Thursday, August 13, 2009

Japanese Purse Workshop

I am designing a Japanese purse making workshop for Serentripity Learning Vacations that will be conducted at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum and at the residence of Yoshi of Yoshi's Restaurants/Jazz Clubs. I will be conducting these workshop once in September, November and December.

The hour long workshops focus on the reuse themes in Japanese textiles such as boro (work clothes made of stitched together scraps) and sashiko stitching. The base of the purse is a recycled plastic sushi tray. The embellishments reflect a blend of contemporary Japan with the creative thriftiness of Meji era Japan: plastic sushi grass stitched alongside mini shoyu bottles, pearls, and Japanese Delica beads. Regarding the base fabric, we will use recycled Filipino noodle bags (thank you Anne Marie!) overlayed with organza silks. This use of recycle fabrics and materials is a theme common in my work as I am greatly inspired by the Japanese Hawaiian Plantation culture of my father's family.

I have also created several manga "kawaii" characters that participants can iron onto the fabric of their purses. Contemporary Japanese manga and the recent "Kawaii" graphic style movement have roots in Japan's reaction and expos
ure to U.S. culture during its occupation after WWII. A great reference book about this period of transformatio in Japan is Embracing Defeat. I found this book fascinating because for me it pinpointed some of the sources of divergence in culture and perspective between Japanese Hawaiians and Japanese in Japan.

Below are these iron-on characters. They are decorated with fragments of vintage Chinese and Japanese food wrappers. I created them in Photoshop and used bits of wrappers I scanned from my collection.

Below: A butterfly iron-on image created from my Asian food wrapper collection:

I have created a prototype purse. The cord slider is a mini shoyu bottle (in the shape of a pig). The thick red cording my father picked up for me a few years ago in China.

This purse below has the ima
ge of a kiri leaf which is of historical importance. It is a bombing leaflet that the U.S. forces dropped on the Aleutian Islands when the Japanese occupied them during WWII. It alludes to the early falling of Kiri leaves which is a bad omen in Japan. These leaf leaflets warn the Japanese soldiers that their efforts are futile. It also was ironic imagery as there are no trees of mention on these sparsely vegetated islands. I included this image on my purse as the end of The War led to the absorption things Western in occupied Japan. It lead to modern Japan's embrace and zeal for all that is new and marked it's separation from Japanese in diaspora who clung to the thrify Meji Era ways. This purse mixes these two directions.

Detail: Sushi grass and mini fish shoyu bottle embellishment. The shoyu bottle is stuffed with pink produce netting to give it color.

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