zondag 28 februari 2010

Bohus, Poetry, Nostalgia and more....

Last Friday afternoon I went with a very good friend to the craft-fair in Zwolle because I had booked for the both of us a little workshop Bohus knitting. I didn't know much about it so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it had nothing to do with traditional Scandinavian knitting but that their was a lot of influence of fashion , art and design in the knitted garments.The colour combinations are really wonderful as can be seen on this cap Marja did show us which is knitted with the original yarn and nothing can beat that. You can't buy the pattern or the yarn. It can only be bought as a kit through the website from Solsilke. After we got a little info from Marja, we did start with a little wrist-warmer in which we could see the effect from Bohus knitting. I haven't finished it yet, but will and probable knit it a little longer to make fingerless mitts from this sample. I didn't spend much at the fair (have plenty of yarns at home) but I couldn't resist the new book from Nancy Marchant: Knitting Brioche (which she signed on Saturday, some Kauni Yarn to make a scarf from the book. I am not particularly found of this yarn but for this scarf it is really good with the colour changes. The book explains all the ins and outs from the Brioche stitch. Nancy had taken the original designs with her, so we all could see them in real. She is a wonderful lively person and her designs are a joy to look at. I think I will definitely use some of her patterns in the coming "knitting years". Also in the shoppingbag were some funky stitch-markers (bought at Wereldwol) and some needles and ropes for my Knitpicks set bought at "Storm op Zolder" On saturday I got as a gift the super posh "Knit Kit" which is a very luxury item and includes a tape measure, stitchmarkers, counter, scissor, knife and hook. So on Saturday I went again with friend Evelien and all I did was knitting (started the Brioche Scarf together with Hilly: THANKS DEAR!!)at the Knitting corner from the Dutch knitters were it was busy as always and the "stroopwafels" were as nice as usual. I know quite a lot of Dutch knitters as: Her, Her, Him and Her.. and many more. I left quite early because I had caught a cold and wasn't feeling very good and today, after almost 12 hrs sleeping it goes much better. Friday night was also the night of my friend Lammert Voos. He launched his second poetry book called: "Grensman" (Borderman) after his first one called: "Klaai" (Clay). His poems are romantic in sometimes a rough and direct way, very down to earth and there every now and than a sense of nostalgia in it. I hadn't seen Lammert for years (he had lived opposite of us for many years) but thanks to Facebook we got in contact again. The book-launch was at the local Library and it was a real Party. There were 3 other poets named: Hanz Mirck (from Zutphen,the town I grew up), Erik Harteveld and Tsjead Bruinja and after the book was presented and after some wine Lammert took the stage and after reading some poems from GREAT his book he started singing with the band: "Lammert Voos en de Sukkerbaiten" and "Jungen komm bald wieder" will never be the same again....... While I was in Slovakia I had a talk about Russia and suddenly I remembered a book I used to read when I was a young boy. It was called: De Jonge Reizigers in Rusland (translated into Dutch after the book "The young travellers in Russia)" For years I was thinking of this book and luckily for me I could buy it 2nd hand last week. I was curious to know if the story I had in my head was the same as the book and after reading it I came to the conclusion that it had got stuck in my head almost exactly as I did remembered it. I think when you get older you get a sense for this kind of Nostalgia now and than. Guess my interest in people and other cultures has started already at a young age because I almost read all the book from the Young Travellers series. From the first moment I could read I got a subscription to get access to the Local Library in Zutphen and I used to go there once a week on Friday afternoon to pick up at least 3 books and I would finish them in less than a week.Usually it were to "children-book" and 1 craft-book. On the top list were the books from Pinkeltje, The little house on the prairie (loved the scenes when building the house &the X-mas party with the sugar figures made from sugar from the maple tree)and later the books from Bob Evers (and many more of course since than) It was a very old building at the end of the market with a big wooden door and a copper handle. When entering the building there was a big hall with a marble floor and on the left was the entrance to the youth library and on the right a door to the adult part. I remember that I always loved to go there. It has a very special feeling entering that building and seeing all the books I would love to read. I was more a reading kid than that I liked to play outside. Guess it all had to do that I felt more comfortable with myself when I entered the world of the books than the real world. Maybe it al had to do with hiding myself, and the difficult time I had to understand who I really was. Books.. I still love to buy and read them, so that hasn't changed over the years. Holiday is over now and tomorrow I only have 2 lessons to go but waking up at 6 will be a difference after a nice week holiday I had last week...

donderdag 25 februari 2010

Prototype Knittingbag...

