Sunday, June 03, 2007

Second attempt from India

It's been a while since I last wrote. I've just put up some more robes and pieces up on eBay namely 2 robes, 2 apron skirt wraparounds and 2 collars. One of the collars was on eBay previously but it did not work out, this time around in a collection I hope it goes through. But more of that later.

I received my pieces on my second attempt at beading from India. Alas they made a crucial mistake and it's not valid, but I'm putting up pictures of their efforts to see the improvement from the previous attempt. This is another phoenix from the same Ming Dynasty kesi piece I did the first attempt, and I put it in shades of Ming Dynasty blue-white porcelain, as well as a more Cantonese green background. Here they are:

It's not that bad, and I'm asking them to redo it in the proper dimensions and scale, as this one is very squashed. With that, I can make a fair assessment on whether or not to go ahead. Keeping fingers crossed! Otherwise I'll try China or the Philippines!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Tibetan Dragons! :)

I collected this rather lovely silk seat cover from Tibet while I worked in Beijing. As you might know, Chinese chairs are not meant to be sat on bare, they are normally padded with cushions and covered with silk embroidered coverings depending on season, rank and occasion. This seat cover shows a dragon in gold thread with 2 elephants at the bottom and at the top a circle of bats signifying good fortune. It is rather magnificent, since it is not embroidered but instead made of time consuming kesi technique.

Such magnificent textiles with dragons were made for nobility to use, and often ended up in Tibet as part of religious tributes. The monasteries that kept them often preserved them well due to Tibet's dry weather. This particular seat cover kept it's shimmering gold threads, and rich reds and greens, and while it is in Ming dynasty style, I think it's from the Qing as there was a period of 复古or reminiscing of the past. I had it framed and hung up in my office where it welcomed friends, official guests and sometimes unwelcome visitors :)

Now that I am back in Singapore, there is little sense in moving it back here with the lack of space and the local weather is unforgiving towards rare textiles. I have put it up on eBay and I hope it goes to a good home. I'm rather sentimental towards this dragon seat cover, but it will have to go, and I hope to a good home.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

The prototype is back! :)

Happy New Year! I just got my prototype back right before Christmas as promised from the leather workshop. The effect is not exactly what I intended, so I will look around to pair up with a purse designer or someone in this field. But before that I asked my friends and relatives for their opinions, and there were many!

The younger ladies wanted more butterfly and flower motifs, and pastel colors. The older ladies liked the cranes, peonies and phoenixes and they wanted more bright stunning colors. The guys wanted none of the traditional symbols but more of a cultural revolution Mao Zedong funked up Vivienne Tam look ....

The ladies like it as small clutch bags in black or charcoal patent leather. The guys want it in communist red if it's a funky revolution piece. Some suggested silk as well. A few proposed cushions or pillows as stunning centrepieces in their houses. An interesting suggestion was to have it just as art pieces for framing. Which I will consider. No one wanted table runner or bed runners... more stuff for me to chew on as I move on to my next pieces. Seems like the market will be for exquisite clutch bags and large scale commissioned items.

Next of course will be the pricing ... but that will be later. There seems to be a divergence to affordable clutch bags and maybe sling bags for gals and guys on one end, and large scale art pieces which will be rather pricey. It seems to be rather interactive, this process, who knows what it will bring next? :) I am excited.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Trip to a Chinese village

I just came back from a remote village in southern China where my relatives have a factory. It was more like a visit, but I realised that the local villagers do need jobs, and perhaps it would be to everyone's benefit if I start a workshop there. I'm rather excited by the idea, it would be giving back to the province my Grandfather came from so it's nice. I've started sourcing for fishing thread for threading, and thin needles, and my beads just came in from my source in USA. Yay! Things are moving!

The purple butterfly robe went to a lovely Taiwanese lady in Hong Kong. She wants to wear it for parties! It looks lovely, and I am glad it is going to someone who will love it. This time around, I'm putting up a phoenix collar on eBay that we got through a fellow in Maine! Maine, of course, was a major center of China-USA tea trade back in those days, so it is not surprising to see little gems turn up. But this collar is exquisite and unlike the more common multi tiered collars. I'm attaching a picture of it here :)

I'll post updates here and there once I settle the village workshop project. But I was in Bangkok for my friend's wedding and came across a beautiful mural mosaic taken from the Tree of Life in Luang Prabang. It is luminous. Watch out for it in my future designs, it is so delicious that I love to use it. Hah hah!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Robes of silk and gold, part III

I'm putting up pictures of an incredible formal court costume, or chao-fu, that we also passed on to a gentleman in Taiwan. The pictures speak for themselves on the beauty of the formal elegance and power invested in these robes of state.

In addition, here is a whimsical example to contrast with the formal elegance of state robes. My mom collected a hundred butterfly robe in glorious purple. Worn by a young lady from a banker's family in Shanxi province, Imperial Qing China, in the late 19th century. As we speak, this is up on eBay and I hope the robe finds a good home.

I am putting up pictures of my prototype that came back! This is a phoenix gazing at a peony, symbols of feminine power, grace and wealth. I took inspiration from a Ming Dynasty kesi wall hanging that was the crown jewel of the Imperial Textile exhibition at the Singapore Asian Civilisation Museum earlier this year, as part of the HK based Englishman Chris Hall's collection. This is only a tiny part of the kesi hanging. There's more material that I'll be using in my later creations :) I have sent the prototype to a local leather craftsman to be turned into a clutchbag, God willing, it will be stunning. I will have them back in January next year! Cheers!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Robes of silk and gold, part II

Hi, I managed to pass on 2 other incredible robes in our family collection to buyers in Taiwan and China who I hope will also cherish them as much as we did. These robes are rather rare. One is a brown base dragon robe made for the wife of the grandson of the royal family, here is a view of the frontal dragon.

The other is a blue gauze dragon robe made for a young man of the nobility, not necessarily from the imperial family. Here is a view of the dragons around the collar.

I came across 2 Peranakan wedding robes that are so beautiful, but alas a bit out of my reach for now. However, they are good sources of inspiration for my design work. Here they are, in glorious red and turquoise.

My prototypes came back from India, finally! There were some serious problems with the first few, and I had to insist a higher QC. But the most recent piece came back ok. I am going to a local leather shop that makes good purses and do up a prototype purse. We shall see how that goes. Meanwhile, I am approaching friends and accquaintances who have auction books and other research sources with Peranakan beadwork that could give me guidance on how to move forward with accessory designs. One step at a time. I have so far chosen to use chili padi red for my leather work. :) God willing, it can be a good color.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Robes of silk and gold

I have collected Chinese and Straits Chinese robes since I was 12 :) I remember hoarding up my allowance to buy tiny pieces of embroidery, and when I was more financially independent, I moved on to actual intact robes. The amount of work on each robe is amazing. This is pretty well documented online so I won't spend too much time writing about it. The imperial robes are the stunners, each piece has gold thread couched dragons on them, and they take close to a year of work by a team of skilled seamstresses in the Imperial Workshops of Hangzhou or Nanjing in Imperial China. It is difficult to replicate such robes to the exact standards of workmanship today. Luckily for us, there have been good attempts. I am particularly inspired by Emperor (皇锦) in Shanghai and Beijing. Seeing what they did set me on the path to recreate using vintage or new glass beads with Imperial designs. Anyway, I sell the robes currently on eBay, also under my name of blueadamsingapore, go check it out! :)

Here are 2 robes that I have sold, one is a Peranakan wedding robe, the other a formal gown belonging to a high ranking Mandarin's wife with crane roundels. Both are very rare. I often use the designs of the robes for inspiration on my next piece of beaded beauty.