Category Archives: itajime

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!

 

the wondering wall

as soon as the taxes are finished, i can get back to wondering.  and dyeing. it’s has been quite busy here as of late but a shop update is on the horizon! mostly ribbon to start out with but also some lovely old whites.  Jude is also busy wondering in white. I’m going to go there for a bit too. But my wonderings usually end up turning blue.

cranes in the moon-indigo on silk

cranes in the moon-indigo on silk

In Japan, cranes have long been associated with longevity and good fortune. Often a wedding kimono will have cranes incorporated into the design.  This old silk with jacquard crane imagery had me wondering if combining it with a moon might enhance its loveliness.  The moon has long been associated with beauty and the appreciation of beauty in Japan.  I think it makes a handsome pairing.

double arashi

some wondering about more shibori texture.  more of this soon.

first indigo

and the indigo has had its first haircut which has been dried and stored!  these plants volunteered themselves by self sowing.

itajime on silk

and some old silk kimono linings had me practicing my itajime with the fermentation vat

which is really liking spring!

mokume wondering

from the fermentation vat. i’ve been working almost exclusively with it since the beginning of the year.

the chem vat  is off in a corner. i wonder if i will ever use it again?

on my table

and… i’m going to saturday school to practice my Japanese (hence the old かな cards).  this old doll came out of the cupboard to help me design a piece for my friend Donna’s line of mannequins. it all looked interesting lying on the table soI snapped this shot for fun.

that’s it for now- back to finishing up the taxes.  need to get them in asap so my son can figure out if he can get the appropriate mix of financial aid and scholarship funds so he can accept his graduate school acceptance offer from ………

…the San Francisco Conservatory of Music!  (so proud of him….congrats Trev!) cross your fingers for him…it’s an honor and a really big deal. If he can swing it, he will be studying under Jack Van Geem and David Herbert the principal percussionist and principal timpanist of the San Francisco Symphony. He’s making his dreams come true through hard work, persistance and practice.

ad free…again

you may or may not know this.  but having a free WP blog comes with costs.  there are lots of upgrades one can purchase to keep your blog running the way YOU want it to.  one of those things is the “ad free” upgrade.  i will gladly keep paying the $30 a year to keep ads off my blog.  so today, I hereby devote the next $30 of income from selling my shibori and indigo work to WordPress to keep this blog ad free.

Yippee!!  ad free- it’s just so much nicer this way.

indigo silk scarf

this is the last of this roll of narrow width silk i brought back from Japan last time. it is so lightweight and loves the indigo.  i don’t get too fancy with it as it’s delicacy speaks for itself.  it will be in the shop.

and Richard will be here soon.  we still have 2 spots left so if you are feeling inclined to join us on a whim pop over to the shop and sign up.  we will be having a couple of trunk shows as well.  the first one being private for those in the workshop and the second one will be open (will announce this on the Facebook studio page too since many locals watch that daily and it’s bound to be quick and last minute.  make sure you *like* the page so it shows up in your stream…).   we will also be doing some of what we did last time- selling some of the collaborative pieces online in the shop so if you are not a local you can still join in on some of it.  he’s also bringing over some special vintage items.  can’t wait!

mon 紋 もん

itajime mon indigo

mon are emblems used in Japan to identify groups or individuals.  also know as Japanese crests, Wikipedia states that mon

may have originated as fabric patterns to be used on clothes in order to distinguish individuals or signify membership in a specific clan or organization.

some indigo itajime pieces i have been working on remind me of these mon.  perhaps a shibori no ai mon 藍搾り纹 is in order. will be wondering more about this.  i think they would make nice pillows…

these pieces are an outgrowth of what i have learned from Richard, who is due to be here shortly.  we will have some more time together, standing on common ground, and under the same moon.  we have 2 spots still open if you are in the neighborhood…

meanwhile, Susan over at ito de has been incorporating thoughts of kanji into her work.  lots of good posts over there.

Online Silk Shibori Techniques workshop

I thought I would remind folks newly interested in learning shibori techniques that my original online shibori techniques workshop is still available in my online bigcartel shop.  It has been there for over a year now  since I originally posted it- many have taken it.  After the first initial run of the class I reworked it into a self-study class for a very fair price of $25 (that’s $5 per lesson!).

Here is the intro to my online shibori workshop:

The beauty of shibori is that it was created in a much simpler time, yet resulted in some stupendous fabric designs and possibilities. It was created out of ingenuity and a desire to have decorative fabrics for the masses. You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to make yourself some basic shibori fabrics. In fact, most of what you need can probably be found in your kitchen, your garage or just hanging around the house.

As an anniversary of sorts, I am going to include a 20 minute skype call with the purchase of this class through the end of October.  You can use this call for a review of your work at the end of the class, for one-on-one help on a particular technique, or just to chat.

It’s always a pleasure to encourage creativity and wonder through shibori. Shibori is good for that. It encourages problem solving and original thought-I think that is what drew me to it in the first place and has continued my interest. I am also going to go on into the class and update a few things, perhaps add a little here and there as well.  It’s been a while since I checked in over there.