This afternoon I went again to my studio to start making a knitting bag from old Dutch Postbags combined with Blue Print Fabric as lining. As always I start and at the end of the process I find out how it should have been done. F.e. I should have done the zippers first and not at a later stage. This is not something new to me...In the past I did find out about myself that I am a person who starts with something and during the process I learn because of making mistakes..I remember making my first outfits for a fashion-show at Art-school based on Medieval times... after bleaching, dyeing and embroidering 25 metres of fabric I made the mistake not turning the pattern so I ended up with 2 left front parts and 2 right back parts...Never made that mistake again...and the result of making new fabric was this.. So this afternoon..plenty of mistakes..I just discovered that because I placed the flap at last I did sew a pocket together from the lining.. Will fix that later or by making the same in another Postbag.. (guess what...... I even have a Chines one!!! So here are the pictures...

woensdag 24 februari 2010

My new bag...

This afternoon I went for a few hours to my (our) studio. I haven't been there for months. No time, busy with other things, no creativity, no exhibition and of-course the visits to the hospital with Bram which needed to be done on Wednesday. But I had a great afternoon and I am happy that I took the step to go again. Wednesday is my day of during the week. I work 75% almost all of my career but there have been years that I worked more. Ofcourse the salary is higher when you work 100%, but I have always wanted time to work on my own artistic work. So this afternoon I spend some enjoyable hours there. I hadn't used the sewing-machine for ages.. so I thought it would be a good idea to start the machine running. It's an old Singer, semi industry from the fifties. I bought it 2nd hand the year before I went to Art-school which is more than 25 years ago now. The machine has done a lot for me during all those years. Worked his (or is it her)through loads of different fabrics from silk to heavy denim.. and didn't let me down ever... Because I have a big collection of Old Dutch Postbags(I am not going to tell you how I got them)I decided to make a simple big shopping-bag. The fabric is sturdy canvas and over all the years Mr. Post has used it it has kept his strength. I like old and used things. It is the same with my clothes. I love my old worn shirts and my worn jeans. They fit me and the older I get I feel more comfortable in worn clothes. Fashion is not as important to me as it was when I was in Art-school. At that time I would save money to buy Designer clothes (I still remember my Junior Gaultier jackets), but happily that time is over. Good basics are a good investment. So I love my Nudie jeans, my Agnes B coat and my Cos shirts. Nothing fancy but nice and good quality and good colours. But... time to show my bag. Tomorrow I have the plan to make another one which will be my "Knitting Bag" with a lining from Blueprint.

dinsdag 23 februari 2010

A Single Man....

No, don't worry.. I am not a single man myself...(been together for 27 years and still happy together)
But this morning I went to see the film : A Single Man directed by Tom Ford with Colin Firth and Julianne Moore (2 of my favourite actors). It was a breath taking experience. The story is by Christopher Isherwood and situated in LA in 1962. It tells the story of 1 day in the life of a 52 year old professor who lost his lover in a car accident.
I am not going to tell details but this film is really worth seeing.For me this movie is already one of the best from 2010! Not because the whole film looks amazing virtually (we couldn't expect less from Tom Ford who used to be the designer who made Gucci famous again) but all actors gave me the feeling that it was a real story which need to be told. In those years being openly gay was not accepted and 2 men living openly together was not something you would speak about. Everything changed (more or less) in the 70's and after watching the film I was so happy that I am living in this era and not in that secret world in the past. My "coming out" was round 1980 after I had a relation with a girl for half a year (she is still one of my best friends) and in the meantime I did fall in love with a man. For me that has been a real struggle to come in terms with. I have felt very lonely during my youth and could not speak over or as Oscar Wilde wrote: The Love that dare not speak it's name. Coming from a traditional background the step I had to take was not an easy one. In my youth I have always felt different and strange in a way compared to other friends from school. They were all taking about girls and for me that was not something I would do and I wouldn't speak about boys either. I was all very confusing and I remember going to the library to find out what the word Homosexual meant and I knew it was about me, but I felt very shocked afterwards. It was about me and I didn't dare to speak about it. There were no role models at that time or any good information. Going to the Social Academy to become Cultural worker I got confronted with the the label: GAY. One day they made a kind of huge diorama and when you looked in to it you could see 2 men holding eachother and in 1 face they put a mirror, so you would be that person who was hold by the other man. I felt shocked but couldn't talk about it and I knew it was me longing to be hold that way. Anyway.. it took some years to open up and to go into the open with my feelings and desires. I wasn't man who would go from one to another (to soft and emotional to do that)as some did in those days. I was looking for love and a man to share my life with. Of course I had some experiences which didn't work out the way I was hoping that time. But at the age of 24 I fell in love with Bram who was 48 at that time. Maybe that sound strange but we both had the feeling we knew each other already and the age difference was not an issue (being 51 now myself I still don't feel old) We immediately started living together (not an easy 1st year)and all the experiences in the past have bounded us much more. We have had hard times with Bram losing his job, difficult financial times, me losing work many times, Bram's health condition right now etc. All those experiences can make it really work between people I think if you are going into more or less the same direction. I have always felt a great love for Bram in good and in bad times (for better for worse we promised each other 2 years ago when we got married) and I feel so lucky to live with him. It has never been dull or boring and we always have something to talk about. He couldn't go with me this morning to the film because of the way he is now but I will buy the DVD and I am almost sure he will like the film as much as I do. And watching this film together at home will be wonderful.
P.s. Normally I never write a blog post each day, but I am having holiday this week.. so that's why.

