Category Archives: inspiration

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!

 

silk shibori ribbon

Ahh….the first Monday of 2014!  And it starts off with a bang!

the original silk shibori ribbon

the original silk shibori ribbon

About my silk shibori ribbon-many folks are asking and wondering…

It was 2006 when I first started practicing and learning shibori techniques. Having closed my porcelain company of 30 years, I wanted a new challenge and a new product to make and sell. Something to continue to sustain me over the next many years. Something highly artistic, beautiful, creative, something that would excite and inspire others to make and create-I know how making can be so very strengthening both mentally and physically. I wanted to continue to be part of that but in another way.  I looked for a way.  After practicing the arashi shibori technique daily for about 6 months, I wondered.  I wondered if one could make ribbon with it.  I had never seen it done so I started searching the internet.  Nope!  Not one image or one mention anywhere that I could find.  I searched extensively.  Excited, I found a little bit of silk ribbon I had nearby and wanted to wrap it. Around what? Looking around me I grabbed a pencil.  Wrapping the ribbon around it my eyes scanned the room for something to wrap it with- some thread.  I ran downstairs ( I had been in the bedroom with my bathrobe still on) and went outside and poured some dye over it.  Steaming and drying it I opened it up- Shibori Ribbon was born-really way to small and thin and not all that beautiful.  But the beauty was in the eye of the beholder, me- and I could see all the glorious possibilities.  So it has been a long and interesting path.  Littered with miles of beautiful silk and more.

Special thanks to all those who have been teaching and using the ribbon in their classes not just this year but in all the past years since I first came up with this crazy idea. My special thanks goes to the much loved Sherry Serafini who has spread her inspiration and the shibori ribbon all over the world.  More thanks to the talented Melanie Dorman who passed on in 2012 and who introduced me to beaded needle weaving and embroidery while we sat back to back at our tables at the Pasadena Bead and Design show some years ago.  I was fascinated with her work and she with the ribbon. I think she was the first to see and show me its potential in regards to beaded embroidery work and designed several pieces and classes with it. I was saddened-even shocked, when I went to contact her about something last year and discovered her passing- a reminder…we are here only for the blink of an eye.   Adele Sciortino did her part with it in the doll world and introduced it to many doll makers. Art quilters found the ribbon at the quilt shows and put it to work in many inventive ways. It was a pleasure to have them come to the booth and tell me that their quilt entry with the shibori ribbon made it into the show.  Crazy quilter Julie Craig of Attic Heirlooms(no website) along with Judith Montano both saw the ribbons potential when I first introduced it at the shows 6 years ago. Kate Tracton (also a Shibori GIrl) found it and made some lovely necklaces with it and her handwoven focal beads. Jude’s words and musings and of course Wendy who keeps a little pile of the ribbons in her therapy room and adds her wisdom to it as she heals.  I could fill a whole page with such examples.  I thank you all. It is an exquisite privilege to have something I make be part of something you make or do.

Now, entering 2014 there are many, many folks out there enjoying the possibilities and wondering. There are many shops- both online and on the street selling my ribbon. There are two Authorized Etsy resellers of my ribbon who are putting it into the hands of many more creative folks-Michelle, who has been at it for several years now and Lisa who just discovered it late last year and doing a great job getting the word out.  This is putting the silk shibori ribbon in the hands of so many creative folks who are dreaming and wondering up so many possibilities.  I am overwhelmed!  I really couldn’t ask for more shibori love than that.

So it has been a good year and I look back at the slow and manageable uphill burn of the ribbon which makes life around here even possible. I intend as a result of the increasing demand for the ribbon, to be spending more time making the silk shibori ribbon than ever before. I like that it is also helping to support others who resell the ribbon as well as those using it to make things that they in turn sell.

I have been informed that there is someone copying the idea on etsy.  I have been approached by a very large company who wants to “blow it up” and eventually have it made in China.  No. It is true, there will be copyists- in it for the momentary buck or two.  But in the end I will still be here.  Know it.
One at a time and everyday- like I said in the beginning of this big adventure.

