News & Special Events

A special exhibition of sakiori and kogin will be set up in the Mingei Store House from 4-28 JULY 2013

You’ll love it!

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
10.00am - 5.00pm

NEWSLETTER #3 June 2013

Having recently returned from a week in Japan, Mary Taguchi writes:

For years I have wanted to be in Tohoku, the far north of Japan, seeking the cloths and studio workplaces of that region. The history has drawn me there, for in the very cold north, where cotton wouldn’t grow, Tohoku people originally wove the inner bark of woody plants such as hemp and wisteria. It was trading ships from Osaka that brought remnants of used cotton clothing and so the idea of tearing and weaving these cloths came into existence. This is what is called sakiori - literally “tear and weave”. This links with the frugal Japanese notion of not wasting perfectly good things; in the case of fabrics, by giving them a second life through re-weaving and embraced by a word used from each person’s early childhood - “That’s mottainai” - That’s wasteful.

Sakiori cloths could clearly be used for table covers in the winter, for belts/obi, for carry bags and for clothing such as vests and aprons.

With quite some preparation in hand, we took fast trains to the north, continuing in local buses to specific places. Although the prime time of Spring, it was very cold, then sleet and snow. It was good that the weather was like this, to understand better the sakiori story and the reason for the use of bright colours in weaving.. . . vibrant colours for relief from the cold, snowy white.

Seeing the cloths torn into narrow strips, the winding of these into small balls called hesomaki, the weaving on traditional strap looms and the make-up of the cloths into useful articles was as good as I ever wanted. I could immediately purchase table runners, bags and purses, and have cushion orders underway - the Mingei Store House is a perfect place for this work and I will love working with these happy, inspiring people.

Connecting to the requirements for warm clothing in Japan’s north is the decorative stitch, kogin. I needed to see this in operation, having discovered it many years ago on the clothing of actors in Akira Kurosawa’s film, ‘Dreams’. It is a clever stitch, always horizontal, with the ability to wed layers of cloth together as reinforcement and hence make warm garments. Because of being a horizontal stitch, hundreds of patterns of diamonds have been produced over hundreds of years. Another train, another bus and another town away, revealed the weaving, dyeing, cutting of cloth, stitching and make up of goods. Kogin stitched goods are now in the Mingei Store House and again, we have delightful people to work with from now on.

NEWSLETTER #2 November 2012

  • <em>Sakiori</em>
  • Table Napkins (set of 6) $66
  • Hats from $55
  • Set of 4 cups $70
  • Scarves from $75
  • Sakiori purses from $28
  • Set of 2 cups $50
  • Set of 2 bowls $66

Mingei Store House is full of wonderful purses, bags, table napkins, runners, scarves, hats and shirts for summer, for Christmas!  Mary has been away again, visiting her dyer, weaver friends in the Japan Alps and in coastal villages and has since been busy getting everything in place in the Store House, Bungendore. There are some truly beautiful scarves from a master shibori dyer from Kyoto.

“I look for a Japan that can be hidden in the many folds of its culture and subcultures, hoping that this assists treasures to survive and flourish. I carefully choose each and every piece, be it a small coin purse or bolt of fabric, picturing it 'at home' in the warmth of the Store House.”

Sakiori, the weaving of spent cloth, is captivating me and I have quite a collection in the Store House... as runners, purses, table centres. There is a remarkable energy in these handmade articles made from fibres used by one person after another through decades.

Sandy has fired charming small pots, plates and bowls, beautifully boxed for easy gift-giving.




A story of Japan in June

Japan last week! A fleeting trip to the south of Japan is all Mary needs to be excited by her finds... and this time a planned meeting with an indigo peddler, the son of a former indigo merchant Mary had come across some years ago. Each time Mary is back in Japan it is working on the next weaves of traditional kasuri patterns, scurrying around villages in the nearby mountains or chasing a recent hint of a contact. “It is quite wonderful that in 12 hours you can be ensconced in another world, eating hot roasted chestnuts in a mountain village, with the sound of tumbling water, shimmering rice paddy fields and the gentle nature of my craftsmen friends.

The peddler was a special point for this trip... it was sheer luck that he was to be in the Kyoto area when Mary was there. His van is large so that he can sleep in it when travelling and fill it with treasures from weavers’ and dyers’ workshops all over the country. Lengths of bold indigo, kasuri off cuts from different studios, woven scarves from the elders of one particular family are packed into cardboard boxes.

“So obviously fresh from the indigo vat, fresh from the loom, you can easily see the cloths as cushions, table mats, jackets and shirts. The patterns are rarely repeated, they will last forever, they are impossible to resist.”

The tradition of indigo peddling dates back many centuries, a time honoured system of distribution to country farming families requiring the strong, useful indigo dyed cloth.

“I so love being part of this tradition and once again I am indebted to the places my life has taken me.”

Do come to the Mingei Store House soon, while stocks last. Boxes of cloths have just arrived and some will certainly be on display before they are made into jackets, shirts and more.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday from 10 - 5. 

New Ceramics

Also in June, Sandy Lockwood had a successful wood firing with a series of stunning cobalt blue and white mugs and bowls.

Serendipitously, at the same time Mary was working on a scarf that turned out to be the perfect partner for Sandy's ceramics.

Seasonal Events No. 1: Autumn


At the Provincial Pantry, Village Square, Malbon St, Bungendore

7pm Saturday 26 May 2012

Invitation to a special event including:

  • Talk and slides – Mingei Beginnings – Cotton and Clay by Mary Taguchi and Sandy Lockwood
  • Dinner and refreshments
  • Your Chun stoneware dinner bowl to take home

Limited number of tickets available, so book early: $60 per person
Reservations: phone: Mingei Store House 6238 1185 (Thurs - Sun, 10-5)

NOTE: Mingei Store House will remain open until 7 pm this day