maandag 22 februari 2010

A Blue Gem disappeared...

A week before I went to Púchov got a mail from my Slovakian Friend Miro in which he wrote that Mr.Stanislav Trnka has passed away aged 75 year old.

One of the first times I was visiting Púchov I met this man who was the last Blue Print producer of Slovakia. He could talk very passionate about his work and his wife sold the fabric in the little souvenir shop in town which I always visited when I was in Púchov. This time I bought I think one of the last fabric he made and a little doll dressed in a blueprint fabric which hangs now above my desk in my workroom.From a colleague I got as a gift the last calendar he did print for the coming year. Unfortunately this will be the last calendar he printed and we have to miss it for the coming years.

I hope someone, or an museum or organisation will take care of this little factory because it would be so sad if this firm will forgotten. In my opinion it is very important for a country to take care of cultural heritage because it tells the history of a country which is very important for the coming generations.
Some years ago I did write an article about the workshop from the Trnka family but unfortunately Selvedge didn't publish it. I have made some changes to the original text and added some pictures.

A Blue Gem in Púchov ( The story of an almost lost world)

Coming to Slovakia many times the last 10 years,together with different European fashion/ textile schools because of International student projects I (and we) arrived the first time in a little town called: Púchov, in the north /west of Slovakia. Surrounded by mountains and beautiful landscapes this town still has a blueprint-studio were they produce in small quantities the famous Blueprint-fabric.
Stanislav Trnka is the owner and he told me the remarkable story of his studio. His studio lies behind his house in the centre of Púchov and is in the family for more than 100 years. Blueprint fabric is made mainly in Central Europe but was and is also produced in Germany and the Netherlands.

The story of the blueprint in Púchov all tough starts not in Púchov itself. In 1820 just outside Púchov, in a tiny village the family Zaieretchy started up a blueprint-studio. Because in this family there were no children to take it over from the owner, the workroom passed to the Trnka family in 1898 in the name of Joseph Trnka who passed it over to his son Alois. After that the current owner Stanislav got the workshop after a long training period before he was allowed to take it over from his father. Now they are in the situation that none of the children from Stanislav and his wife will take it over, so at the end the studio will disappear unless someone comes up with a good idea.


You might think when reading this word that the fabric is printed blue, but the opposite is true. The white fabric is printed with a chemical substance and after that is dyed blue. After washing the dyed cloth, the substance disappears and the white patterns light up. It is similar to batik, but the result is different.

In the beginning the patterns were printed on the fabric by using wooden stamps (Blocks) and they were made by special travelling men who came to the blue-printers to make new designs. Similar to blockprint in India, the printer puts the blocks in the substance and carefully prints the designs (often in rapport) on the white fabric. In a certain time in history the blocks were encrusted with metal pins and brass sheets and the designs became more detailed. In the workshop is an old electric German roll print machine were the stamp is been put in and by a repeating movement the substance is put on fabric. The stamps have the size of the with of the fabric. Now they also use screenprinting as a way to get the designs.

After this process of printing the cloth originally was dyed with natural indigo. Indigo is different from normal dyes because it sticks to the surface and doesn’t go into the fibre like normal dye does. After it comes out of the indigo tub the fabric has a strange yellowish colour, but with the use of oxygen in the air it turns blue like a miracle in minutes. Since 1930/40 natural indigo isn’t used any more and in came the chemical indigo which works in the same way but was much cheaper to use.

The patterns itself have changed during the years and you can see 2 things. One of it is that the designs are in strong connection with the region were the fabric is used.

The region of Púchov has simple patterns while more richer regions have more complicated and more figurative designs. The fabric is still used in traditional costumes from folkgroupes and everybody from those groups is very pleased that he produces his fabric. Also his fabric is sold in the shops from U’luv (the institute in Slovakia who buys and sells good traditional crafts from Slovakia).

