As part of my day job, I chair a scholarly organisation of academics working with critical or alternative ideas about management and organising, SCOS, which stands for Standing Conference on Organisational Symbolism. I am currently SCOSBoss. This weekend was our Spring board meeting, and because the conference will be held in Utrecht in July 2014 we went on a visit to the university where it will be held for a look round. It’s a really lovely place, a bit like Amsterdam but less busy and frantic. I’ve always found Amsterdam a bit febrile, but Utrecht is much more relaxed, and half an hour from Schiphol by train.
Obviously there was serious business to be done, but our hosts arranged a walking tour of the city after the board meeting. And naturally, as we were appreciating the Roman origins and the havoc caused by the Reformation and the various invading armies that this part of the Netherlands experienced, I was on the look out for shops. There are two canals in Utrecht and one of them has a wonderful art shop, a bead shop and – of course – a quilting shop.
The quilt shop which is called Carol Cox is really lovely. She seems to specialise in Japanese fabric and in gently faded colourways.
I particularly liked the way that she had some quite small scale pieces of patchwork framed as little works of art rather than turned into wall hangings. I think this gives patchwork the dignity it deserves.
I bought some really exquisite Japanese fabric which has pattern on the reverse made by the weave:
And here are the fabrics in the same order on the reverse:
I alos bought some fat quarters of a genuine Dutch fabric, a dress weight version of a reproduction chintz which I loved for the design and the sheen, but also the subtle colours:
As ever, I could have spent an absolute fortune. There was a hitch with my mastercard not being acceptable, so while I was digging around for the euros the lady who served me, who might have been Carol herself, gave me a lovely piece of very pale blue fine linen as a free gift. I thought that was a lovely gesture.
I couldn’t resist this book which is in Dutch but has great pictures:
It has a slightly different edge to textiles than you get in British collections, and I reasoned to myself that it wasn’t likely that I would come across it again, so I had better grab it while I saw it.
By the way, be careful if you decide to google Carol Cox. There is a very enthusiastic amateur pornographer of the same name and you might not end up on the site you were expecting.
On the way back to the hotel I went into a wonderful art supply shop. It had the full range of my current favourite Posca pens, and this lovely display of powdered pigment, plus the glass pestles to mix them with oil.
After that was the bead shop which had the beads in printers’ trays in chests of drawers:
Utrecht also seems to be a home for yarnbombers, and this is one of the most extensive ones I have ever seen:
It turned out to be a sort of advertising installation for a children’s shop over the bridge, but it was one of the more visually appealing yarn bombs I’ve come across.
Finally, at the airport I bought a copy of this magazine, again in Dutch, but for paper lovers, it was a real treat:
I would definitely buy it in a British edition.
There is a nice website and blog for this publication, but I couldn’t see if you can get an English version.