Countdown to Grand Give Away 2016 – 4 weeks. We are now down to just a few weeks. Don’t miss the chance to win this colourful 3-D quilt. Anyone who subscribes to this blog is eligible to win.
The theme for the One Million Mile Quilted Postcard Challenge in May is “Quilt Industry Appreciation Month”. Think about all the leaders in YOUR quilting world. They may have taught you. They may sell fabric to you. They may give you inspiration. They may be your local guild executive. Why not thank them with a quilted postcard? Let them know they are part of the 1 Million Mile Challenge and tell them why. I will reveal my cards the last Wednesday in May. If you send me a picture of the cards you make, I will include it the first post in June. Themes and miles from previous months is available on the Postcard tab.
The month of April found us in Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore. Three countries. Three very different cultures. Of course it was only natural to look for anything related to fabric, quilting or art. And they didn’t disappoint. I came away with inspiration. With fabric. With tools. I am convinced that ideas from this trip will surface in my work in the years to come. In order to keep the length of posts manageable and to do each country justice, I will talk about each country separably. Today’s post will focus on Vietnam.
Truthfully, I never actually saw any fabric in Vietnam. We heard stories of others being fitted for suits or shoes one day and having their custom fit articles ready for pick up the next morning. But I never found just plain fabric. Buttons on the other hand, were not hard to find. Millions of them. Stall after stall. Who buys them all?
My purchase from Vietnam was 4 small skeins of thread. Our tour excursion stopped at a Workshop for the Disabled where they were hand stitching art pieces. These people were incredible. Vietnam has millions of people disabled as a result of the war and many are employed in the art culture* as a way of supporting themselves. I asked if it was possible to buy just thread and was taken to a wall of thread. Floor to ceiling skeins in all different colours. It did not feel very strong and was easily broken. With just a few minutes to make a decision and not knowing what I was buying it for, I only choose 4 skeins. It was $8 (US) per 100 grams. How much is 100 grams? Apparently 4 skeins are 100 grams.
The thread came pre-cut; the shortest was 24″, and the longest an incredible 40″. It was definitely an advantage to travel with pre-cut thread in SE Asia. Scissors are allowed through North American airport security if they are less than 6 cm in length but that was not the case in Asia. My first pair was confiscated in Japan. After that it was zero tolerance. The fact that the thread was pre-cut and then easily broken by hand made life easier when stitching the hours away in airports or airplanes.
In addition, the thread was a pleasure to work with. It never broke when I was stitching with it, and it never tangled. I found that incredible, given lengths of 40″. Now I wish I would have bought more.
As you know, the theme for the postcard challenge in April was hand work and I incorporated this thread into some of the later pieces. My own ‘Memory card’ contains symbols from all three countries. Gardens By the Bay (Singapore) in the upper left semi-circle, limestone cliffs in Ha Long Bay (Vietnam) illustrated by the circle of grey hills on the right and the rising sun (Malaysia). There is only one complete circle and 2 incomplete circles (other than Gardens By the Bay). This represents the fact that we saw one complete country (Singapore) and only portions of two other countries. They are loosely connected or interconnected. Sometimes by water, sometimes by land. OK. You might need to use a little imagination. On a more humorous note, I started this card in Hanoi using the water glass from the hotel room to draw some of the smaller circles. In the process, I knocked it off the table and broke it. At check out time we were charged $3 (US) for the glass.
The rest of the cards I stitched in April also had circular designs until it came to the last one. At this point I became liberated. Sea, sun, sand, and sky became horizontal. It didn’t end as envisioned. It never does but who cares?
*Some photos of the art culture in Vietnam: