Colour analysis of Manchu Robe

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Colour / Part one - Project 2

Just needed to see what my Pantone app would make of the beautiful robe from China as mentioned in the last blogpost.

– Wild Orchid, 16-2120 TCX

– Sweet Corn, 11-0106 TPG

– Delphinium Blue, 16-4519 TPG

– Desert Mist, 14-1127 TCX

– Quail, 17-1505 TCX

A triadic harmony between Wild Orchid, Delphinium Blue and Desert Mist?


This scarf is also within this colour palette, sorry about the light;

A slightly different composition in the Pantone app.

Waterfall, Dusty Rose, Duffel Bag, Fir and Marron. Could be the light, but still good enough to make sense of the colour palette.

Chinese notes – clues to the pillow

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Part one - Project 1

I have been looking for clues to the golden pillow, and so I got this book on loan from the library,

It is the catalogue from an exibition in 1995 in Hong Kong with mainly silken textiles from the Ming and Qing dynasties in China.

I was looking for dragons but found all kinds of beautiful stuff, colours, form and details instead.




Lovely colours and forms, lots of inspiration and snapshots to go on working with. Maybe I had a notion of Chinese art being inferior to Japanese, but any such assumption has been laid to rest now!!

I was especially intrigued by a robe made by Kesi slit tapestry weaving – wonderful colour palette and patterns.



The text is calling it a Manchu Ladies Robe, ca. 1890 – 1905. Perhaps worn by the Empress Dowager Cixi, who according to the text above favoured pastel shades of lavendler and turquise with designs of spider chrysanthemums interspersed with shou longevity characters. (Page 250)

Ref to artikel: Coat of many colours, Stephen McGuinness in Mondial Collections vol 1, no. 1, p. 82 – need to look it up and work with the colour palette.

Lovely book – wish I could keep it…

The golden silk pillow – a part of my story

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Part one - Project 1

I have absolutely no idea where the golden pillow comes from, and why it was one of the few items that I painstakingly have been taking care of for decades.

Well, I know sort off why I have been moving it around for so long, sometimes pulling it out of its cover, carefully touching it lightly before returning it to its cover of darkness. It is one of the few things left over from my adoptive mother. She was a hard woman. Maybe the pillow represent the hope for love, affection and a place to belong in the world?

I know very little about her past before she married my adoptive father. She had no contact with her own family, hated them, never spoke of them, so…

I vaguely remember the golden pillow from my childhood. It was situated on a very beautiful chaiselong in a posh room only used once or twice a year, Christmas Eve for instance. It had a fellow on the chaiselonge, a more traditional kind of pillow.

One day all the furniture in the posh room was gone, and I have no idea how I ended up with the pillows. Perhaps I asked in a golden moment?

And so decades have gone by, they have been dead and gone for years, so no one to ask.

Until this assignment – time to look at the golden pillow and perhaps discover a bit more.

And so I have, I now know her parents name from the electronic church cronicles, and I know where she grew up – all thanks to a local archive storing that kind of information.

This has been a weird journey – from knowing next to nothing to knowing a fair bit in four days.

No clues to the pillow, though, and then again. Perhaps it can be tracked to a large farm where one of the first folk high schools in the world was established around 1860 by a French women. The area was rural and far from Copenhagen in Jutland, so I dońt think golden pillows were standard household items?


I have been looking for similar pillows, but so far no luck – the pattern looks Asian, chinese perhaps with the dragon motive, so maybe someone brought it home to Denmark around 1900? A lot of overseas trading took place in those years.

I will continue to look into this, and have plans to contact the Danish Design Museum to see if they can help, but for now, it is fine to have discovered this part of my story 🙂

Aprons – stories of the pocket

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Part one - Project 1

Aprons are a long time stable in the western civilisation – I think we all have seen a picture of an elderly woman in an apron, being busy in the kitchen. I read that a generation or two ago, it was customary to donne an apron when you turned fifty. Somehow both a useful accessory and also a sign of aging. I think that is rapidly changing.

But aprons are also for men, the butcher with his knife, the blacksmith with his fire and perhaps the modern man in the garden tending the Weber grill.

I have used aprons for years, they are practical, but they also symbolise a long, female tradition of nourishment along with the passing of seasons. I use aprons in the kitchen but also for painting, ceramics, dyeing, you name it.

