Friday, January 31, 2020

Kimono Revolution

So I was a Japanese Embroidery student at 12, back in the early 1980s; so I care about the techniques, experts and history of Japanese textile culture.  You also know that endangered textile technologies and techniques are kinda 'my thing'.  So last night when I sat down to embroider and watch TV and was looking through the options - a program called "Kimono Revolution" coming on at 8pm really got me to stop and switch the channel to it.

It didn't take more than a few minutes for the program to get me crying and really want to recommend it to you all.  The program is right now making the rounds on PBS but it can also be watched on the internet.  It is in subtitles but soooo worth it.

Watch Kimono Revolution

It is a story of how the decline of the traditional kimono - which is the one product that keeps almost ALL textile artisans in Japan going - has reduced to less than 1/3 the market in just the last 10 years.  One major Kimono store owner is on a single minded mission to save the entirety of the textile artisan infrastructure.  Kinda sounds familiar, doesn't it.

So he conceived of an audacious project and hoped he could have it done in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games.  (1) Raise about $40,000 per kimono (how much they cost) from donors, corporations and the government (2) recruit all the artisans to take their techniques and challenge themselves to modernize the look and (3) produce a work-of-art kimono for each of the 206 countries represented at the Olympics.

The money would keep the artisans going a few more years and the unique interpretations by these living treasures and new upcoming artisans would excite the market and drive interest in Kimono in the public.

Several of the kimono productions are gone through in detail and every time I cried.  The beauty, the expertise, the age of the artisans, the collaborations to make something new.  It was heartbreakingly beautiful.  The film really encapsulates what I have seen throughout my life of traveling around the world and being introduced to experts that we are loosing and often standing there knowing that the next time I try to come back - it will be gone.  I have so many pieces of something in my house that I pull out sometimes and "pet".  The 'last' of something and full of memories of some tremendous expertise that is gone and I got to see before it was gone.

So please put watching this on your to do list.  Pull out a cup of tea or glass of wine and afterwards you will decide to do something textile related.  Find your nice things and pet them, use them and honor the legions of elderly experts like those in the film.

And we NEED an exhibition of these kimono to come to America after the Olympics.  Who can we beg to do that???

The visionary's quote is: "My dream is to see the people leading the delegations wearing the kimonos at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo games".  Oh gosh I really hope so.  It is just an incredible feat and such an appropriate way to boost their long traditional culture.


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

News Flash - Au Ver a Soie Theft

I don't like posting without complete information but the situation demands it.  There was a break in at the Au Ver a Soie factory between Christmas and today and a significant amount of silk thread was stolen - likely to be fenced on the internet.  I don't have any details beyond what they just posted on their facebook page an hour ago.  I will be getting details soon so we can know what to look for and will post as soon as I do.

I can't tell you the horror Access Commodities and myself are absorbing at the moment as we understand what it takes to remake schedule wise.  I also don't know yet what it means to current courses I am running.  But impacting future plans - yes.

Here is the post:
Dear customers, dear friends, dear partners,
The Life of a small business is not always quite as follow : our plant has been robbed between Xmas and New Year’s eve. The thieves have taken entire ranges of threads, orders ready to be shipped to French and abroad customers. Their aim was clearly to slow down our activity but we will not give up as we did after the fire in 2015. 
Thanks to warn us if you see suspect sales of our products on Internet. This concerns : flyfishing silklines, soie de Paris, sewing silk (soie 1003 and surfines), kits of Pascal Jaouen, special colours in soie perlĂ©e. 
We wish you a very happy new year 2020 which will be full of surprises for our 200th year anniversary.
Take special care when viewing offers of the silks - they likely stole spools as that would be easy to fence.  Au Ver a Soie spools several of these on wooden spools.  I think they are doing the white spools now as well.  The spools that Au Ver a Soie prints on have "Au Ver a Soie" on the top and then thread type on the bottom.  The ones that Access Commodities spools show the thread type on the top in writing and don't say Au Ver a Soie on them - to help you distinguish.   While I don't know this as a fact - it is a decent conjecture at this point.

If you see something that appears fraudulent (from eBay):

1. Get the item number and the seller's username.  Take a screen shot as well using your computer or phone
2. Inform your local police and ask them to get in touch with eBay. You can find local law enforcement officers on the USACops website.
3. Tell the officers to email us at
Please note that we can only investigate such a serious allegation if it comes from the police.
4. email Au Ver a Soie immediately -