Turku Castle

Viking-style beads in the Turku Castle gift shop

Viking-style beads in the Turku Castle gift shop

In my previous post I shared a bit about Blingi beads, along with beads from Turku Castle’s gift shop.  I thought I’d share a bit more from Turku Castle with you.

Beads

I found the beads mostly interesting because I am hoping to put together a Viking-inspired costume, and have been doing some research for it.  While obviously these are contemporary beads, I hope that they are well-researched in terms of authenticity.  I’ll have more to post about Viking-era accessories in an upcoming post.

Turtle broaches

Along with the beads, the gift shop also had round-style ‘turtle’ broaches worn on Viking woman’s aprons along with the beads.  These were really nice, but for 41 Euros each, a little too expensive for me for this upcoming costume.

Along with the historical-style jewelry items, the gift shop also had  the expected books and postcards, along with medieval-style tapestry items like table runners and pillow cases, pendants, key chains, wrought iron handicrafts, kid’s dress-up costumes (for little mini knights and princesses) and other nicknacks.

Viking-style round broaches at the gift shop in the Turku Castle

Viking-style round broaches at the gift shop in the Turku Castle

Of course, I couldn’t share a post about the Castle without a photo or two of the castle too, right?

The castle

Small display model of the Castle and the courtyard.

Small display model of the Castle and the courtyard.

The courtyard buildings all have brown roofs, while the castle buildings have green roofs.  In the courtyard buildings was the gift shop and some museum areas, though when we were there, the museum was in the middle of developing a display which we didn’t get to see.  The garden around the castle was also a lot more lush and pretty than what the model would suggest!

Exterior of the main entrance to the castle courtyard

Exterior of the main entrance to the castle courtyard

Approaching the courtyard the doorway looks terribly small compared to the size of the building.  It leads to a fairly long tunnel leading into the courtyard, and from there the castle itself.

From the castle website: “The Turku Castle is a cultural historical tourist attraction that is over 700 years old. The Castle has a museum, which demonstrates the history of the Turku region from prehistory to present day with its frequent exhibitions, events and furnished style rooms.”

From inside the castle courtyard looking towards the castle entrance

From inside the castle courtyard looking towards the castle entrance

Once through the tunnel and into the courtyard, the castle looms ahead. Unfortunately, it’s at this point where anyone with restricted mobility might face a struggle, as the door isn’t the door right in the centre, but rather the entrance is on either side, up a set of stairs, followed by more stairs to a room to the left on this picture.  There is an elevator inside the castle (it looked as though it might be used for deliveries since the castle offers event hosting, but I didn’t see an entrance for those with restricted mobility).

The castle offers a tour, though we did self-guided, following signage with arrows indicating where to go. Unfortunately in some cases doors were closed (and later when I explored on my own, they were open..) and it wasn’t always clear where to go to get the best effectiveness out of the visit. We were in a bit of a hurry too which also didn’t help a lot with seeing as much as we good and really appreciating our visit.  Still, it was quite a walk, with loads of (mostly even, thank goodness) stairs seeing everything including a jail, a nun’s chapel, a ladies drawing room, the King’s hall, and a large chapel with a lovely organ.

I’ll have more to share from the castle soon!

Turku Castle
Slottsgatan 80
20100 Turku, Finland
+358 2 2620300
turku.fi‎

Blingi Beads

While in Turku, Finland there were a number of shops near our hotel selling beads, yarn, and sewing notions.  One was right outside our hotel courtyard, and was Blingi, a tiny little bead store with a lovely selection of ready-made beaded fashion jewelry and loose beads.  The shop also had a very large (considering the size of the shop) of findings.

Blingi Beads

Blingi Beads – yes, the prices were both in Euro and kpl, which I can only assume is the neighboring Swedish krona.

Unfortunately, nothing really leaped out at me saying “buy me! buy me! I’m small and easily packable!”. Instead, a lot of the beads that I really liked were similar to ones I had already purchased, and after making SO many blingy necklaces lately, I had to restrain myself from picking up more of the same things I had loved before (and still love).

The beads seemed reasonably priced, and very nicely displayed – many in easy-to-shop trays as shown above, but also in the window in the pretty martini and cocktail glasses like in the photo below.