I have a thing for the pockets… I have written short stories about the contents of apron pockets, and I have been known for carrying my phone in my apron pocket, ready for process pictures or snapshots. Recently I nearly left a workshop in Italy without my phone, it was left behind in an apron pocket.

But an apron pocket also carries secrets of its own. Treasures can be hidden in a pocket – a little piece of string, a match, a hint of flour, a pair of scissors to cut fresh produce, a coin and an old recipe for tea-cake.

The apron – lots of stories, lots of history, lots of myth and lots of practicality 🙂 – and a textile project, perhaps ?

A rotten day – can nature help? – can inspiration?

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inspiration / Nature

These last November days have been rotten – rotten in numerous ways – no time, no space, no resources…

For the first day in a while the sun was a little out yesterday so I went for a walk to get some air and some perspective on all the rotten stuff.

The sky is all over the place on days like this.

Makes the heart a little lighter, the perspective a little clearer;

And provides inspiration for mark-making – pastels perhaps ?

And low sun to comfort the heart 🙂

A little less rotten day ?

Pastel mark making

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Mark making in general

Life is a little too busy right now, so time to reflect and write about my three chosen textiles is a very slow process. So whatever energy is left late at night after a long working day is used for mark making and testing various media.

I love pastels, especially soft pastels, love the intensity of pigment and the versatility, so here is few examples of mark making, both with inspiration from forms but also looking at line and colour.

This set was done on ordinary white drawing paper torn out of a pad. Quick sketches to also look at composition.

Unison pastels on Japan paper – tentative mark making, what kind of colours are these?

Colour and layers…

And finally my french tea cup in free style 🙂

An apron – one of the chosen textiles for Project 1

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Part one - Project 1

So another one of my chosen textiles is an apron. And not any apron – a Marimekko apron, a design Company known for its bold prints.

Marimekko is founded in 1951 by a women, Armi Ratia, modern, chic and sophisticated design for women.

Marimekko actually means “Mary-dress”.

I bought the apron in Helsinki in the summer of 2011 while on a brief vacation. I have had various Marimekko items over the years, the bright colours and distinct design has always had an appeal to me.

The Company have a good focus on values and sustainability, in their own words here.

Their website is good and informative, here is a bit about their design philosophy.

Substance / description

The apron is rather short, having a length of 81 cm. It is made of cotton with print. It ties around the waist with a knot. According to Marimekko the printing of fabric takes place in Helsinki on their own factory.

The prints are bold circles in roughly the same sizes, a diameter of 16 cm, but very different in their composition and choices of colours. The circles have little handles attached to them, they remind me of either a dishcloth or oven mittens, something everyday hanging on a little hook close to the cooker.

The decoration uses circles of varying thicknesses and also half-moon lines like below. The design looks handdrawn and un-even, part of the intended charm.

The apron has no lining and is machine stitched in a normal fashion, square corners and a fold to hide the threads.

Use of colour

The background colour is a rich chestnut Brown. I ran it through the Pantone colour app on my phone with the following result;

This snapshot also shows the weaving close in. As always fotos are not the same as reality, the apron is more dark Brown in real life.

On this background is a mix of colours, both warm and cold, mainly bright and clear so the circles stand out from the background. Nothing subdued here…

The circles have colour combinations of both complementary and more analogue schemes.

An essential part of an apron is the pocket, often placed in the middle of the apron . A big oblong piece of cloth randomly placed on top of the printed fabric – gives a good break in the circular impression of the apron.

Final comment

A useful piece of textile in a classical design but with bold forms and colour choices – very good branding – you know it is Marimekko.

Quick visit to an Exhibition between meetings

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I had a little time in Copenhagen yesterday between appointments so quickly visited a small gallery with an exhibition entitled “Wabi-Sabi!”, and as I both have a love of this concept and also get to work with it later in this course, I thought it would be a good thing to do. A very good friend of mine came along, and it was as always good to have someone to share the experience with.

Well, it was a good thing to do, and at the same time it was strange, odd, unpleasant with little glimpses of kindness. Let me explain.

The artist is Birgitte Christens, a ceramicist, currently residing in Japan. The artist is working with the unseen taboos in our society around diseases, like Crohns, cancer etc. There were metallic water hoses combined with ceramic lungs, separate body parts, few glazed tiles based on X-rays of lungs combined with a few wabi-sabi bowls.

