Friday, April 03, 2009

Textile Tours and Vietnam

Running tours is a bit like agaony and exstacy for me.
There is the fun part of research, dreaming up the right balance for the itinerary and leading the tour...the agony of the office work, most of it I can do fairly efficiently I think, but DATES!! make me paranoid- I seem to be dyslexic with dates, double check everything twice, then read it out to Praveen.
He is not a great reader but if I list things to him, he can catch my mistakes- amazing, almost illiterate but it does not hold him back. On the odd occasion I have not had him to look things over for me I have made blunders which now adds to my tension over it!
Really should just get over it- shouldn't I?

Oh well, putting off office work I have been looking through my pics of the last tour to update the website...and here is a few I really like. This close up is of a second hand Black H'momg collar...can you see the rich layers in the work? It is onto hand-loomed, hand-dyed indigo hemp cloth [ no you can't actually see it it is completely covered with stitch., much of it half cross stitch in silken thread, then the red comes from small pices of cloth appliced to the surface to give height and then stitched again, the white is the finest feather stitch to pick things out. The new pieces have great lusture from the silk threads and a wonderful tactile quality from the richness and layers of stitching. New they are based on rich emerald green and grass green off set with red, white and black. all set into a beetle blue black burnished indigo cloth....drool, drool, drool....
Sleeves are cross stitched and waist wraps have the same treatment as the collars. We got to play dress-ups with the ladies.
It was funny when the ladies started our stitching class, they showed us a sleeve and just said copy it.[sorry blogger is not letting me move the text around below the next pics- you will have to put pics and words together as you like]- we all went into a flap- where is the pattern, how do you know where to put the stitches, when we started the stitching we went out of pattern.
Yet Pi and Mung went ahead with ease- One thing is they are so used to doing it, although the designs are all very similar there are always slight variations on the pattern- this allows the individual to show through but also takes the stress out of getting it "right".
Their way of reading a pattern is to look at an existing piece and see what is happening we are used to refering to a guide...
Trying to work in an H'mong fashion I think a big clue is that their designs always link together through the use groupings of 3 stitches to build them up. To get from looking, to be able to follow I had to do an intermediary step of drawing up a I have relaxed and started to stitch I can see the relationships in the design and it is starting to flow off my needle, no map needed! soon I could be perched on a rock on the hillside, talking at the same time as concentrating on stitching and stitching at the same time!
I This is truely a magical area to visit...if you are heading to Vietnam with an interest in textiles - of course you could join one of my tours- or our friends at Ethnic Travel could help you, what ever way it is a place to visit whilst it is still relatively fresh...I can already notice changes.....

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