Blingi Beads

Blingi Beads

Helmikauppa Blingi
Yliopistonkatu 12 A
20100 Turku, Finland
+358 44 2142008
blingi.fi‎ (Only in Finnish)

…and a yarn shop

Additionally, I popped into a knitting yarn shop (Käsityö-Elisa Ky) around the corner from where we were staying – they had a lovely selection of pretty yarns, and I kept fingering a gorgeous silk blend yarn that I really loved… If only my knitting skills were keen enough for me to justify picking up a few balls with the plan of a simple tank top or something.. but as I’m still working on mastering “scarves” within a reasonable time frame, (and by reasonable, I mean that I still have six balls of yarn on my coffee table waiting to be worked up… not to mention the balls I have stashed in other places around the house) I figured even the prettiest silk balls of yarn should remain on their shelves.

Käsityö-Elisa Ky
Brahegatan 5
20100 Turku, Finland
+358 2 2318327
kasityoelisa.fi (website only in Finnish, though they mention that customer service is available in English.)

… and ribbons

A little further away was a cute shop that I had thought would be a ribbon and buttons shop, but it was much more ribbons and a few sewing notions along with a few (not terribly inspiring) buttons which didn’t really set off my inspiration, and so again my wallet went unopened and the Euros remained in my purse.

Muoti-Nappi Oy
Eriksgatan 8, 20100 Åbo, Finland ‎
+358 2 2316074 ‎

… and crafts!

On our way to the train station to head from Turku to Helsinki we also popped into a small craft store (Presento), but I didn’t spend long in there – I was looking for Finland-themed scrapbook paper but they didn’t have anything that was distinctly Finnish, although they had a fair amount of selection.  The store was two-stories tall, though I only visited the main floor because we were in a hurry to get to the train station.

Askartelupuoti Presento
Kauppiaskatu 13
20100 Turku, Finland
+358 10 3201720
presento.fi (only in Finnish)

We also popped into a dollar-store kind of store which had a small craft selection (including some tempting wool for felting) but again, my wallet stayed closed, as we were really just looking for scrapbook paper!

Viking beads in Turku Castle

In the Turku Castle gift shop there was a neat display of beads for sale in the style of viking beads.  I have a number of similar beads (largely trade beads) so I didn’t feel too tempted to pick any up for my upcoming viking costume. (check out posts from the Garb from a Thousand Lakes category for more information on that)

Viking-style beads in the Turku Castle gift shop

Viking-style beads in the Turku Castle gift shop

Although I didn’t get any, I thought it was neat to photograph and share. I’ll have a few other photos from the castle in future posts, but if you’re interested in seeing more of the castle itself, check out my other blogs. I’m blogging about music and travel on Throwing Horns Abroad and about the culinary experiences on Happy Sushi Belly.

Turku Castle
Linnankatu 80
P.O. Box 286, 20101 Turku
Tel. +358 2 262 0300

Aboa Vetus’ ancient beads

Finally on the bead front, I thought I’d share these glass, bone, and amber beads from the Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova museum in Turku.  This is one part museum, and one part contemporary art museum/gallery.  On the gallery side I wasn’t personally overly impressed – there were a few interesting pieces, but there was a lot of video work as well which didn’t appeal to me very much.  Still, the building was amazing; a former home owned by a cigarette and shipping business owner, and very grand.

The museum side instead was pretty amazing – it was the unearthed remains of an ancient town, long buried, near the Aura River right below the site.

From their website: “Aboa Vetus is an underground area of ruins, where the genuine constructions tell the history of the oldest city in Finland.”

Beads in the Turku museum

Beads in the Turku museum

The photo above is from one of the display cabinets around the ruins, showing beads from 1200-1600 AD that were unearthed from the area.

Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova
Östra Strandgatan 4-6
20700 Turku, Finland
+358 20 7181640
aboavetusarsnova.fi

If you’re interested in seeing any of my other Finland experiences, check out the Finland tag link, where I still have a few things to share!

Raku tea bowls

In my previous post I talked about the Open House at Fairview pottery Studios, and the raku demonstration. Something I thought was really cool; they were giving away the completed raku bowls to those of us who came for the Open House! The tea bowls are fairly porous, so they can’t really be used for food/drink. Also, the glazes that the potters use may have heavy metals in them, so that’s another reason these shouldn’t be used for food.

Wide Raku tea bowl with copper inside

Wide Raku tea bowl with copper inside

Still, they’re really pretty! These two (a wide bowl with a copper interior, and a matte multi-coloured bowl) were completed on June 8, 2013.

Wide Raku tea bowl with copper inside

Wide Raku tea bowl with copper inside

Wide Raku tea bowl with copper inside

Wide Raku tea bowl with copper inside

On a nice overcast day, between rain showers, I popped into my backyard and took some photos of the pretty bowls!

