Category Archives: indigo

things flow through

i have always liked figuring things out.  a production run is like a puzzle of sorts.
one must figure out and streamline the entire process.  thinking about such things as efficiency, energy, materials. the order of things.  and most importantly, the FLOW.  beautywood

the flow can refer to many things- the physical space in which i work-allowing me to move through my workspace without hinderance.  the flow of energy as i choose and mix the colors, prepare the silk, thinking several steps ahead of myself so as to maintain that flow.

the flow of work in and out of here as orders come and go, the flow of communication with all of those who email,comment,ask,etc..the flow of paperwork, money, and of course time.

but most of all i enjoy the process of transition. of taking something rather plain and mundane (although i can say that the miracle of the silkworm is anything but mundane!) and turning it into something else by hand.

so, lots of shibori ribbon being made here at the moment. if i have overlooked an email, been tardy in sending you something promised-please send me a little reminder nudge and accept a proforma mea culpa from me.  i appreciate your patience.

in all this busyness, i have quite forgotten to post here about the upcoming workshop with Richard!

speaking of flow. one also needs to refill the vessel and when Richard and I get together for a workshop that is part of the intention- to give you lots to wonder about- to get your flow going-or back into the flow.
good grief…in my mind i had done it!  but alas no- just on Facebook and constant contact. there are still a couple of spaces.  and several requests to Skype/broadcast the workshop which we will be accommodating as well (figuring this out now).  this workshop will combine itajime AND mandalas. you will learn both in the first two days.  on the third day you can work on whichever one (or both) is moving you-and get into your own flow.  patterns of time and space

of course we will be working on the process, the technique, of folding and dyeing and resisting-but also larger concepts of time and space in regards to patterns.  patterns are everywhere-in nature and in life.  sometimes you need to look at the bigger picture to see them.

-some of Richard’s recent work-it just keeps on getting better and better (of course). he recently completed his first continuous 10 meter cloth which is slated to be make into a summer yukata. now THAT’s impressive!
the amazing itajime of Richard Carbin

and just a reminder-  have a 2 day  indigo workshop coming up at the Japanese American National Museum Feb 1 & 2.  We will be working on shibori and indigo and creating a boro-esque indigo scarf from our bounty.  Call the Museum to register- 213.625.0414

じゃまた!

 

onward…

Some random pictures as I prepare for the show coming up.

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Pomegranate and indigo on various cloth -a new boro-esque scarf in the works

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remember those porcelain bits with edges softened by the sea? some wristlets in the shop.

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and one more finished and sent off…

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prepping fabrics and materials for the indigo workshop in Houston (booth 1620).

just a glimpse.
onward.

tiny shop update…

pincushion and thread

pincushion and thread

in the shop

and just a small collection of indigo and pomegranate dyed bits.  something for a small experiment.

for someone wanting to try something new.  all on old cloth.

pom and indigo set

pom and indigo set

available here

i am figuring out how to dye with these two separately and together.  and what kinds of cloth works best.

and everything else.  here is a piece of old silk – silk warp and bast weft.  this may be the most favorite thing i have ever dyed so far.  the silk floats in the jacquard pattern look like spun gold. there’s a bit of it in the fabric collection…but i had to keep a scrap for myself.

pom and indigo old silk

pom and indigo old silk

Indigo fermentation vat

So if you want to really talk sustainable here’s something for you.

Handmade lace from France -probably 70 to 75 years old.

Dyed of course in the indigo fermentation vat.
I wonder how many people in the US are using a fermentation vat year round.

Of course, indigo looks great any time even when it’s not trendy.

By the looks of what I see there, I’ll be looking forward to when the trend wears off and we can get down to real indigo.

 

doing nothing is harder than doing something

a place to rest your mind...a distant shore

a place to rest your mind…a distant shore

Letting things fall into place or even fall apart before taking action can be one of the most difficult things to do. I am in that situation at the moment-and so far have resisted action. I realize that what I can do or want to do to alter the situation likely won’t have the intended result. Wanting to “do” something is culturally ingrained in us it seems. At least then we can say we “did our best” or “tried”. It might shield us from criticism or guilt. A wait and see approach is not highly valued these days. We are penalized for seemingly “doing nothing”.

An interesting study regarding soccer titled “Action bias among elite soccer goalkeepers: The case of penalty kicks” explores the emotional reactions to action vs. inaction.

While that might seem somewhat offtrack here, I makes me think of the differences between “instant indigo” and the fermentation vat. The fermentation vat gives me time to process the next move. To wait and see. To build upon what previously was. A chemical vat can be zapped back into action quickly while the fermentation vat needs time. Time to wait and see…

So while I let things fall apart a bit, I’ll be “doing something” out at the vats.

weaving motifs into cloth (and life)

There are certain motifs that have always captured my attention.  Of course you know the moon is one of these motifs but the other two that captivate me are water and cloud imagery.  Who hasn’t laid back and watched the clouds move across the sky, felt the sun come and go across our skin…listened to the waves, a nearby stream, a roaring river or waterfall…seen the moon rise and fall?  I like that these motifs are universal and shared across the globe regardless of where or who you are.  It reminds me of life’s beauty, and our connectedness to each other. These things give me perspective.

I think this is why these nature based motifs have been given so much regard in design over time and space.  Often each motif is imbued with a special meaning or symbology. I enjoy studying all the meanings behind the motifs and the cultures which bestowed these interpretaions.

