Sunday, June 1, 2008

Breast Friends Ravelry Raffle, Part Deux and Cottage Industry in Japan

Jenny Hurth makes bags. Really cool bags. Bags that are so cool they are eco-friendly, too. 
Might I add that Jenny herself is very cool... and I'm not just saying that because she donated a bag for the Ravelry Raffle, I swear...

Last Friday I had the pleasure of visiting Jenny in her studio and got to check out the goods. (and yes, I bought myself a bag, too.) If you haven't seen her website (, her bags are made from used vinyl signs and banners that... you guessed it... would otherwise end up in a land fill somewhere. They are PERFECT for knitting bags or beach bags or whenever bags. They come in all different sizes, colors, and designs, depending, of course, on the banners she gets. 

This all got me thinking about my trip to Japan last October. Hubby and I spent a day doing our shopping in Kyoto, in and around the Gion district. The Gion is chock full of small specialty stores as well as HUGE department stores such as Takashimaya (that carry EVERYTHING including ready-made food packages for gifting- the photo shows plastic ones on display; the
 movie shows the liveliness of the lower floor of a typical Japanese department store with the vendors LOUDLY hawking their wares.)

But I'm not blogging about big biz. I'm blogging about small biz. We came upon many small
 shops of craftspeople making beautiful handbags out of old kimono fabric, or gorgeous glazed pottery, or specialty rice crackers (senbei.) My favorite was a tiny shop on an alley leading to Kiyomizu-dera. It was seriously tiny with a low ceiling, but it was tidy and well-lit. She was selling all thing clay and Jizo (the bodhisattva who watches over the children who have passed before their parents.) She had Jizo figurines ranging from tiny to large-sized, teacups with Jizo painted on them, charms with him, plates with him. They were beautiful, and simple, and well-priced, and I still regret not buying more. (I did buy this one; I love him so. He's shown in his little sake cup shrine, also purchased from a small shop on an alley in Kyoto.

I wonder how there were so many craftspeople selling their wares in their own spaces. Is there government subsidizing of craft? Is it only traditional crafts that are subsidized, if that is the case? WHY CAN'T WE DO THIS HERE?

I feel very strongly about supporting the crafts, and, in particular, our local craftspeople. I am a big fan of Etsy, but it was so cool to be able to drive one town over and visit Jenny, a REAL craftsperson in her studio. 

They are there. Go out there. Find them. AND BUY STUFF FROM THEM! OK, that's the end of my PSA. Here's the bag Jenny donated for the raffle. I chose one with the GG Bridge since, well, it's local... It's a good sized bag with a zipper pocket inside- perfect for crafty folk and parental units alike. See this recent post for info on how to donate and enter the raffle.

1 comment:

Jeannie said...

Dang!! Your video made my hankerin' for a Japan trip well up like a flash flood! I wanna go sooo bad!!!

Also, I checked out Jenny Hurth's site and I have decided I absolutely need a door curtian. I'll have to patiently wait until she is able to ship them. :)