Now back to the poles. And speaking of poles, Keep warm out there friends.  I know some of you are withstanding record cold spells.  Janice just emailed me that it is -37 outside her studio in the woods right now.  Stand strong-and STAY WARM!

 

tides, moons, memories

going with the flow

Ahhh… my last post of the year.  I’m just going with the flow…

going with the flow in 2014

going with the flow in 2014

I sat down with a length of silk shibori ribbon some beads, a few pearls, a shell or two, some silk and before long a tide pool began to form…I just went with the flow.

Before long, an anemone appeared and a starfish crawled out from beneath some seaweed. The moon in the form of a shell (found on a walk along Hayama beach) turned the tides and the current swept sparkling bubbles of air along on the adventure. A bright star appeared reflected in the calm of one of the pools before waves washed over and changed the composition.  Seaweed grasses formed along the edge and swayed with the tidal surges altering my view of this seascape moment by moment.

I want to extend many thanks to so many people who traveled along with me this past year. From indigo and silk, to Japan and back, from show to show, over the internet via all the social networks and email, through workshops here and there, to the folks at the Japanese American National Museum- my, this list could get pretty long!  Through yards and yards of silk shibori ribbons I have come to know so many more of you and your myriad talents and passions. Thank you.

Of course there are friends whispering to me in the background like Jude and Dar, and Richard, and Donna, Velma and Wendy, and Kathleen in SF, Fumiko in Japan and so many more of you who put your whole self into this thing called life and making.

Of course I add to that gratitude thanks to Phil who puts up with the daily shibori report -speaking of going with the flow of things around here- and having to move shibori off the keyboards, the drums and the pan on a daily basis.  As I write this he and Trev are off surfing during his break from grad school.  And to the boys- thanks for being the people you are which allows me to be me and not worry (too much) about you as you find your way in life.
Believe we must-in ourselves and in others worth believing in.

So as the tide ebbs and rolls out on 2013, and 2014′s New Year’s tides surge and swell, I say- go with the flow- become part of it, let it carry you along, be swept away by your passions into a New Year of love, compassion and caring for our world and everything within it.

my what a proboscis!

Metamorphosis, transformation, balance, grace, and the ability to accept change. The monarch butterfly offers itself as a beautiful example of such ideas.  We have yet to know if the changes we humans are imposing on the world will end their beautiful illustration of these useful qualities.

You likely know that for the past few years I have been growing milkweed in the yard to tempt them into laying some eggs here.  Finally- this year, success!

monarch laying eggs on backyard milkweed!

monarch laying eggs on backyard milkweed!

on tattered wings...

on tattered wings…

this was in March..then, on June 21st (summer soltice!) I found these guys munching happily…

cat detail

cats munching on milkweed in yard

cats munching on milkweed in yard

Unfortunately, they ended up being overtaken by by other pests.  Some kind of orange bug. Even their friends the ladybugs couldn’t keep ahead of the deluge. But I am not daunted! Another spring awaits!

And in the meantime I went to Houston to do the show and teach and when I returned I had brought back a couple of friends-two to be exact.  They had been hanging out in the garden across the street from the Hilton. They were fine travelers.

one of two friends...

one of two friends…

By the next day the first one had exchanged his skin for a chrysalis and 24 hours later so had the second one.

monarch chrysalis

monarch chrysalis

I was in awe…such beauty to marvel at.  To observe…
The gold “beads” that developed intrigued. They were like real gold. More beautiful than any gold ever seen.  I wondered at their relevance (as if beauty needs relevance to exist).  I searched google trying to find an answer… almost glad not to find any real consensus.  Ahhh…beauty just because.

But reading that it took 10 -12 days for the butterfly to emerge I waited-the kitchen table once again the scene of discovery, science and nature observatory.  Finally, one morning I came into the kitchen and discovered that one of the two chrysalis’ had turned black! Horrors! What had I done?  I was a monarch killer.  I decided to go look it up online and see what had happened.
Delightfully, I read that this is what happens when they are about to emerge!  So for the next two mornings I dutifully watched the two beings emerge.  It was amazing, gorgeous, inspiring and riveting…soon, the chrysalis turned more papery and transparent and you could see through-

prior to emerging

prior to emerging

and then…

it begins

it begins

feet first!

feet first!

head down!

head down!

almost...

almost…

a monarch emerged!

a monarch emerged!