But, as said before it will come to an end. In 1950 in the whole Slovakia there were 25 blueprint studio's, but in 1980 24 of them closed the doors and the only one which stayed open was the one form Stanislav. This man, who was invited to London in 1987 to show his technology at an textile event has to give up. Since the splitting up from Czech and Slovakia he lost 50% customers, and in the Socialistic era it was much better for me and it went down quite fast. Maybe a preservation village can do something for me.You need a market as a solution, but the market is on the move, he told me.
A little sad I was when I left his studio. The next time when I come to Púchov, it might have been gone, but this story needed to be told and I have been fortunate to meet up with this good craftsman. October 2005, february 2010

Some years later I managed to buy a indigo dyed piece of blueprint on linen at U'luv in Bratislava. It has this typical almost black colour you get from Indigo combined with a wonderful flowery patterned border and matching print for the rest of the cloth. I have never made something out of this fabric but cherish it a a beautiful piece of history

zondag 21 februari 2010

5 days Slovakia

Yesterday evening I came home after a great 5 day trip to Slovakia. We -my colleague Annemiek and six 1st year students from Fashion Management- went on Tuesday with a flight to Vienna and there we were picked up by a minibus who took us to Púchov. The main goal for the trip was to work on the International Textile-project "Red Thread" together with Cardonald College from Glasgow and the hosting school in Puchov. We, as colleagues have known each other for many years already from previous projects and in the meantime we also have become friends. It is always great to meet up and this project hopefully will be exited as were the 2 days we have worked on it last week. The idea is to set up a Textile Brand designed and managed by students from the schools involved and coached by the involved teachers. We want to go as far as we can get and hopefully this Brand will be reality in the future. It is for me a great challenge to coordinate this project. I have been in Púchov many times before and although the city has not much to offer historically I feel very at home. The reason for that is that the colleagues living there are really into my heart which is very special and dear to me. My conclusion is that People are always more important to me than the place they are living, and that the place you are born can make all the difference for the rest of your life. Red Thread....I have found a wonderful sentence with whom I did start the project:
There is an ancient Chinese belief which states that there is an invisible Red Thread that connects each of us to all of the individuals who have been, currently are, and will in the future be important to us in our lives. This Red Thread can stretch, twist and bend...but will never break.
After that all students and teachers got a Red Thread tied around their wrist and we all kept it there till the last day.
Normally I do not teach Management but because my colleague who is teaching Management couldn't come with us I had the task to do it. The theme was Guerilla Marketing and the task for all groups was to make as much positive attention on the project in Púchov, so everybody living there would know. It was great to see were everyone came up to and they all went for it 100%. Texts as: "Coming soon: Red Thread" were sprayed with red paint on snow, red balloons with the text were hanged everywhere, a meeting with the Major was organized etc. etc. and all very exiting for the students and colleagues to do. So it was 2 days of hard work and on Friday we did a big trip (almost 3hrs by bus) to the High Tatra's were it was sunny in the beginning and loads of people were skiing or snowboarding. After lunch with warm alcoholic tea ;-) we went up to 1640 Mtr. by a ski cable car and had hot chocolate in a restaurant.
So a big thanks you all colleagues from Púchov who organized an amazing program!!! and to all colleagues and students involved in the project.
On Saturday morning we took the bus back to Vienna and we had 3 hrs. to spend in Vienna. The city doesn't do much to me. It feels stiff and cold and very conservative.There is Jugendstill, the Stephan's Dom, All very beautiful....but..... I can understand the perhaps for that time provocative nude girls paintings from Egon Schiele. Since seen his work for the first time at Art school I have always admired it. So Annemiek and myself went first to a Dirndl and Lederhosen shop called: Loden- Plankl with an amazing range of traditional garments. Being in such a shop always gives me a "Heidi und Peter" feeling, so I had to buy an Edelweiss- pin. They had amazing knitted stockings over there and I almost bought a velvet vest embroided with little flowers. We really were up for coffee than so we went to Demel were the interior and the cakes were AMAZING!! I personally liked it much more than Sacher and in the window scenes were great to look at and it was also nice to have a sneak view in the bakery were all the "Heavenly Cakes" were made. Didn't knit anything during the week and so compensate that I bought 2 knitting books with patterns from traditional Austrian knitwear. I always have a double feeling about it. I love tradition but tradition also can mean conservatism which I don't like. It can give security but in my opinion it also stops progress. So it is more inspiration to me than the feeling that I really would like to wear such outfits as a "Lederhose" (although I must admit Rufus Wainwright looked great in it....) It was nice to be away for a few days despite Bram's very weak health (he was taken good care of, so don't worry...) and it has given me much energy back. The coming week is holiday so time to unwind even more with cleaning my workroom here at home, visiting some friends, reading, knitting etc. etc....