Monday, October 26, 2015

Repurposing Vintage Objects into Something New

By Jeff Burns

They are as much a part of fall as football, pumpkins, and turning leaves: Fall Festivals.  Nearly every weekend, schools, churches, and communities host festivals, and craftspeople and vendors come from all over to sell their handiwork. 

If you are a fan of history like we are, you are probably a fan of old things and of repurposing old things.  Fall festivals are a great place to discover repurposed things, vintage objects transformed into something else for your home or something to wear, or things made to resemble vintage things. Here are a few things we’ve seen in our area festivals this fall.

I’ve previously blogged about my wife’s craft, Patchwork Revival. We find vintage fabrics and unfinished quilt tops and squares at estate sales and other places, and she makes them into placemats, potholders, table runners, teddy bears, and bags among other things.  At every festival and show, we run into people who have something started by a grandmother but never finished.  These are fabrics from the 1930s to the 1960s and even earlier.

Bottle trees fashioned from rebar. While it’s not necessarily repurposing, it’s an old idea.  Bottle trees or “haint” trees have been around for ages and have an interesting History. The idea is that old bottles are put on tree branches to frighten and trap evil spirits.

Another vendor offered angels made out of old hymnals.

Photo and poster reproductions become new home d├ęcor.

Colorful baskets made in the traditional Gullah/Geechee/Low Country style that was brought from Africa

Chimes made from vintage silverware and from old glass bottles

New cloche hats, 1920s flapper style

These are just a few of the great finds in my area. Go out and explore yours, and enjoy a few funnel cakes on the way!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Discovering All Things Japan at JapanFest Atlanta

By Margaret Duncan, Ed.D.
Domo (NHK Mascot)

“Youkoso Nihon E.” Welcome to Japan!

Maneki-neko (Lucky Charm)
Every year JapanFest takes place in the northern suburbs of Atlanta.  This is a great festival that allows visitors to learn about all things Japan, from history to anime to culture to cuisine.  At JapanFest, visitors can really get a close up look at Japanese culture by sampling authentic Japanese food, playing games, viewing martial arts demonstrations, attending traditional performances and workshops.  Attendees can also buy plenty of items from collectables to art to nick-knacks to food to Anime.  As a parent of girls who love Anime (Japanese animation) and all things associated with Japanese culture, attending JapanFest has been an activity we look forward to each and every year.

 Murata Boy Bicycling Robot                                                

At its core, JapanFest is all about improving the understanding and appreciation between the Japanese people and Americans.  As such, the festival is a two day celebration that promotes multicultural education.  Indeed there are a number of stages and workshops that show off various aspects of the Japanese culture.  During the weekend, I had a chance to learn about Sake in Sake 101, learn about making sushi, learn the different aspects of Japanese cuisine from an award winning chef, and sample quite a bit of Japanese food and drinks. 

In order to showcase a variety of performing arts, JapanFest has several stages that offer a number of performances and demonstrations.  Attendees can view a Taiko Brum show.  Taiko Brum is a broad range of Japanese percussion instruments played as an ensemble. We also watched a Samurai show—and even learned to be a Samurai at a boot camp.  The various stages also hosted an acrobatic top spinning, jazz guitar and J-Pop performances.  J-Pop is the mixing of traditional Japanese music with foreign pop and rock music.  It can also have heavy Anime ties. We also had the chance to traditional archery, try on traditional dress (kimono) and paint a Hakata (traditional Japanese clay) doll.

                          J-Pop Performer Junko Fujiyama         Jazz Guitarist Hiroya Tsukamoto
JapanFest has always had an anime element with vendors and a video room.  Initially, this is why we started attending the festival years ago.  However, this year the festival partnered with MomoCon, the fastest-growing anime convention in the country, to create an Anime Village. Within the village you could shop for all types of anime products, Japanese snacks and drinks.  Visitors could even play a variety of Japanese video games and/or participate in a number of cosplay events.  The Anime video room was expanded and not only offered a lot of anime to watch, but there was also trivia contests with giveaways. 

Re-Discover Japan Street & Celebration
The addition of the Anime Village allowed for visitors to be spread out over more area.  No doubt the festival was still congested in areas but it was manageable.  The village also allowed for new vendors in the exhibit hall.  New this year was a Re-Discover Japan Street.  This area allowed for several Japanese cities and traditional arts to be showcased. Overall, there was such a variety at the festival that there was plenty to do for all visitors, no matter the age or interest!