I could not make myself take pictures of the disease, life is full enough of that already, but I respect the intention of wanting to shed light on these unseen parts of the human condition. So instead I took a few pictures of the wabi-sabi bowls, also to look more closely at the glazes used.

These bowls were for sale as were a little collection of ceramic snails.

These were found on the floor in a corner, symetrically assembled. There was not a lot of titles so the interpretation was left to the viewer, more lungs, experiments or more hidden aspects?

This sculptural piece was perhaps the most engaging object, looks a bit like a water sculpture with a hole in the top and a beautiful blue glaze that looks like water silently moving. It was completely different from the rest of the items.


So an interesting break – something to think about, but also a thankfullness as I went out into the grey and rainy day for being able to do just that.

Mark-making inspired by shawl

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Part one - Project 2

A closer look at the shawl has inspired the following sketches;

Materials used

  • Japan paper in off-white, 60 x 42 cm
  • Markers of various colours and sizes
  • Hard pastels in various nuances of neutral
  • Derwent Graphitint and water
  • Thick cardboard


To get an initial feeling of the shawls texture and structure.


A hard pastel sketch of a corner of the shawl – looked at the triangle shape and the tassels. I tried to capture the essence and the texture in monchrome.

Tusch sketches trying to look at the meeting of lines and the space in between. I supplemented with at few lines in Graphitint and water to see the difference. Exploration of lines, including thickness and distance.

Japan paper on cardboard backing, looking at exploring lines through the use of hard pastel, various angles and meeting of lines. Using all sides of the hard pastel to look at differences in mark making.

Japan paper cut into triangles of various sizes – the beginning of small sketches an mixed media. Would like to do a collage with the tusch meetings mentioned above.


The hard pastels were a good medium for trying to capture more subtle nuances in essence and texture. Would like to develop this more.

The tusch sketches provided some insight into the meeting of lines – though I find the mark and the colours a little harsh for this mark making exercise. Will try to use them in a collage. But the process of making lines meet in various ways was good.

So on to a collage.

A shawl – one of the chosen textiles for Project 1

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Part one - Project 1

This offwhite fluffy thing is a gift meant for cold days.

It originates in the High Andes, bought by a good friend of mine on a side street in Buenos Aires in Argentina a few years back. It is made of llama wool, or so the story goes and very soft.

I have chosen it as one of the archive items for the following reasons;

  1. It is made of wool, and I see it as a fine representative of shawls
  2. It makes perfect sense for more meeting of lines
  3. Gives a sense of peace and calm
  4. It is a gift
  5. And it tells the archetypal story of manual craft, no matter the origin

Substance – initial findings

The shawl is triangular, measuring 162 cm (top width) x 66 cm (top to bottom) ex tassles.

It is made by wool, probably handspun, the yarn looks irregular. My friend told me the wool was llama, more on that later.

The colour is off-white, looks like the original colour of the yarn.

It feels a little oily and is shiny in places.

It looks wowen, shows in a place, where there is a hole in the shawl.

The tassels are made of single strands of yarn and finished with a knot, leaving a bit of straight wool. Looks like a very loose fibre has been used.

The tassels are fastened to the shawl by another knot. The tassels measure from 15-20 cm in length.

The shawl is very light weight and warm at the same time, just covering my shoulders.

  • Substance – further research

On llama wool

My friend told me the shawl was made of llama wool from Argentina, so I have been investigating that on the Internet and an interesting detail has come to light. It seems llama wool has no lanolin in it, so is suitable for people with allergies, but this goes contrary to the way the shawl feels slightly oily.

I think the shawl is made out of sheeps wool and not llama wool for the following reasons;

  • The presence of lanolin in the wool
  • Looking at single strands of wool, they twist naturally like sheeps wool
  • The production of llama wool is a lot more complicated than for sheeps wool as the llama has two very different layers of hair
  • If the shawl has been produced by local peasants and sold in a side street in Buenos Aires it is a lot more likely to be made of sheeps wool – cheaper and more easy to produce
  • When looking at pictures of llama yarn contra sheeps wool, the shawl has a lot more resemblance to the sheeps wool than llama.

So I think my friend bought sheeps wool thinking it was llama wool. Does it make a difference? Not to me – can see a marketing advantage in promoting something more exotic and special to tourists. Do I know for sure, no, and that is fine. Good process to be a bit sceptical.

References, among others




Argentinian wool producers