Archive for the ‘souvenirs’ Category

Textile Notes From a Cruise

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

norwegian-sun-cruise2    DH and I have just returned from a cruise – Montevideo to Valparaiso, Chile via Puerto Madryn, The Falkland Islands, around Cape Horn, through the Beagle Channel, Ushuaia and the Chilean fjords, Chacobuco and Perto Montt.  Cruising was a new experience for us and we enjoyed much of the huge variety of facilities and entertainments on offer in the floating resort hotel; there were about 15 restaurants, a library, casino, several nightclubs, gymnasium, pools and jacuzzis.  We attended several informative lectures, some beaut variety shows and dropped a few $$ in the slots and at bingo.  We were totally able to resist the constant spending opportunities and specials in the duty free shops you had to walk through/past to get from one part of the ship to another, and the constant reminders that if we booked our next cruise while on board we would have another $100 to spend onboard that day…   We did a couple of excellent shore excursions (penguin rookery from Puerto Madryn and Train at The End of The World out of Ushuaia) but at the other ports we explored under our own steam.  At such times I always keep my eyes peeled for interesting textiles.  I no longer hurtle around looking for fabric shops, though if we do come across one I go in and do a reccy; however on this trip we didn’t encounter any in our wanderings.  A couple of places there were interesting markets but there we found no fine really ususual textiles.  Perhaps I am spoiled, the textiles everywhere in Peru were so great and I did bring some nice things back from there 🙂  and  several years ago I bought a marvellous wool ruana in Santiago; so anyway this time the textile notes are just these cute little folded towel animals that appeared, a new one every day, on the end of our bed after the maid had been in.  I never thought to ask her so I don’t know if they were a last minute flourish she put together after making up the room, or whether she brought them in pre-folded. We didn’t see any on the carts we passed in the gangway either.  On one of  the daily events/ info bulletins there was offered a handicrafts class in napkin folding  to attend the next day (but I couldn’t go – it clashed with bingo) and now I wonder if graduates of that class go on to advanced folded cloth animals….

Anyway the awesome geology, spectacular scenery, interesting history and culture we experienced more than make up for the lack of a stunning textile find on this particular trip.  I have put up some photos on a non-public album site, but if you are particularly interested you can email me and I will send the link to that.

Obsessing About Cups and Saucers

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

In a current family grapevine discussion I began wondering about the obsession an aging relative seems to have about her fine bone china gold rimmed cups and saucers. Our own mother was also rather obsessive about who would take care of her considerable stock of them. She grew up in a time when afternoon tea was served daily in Australian homes with home baked goodies and some degree of ritual. On week days this was around the kitchen table, saturday afternoon possibly outside in the garden, in each case using kitchen cups and saucers and accessories. On sundays it was served with ceremony in the lounge room – generally with close rellies in attendance, mulling over the week just passed and what they knew or presumed of the week to come. The household stock of delicate porcelain china cups, saucers, silver teaspoons and cake forks, matching milk jug and sugar bowl and other accessories, including pretty cake plates, had regular and frequent workouts. Many years back, knowing she was approaching the end of her life, she had a fixation about someone taking the tea cups and saucers. Someone did take a few, I didn’t, but I did take a very old coffee set for my daughter who’s marrying soon, and I’m about to hand it on to her.

Right now an elderly aunt is in some state about her cups and saucers. A couple of years ago, she moved into an assisted living hostel, and although some cups and saucers went with her (I am sure they have never been used to serve tea in her room) – it was partly to ease her from independent living, where she did indeed serve tea, regularly, with precisely followed decades-old rituals. Today’s discussion by email on the family grapevine set me thinking – some time in the future will we too get obsessive and fret for loving homes for our coffee mugs? whenever? Heck, DH and I have quite a few in the cupboard I rather dislike. There are heaps of better designed, more interesting ones around; but, well you don’t just pitch stuff that still works, was how we grew up, and DH bought them, so they stay and are used daily. Unfortunately they are tough and their natural attrition is very slow! Back to the obsession with cups and saucers – where does this obsession come from – is it just a function of age? Or does it have to do with having lived all your adult life in the one place, as Mum and Aunt did? We have lived in many places, with and without our household gear, the houshold stuff has had spells in storage, and in effect is in storage again, in Australia; and we are living surrounded by other cups and saucers here in Uruguay. I don’t feel any approaching obsession yet …..

Oh, and this little antique coffee cup and saucer is Royal Worcester, Regency, from the late C19. Very fine bone china and so delicate to drink from. Until this morning I had sort of forgotten it was at the back of the cupboard….and it is so totally not my style, either. Any family takers? R? I have no idea from whose life this is a souvenir, and there was only one on sale.

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Fabric – a Powerful Souvenir

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

Recently one of my sisters sent me two offcut pieces from a length of batik she’d bought in Cirebon on the northern side of Java, Indonesia, back in around 1977 during a time she was working there. Like many of us who buy fabric, at the time she didn’t know what she was going to do with it, only that she loved the colours and the pattern in this totally outstanding piece.

She says not only is the pattern a very special one – but the colours are unusual, too: a little black, some dark chocolate brown, then there’s green, turquoise, creamy yellow and white. The sense of depth is incredible. As with all traditional textile crafts anywhere in the world, today’s patterns reflect a history of cultural influences responding to new political conditions. So for those who can read this batik, it displays C13 chinese cultural influences from the time of Kublai Kan. The Dutch colonial period and mid C20 movement to independence were factors in the rise of Yogyakarta and the concurrent decline of this region’s importance in batik production. No, I don’t claim to be able to read it, I am just passing on what my sister told me about this piece, but I have put Cirebon on my list of places I need to visit.

A few months ago, looking for something to cover a panel or screen in her home, she found this forgotten piece in her box. I haven’t seen the screen yet, but I also wonder what else is in that box …

Partly for scale but also to add to the perspective of this beautiful, elegant fabric, I snapped it with a pair of enormous sunglasses from the same era, 1975. I still occasionally wear these, they have always been favs, and they do make some kind of statement, – always did. They live in a bag I whipped up from scraps of fabric I used in the 1981 to make a bedspread. The pondy/murky khaki and turquoise print is a batiked cotton twill I bought in Malaysia, around 1973.

Following the theme of a recent post on Souvenirs with Meaning (Oct 1 2007) this one also evokes a lot of memories. (coincidentally that too, was prompted by batik) My sister now has in her home a daily reminder of several years’ living and working in Jakarta. This same fabric prompted memories from my own, totally different, life experiences at around the same time …. what a powerful souvenir a piece of fabric can be.

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