Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January 27: today I will fly home

There is no doubt that I will sleep on the plane on my flight home. By the time I packed, itemized the contents of the bag I will check and posted a quick blog entry it was past 3:30am. Mayumi, Masami and I agreed to meet before work today so I could teach them Dutch Spiral.

We are crazed beaders, we are. Here we sat in the hotel lobby, in our beaded bliss, fitting in one last bead lesson until we meet again. It is a fine way to start any day.
Tulip is bringing me some fresh, exquisitely manufactured beading needles they just are introducing. When I am back in the studio I will share more details. Long story short: in June Tulip product development department inquired what type of needles I use, like, avoid etc. I answered all their questions and added the list of specs that a beading-needle-of-my-dreams would have.

A month ago Tulip sent me a package of their new beading needles. I used them exclusively during this time. Before jumping to a quick conclusion, I wanted to try them for a few miles of beadwork. I am ready now to say, without equivocation, that these ARE those dream needles.
1. The point is sharp enough to wedge into tight spaces but not so sharp that it will split the thread.
2. The eye is designed for easier threading, and its smooth oval shape does not snag or abrade the thread.
3. I asked that they be firm and straight, yet flexible enough to bend without snapping. This needle is flexible and bends easily to fit into tight spaces and then springs back to straight. It does not become curved or, worse, s-shaped, like cheap needles.
4. It is smooth and polished to easily glide through the beads.
5. And I hadn't included this in my dream-needle description: the size 11 and size 10 are slightly different lengths. The Beader can easily compare length to determine size instead of having to distinguish by diameter which is size 10 or 11. Brilliant.
6. Size 13, though it is very fine gauge as you would expect, can accommodate size 10# Fireline easily, and pass through size 15 seed beads 5 times.
Oo, I could enthuse for a dew more minutes but, I must add a few packages of these precious beauties to my suitcase, so you also can have them. Check my website in a couple days or call me.

January 26 day trip to Kamakura

Mayumi, from Tulip's product development department arrived from Hiroshima. You may recognize her from my posts about TNNA in Columbus Ohio. She has planned a wonderful time in Kamakura for us, as this is my last day, a "free" day, before heading home tomorrow.
A few train changes later and we were in Kamakura. We admired the fine crafts in the shops that lined the main street. The lacquerware is fascinating but the fabric shop Nugoo lured me in. From coasters to furoshiki, they had all manner of lovely Japanese cloth.

When we reached the end of this avenue, we took a few moments at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.

Mayumi's research into lunch restaurants paid off. Our delightful meal was on the second story, a "mom and pop" operation with just 3 large tables and a few seats at a counter. Even Mayumi had to shoot a few pics. Beautiful and delicious. A bitter vegetable only grown in this area...reminded me of gobo but, more intense, was a welcome taste treat.
We hailed a cab to take us to Hokokuji Temple, a Zen temple established in 1334.

From the moment you enter the grounds you feel your pace slow, your heart expand. The grounds are lovely and includes a moso-bamboo (largest bamboo species) forest.

Wait until my cousin Charles sees THIS bamboo forest.

We made our way through this amazing stand of bamboo to a tea house where we rested with a matcha.
Yipes, how did it get to be 2 am? Maybe because we had another 3 hour feast tonight after the quilt show closed, and even these shallow postings take toooooooo long. Sweet dreams. Gotta go. I'm meeting Masami and Mayumi at 8 am for a quick beading lesson before I fly back home.
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January 25th...evening

After the classes at Kiwa Seisakushyo we enjoyed some time in Asakusa and some time at Senso-ji temple. Lunch was unagi (eel) with all the trimmings. And then we were off to the races, so to speak. Our trek through the mysteries of the train sytem was punctuated with moments of mad hot dashing and we made our way back to the hotel just in time for Shoko to head to the airport to return to Hiroshima. Having not a moment to spare, also spared us the distress of a lengthy goodbye.
Later, I met Daisuke and Toshinori and reunited with Masami for another evening of Japanese feasting.

This is the entry to the restaurant. Who would'nt want to eat here?

Daisuke is in sales and Toshinori is in the factory at Tulip. They both wokred the booth today at the Quilt Show.

This beautiful pot cooked right at out table. You can't see the thick wide udon noodles beneath the 17 other items in this dish. We are lucky to be dining here, as reservations are difficult to come by and many celebs dine here.

We were served one udon noodle per bowl, as they were so immense. I was told the collagen in the chicken we ate would make my skin youthful. I'm sure.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 25 Tokyo

My Tokyo itinerary includes a day of teaching 2 short workshops at a large bead store after a few days of demonstrating at the International Great Quilt Show. It is a large store, beautifully arranged and carrying a wide range of jewelry making supplies that extend beyond beads: preserved flowers, feathers, and fur pom poms.

