Sunday, January 29, 2012

More fabric stamps

BTW, I'm not including the bread stamps (from Tibet) or the wallpaper stamps (from the Czech Republic). See my first post about fabric stamps here.

In the first photo, a detail of the 2nd, you'll see 2 small border stamps.  The left is only a few inches long, about 1.5" wide and the other is about 5" long.  I'm guessing they would have been used at the border of a piece of fabric.

In the next photo, which includes stamps from both Iran & India, you'll see another border stamp (at the top), along with a pair of triangular stamps, which fit together. (As always, clicking on the photo will give you the largest version available.)  They are from Iran, and I'm guess part of a 4 stamp set (as explained in the last post), but we've only got 2.  To the right of the photo you can see 4 more triangular stamps, and you can even make out the paint on one of them; I'm guessing it was the red stamp!  Again, these amazing, intricately carved pieces would be stamped on fabric, in succession to (slowly) create a 4 color printing process.  Not only is the carving painstaking, but it must be hard for the person stamping to get things lined up just right, too.

In Abu Dhabi, where we bought the stamps from Iran, it was a bit of a coup among the Western expats to get a <b>complete</b> set!  Which makes sense--stamps were probably often retired/thrown out because one was no longer in good shape--so the rejects came to the Iranian souq near my house--meaning few complete sets made the journey across the Persian/Arabian Gulf.  We did manage to get 3 complete sets, I think.  Which demonstrates a) that we lived close to the waterfront where the souq was located and b) that we probably spent a lot of time/$$ there!  ;-)

The fabric they are laying on is a bedspread from Jaipur.  It is batiked (wax resist), and I'm sure a stamp was used for this intricate design that repeats and repeats over a huge queen-sized bedspread without flaw.  Which is another interesting way to think about fabric stamps--not as adding color, but as preventing additional color to be added!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fabric stamps & what they make in Asia

Happy New Year!  It's Chinese New Year, actually:


I don't know about you, but I'm having trouble getting into the swing of blogging 2012-style.  I think about it, but haven't felt inspired, nor have I had 10 seconds to sew.  This is my 3 day weekend coming up (I have every other Monday off), so let's see how that darned corduroy dress zipper goes...

Anyway, thought you might like to know about fabric stamps.  Carved from pear wood usually, these intricate stamps are used to make repeating patterns on fabric.  Here's an Indian expert carving a stamp in Jaipur.  And here's a stamp & stamper hard at work, also in India.  But of course he makes it look easy--I know my rows would be skewiff! I'm showing you 2 views of Indian workers because the first few photos are of stamps we got in India.  I felt compelled to buy the paisley stamp because paisley just says "India!" doesn't it?
I asked the Roommate to take a photo of the back & side, too, because I thought you'd like to see that it's all carved from the same piece of wood.  And I wanted to show that row of holes, drilled all the way through, I'm guessing to make it lighter for the user.  This probably isn't that important if you're doing one piece of fabric, but I imagine that after a long day of stamping, the lighter the tool the better.

Next up are 2 sets of stamps from Iran.  Persian style fabric stamping is a bit different.  Rather than one color on fabric, the Iranians do 3 and 4 color printing with their stamps.  Which means they carve different stamps, all the same shape & size, but with a different design--which fits with the other stamps to create a multi-colored design.  The skill involved--getting the carved pieces to interlock and then printing them without smudging or overlapping--yikes.  The Roommate & I are collectors, but believe me, we're admirers, too, of the skill & artistry involved in these treasures.
This is a tablecloth we got at the Iranian Souq in Abu Dhabi and you can see it has the four-color printing I mentioned.  Red, black, yellow and blue.  (For most of my photos, clicking on it will take you to the larger, original-sized photo if you want more detail.)  Details of this tablecloth below.

And a little side-track here...the two sets of sailors, recently rescued in the Persian/Arabian Gulf by the US Navy?  I'm sure they were either on their way to or from the Arabian side of the Gulf...headed to a souq (market), much like the one we walked to in Abu Dhabi.  It takes about 6 days on one of these small (20-30') wooden dhows to get from Iran to Abu Dhabi.  The treasures they would bring over!  Lapis jewelry, enameled plates, tiles, kilims, along with printed fabrics & blocks for creating that fabric.

I don't have any stamps from Pakistan, but I'm sure they do fabric stamping there, too, because of these cushion covers we received as a gift from a Pakistani friend.  You can see they've been stamped, too, possibly with only 2-3 colors.  I think it's funny that it's one color in India, a few more in Pakistan, and as you continue to move north & west...more colors, more intricate.  Probably more of an aesthetic issue, rather than a skill issue, is my guess.
We have more stamps (I just found a few that we need to take pictures of), including one used to print Buddhist scriptures in Tibet, and some huge ones (that weigh a ton!) for printing wallpaper in the Czech Republic.  I'll have to get to those in later posts.

We haven't tried them out--I have washed plain muslin and even owned some suitable fabric paint for a long while, but never got it together to do any real stamping.  Mostly because I'm a bit worried about ruining the stamps; how easy will they be to clean?  Next post will be more about fabric stamps in Africa...Ghana to be exact.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Style Icon - Lucille Ball! I Love Lucy!

Happy New Year all.  Hope your holidays were amazing.

I know I'm not the first person to suggest this, but how about looking at Lucille Ball as a style icon?  The Roommate & I were at an exhibit about I Love Lucy yesterday at the Library of Congress, and it's hard to miss how great her 1950s clothes were.  Of course she had a great figure & was a redhead, too (I can meet one of those requirements), so looked great all the time (unless she was being funny, and meant to look like a mess).

So here are some pictures I got from the web that demonstrate what I mean...

She loved polka-dots & wore them so well.  Maybe that's why I'm inspired to wear print dresses!  Also, I love swingy skirts too--so feminine.

I'm not that into weddings, but isn't this a pretty dress?

 More polka dots & a suit with a pencil skirt!

 I love this dress!  What a great collar.  And she's being silly but looks fabulous...

 And what an amazing geometric jacket.  Like a TV test screen, but fashionable!

 Did you know she was the first woman to be shown on TV while visibly pregnant?  The word was never used, but her pregnancy was written into the show and eventually Little Ricky appeared--even though she & Ricky had separate twin beds!   But here she is, in a gorgeous coat, back when women were forced to dress in some pretty awful maternity wear.  
The contrasting collar is so great!

Check out the Lucy - Desi Museum in Lucy's hometown, Jamestown, NY for more inspiration!

Music?  Babalu - Ricky Arnaz.