-kind of fat and wrinkly, all this from inside that small chrysalis.  Liquid in the plump abdomen gets pumped into the wings and they hang, dry, and rest.

my what a proboscis!

my what a proboscis!

So off to the backyard they went to finish resting, first one, then the other.  When they met it was nothing short of a joyous reuniting! (see the video for how exciting…)

we meet again

we meet again!

the full monty

the full monty

almost a full 4″ fully spread!  they played together a bit in the lemon tree where I draped a few blossoms from around the yard.  They were all excited when I placed the flowers near them and immediately they rushed toward them to nourish themselves.  It had been a very long trip…

Eventually, after about an hour they flew to the persimmon tree and one at a time after circling above they headed over the back fence and away.

I also did a short video of the emerging monarch-

Monarch habitats continue to be in decline significantly in parallel with the rapid adoption of glyphosate-tolerant corn and soybeans and, since 2006, the rapid expansion of corn and soy acreage to accommodate the production of biofuels (Brower et al, 2011a,b, Pleasants and Oberhauser, 2012 and Taylor, 2012). Additionally, roadside spraying of pesticides and herbicides impacts monarchs and their habitats.

What else can we do to improve monarch habitat? We need to change our mowing practices. Protect our roadside native vegetation. Stop spraying herbicides, and mow less frequently or not at all. Speak up and tell city officials that we do not want them to mow or spray, and pat them on the back when they listen. Ask local plant nurseries to carry milkweed and native plants that are pesticide-free. Volunteer on nature preserves and at city parks—encourage management to plant milkweed. Collect milkweed seeds. Monitor a milkweed patch. Educate the public—through school programs, talks at local libraries, displays at nature centers, articles in the newspaper or on radio—by any means we have at our disposal. Realize that no one person can do it alone, we all have to pitch in—and every one of us has a voice that is valuable. (from monarchwatch.org)

Alone, we cannot do much. but each of us in our small part can together do a lot. This year, I am devoting the back corner of the yard to milkweed.  And I’m planting more butterfly friendly plants.  I already have milkweed sprouting up everywhere in the yard.  (Once you start growing it, it just keeps on coming back…the seeds are windblown and prolific.) I even gathered some seeds from another type of milkweed when I was up north this year.  I wonder how they will do down here…

Want a job related to preserving and monitoring monarchs?

more info and a great interview regarding the current state of monarch population.

a video on monarch migration-

(having a little flu-induced down time and feeling a bit better today.  cleaning out some photos and writing a bit…back to it in a day or so me thinks…)

mata ne!

 

it seems as if

Is it?
I don’t know.

But I did finally finish this piece. I had to. Some things just can’t be left undone.

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can they?

He asked me if it was too late to send a thank you card.
I said “it’s never too late to say thank you. or to say I’m sorry-or I love you for that matter.” It’s really a gift to yourself.

Family new and old gathered ’round here these past few days. As far as I am concerned, whoever graces our table at Thanksgiving is added to the list of “family”. My “family” is really akin to a crazy quilt. Made by hand of the finest and scrappiest of materials. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

As far as this piece goes, it goes way back to 2007 when Karren Brito started a makiage challenge on flickr and I was learning discharge. It was just a practice piece. It resurfaced from time to time and I wondered about it here and there. At one point I decided to practice some quilting on it so I discharged some black seam binding with the arashi technique.
At some other point it resurfaced again and I started doing some hand stitching on it. Eventually, the binding and the quilted part were reunited and half the binding was stitched on. A couple of years ago it surfaced again and I started hand finishing the binding. This past summer it made it’s way into my Yosemite bag and I finished the binding.
Yesterday, I stitched on a couple of hangers to the back and cut a stick onto which to mount it. Finally. Done. Only took 5 years.