When I packed my suitcases, I had no idea how many students to expect or what the classroom set up would be, so I packed for 40, with ability to accomodate more. When it was revealed that the store limited registration to 5 students, maximum, I was flabbergasted. What a luxury to have this teacher: student ratio.
Both the necklace and the bracelet projects were scheduled for the same time slot. This permitted each student to learn and make her chosen project, while being exposed to the lesson for the other project. Wonderful. A version of what I do on the Thursdays when I teach at Beadzo in Tivoli NY. Each beader works on her chosen lesson or project while benefitting by the lessons going on around her. Check out the Kiwa bead store blog.

This is Chihiro at work on her bracelet. This is her first beading project. She was quick to understand this double needle right angle weave.

Yoko is also a first time bead stitcher. The recipe calls for 75 4mm firepolish. She had 100 so, I suggested she also make a 25-bead-long one. Since they are finished with magnetic closures, she can either wear them connected into a longer necklace, or wear them as a necklace and bracelet set. She promises to use a short chain with 2 lobster claws as a safety chain, when wearing it as a bracelet.

After class, the sales clerk asked me to teach her how to make the beaded bead that she admired on the felt bracelet I made for Masami. This was Dutch spiral. Being the teacher who can't say no, we remained a few more minutes after class to teach her this stitch, commune with our beads and each other. What a joy.
Will share the rest of this day with you later. Right now I have to meet Mayumi. Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, January 24, 2011

January 24 Tokyo

Today was my final day of demonstration at this International Great Quilt Show in Tokyo.

In a window of free time, I took in some of the quilt exhibit. The Christmas theme quilt above took first place. If they had asked me...

the blue ribbon should have gone to this one. Some of the detailed graphics are accomplished with pieced fabric but, an astonishing amount is embroidery. Shoko and I both guess it is hand done. Gorgeous.
I squoze in a brief visit with Motoko Natsubori (interpreter for my classes at Coronet, and translator of Mastering Beadwork and Felt Idea Notes) and exchanged the briefest greeting with Takuma Ito (owner of Coronet).

Once again we feasted after our work was done. This time it was a wonderful restaurant Akimi Harada, my hostess, had been to previously. We were met by the owner, who described the days' offerings. Though I didn't understand but a word or two, I knew he was saying fabulous things, by the way my companions listened with rapt attention and reacted with full animation and enthusiasm. Oh yes, this man knows his food. We had several amazing little plates of "I wish I knew" and then shared this platter of 8 raw fishes...each one from a separate area of Japan coast. Another culinary adventure. is 1 am so I must say, otsukaresamo desu....and I'll be back tomorrow, after teaching at Kiwa Seisakushyo.
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

January 23 Tokyo

When we entered the staff entrance to the Tokyo Dome this morning, we could check the posted figures for attendance. Yesterday there were 36,874 visitors to the International Great Quilt Show, or 104% of last year's numbers. It was buzzing.

Liz Valentin introduced herself and reminded me that she had emailed about meeting in Tokyo at this quilt show. Liz is a feltmaker who works with freshly shorn fleece making handbags and accessories. Both she and her husband work for Cirque Du Soleil and will be working and living in Tokyo. What a fabulous opportunity. She is upbeat, enthusiastic, jazzed and just the person this should happen to. Did she tell me she is headed to Kyoto for a couple days, and will take in several handicraft workshops while there? (gosh, hope I am not confusing our visit with the 376 others I enjoyed today) It is much more meaningful to have email correspondence when you actually get to meet the peeson behind the keyboard. Hope she keeps in touch.

Yuko Sugimoto was wearing a clever and beautiful necklace. She was quick to add "it isnt my design, I learned it in a class" when we admired it.

These two bubbly and beautiful felters came for a new supply of wool AND to show me the photo of the 3 of us from the last time we were together at the quilt show. They didn't want to have them mentioned by name.

This tea farmer had a beautiful booth featuring his produce in many forms. He offers teas of varying leaf sizes and matcha powders so smooth and fine that when shaken in a bottle of water, it dispersed uniformly into suspension without clumps. The scent of matcha hangs in the air and I love it.
I apologize for the postings where, culinary tales overwhelm felting and beading content.

Tonight we dined at Yugyo-an Tankuma Japanese Restaurant in the Tokyo Dome Hotel. Kazuhide ordered us a special Kyoto beer. It was yeasty and bitter and cold and delish.

There were 9 elegantly served and impeccably designed courses. The contrasting textures and flavors along with the colorful arrangements epitomize Japanese cuisine.

I'm not going to make you look at more than a couple courses, to see what I mean.

Notice that the foreigner, moi, isn't the only one taking pictures of the food. Takashi here, Shoko and Kazuhide were just as into it as I was.
After midnight already? Gotta go...tomorrow's another day.
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

January 22 in Tokyo

In my hotel lobby this morning, it was like old home week.

