object you want stored in it. The lining is cut with about an additional quarter-inch seam allowance. If you cut it too big, it is too bulky to sew along the outside edge.  Cut it too narrow and you can’t fold it under to make a clean edge before sewing. There are no exact instructions for this project – it is kinda do as you go.

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This case looked a little blah when finished and closed, so a bright orange obijime and some sashiko stitching were added. You’ll notice that small cases look and work best with the obijime running horizontally, while on the large size it is best vertically.

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Erin’s detail work is lovely – she did all the sashiko stitching on this one.

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This is another that I made and love the play of the watery green lining and the bold mauve obi. The cases are designed to look handmade, and to counteract the formality of this piece I sewed the lining edge with a blanket stitch, done in a very casual style.

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In the end, the case had some issues.  I had decided I wanted the extra thickness of the obi and did not dismantle it.  The net result was that it was almost impossible to get the needle through to sew it. Does that sound familiar? Without Erin’s assistance it would never have been done! As it is quite formal and very pretty, I think it will be kept to use as an evening clutch – I can’t quite see dragging it around as a case.

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Another friend could not resist the idea of making an evening bag and chose a formal silk obi and silk lining that matched and contrasted at the same time.

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She never got around to finding an obijime for it so I believe she simply used a hidden interior fastener. I think that one green flower in the lining is what makes this so perfect and so Japanese!

obi ipad caseobi ipad case inside

Yet another friend went all green – fancy brocade exterior with silk lining in a realistic bamboo pattern. After taking apart her obi, she found the fabric to be too soft, so she reinforced it with some iron-on interfacing. You can see how each project evolved a bit differently. She also chose to follow the shape of the hexagon in the brocade when cutting the shape of her flap. I’m not sure she has progressed much beyond this point.  Like I said, sewing through obi fabric is a huge pain!

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We are trying to convince Erin to start making these for sale, so if you would be interested, please give a shout out in the comments or send me an email.  They are absolutely gorgeous – the combination of antique and vintage textiles with the hand sewing is so unusual.

Related Posts:

A Not Quite DIY…An Obi and Quilt Block Pillow Tale
The Magpie Gene…Vintage Kimono and Judyth van Amringe
Saving Coral…Finding Treasure in Shrine Sale Junk

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