Bossy Explorer and I were on the train platform by 8 a.m. to meet Patient Explorer on the first car of the express train to Tokyo. Patient Explorer is our Japanese friend who patiently and graciously puts up with us and until this past summer Weather Explorer. She is patient when we ask her to translate things or explain things or make phone calls for us – all this she does with a smile. She has gone on many of our outings, helped coordinate some and always, always is the consummate Japanese lady. The date had been on our calendar for months – the Tokyo International Quilt Show was our destination. For the past two years I have attended this spectacular display of quilts and was ready to be wowed and inspired once more.
I purchased my ticket and once down on the floor turned to Bossy and said “I’m hitting the vendors first and will look at the quilts after lunch.” I had two hours to make my way through the jam-packed aisles before our agreed lunch rendevous, time to make notes and jot down ideas as I passed interesting displays and tried in vain to hold on to as much of my Yen as I could until I made the full sweep.
Once again, the Japanese Way with fiber art speaks to me. The asymmetrical designs, the simplicity and elegance of the designs – this is what I’d come back for. I made note of which number vendors I wanted to revisit and wrote down the cost of the items I wished to purchase – there would be some serious decision making during my lunch break because for better (my desire to stock up on all things Japanese) or worse (my financial bottom line) I did not find a single vendor who would take credit cards. Not one to let a small thing like “all the instructions are in Japanese” I found myself purchasing the tatami matt webbing that I’ve made several purses from. These bags are so interesting, I could not resist. A date with my sewing machine is in my future
Post-lunch, Bossy, Patient and I headed off to look at the quilts. Bossy’s camera died after only a few shots and I became her photographer. Looking for inspiration for the momentous occasion this Spring when she becomes a grandmother – Bossy’s take on the quilts were completely different from mine and through her eyes I saw and appreciated quilts I might otherwise have blown right by. That’s not to say that I didn’t have my moments too. A few of my favorites:
• The Japan quilt – this quilt was breathtaking and the craftsmanship … unbelievable. The details – the hand stitching and embellishment, the layers of fabric and organza, questions of technique – Bossy was surprisingly patient with me as I took photo after photo of this quilt. It's a two sided quilt filled with hearts on one side and cherry blossoms on the other.
• Framed Quilts – These quilts take up such a small space and yet what the artists were able to create within the confines – it was like a license for details. I really liked the whimsy of the felt beads but will have to acknowledges Bossy’s point that it’s a loose definition of quilt. Fiber Art definitely but quilt? Not so sure.
• The bags – oooooohhh the bags. I love the Japanese handbags at these shows and apparently the Japanese do too because the vendors who were selling handles to create your own boutique bags had lines (organized of course with a man holding a sign to let you know where the end of the line was – I didn’t have to read Kanji to figure that one out).
• The Original Design category and the ‘Wa’ category sort of melded in my mind one into another although Patient Explorer did explain that ‘Wa’ means things Japanese but then she smiled and went on to say that of course it also means lots of other things too. Of course it does. (photos at the top are from these 2 categories)
There was so much to see – around every corner more beautiful art. This year of course had so much to do with hope, hope for the future, hope for those still suffering the aftermath of the March 11th triple disaster in Tohoku and through this art there is of course … inspiration.