Saturday, September 11, 2010

Falling Up and into the Studio

There's a crispness about the mornings, and last night I put on a sweatshirt over a long-sleeved polo shirt (a real, for-true polo shirt, with a logo of horses, riders with mallets, and the name of a polo club) upon leaving the gym. Yes, it is almost fall and as the child of teachers, I view these few weeks as the start of a new year.

Even apart from the feeling of a new year, having my own, dedicated studio space is like turning over a new leaf. I can run in and do little things, big things, just about anything I want to do. I recently pulled boxes of batik strips, cut years ago, off shelves and whipped up this little quilt top hanging on the closet door. It still needs a narrow strip of black around what you see here, and then a border which will, I think, be strips of the blues, greens, and purples but not the oranges and yellows. I'll get to that when I finish the current quilting project, which is quilting the top you could see hanging, again, on the closet door in one of the studio shots in my most recent post here.

I took a break from that quilting this past week to make a new sword bag. For years, I've wanted to have a different sort of bag for my swords. I tried knitting and felting large pieces but never came up with anything even close to an appropriate size to use. Some months ago, I purchased some Japanese fabrics from my favorite online merchant for such things, planning to try to use them for a sword bag at some point. When I set up the studio, they went into a plastic bin labeled, what else, "SWORD BAG." Last Sunday, the zipper on the bag I've been using, a real, designed-for-swords, bag purchased from a martial arts supply house broke beyond repair after years of use by three different people. The need for a new bag trumped the usual "I'm working on other things and can't do that now" argument, and between Sunday and Wednesday I managed to craft a sword bag that was quite commented upon at Thursday night's class. I couldn't have done it without the studio space in which I could work in a flurry.

If you've seen the fabric rolls in which chefs carry knives, or knitters carry needles, that's what I was aiming for as a sword bag--a fabric case that held swords in pockets and could be rolled up for carrying. For fabric, I had a dark blue Japanese canvas with ivory logos printed on it. This became the outside of the bag. For a lining, I used an ivory Japanese lightweight cotton fabric that had dark blue dragons printed on it. Here they both are, sewn together, and laid out so that I could figure out how to configure the pockets. Here it is after I've pinned some pockets into it. Before I sewed the pockets I'd pinned, I came up with a plan for buckled straps to hold the roll shut as well as a strap for carrying. My plans had to be modified a bit by not being able to obtain as much of one kind of strapping as I planned to use and only being ably to find one kind of buckle of which I could buy four. Even given all that, I managed to come up with something that seemed as if it would work. Lots of pinning, sewing, unpinning, and sewing later, I had a finished bag with four buckles into which I could put all my various swords as well as a jo staff, roll up, buckle, and be ready to go using the handy shoulder strap. The small bag you might notice hanging from the outside of the sword roll holds my black belt. It's now residing in the kit bag in which I carry my gi, tape, notebook, and other necessities.

I must admit that I do like the new bag or roll better than the bag I had been using. Several people in class Thursday night suggested I should make more and try to sell them. I pointed out that the market for sword rolls is likely a very limited one. I did admit that were I to make another, there were some things I'd do differently to make it even better. Upon hearing this, younger son suggested I should make another, new and improved one and then give the first one to him. He also suggested that I could make the second one using the raw silk he got me as a Mother's Day gift in Vietnam in 2009. I have to admit that it's an idea worthy of consideration. First, though, I have that other quilt to finish...

7 comments:

Debi said...

Good heavens, woman, but you've been busy! And your busyness produces quite beautiful results!!!

katieinnebraska said...

I love love love the quilt, and admire your sword roll - my mother made me one "Just" like it for knitting needles about a thousand years ago.

kreed said...

I am pretty sure you are the only person I know who needs a sword bag! That is awesome that you came up with such a cool one!

mwarfieldreich said...

I didn't know you quilted! I quilt, too! Your bag is BEAUTIFUL. I think you've inspired me -- I'm planning on making a dress for dancing on Saturday night, and I'm going to photograph and blog the process.

I love your blog.

mwarfieldreich said...

Also, your sword bag reminded me of a knitting needle bag i have that my grandmother made me. I think the trick to the rolling is long pockets and an ability to fold in half before you roll it up.

Mama Bear said...

As always, your works are absolutely stunningly beautiful as well as functional! Your room sounds like heaven!!

Ann said...

Jean, I would buy a sword bag like that from you in a heartbeat! It's just lovely.