I recently was very taken with old silk which had these images woven into the design.  I purchased a couple of rolls of these silks from second hand shops recently with a few things in mind.  First, to study them and then to create something out of them.

japanese vintage silk damask -indigo dyed

japanese vintage silk damask -indigo dyed

Aside from the cloud and water motifs, this one has bamboo, maple leaves and what looks to be cherry blossoms.  Sort of covers it all!  Originally, this sort of fabric was used for nagajuban -the ankle length under kimono which used the softest and finest silks worn next to the skin.  The weight and design complexity of this silk suggests that it was to be used in a nagajuban worn for a very formal occasion. It has a beautiful hand and a lovely drape.

I saw moons in it of course…

silk moons for the supermoon

silk moons for the supermoon

flowers on the moon-indigo and silk

flowers on the moon-indigo and silk

I used a piece of this fabric for a nice indigo dyed scarf with diagonal ends and hand stitched hems- ombre dyed on one side. I think I will add an interesting bead to the two points…

indigo scarf

I finally completed a little shop update that includes the following items- enjoy! Most items ship free with any other item.  Now back to the studio to finish up a couple orders that need to go out asap!

the heron and the hummingbird

I was prompted to write this post as a reply to a recent comment on a previous post about my online indigo workshop “Let’s Dye with Indigo“. comments here.

The commenter was suggesting that I apply to teach my online indigo class at Craftsy. This is not the first time someone has suggested this to me.  Now I know that “everyone is doing it”, and before I get more emails asking  why I’m not, I thought I’d try to explain my hesitation to do so.

First, it’s not “all about the money”.  But then again, it is about the money too.   About where the money goes. I prefer it to come directly to me for the work I put into my classes.

Craftsy is great for those who don’t want to or can’t set up their own system of teaching online.  They do it for you.  And I hear they do a fine job of it.  They even do your hair and makeup and send a limo for you.  (Somehow, that just doesn’t feel like me being me.) I’ve seen some of the promos and they are pretty slick.  Again, that doesn’t really feel like me either.  I don’t want to turn my indigo dyeing teachings into something that resembles a morning talk program.  I kinda like it the way it is, personal,real, and kinda funky.  Shot here in my own studio on my trusty iphone and edited in imovie.  Not so slick.

Yes, I probably could sell a lot of classes there.  I might even make more money (but like I said before, it’s not all about the money). But then again I might not.  I have spent a considerable amount of time and even travel teaching, learning, practicing, marketing my own  work and “brand” over the past many years and I’m not so quick to turn that over to someone else to take a cut off the top.  I am not so interested in becoming a class in a category on a site offering everything from decorating cupcakes to pizza making and parenting. I guess I’m a little weird that way.

As I look over Craftsy, I see that since their beginning offerings in 2011 they have grown to encompass so many topics- a clearing house of sorts. They make their money by being that clearing house.  Online learning is here to stay.  That much is sure. Coursera is now booming and their offerings are free!

For some of us that have been at this, teaching craft (or whatever you want to call it) online, for longer than that, I believe we paved the way for this sort of thing. The first one I was aware of was Joggles, where I taught a couple of classes in the beginning as a requirement for having my ribbon sold on the site.  It was a fair trade in the beginning.  Later down the road, I wanted to offer more (was told that it was impossible to teach dyeing online!) and I wanted to include video so I went solo and started developing my own methods and means.  Part of my intention was that I knew there were many folks out there like myself who couldn’t afford the trips to take in-person workshops with great teachers.  Whether it was a time or money issue, I thought that teaching dyeing online was a possibility. I also didn’t want to be limited by geography. I wondered. Things were changing. Technology was offering up new possibilities. I just started doing it.  I learned as I went and I learned from and with others.

Susan Sorrell   stands out in my mind as someone who was in on the online teaching very early on. Maybe as early as 2002 from what I could see on her website! I think my own first online classes were somewhere around 2006.  And of course, we include the masterful Jude of Spiritcloth for bringing us classes online that feed our soul, make us wonder, and have helped us in so many ways-stitch by stitch- by just being herself. There are many more I am sure.  We each have created a small niche for ourselves that supports us and our families. We are not rich by conventional terms, but we are independent and we are entrepreneurial. We also want to be ourselves. I  want to own my own materials, my own copyright.  I like being able to add to my class whenever I like-as I learn and grow with the students. Once a Craftsy class is “in the can” it is what it is.

feathered friends by Peg Mathes Yates

feathered friends by Peg Mathes Yates

 

Immature Great Blue Heron looking for dinner ©2010 Peg Mathes Yates

Immature Great Blue Heron looking for dinner ©2010 Peg Mathes Yates

I am reminded of a retelling of a Native American myth that I once read called  “Heron and the Hummingbird” where the two get in a race to see who will own all of the fish in the rivers and lakes. The hummingbird loved to eat small minnows and the heron loved to eat large fish. I think we are the hummingbirds in the story.

I imagine that at some point down the road Craftsy might be bought by some media company larger than itself.  Seems that is how many of these sorts of startups go. Big fish swallowing up smaller fish -the way of the world these days.

I just hope that the future will still hold a place for hummingbirds to flit free and enjoy the nectar. Some days though, it does feel as if the odds are stacked against it. Once, when I was in Mexico, I saw a hummingbird laying dead near a large window. I went over and picked it up and to my surprise it started to move.  It sat there in my hand for a few minutes gathering itself together and then flew right out of my hand- off and away! It had merely been stunned I guess, running into that large window.

I’d never bet against the hummers out there. We’re colorful, we can take a few knocks, and we keep on zip-zipping around tasting nectar from here and there. Plus, as my friend Peg reminds me, hummingbirds can fly backwards! (thanks for the photos Peg!!)