Wide Raku tea bowl with copper inside

Wide Raku tea bowl with copper inside

Below is the second bowl, this one has multi-coloured metallic glaze across the whole surface inside and out, and has a matte finish where the other bowl has a glossy finish.

Matte multicoloured raku tea bowl

Matte multicoloured raku tea bowl

Matte multicoloured raku tea bowl

Matte multicoloured raku tea bowl

Matte multicoloured raku tea bowl

Matte multicoloured raku tea bowl

Pottery Studio Open House

Back in June I was invited to an Open House at the Fairview pottery Studio.  There were several potters around working on their projects; weighing their clay, throwing it on the wheel, setting it aside to dry to the first stage, scraped, smoothed, and thinned before firing.  We also saw their set up for glazing and painting, the electric kilns, and racks of greenware waiting to be fired.  They also had a display of pottery available for purchase, and a raku demonstration.

Raku demonstration at Fairview Studios

Raku demonstration at Fairview Studios

The potters had already created the bowls before we arrived, and had put them in the outdoor propane-fueled kiln.  We ended up going away for an hour or so to do some shopping, and came back in time for the bowls to come out of the kiln.  From there the potters pulled out a metal garbage can, donned special gloves and got enormous tools to pull the bowls out of the kiln one by one, and put them in the can, alternating with newspaper. “The combustible material results in smoke, which stains the unglazed portions of the pottery black.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raku_ware

Raku demonstration at Fairview Studios

Raku demonstration at Fairview Studios

There was a lot of fire and smoke coming out of the garbage can, so the studio shut the doors so that the studio wouldn’t be filled with smoke. You couldn’t do this during the work week with lots of neighbors!

Raku demonstration at Fairview Studios

Raku demonstration at Fairview Studios

After smoking the pottery, the potters pulled out the bowls one by one, and put them in a large container of water. The water quickly cools the bowls – but the special clay for raku can tolerate the quick change of temperature.  From there the potters started cleaning off the soot, and the beautiful bowls emerged.

… which I’ll show you in my next post!

Helsinki fabric shopping

I mentioned in a previous post that I recently visited Finland, and I wanted to share with you one of my fabric experiences while in the country.

I had the chance to visit a few small places in downtown Turku, but it was the huge Eurokangas store in downtown Helsinki that really got my creative juices flowing. Approaching the shop I mentioned to my travel companion that “oops, I forgot to bring my backpack” so I didn’t have a bag in case I bought very much.  I then went on to say that I didn’t imagine I’d be buying too much – thinking of just a piece of quilting fabric like I had bought when I was in Hawaii back in February.  I didn’t anticipate spending much time in the shop either, since we still had two other places to walk to on our itinerary during the day.

When we entered the shop, my companion said something along the lines of ‘I think we’re going to be here a while…’

Eurokangas fabric store in Helsinki

Eurokangas fabric store in Helsinki – one corner of the store with bridal and fancy fabrics.

The first notable thing about the shop is how large and bright and open it is – for a downtown location this seemed extraordinary! (I only hope for the sake of the silks that the windows are UV protected!) We approached from the main street and had to enter a hallway and go up the escalator, but there was also a street-level side entrance from the looks of things. We also entered directly into the bridal/fancies department, where there were large tables with rolls of satins, silks, laces, and sequined fabrics attractively arranged by colour.

Eurokangas fabric store in Helsinki

Eurokangas fabric store in Helsinki – looking from the fancies area into the sportswear section.

The English side of their website is pretty sparse, so visit the Finnish side of their site at http://www.eurokangas.fi/ for a bit more content… if you can read Finnish that is!

Eurokangas fabric store in Helsinki

Eurokangas fabric store in Helsinki – just some of the plaid and suiting fabrics

Erokangas is a family-owned company founded in 1991. According to their website, they are the largest chain retail outlet for fabrics in Finland, and they also import fabrics for Finnish customers. The website goes on to share that the company has 32 shops in Finland, though one of the two Helsinki locations is the largest. The chain also has two stores in the nearby city of Espoo, two in Vantaa where the Helsinki airport is, and two in Tampere. There is also one location each in Turku and Savonlinna, two of the cities/towns we visited – though we didn’t get to their locations in those areas. There are also locations in other towns and cities throughout Finland.  (Looking for locations? Check this page: http://www.eurokangas.fi/myymalat – it’s easy enough to read although in Finnish.)

Eurokangas fabric store in Helsinki

Eurokangas fabric store in Helsinki – really neat displays

Another thing that I LOVED about the store was their displays. Most fabric stores have clothing displays showcasing the fabrics and offering inspiration for home sewers – usually the store clerks sew up the items, or in large chains they are made off-site in bulk and sent out to the shops as part of the display materials. In Eurokangas, the ‘clothing’ being displayed wasn’t sewn at all… rather it was plain yardage, artfully folded, bound, tied, and pinned to resemble clothing.

