Thursday, 24 January 2008

Morning Haiku

Some time ago, when my sister was in the midst of editing her poetry anthology, she woke up one morning, picked up the notepad that lay next to her bed, and was overtaken by an irrepressable desire to write down the haiku that came bubbling out of her with no prior warning, almost as though she had the poetry equivalent of a magic porridge pot inside her. As the morning wore on my inbox filled up with more and more of these perfectly formed bite-sized three-line poems. Haiku, traditionally a Japanese form of poem, is written in three lines with a syllable count of five, seven and five, with a pause at the end of the first or second line. The Japanese would traditionally only have termed it haiku if the poem also contained a reference to the seasons...but English haiku writers seem to place less importance on this aspect and simply enjoy the cadence and the minimalism of the poetry form. My sister's haiku were something I quickly came to adore, rapidly compiling a Word document of them that I would open every now and then and pick over in the same way that I might a box of chocolates (i.e. meaning to only have one...but actually ending up gobbling most of them). But this Word document as haiku storage seemed all wrong. So for one of Laura's Christmas presents I thought that I would try and put them down in a form that did them a little more justice and so decided to have a go at creating a professionally-printed book of them.

I chose to lay the haiku on a background of two different Florence Broadhurst fabrics (an Australian fabric designer who is now deceased, but whose book I also bought Laura for Christmas, knowing that she had been coveting it), with the pattern muted for the box that would contain Laura's words. On the opposite page I, again, muted the fabric down on the whole page and in the central box put a picture that I felt reflected the feel or subject of the poem. The pictures took over a week of late evenings to compile, and then many I chose to photograph myself after failing to find everything that I needed on Google Images. The next week I spent rather frustratedly learning an awful lot about Fireworks, as Ian was so busy at work that he couldn't have helped continuously with all the image editing and page layout.

I was so pleased with the end result - the book was sent off for printing in Paris in the middle of their strikes, which led to a nail-biting wait, but thankfully it was delivered just in time. The pages are thick and the print quality is beautiful. Its only downside is that, as each spread is 16", it is virtually impossible to photograph the whole page and retain any visibility for what the actual words say. So I'll write a couple of my favourite ones here:

The picture above depicts a burnt cake being brought out of the oven (thank you Mama for helping me and allowing your front to be liberally sprinkled with flour that morning!) and here is the haiku that it is meant to reflect:

After a morning
Of aproned, floury effort:
One burnt offering.


And another...

Why is the moth dead?
She asks. Her parents flutter
Between truth and tears


And another...

She asks Grandad if
He was born with a moustache.
It seems who he is.


Do you remember?
He shakes his golden head and
Smiles at who he was.

He protects his side
Of the bathroom with cunning:
This is his empire.


No matter how old
The first sight of her means that
You're home and loved safe.

My favourite, which I intend to put up over my sewing table is one that my sister wrote for me:

She dreams of fabric
And patterns; at dawn she wakes
To stitch their childhood.


To go with all this I also wanted to make Laura something using Florence Broadhurst fabric. I had requested a sample some time ago, before realising that at £68 per metre I wasn't going to be able to afford to make anything with it...so after some initial disappointment I thought for a long time about what I might be able to create with the small sample of the precious fabric that I did possess (about 8"x8").....and eventually came up with a sunglasses case:

I bought a very cheap glasses case from SpecSavers and then removed the little metal bits that allow the pouch to be squeezed open and put them into my Florence Broadhurst version. On the side is a small suede tab...because I like to sew tabs on everything (run, Ian, run!!!)...within reason!

Anyway, I so loved doing this little project. I also loved looking through the Florence Broadhurst book with my sister at Christmas time and picking out our favourite fabrics. Unfortunately though, the story that went with the book suggested that Ms Broadhurst wasn't the easiest or most likeable of people...which very nearly put us right off the fabric as it's so hard to like something, even something beautiful, when you feel it hasn't come from a good place...so thank goodness that on further reading my sister discovered that actually, it's thought that Florence Broadhurst wasn't independently responsible for many of the designs and that she was more often credited with the work of her studio team. Ahhh, the relief!

18 comments:

  1. What an incredible gift. Incredible.

    I always knew I'd been cheated by having a brother instead of a sister.

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  2. What a perfectly wonderful present. And the glasses case was a brilliant addition. And I love the Haiku, especially the one for you!

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  3. A perfectly beautiful gift, I'd cry if I received something like that. And I see what you mean about gobbling the whole lot... stunning haiku. My eldest son and I communicated via haiku last year when he was going through a rough patch, very precious, I've kept them all.

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  4. The book is breathtaking. What a wonderful gift. I'm the same as Floss above, I would bawl if I got such a gift. I did something similar the first Christmas my husband and I were together. I took all our emails from our long-distance romance and put them in a book. It's much more amateurish, but it's meaningful. I'm sure your sister loved both gifts.

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  5. I am lost for words - what a truly gorgeous, thoughtful, wonderful gift, your lucky sister. I bet she cherishes it

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  6. Wow,I LOVE the book,what a great idea & so beautiful!Now I want to get my girls to write poems so we can put them into books like that...how darling!Also love the sunglass case...way cool!Renee

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  7. Florence, what a perfectly perfect present, just amazing, so beautiful. I wish I had a sister!

    I'm often in Sydney, I'll stop by Signature Prints and see if I can't grab some more Broadhurst for you!

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  8. What a fabulous book, such a wonderful present.

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  9. I would have most definitely burst into tears if I'd got something as beautiful for christmas. How lovely.

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  10. Hello
    This is wonderful and beautiful. It reminds me that somebody wrote a Haiko for me once .. i must dig it out. Thank you for that. Oh, your blog is very inspirational and cute.

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  11. What a lovely, lovely post. I am asstonished at the time, effort and love that you put into this gift. Lucky, lucky sister!

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  12. What an amazing gift and moving haiku too.

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  13. Just beautiful. I would too be in tears if someone made me something so lovely and from the heart. What a wonderful, wonderful gift.

    I love the Florence Broadhurst fabric. We have some beautiful wallpaper of hers that we bought in a moment of madness because we fell in love with it, but it arrive UNTRIMMED so the cost to have a specialist hang it is so prohibitive it is patiently waiting 'for our next house...' There's also a film about her life which I think is out on DVD now.

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  14. What a precious gift for your sister. You are so thoughtful. That glasses case turned out lovely, as well. Way to go with your ingenuity!

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  15. Such a beautiful gift.
    Love Alison x

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  16. Beautiful post and amazing gift Florence, I'm sure your sister was overwhelmed!

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  17. Wow - what a fabulous blog. I have only recently got into blogs when my mum showed me yours (more on that later). I have been a bit of a closet crafter (no idea why other than the fear of turning into my mother - oops shem ight read this). However, this page is an inspiration - I love making bracelets and necklaces out of old beads etc - and last night I made one, just a quick one, but very satisfying all the same. BTW - I LOVE the handbags - being not at all a closet handbag freak - that one is free to see for all that know me! This will definately be a regular read! Thanks

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x