Monday, November 28, 2005

More zakka (ISBN 4-579-10894-9)

Love the rivets.

Hey: I've used the coathanger-styling trick.

Love the shoes, love the lollipop.

Camilla would like this, I think. Except there's nothing in this fridge.

Something for the Modern Quilt-Along crowd.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Orientalism & the Consumer

(From Mariko Hirasawa's Simple Smile ISBN 4-87303-338-1)

Claire is right: visiting Zakkaya is like stepping into a page spread of a Japanese craft book. I wandered about for ages, unable to focus properly. Everything is lovely, and I wanted it all. Even the Uniball pen I borrowed was the best pen I’ve ever used, but alas, unavailable in Australia. It was a Uniball Signo 0.28mm, and, in my brief experience, it appeared to be the perfect drawing pen. I’d like to buy a case for Keri Smith.

Again, I got on my hobbyhorse and touted my idea for a Japanese for Crafting class: Kumi and Ayumi smiled politely, but I could tell they were thinking I’d lost my mind.

Later, on the way to Baldessin Press in St. Andrews, I grill our Japanese friend Jorji about the word zakka. I insist that while it might mean “stuff”, really it must mean “cute stuff.”
"No," Jorji says, "Stuff as in general store stuff."
Again, I insist it must mean specifically cute, beautiful and/or inaccessible stuff (see above.)
Sensing an impasse, someone asks, what do they sell?
"Oh, fantastic stuff," I answer: "Stationery, ornaments, toys, linen tea towels, fabric-covered photo albums….."
"AH," Jorji nods with assenting sigh. "Zakka: like K-Mart."

Clearly, Japan is lost on the Japanese.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

In the realm of the Real

As a child, I believed that my inability to love enough prevented my toys from becoming real. I was not an unimaginative child (I believed I could fly, for instance) but in the case of The Velveteen Rabbit, I held fast to a highly literalist reading of the story. It was the use of the capital letter, I think, and William Nicholson’s lovely, melancholic illustrations.

“When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

The story of the velveteen rabbit broke my heart, and I’ve had a painfully ambivalent relationship to soft toys ever since.

I can’t bear to see toys damaged or discarded. Whenever I see a toy lashed to a truck’s grill or bumper, I feel pain so disproportionate and irrational that it nauseates me. I’ve asked others why they think a trucker might feel compelled to strap a discarded toy to his bumper, only to find that the person’s never noticed such a thing. So I was glad to read this article, and intrigued by the idea of an artist-in-residence at the NYC Department of Sanitation (where does one apply?) and by the idea that at least one trucker thinks it’s a great way to get noticed by chicks.

Despite all this, I plan to make this wonderful rabbit soon. In fact, as soon as Jess Hutch’s booklet arrives, I plan to make eleven of her toys before Christmas, starting with a robot. If you are a child under ten and you know me, leave a comment and tell me what colour robot you’d like best.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Oh, the Frivolite

Not all that competitive by nature, I’d nonetheless like to see a Craft Olympics. Alternatively, an Oscar-like ceremony, honouring skill, fortitude and imagination. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a fan of the craft displays at State Fairs and Royal Agricultural Shows, but I’m thinking of something bigger. Bolder. Let’s face it, none of us is half the knitter our grandmother was, let alone our great-grandmother. But out there, there’s one or two who’ve pushed their skills far beyond your average SnBer.

I’d like to kick off the nominations: Edwige Renaudin and Sylvain Le Guen. For services to the lost arts of tatting and fan-making. These two have joined forces to create an unparalleled work of art (no matter what you think of the end result.) I don’t mean to offend, but these two are INSANE, in the best possible way.

FYI, I’d like to publicly option Edwige & Sylvain’s story for a later blog novelisation/short story/feature-length motion picture film. He’s 25, dear readers. He has side-burns and stubble. She wears glasses and makes lace. They meet fortuitously, and give birth to a fan perfect in both function and form. How can they not be in love? Their story has all the elements of drama lacking in contemporary entertainments: a craft unfashionable for the third time, knot-making as social activity, the pushing of craftsmanship to its extreme limits, the inherent suspense of tatting WITHOUT a supporting frame.

I really want to learn how to tat now. According to their website, The Ring of Tatters puts enthusiasts in touch with each other all over the world. And, you know, there’s no one I'd rather spend time with than an enthusiast.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

swedishjapanese (ISBN 4-14-031125-8)

This book was the source of much inspiration for my back-tack project. Perhaps Kat or Camilla could let us know what is going on here? A Japanese designer’s take on the Swedish aesthetic? Or a Swedish designer’s interpretation of the Japanese?

My main question: where does the bagel fit into all this?