In the photo above, the black and white zig-zag skirt has a folded waistband, and then the band is just pinned to the fabric of the “skirt”.  The mod black and white dress has folded tucks for bust darts, and the halter-style dress with the pleated leopard skirt and the tie front black and white striped panel is actually a trompe-l’œil effect created with a printed fabric panel.

Eurokangas fabric store in Helsinki

Eurokangas fabric store in Helsinki – the trompe-l’œil ‘dress’

Here’s a closer photo of the  trompe-l’œil ‘dress’. It was interesting to see it from further away, up close, and then see the yardage on the roll as well.

Below are two other examples of the draped fabric displays, each made only by pinning, folding, tying, or otherwise manipulating flat fabric.  It reminded me a lot of fabric oragami (which reminded me a bit of Pattern Magic and Pattern Magic 2).

Eurokangas fabric store in Helsinki

Eurokangas fabric store in Helsinki

Eurokangas isn’t a discount shop by any means (like Dressew in Vancouver) or an exclusively super-high end shop (like Estee’s in Edmonton); instead there is a wide range of fabric options.  While the majority of the bridal and fancies are higher-end fabrics (I fell quickly in and out of love with some 69 Euro/metre heavy grey lace) there are also lower cost alternatives mixed in.  In the sportswear I picked up some gorgeous silk jersey (at 23.90 Euro/meter along with some super cute printed rayon jersey for 3.90 Euro/meter.

There is also a substantial home decor section, with all of the kinds of home decor fabrics you’d expect, and also a fairly wide range of kid-friendly prints, and some very Marimekko-influenced bold, colourful, simple prints.  (Maybe they are Marimekko fabrics? I never checked the lable.)  They also had a VERY small selection of yarn for knitting, and a small selection of notions which I didn’t look at too much – the selection at first glance wasn’t intriguing enough to keep me away from the fabric.

They didn’t have very much to offer in the quilting section (mostly Amy Butler – which I love, but can reasonably easily get at home) but then did have an awesome ‘per kilogram’ bin section.  In there were loads of amazing fabrics.  Apparently some of them are  designer & industry remnants – which I can see because after going the first time, I think I saw two of the fabrics that caught my eye when I was out and about on the streets of Helsinki.

Eurokangas fabric store in Helsinki

Silk Jersey label from Eurokangas

First time?

The first time I went, when I had two other places to go that day, I picked up some of the silk jersey and some of the floral (black, white, yellow and a slight silver) print rayon jersey.  I kept thinking about the silk jersey though – I’ve never been able to find it locally so I really was quite smitten with it despite the hefty price tag.  I knew that because it was silk, that it would take dye beautifully, and silk is such a gorgeous fabric to wear.

On my last day in Helsinki, I headed back to Eurokangas, and picked up more of the silk jersey, and then found the floral jersey as well in other colour ways.  I first went for the purple, and then found a red, black, and white print (with a slight silver outline) instead and got a few meters of that.

On my second trip I also headed to the bins of fabric by the kilogram, and found a piece of black and grey swimwear that I really liked as well.  Apparently you can get these fabric pieces as-is, or have them cut to the length you need.  (Which is awesome – usually these pieces are only sold as-is locally.)  The sales people were very precise in cutting the fabric, and they have a computerized system which prints out not only how much fabric you bought and what it cost, but also prints out the care instructions and contents. (All in Finnish of course!) I love this! I took these photos of the fabric labels before the fabric was cut, not knowing they would be printing something out for me, but this is a fantastic system that I really would like to see adopted by chain fabric stores (erm.. Ok. store, the only one left here is Fabricland) here at home.

Eurokangas fabric store in Helsinki

Not the greatest photo, but the label from the floral printed jersey

If you’re interested in seeing any of my other Finland experiences, check out the Finland tag link, where I still have a few things to share! I’m also blogging about music and travel on Throwing Horns Abroad and about the culinary experiences on Happy Sushi Belly.  I wasn’t able to find many other bloggers writing about Eurokangas, (in English at least!) but a Cosplayer shared an experience here.  There are a few posts with photos of dresses made from fabric from the shop on For Those Who Love Dresses, and The Selfish Seamstress also visited Eurokangas after a meeting. She has some great shop photos, a few fabric purchase photos, and a few comments about Marimekko as well (which I mentioned in a previous post).