|Indonesian Ikat given to me by one of my best friends|
used as a backdrop wall hanging.
I have always been enamored with fabric and the unlimited possibilities for creativity they open up. My grandfather was a so-called gentleman farmer who set aside a few hectares of his larger coconut plantation for hobby farming. He grew fruit trees, had a large poultry and a large manmade fishpond where he cultured tilapia. As a young child in the Philippines, I would vacation in his farm and learned a lot about the workings of a small farm. This is a thrill for me having grown up in New York City, My grandmother used to take me to the market and one of the most exciting part is when we buy feed for the chickens in the poultry. I get to choose the feed based on the fabric design of the sack. Once empty the feed sacks are washed and turned into aprons, dishcloths, dolls and doll clothes, fabric yo-yos that are made into bed covers and patchwork quilts. When I took up quilting here in the United States, I learned that feed sacks were used the same way here. I guess, clever homemakers all over the world think alike.
Part of my Home Economics curriculum, when I went to the University of the Philippines was to learn about fabrics. We were tasked with collecting all kinds of swatches and learning and experimenting with their properties. The fabrics were washed, bleached, dyed, and even burned. You can tell natural from synthetic fabric by the smell when burning and how it burned.
|A woven cloth I purchased in Belize. I framed it to use as a wall hanging.|
|A Filipino Weaver|
From collecting woven textiles, I learned that each country share the same processes and even design as another country across the globe. A woven cloth from the Philippines can be very similar to one made in Guatemala. I am amazed by this. How were these techniques disseminated? Or even more amazing, were these processes hardwired in the human DNA so that no matter where you are, you are able to produce similar items using similar processes, similar woven cloths using similar looms and dyes. I'm sure some socio-anthropologist has a paper on this, I should do more research.
|Silk Ikat Scarf or Wall Hanging - Cambodia,|
a gift from of Lulu and Dennis Morales
Many of the ethnic textiles I collect I have used as wall hangings, table toppers, shawls, malong or sarong. To me, they are so beautiful that they need to be displayed in museums and as a matter of fact many museums do have rooms displaying ethnic fabrics. I attended a lecture and wonderful exhibition on Indonesian fabrics (The Bakwin Indonesian Textiles) about 4 years ago at The Art Institute of Chicago which got me more deeply interested in ikats.
It is getting harder to find true batiks nowadays and if you do they are getting to be pricey. You can tell a real batik by looking at the wrong side of the fabric, the design and color hue and intensity should be exactly the same as the front that you can not tell which is which. My friend's daughter. Pia, went to Ghana for a work study program and their batiks are so different than the familiar SouthEast Asian batiks. The Ghanaian cloths are not representational like the Indonesian's but have more modern colorful graphic designs. I perfectly understand Pia's urge when she ended up with two valises full of these fabrics. I made a quilt out of a piece of Ghanaian cloth she brought home which is featured in my earlier blog Pia's Quilt.
I also made this little wristlet from woven fabric I purchased on a trip to Guatemala. I currently have it on sale on Etsy - https://www.etsy.com/listing/99388413/ooak-guatemalan-woven-cloth-wristlet
Here are a few of the hand woven cloth I have collected during my travels:
|Part of a costume from Northern Philippines (Ifugao or Igorot tribes)|
|Ikat Silk Shawls - Cambodia|
|Table Runner - Belize|
|Table topper - Thailand|
|Native Costume (Malong) with gold threads - Southern Philippines|
|Detail of Malong design|
|Napkins - Northern Philippines|
|Table Topper or Wall Hanging - Guatemala|
|Silk Shawls - Thailand|
|Serape - Mexico|