Acquaintances made yesterday (Katsura Tuyako, Kazuko Andouille and Yumiko Harada) are now familiars to share warm greetings and cheerful giggles with. What a great way to start a day. We asked a staffer to take our picture.
Yesterday I met a couple from Brazil who organize craft/hobby shows there. They said, "You should come down". My joyful and hopeful response was, as always, "If you invite me, I will come". Wouldn't that be great?
As a point of interest, there were 22765 attendees yesterday and last year' s opening day was 22337.

Sonoko Nozue dropped by the booth for a brief visit. Yes, she will be teaching again this year at The Bead & Button Show in Milwaukee WI. A beader who has taken 3 of my classes at B&B came by to say hello also.
Speaking of the Bead & Button Show, another session of Complex Cane Hand Felted Beads Necklace for Saturday June 11th.

This is Kazuyo. She stayed for my bracelet/necklace demonstration, purchased a kit so she'll be making one herself AND she gave me gifts: her beautifully handcrafted pin cushion and cell phone charm (she said to be sure to mention that the design is not her own).

Two famous Korean quilt artists visited with Shoko and I and then they escorted us to their quilts on exhibit. This is Chang Mi-Sun next to her quilt "Nine Sight".

And this is another of her quilts called "Friends".

This is Zyan Mi-gyong next to her quilt, a self portrait with husband and sons.

She so thoroughly captured the textures and colors of the landscape and the people.

The display of quilts was dizzying. They were hung in baffled rows, one after another; squared off as rooms creating a space to be entered; or arranged like stage sets to be observed from a distance.

After our full and successful day of demonstration, sales and schmoozing, we headed into the city center for nabe.

We shared a few courses before heating the nabe pot...including this one garnished with gold leaf!

It was delicious.
Even these short postings take an hour or two from my sleep time so I'll say good night, sweet dreams and see you here tomorrow.
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Friday, January 21, 2011

January 21st After the show...

Ok...i cannot go to bed and deny you the joys i had the rest of today. But, i must keep it brief. It is wayyyy too late to be up.

So when we arrived at our Japanese restaurant, recommended by customers and navigated to by someone's is Japanese ITALIAN restaurant. New to each and every one of us. Tonight I would not be the only one enjoying a culinary adventure. This evening each of us would enjoy new dishes.

Yummy cheeses on right, proscuitto-ish ham with olives on left.

Ray fins with mayonnaise.

For dipping: broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, cubes of bread...

into...Yup, you guessed it. cheese fondue.

Thin french fried potatoes seasoned with cumin and on the side some pickled vegetables and catsup/mustard.

Pasta with a creamy crab sauce. They offered me a fork but, honestly I didnt fare better than I did with chop sticks.

Vension with a miso sauce on cabbage. Perfect. Not gamey.

Delicious purple frozen dessert...some kind of potato. I declined ordering one to myself but was served a taste of the two kinds that were ordered by my friends. Lucky me. I am spoiled rotten.

Panna coda (spelling, forgive me) of soy flour. Love the mouth feel. And its delish!
NOW to bed, so I don't miss a thing tomorrow. Hope you are having fun, working hard and eating delicious and healthful things.

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January 21 in Tokyo

An hour in advance of my alarms, I awoke ready and eager for a fine day. This view greeted me when I opened the draperies. Lovely day.

Today kicks off the 10th Anniversary of the International Great Quilt Show in Tokyo.

While we (Naomi seen here) put the finishing touches to the booth, there was a formal opening ceremony that included a visit from the Princess.

As soon as the doors opened, the stadium bustled with opening day shoppers and quilt afficionados. Our booth occupies a corner and attracts alot of customers.
This year the focus is on the new lines of crochet hooks, some designed especially for bead crochet...called Sucre; and fine needles, including the new line of beading needles I'll tell you more about later.

When my demonstrations ended, Naomi and I went once around the show floor, but saving the quilt exhibits for our free time on afternoon of 24th. I'm telling you, EVERY single boothnsold some kind of handbag, tote or purse. I resisted but, we were practically in tears of laughter, when I pointed it out to Naomi. This display was not unusual in its avoidance of color but richness in visual impact...every nuance of black, grey and beige withntexture and detail and all lovely. I'd say so even if I wasn't so mad hot crazy for bags. (Don't be alarmed by the mask. It is commonlynseen here. Some folks told me it is a precautionary strategy during flu season while today I heard it has to do with airborne pollen.)
Motoko Natusbori came by with Yumiko Karasawa this afternoon. It was pretty funny because, as she approached, she walked up behind a beader who was telling me she is friends with Keiko Seki, and do I know her. "Why yes, I do. Do you know Hiroe Tagaki and Yumiko Watanabe and Kimie Suto..." you get the drift, the seven degrees of separation thing. We were just short of Kevin Bacon and had just dropped Motoko's name when she came into earshot. Pretty funny. Motoko said that had a great time working with Nancy Cain last week when she taught at Coronet.
I promise to share the evening that followed this successful and thrilling opening day but it will have to wait until tomorrow. Off to bed with me now.

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