Monday, 2 October 2017

Zhen Xian Bao Thread Booklets and the Great Escape workshops 2018

Antique Zhen Xian Bao Booklet

Detail of folded pocket

These delightful structures are traditionally created by the Miao peoples of South West China or Northern Thailand.

The Miao people are an ethnic group from southwest China, also found in northwest Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar. They may also be called Hmong, Xong, Yao and A-Hmao. They have various ethnic origins, histories and languages.

I was first introduced to Zhen Xian Bao through the collection of Martin Conlan of SlowLoris. Martin is a collector and retailer of exquisite textiles and artefacts mostly from South West China. Many are antiques which are hard if not impossible to find elsewhere. It was, if not love, then definitely intrigue and delight at first sight for me with these objects.

The booklets are in essence travelling stitch cases. Often utilitarian and homemade but decorated inside and designed to contain embroidery threads, fabrics and stencils. Until recently these booklets have been overlooked, however we are seeing a surge of interest and interpretation. The variety of sizes, pocket designs and arrangements is huge, which only adds to the curiosity factor.

Of course, once I owned one, I had to work out how to make my own version, what types of papers and fabrics were suitable. I tried several options, and spent inordinately long trying to work out how to get the pockets to fold correctly. Having solved this issue, I moved on to how to get the overlaps attached without having messy joints and later, what could I do with the stitching and decorating to make my contemporary version of it.

My first full version was made using Lutradur, texture gels, reactive metal paints, Evolon and a lot of beads.  See posts Lots to Tell  and  Spring Prom and Intellectual Property Rights

Miao Thread Booklet by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Miao Thread Booklet by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden
My favourite construction materials so far are gelled papers or Dupion silk and still the Lutradur.
Dupion Silk Miao Thread Booklet by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Gelled paper Miao Thread Booklet by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Since my first sight of the booklets there have been several books written about the booklets. In particular One Needle, One Thread (ISBN 978-1607021735) which describes and shows in great detail many of the stitched objects created by the Miao. And several options from Ruth Smith and Gina Corrigan which concentrate exclusively on the booklets including ISBN 978-0952880448. Look them up for more detailed information, or ....

I enjoy passing on my contemporary versions of the booklets on workshops and have another one coming soon in New Zealand. This will be at the ANZEG Great Escape Retreat/workshop weekend. It is held in Orewa near to Auckland on March 23 -25 2018. If you would like to find out more about the weekend and which other tutors are delivering classes, please look up (and book if you are so inspired) on their website

If you want to stay near to the venue, the website gives you all the info you need or the organisers will do so, alternatively, I have accommodation at Kotare House, Kaka Rooms and Ruru Room and will be travelling in daily to the Great Escape about a 30 minute drive, and am happy to work that out with you.

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