Shirts Galore and A Trip to Japan

Anna Vandelman writes:

Shirts Galore!
What a lovely evening! What a lovely programme! What a lovely turnout! What an amazing group!

Rapunzel - courtesy of Susan Avishai

Rapunzel – courtesy of Susan Avishai

Susan Avishai was introduced to us by Rikki Blitt as a heroine to the environment and saviour of all sorts of trash en route to landfills everywhere: A perfect way to start the season as our theme for the year is Do not waste – with a focus on reuse and recycling. [About Susan]

Susan, already a fine artist in drawing, painting, and collage, shared her journey to fibre arts through pictures of her work. She told us how she got into fibre arts after cleaning out her late mother’s belongings. After grieving over her mother’s clothes for six months, Susan finally found herself able to do something with this new stash. So, she moved from painting to textiles to making tapestries of her mom’s remnants. She discovered through life that it is in fact the journey and not the destination. She fondly remembers a teacher who told her “…you will feel when its right”.

And then, men’s shirts galore! We saw an incredible collage of men’s shirts, shirts taken apart with seams and buttons intact all quilted with polyfill. She works on smaller pieces and then sews them into larger works. Her goal, always, is to see what she can do with what is there. No, she is not sexist, she uses men’s shirts because of their uniformity of construction which lets her apply a system to their deconstruction.

The evening became magical as we witnessed the transformation of trash to exquisite art pieces .created by a visionary with a deep concern for the environment. Thank you Susan for this memorable experience!

Rikki then thanked her for a magnificent presentation and for kick-starting our year of Do not Waste and members had an opportunity to share from their own stashes.

The theme continued in October with A Night in Japan, and Karen Sanders writes:

Our October meeting included a lesson in Japanese Furoshiki and a visit to Japan through the eyes of our President.

Furoshiki
Four women from the Japanese Cultural Centre came to tell us the history and to demonstrate the ancient Japanese art of Furoshiki, the use of textile squares for wrapping. Furoshiki refers to a flat folded bundle originally used to carry clothes back and forth from the bath-house. With current environmental concerns, there has been a revival of this old practice.

The most common size of fabric for wrapping is an 18” or 24” square of fabric. A silk scarf is ideal for the purpose of wrapping, though other sizes and fabrics can also be used.

There are many uses of Furoshiki including carrying, storage, gift wrap, wall hanging, tote bag, carrier for contributions to a pot luck meal. The squares are easy to maintain, eco friendly, easy to fold flat. The squares can be left as gifts or put in a pocket or purse to reuse.

Our guests demonstrated the basic knot, flat object wrap, basic carry wrap, bottle carry wrap, hand bag, watermelon carry bag, and shoulder bag. We had an opportunity to try our skill at wrapping.

The art of Furoshiki is simple, elegant, useful and fulfills our mission of reusing and recycling beautiful fabrics.

Living Singly and Jewishly in Japan
Nearly thirty years ago our President, Bruria, was young, single, teaching English and living in Japan. She found that it was easy to be Jewish because there was a synagogue and community centre, which included a swimming pool. Expatriate Jews gathered regularly for Shabbat dinners and for Jewish holidays.

In a slide presentation, Bruria illustrated a number of Jewish subjects she encountered in Japan. These included a Japanese Yiddish Club, The Fugu Plan (a book telling the story of how the Japanese rescued Jews during the Holocaust), the story of Chiune Sugihara, who gave exit visas to Jews during World War II. There was a Jewish dentist, a Chabad branch with a mikvah and a Japanese man who had converted and become a Rabbi. There was a man with an excellent collection of Hebrew manuscripts and a Japanese pro-Israel group.

The rest of the slide show illustrated the quirkiness of the Japanese. Bruria shared such interesting things to be found in the grocery store as bottles of diet water, hard boiled eggs in a tube, and sushi with “Hello Kitty” faces. She showed us a road going through a building and some of the many space saving devices like shoe drawers on the underside of steps or a combined toilet/sink. There were dogs dressed in kimonos, women dressed as dolls, and men dressed as women. These are just a few examples. Bruria had a good time in Japan, but we are glad she came back to us!

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