Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ethnic Cushion Covers

My favourite silk cushion cover with old Miao embroidery

Three years ago, I designed a series of ethnic fabric cushion covers for the little stall I ran with my sister. The cushion covers are made with my collection of ethnic minority tapestry. Some sewing were done by myself and some were sent to a friend's workshop. These cushion covers were made with limited production of single, a pair or double pairs of different shades. Honestly, I did it for fun more than for the business. I just love to create with my collection of ethnic fabric and accessories. (Don't get me wrong, I do need income). However, I just cannot make any profit considering the amount of time spent in producing every single design.

I am glad that I kept some of the cushions for personal use. Some of these ethnic tapestries I used are difficult to obtain these days and they cost double or triple than the price I paid. My favourite design shown above was sewn from a Cambodian silk scarf with a Miao embroidery piece from a village in Quizhou, China. This little piece of embroidery is really precious. It took me one international flight, a domestic flight, a long distance bus and a chartered car service to reach the village. Of course, there is an easy way to get these pieces from shops in the city of China. But, be prepared to pay 10 times the price and no fun for not able to have personal encounter with the people who produced these beautiful handicraft.

2-tone artificial silk covers with old Thai silk yoyos and pompons-
zip less design with the opening hide behind the decorative band

2-tone artificial silk covers with Vietnam White Hmong embroidery and pompons
Cushions with Flower Hmong tapestries and decorated with bells and Tay people accessories

The piece of cross stitched embroidery and applique is part of a Vietnam Flower Hmong lady skirt

Cushion cum chair pad covers with Vietnam Flower Hmong people embroidery
-The embroidery  was part of Hmong women sleeves

These two Thai raw silk cushion covers show the ethnic flavours with their decorative pompons lace and embroidery

Cushion cover with Vietnam Lu people embroidery
-The embroidery  was part of Lu women sarong

I felt sad when the pair of cushion covers, as displayed above, and another set of the same design in brown fabric were sold. In addition, I was feeling happy when my little stall had closed sale. I guess I was running my passion rather than my business!

I had so much joy when my sister and I were running our little business. With the business running, I had a good reason to travel for business, a good excuse to spend time on my creations, and escape from the frequent questioning from my husband for not working on my paintings.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Handmade Cards

Recently I received my orders from  and I was so happy and excited like children getting their new toys. There were my scrapbooking materials, fabrics and books. I just couldn't wait to start new crafting and sewing projects. It was tormenting for not having time to create with holidays and happenings around. After 10 days of long wait, I finally settled down to create.

With my beloved Aunt Choo Choo's birthday around the corner, I made her a card. No sketch, just playing around with my new puncher and stamps. The velvet ribbon and metal alphabet used on the card exudes class and elegance.

Time To Celebrate I
And I made a few more cards to keep for birthdays of family members and close friends.

Make A Wish

Time To Celebrate II
You light up a room

I still prefer hard copy birthday cards than e-cards where I can touch, feel the textures and read the hand written messages. Thus, I like to take the effort to handmade them for those who are dear to me. Something I had done since my high school days. When beautiful imported Hallmark cards were too expensive for me to afford them. My simple cards of drawings with watercolour on water color papers had warmed and touched hearts.

Today, with the availability of modern tools and art supplies, more beautiful and fancier cards can be made easily. My daughters continue the good tradition. They make me all kinds of cards, including one from Ning called the "Happy Day card"  :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Journey of Northwest Loop Vietnam-Chapter 4

"I know you what you did behind my back."
It was entirely different to see Dien Bien Phu during the day and night. It was a hazy morning when my sister and I got up. Probably due to open burning for land clearing. My sister and I had a simple breakfast and checked out of the guesthouse. 

Our first visit was to the morning market. Where else could be as fun and interesting than the local market. It was here, I met with many Hmong people apart from the majority Tai people.

Red Hmong baby carrier
The hill tribes spend lots of time in producing baby carriers. The baby carrier is a work of art and love. As much as I love to own many styles of baby carriers, I only own two of the carriers from Dong people in China. I am skeptical of buying them from the haunting experience I had in collecting old stuffs and personal experience shared by my sister's friend. Most of the time, I would just admire them... like when I came across this Red Hmong mother and child in a baby carrier at the market area.

"Yau Cha Kuih"                                                                Beautiful girl vs ugly fish

Pleasant encounter
There was a lady in the market selling a deep fried cakes , similar to Chinese " Yau Cha Kuih". But I have no guts to try as I would be on the road and I didn't want to take the risk of an upset stomach. And the small fresh water fish looked so non appetising. I am not a fan of fresh water fish.

Young embroiderers
After leaving the market, we headed north to Lai Chau Province. On entering the province we could feel the rising of temperature though it is situated on high mountainous region. On the way, we stopped at a Red Hmong village. That was my first experience coming close in contact with the Red Hmong. We communicated with sign language and friendly smiles. 

In the village, I met a beautiful young girl sitting in the porch embroidering her new outfit. It was a beautiful scene. I approached her to see what she was working on. Although she was shy, but she was friendly. Two young girls came later to join her for the sewing session. I am amazed with their patience and skill at this tender years. 

Cool head cloths and looks
Our journey continued, and we passed by a town where I had a new encounter with tribe I have never met before. These ladies were cool and calm. I don't think they are Hmongs as Hmongs do not use such head cloths. I bought some machine embroidered laces where the tribe used to decorate their outfits in a small shop. The price was reasonable, and they did not overcharge us though we were tourists. I think generally, people in the rural are still genuine and honest.

We crossed the a bridge which I had forgotten its name ; passing by mountains and we descended to a deep verdant valley where Lai Chau town is nested. It was a hazy and dusty town which has the oddity of being one of the hottest places in Vietnam in the summer. Our driver stopped us for lunch at a restaurant cum guesthouse where we met with two French bikers with their Vietnamese tour guide. How I envy them to be able to travel the country on bikes.

Haah, 50,000 Dong?                                                              Funky girls hat

Followed on was Tam Duoang. We had a close encounter with the friendly Black Dao. There was a big group of them harassing a foreign biker with his tour guide to buy their goods. 

We jokingly told them that it was our turn for the pleasant harassment. We found the Black Daos to be fun loving people. Besides weaving, they handmade their beads in black, white and red. Making beads is uncommon for the hill tribes in this region.

Meeting a group of Lu ladies in Tamdoung was another highlight of the trip. Their "black teeth" made them distinctive and charming. The Lu women smoke their teeth through a bamboo pipe by burning Met and Xuyen trees they obtain from the forest. The Lu sometimes walked all day to Sapa to sell their sewing products. Meeting them in Sapa is really by chance. 

We passed the infamous Tram Tom Pass in Tamduong and were overwhelmed by sublime beauty and serenity of this mountainous area. The creator is truly the most talented architect and artist and I witnessed another of His fabulous creation here.

The ride from Lai Chau to Sapa was really bumpy on the earth road. I am glad that I had no motion sickness or I would have thrown out the overnight meal. The excitement of meeting different tribes along the journey had erased all horrendous memories of the unpleasant ride. Our 2 days ride with our jeep ended in Sapa.

This is final chapter of my sharing on travelling experience via the Northwest loop, Vietnam. Thank you for following.