Seems I’m in this for the long haul.

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-and finally it makes it’s way next week to San Francisco. As a reminder. Of many things.

marking time

Seasons mark time like nothing else.  The visual signs all around us are unmistakable.

fall

persimmon

-the feel of the air in the morning and again in the evening. Sounds also turn the corner into fall.

And here at my desk I also must mark time.  The time that orders must ship, the time that show prep begins and materials must be sent off.  Schedules for next year are already filling in.  I do that as if I know how things will be when that time rolls around.  I laugh.  Ha!  What if?  We don’t know at all but here we are making plans.
The world seems so uncertain.

Just in case,  Richard and I are planning a new in-studio workshop (details coming), I’m planning dates for shows and other workshops in the new year.  And also a couple of trips are in the works.  I’ve been asked to coordinate two adventures in Japan next Spring. One is a private group of friends returning to the past in a way- sharing old memories and getting to know each other again in the present.  A reunion tour.  I hope to make it a very special time for all.
The other, is coordination of a short extension tour for Maggie Backman‘s Cross Culture Tour.  I have to say, when and if I get to be Maggie’s age, I hope I have her enthusiasm, energy and spunk.  This is an idea she has had for some time now.  It grew out of her love for sharing Japan, silk, and learning with others.  For quite a number of years now we have realized that while we are introducing gaijins (foreigners) to Japan through our own “Silk Road” via the Silk Study Tour to Japan, there were an equal number of Japanese who were interested in what we were doing.  And while Maggie was bringing in teachers from Japan to teach in the Silk Experience classroom at the Houston Quilt Festival and while Japanese visitors to the show were signing up for silk classes…she wondered…

-what if…? What if she organized a tour that combined US teachers and Japanese teachers and included both Japanese and American/foreign students in a bilingual workshop in Japan.  So here is what she has put together:

Cross Culture Tour to Japan

My job is to lead and coordinate the tour extension but I will also be around to lend a hand when needed during the workshop portion.  The US teachers are Katrina Walker and June Colburn.  Japanese instructors are Masako Wakayama and Noriko Endo.

So take a look and wonder…and imagine marking time between now and then.

working through nature

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After doing quite a bit of walking through nature recently, I found myself wanting to move more towards working through it.  After wondering about the possibility of weaving baskets with cattail (inspired by being away), my friend sent me a link that got me very excited.  So excited, that after wondering about it for a couple of days, I signed up!  This will be the first workshop I have attended as a student.

Julia Parker, 85,  leads the 3 day workshop along with her  daughter and granddaughter. I understand there are still spots available.

“Take from the earth and
give back to the earth, and don’t forget to say please and thank you. It is the fiber and not the weaver who makes a beautiful basket.” ~Julia Parker

(The currently expanding Rim Fire in Yosemite is far away from the workshop location and park and fire officials are hopeful that life and structures will be spared.)

In preparation, I am studying a bit on the following topics: Yosemite Valley basketry, Paiute and Miwok people, among other things. I found a copy of Earth Basketry on my paperbackswap.com account and it should be here soon. I also ordered a used copy of Tending the Wild online and will add that to the study list.

I have been fascinated with California’s indigenous people for a while now. Every trip up and down the coast adds new understanding.  I have only scratched the surface but hope this workshop will add depth and more understanding.

The exact location where we stay in Mariposa was a summering home of local Miwok as noted in many historical documents as well as evidenced by the abundant granite mortar holes nearby (used as acorn grinding sites).  I have blogged about that before…here in 2007. I have spent many summers wondering about them and their lives, in this place.

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So it’s back north at the end of September for a short stay.  This means that much work must get done in the meantime since the Houston Quilt Festival is looming.  One of my two workshops is filled- the other only had two spots left as of last week (#708 Indigo in the 21st Century).  However, there are 5 spots left in the two day workshop upcoming at the Japanese American National Museum August 31 -Sept.1.  Contact the JANM to register for this workshop.

 

 

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.