One of the things that I have had to learn as an ex-pat is how to improvise when it comes to crafty things, and its seems that it has become a bit of a hobby in itself.
I bought some fabric with me when I first came to Korea but I didn’t do a lot with it initially, but I’ll get back to this in a while ….. I got side tracked into all sorts of other fun craft things for a while. I took a few Joanne Sharpe courses in lettering and doodling and became obsessed with pens, paper, water colours and all things arty. There were always things on the class lists that I couldn’t get here and so I learned to improvise. I can’t even begin to calculate how many hours I spent trawling the internet making wonderful discoveries such as how to make Modge Podge, gesso, and what pens I could use in place of the fabulous Copics that meant a four hour train journey to acquire. Or course, with all this trawling I also discovered other wonderful ideas that I just had to play with.
One of the things I really hankered after was a Moleskins water colour journal. I would dribble over the beautiful water colour journals people were creating and I really wanted one, but I couldn’t find one here. I did try a Google search for them in Korea and there was a place listed in Seoul that supposedly stocked them, but again, this would have meant a long train ride and no guarantee there really would be one there when I arrived. During this period of searching I discovered some sites that had tutorials on book binding techniques and ideas. Yes, you guessed it, I then became obsessed with making my own journals, and have made many of them over the last few years. I should also add that I do finally own a couple of Moleskins, both are the Sketch notebooks, I still haven’t managed to find a water colour one – but I am off the the USA shortly and I have promised myself that after 5 years of drooling over them I am definitely going to get one. My first Moleskin was actually a gift from Megan, a lovely art teacher I was working with. I had told her of my desire to own one and the very next week she popped into my classroom one morning and presented me with it. I cannot tell you how delighted I was and it will always remain a great treasure for me.
I also bought a the fabulous Bob Davies Watercolour Secrets DVD water colour painting course and I still watch it on a regular basis, he is a wonderful teacher and I have learned so much from him. The advantage of arty things is that you can get away with carting them around quite easily and they weigh a lot less that bundles of fabric. I still spend a few hours every week playing with my pens, paper and watercolours.
When I moved away from Korea (a short 18 month wander around other Asian destinations – Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and then off to far eastern Russia for a bit …) I only took the arty stuff, the crafty stuff remained in Korea. This was not initially intentional but that is what happened and the reasons behind it are irrelevant to this tale. I loved having my pens and paper and they kept me very content for a long while.
When I got to Russia I really began to miss doing other creative things and I began to hanker after another outlet. I went to an island of the eastern coast of Russia called Yuzhno-Sakalinsk. Its a small island, with a small population, and there were not a lot of patchwork shops around. There were places to buy fabric, but I was a little loath to start collecting stash again as I knew I wasn’t going to be there for a long time and it was just going to add to my excess baggage costs. Still, I needed something other than my pens and paper.
It was mid-winter when I arrived in Russia and the snow drifts were the biggest I’ve ever seen. It was colder than I have ever experienced, and it was Russia, so the heating broke down occasionally, every week I had at least one day with no water as the water froze in the pipes and there were nights when I was cold. I needed another blanket, and decided that I would knit one. After a few questions I discovered the location of a wool shop and I was on my way. I wrote a post about the blanket project last year, with pictures, so I wont go into detail about it here but you can take a look at it if you are interested…..
When I got back to Korea in 2014 I was re-united with all the crafty things I had initially bought to Korea and it felt like Christmas. I had a small supply of fabric and threads and I was itching to play with them, so I began to formulate an idea for a quilt. I decided that I should use what I already had and try to come up with a design that meant I didn’t have to buy more patchwork fabric. The one proviso was that I would need to buy some calico to use as a background for the fabric I already had. I love paper piecing, which was just as well as I didn’t have access to a sewing machine, and the patchwork fabric I had was quite varied and each piece was not large, so a scrappy, paper pieced quilt would be perfect. In a moment of insanity I decided that half inch hexagons would be a good idea …. so the project began, slowly at first, and then it became a bit of an obsession …. note a trend here, I become easily obsessed when it comes to art and craft….
It has grown very quickly despite the small hexie size. I began to really work seriously on it in November 2014 and I am almost done with the paper pieced top, about 8,500 hexies pieced so far. I’m not sure how many it will take to finish it yet as its still an organic process…..
I have worked two of the three borders, but I haven’t taken the tacking threads out yet so I’ll wait to add the pictures of those. The tacking thread is a rainbow of colours so it makes it a little harder to see the colours of the fabric.
I am hoping to have the top finished in the next month and then I can start the quilting process over the winter. I’ve spent a little over 6 months on it so far …