As always, the online class is always there for you regardless of timezone and time of day. No commuting necessary.  There for you when you are there and ready to check in.  No roll call needed, and you’re never late to class!

My other online classes include:

Let’s Dye with Indigo!

and

Indigo Mandala Workshop with Richard Carbin and Shibori Girl

I give you the techniques and you make it your own! You can be assured that the images I post here, on my flickr, and in my classes are of my own work (unless noted) and not of the work of others. Some examples include:

collected folk fabrics-indigo, kasuri, hemp and more

backside-silk floats across two flowers

I wanted t0 do a little post on some of the fabrics I brought back with me from Japan.  The first one is a bit of a curiosity to me which is why I bought it at one of the temple sales I wandered through. I’m sure this technique has a name and a history but since I had never seen it ( or noticed it) before, I was quite unaware of it.  At first I was drawn to it because of the indigo, next by the hemp, and also by the subtle pattern woven into it. Then I noticed that it was also embroidered with silk here and there.  Not only that, but what I saw as embroidery seems to actually have been added into the design as it was being woven.  There are large floats across the back too.  What is this called?  Is it common?  I like so many things about this fabric.  I like the uncommon pairing of the course hemp and the lustrous silk.  Perhaps John Marshall might know- or a weaver passing through…

asa (hemp) weaving indigo

The light flowers, stems, and leaves first appear as if they could be katazome, but no.  The back side shows the motif as darker than the ground.  A form of kasuri?  Or just a kind of double weave floating the lighter weft over the darker warp threads. I just don’t know.  Again, a question for a weaver to answer.  And then with the silk.  a soft handspun yarn lightly dyed -perhaps with madder.  Three pieces  of this I dug out of a pile of things under a table, appear to be an old obi.

Then there was this-

cotton or linen warp, silk weft kasuri

~this was found at the same flea market where I found the zakuri. the seller had several fine textiles.  Makoto bought one especially nice boro kimono for his wife.  This was in his scrap box (where I shop!) and I loved the color and the two way kasuri pattern.  The warp is a fine black cotton and the weft a lovely orange slightly slubby fine silk.  A great combo.  He had several pieces and I bought only two and had regrets by the time I got home for not buying it all.  To our surprise, the next day we saw him again at a different temple sale and I asked if he had brought it with him and he dug it out of a box and I bought the rest.  So 5 pieces in all-a kimono that was taken apart for cleaning and never put back together.  I love that about kimono.  The making of them does not require cutting into the fabric except for length and in the end you can dismantle the piece and use it all over again.  What plain and common sense!

kasuri detail

Walking back to the train one day I came upon a small street where a few vendors had thrown down some tarps with kimono and fabric piled onto them.  I picked up a couple of things-

The one on the left (partially shown) is a shibori noren. Likely made or at least tied in China. The other one seemed more possibly Japanese. I liked what I saw in it.

Two kasuri jackets or possibly summer weight yogi (for sleeping) – both in great condition.  All hand sewn.  Each use different cotton kasuri fabrics.  A couple of small seam repairs and I may put one of them in the shop.  It’s quite small.  But the fabric is wonderful.

I’ve saved the best for last-

komebukuro-sack for offering rice at the temple for special religious ceremonies

~this particular one appears to be quite old and with many boro patches.  It employs various homespun cotton fabrics and the rope appears to be handmade from hemp fibers. Also quite large-12 x 20″ at least.  The inside is more interesting than the outside-you can better see the patchwork. I would guess this one to be from the Meiji era (1868-1912). I appropriately found it at a temple sale.  A few more pics of it:

inside full view-1

more inside detail

edge detail and rope

bag bottom inside

outside view 2

another outside view

And today, while silk was steaming on poles, I dyed up the mandalas I exampled in the online workshop-

indigo mandala with itajime on cotton organza

that’s all I can manage right now-whoops, except for this:

itajime indigo on hemp- table mat and coasters

Took this for a test drive and liked it-fabric is some hemp I found along with the komebukuro and I’ve backed the coasters with a little hand stitched kasuri. They’re reversible. Moons of course. I keep wondering why we can’t have hemp in this country…it’s just such a practical enduring fabric.

whoops- almost forgot the silk-some kimono lining silk rescued and indigo dyed-

kimono lining silk indigo dyed

There is a shop update in the near future.

indigo and mandala workshop announcements

Just a couple of quick workshop announcements-

The Indigo Mandala Workshop is now open for registration. The class is being co-taught by  Richard and myself-a collaboration from two sides of the world. We will both be active on the blog and answering questions.  Click on over to the shop link above to read the details of the class.  It will post June 1 and continue.

 

 

Then, I am taking reservations for a new in-studio 2 day indigo workshop.  We will work with all 4 of the indigo vat types I have going here.  We will practice various shibori techniques-itajime, arashi, and stitched, ombre dyeing, and moon making on various types of fabrics. Depending on the state of the indigo crop, we might be able to test out making a fresh vat. As always, I’ll have some colorhue dye on hand to experiment with on silk.  Hopefully, there will also be some silkworms to feed. Limited to 4 participants. Contact me with any questions.

~ all for today…mata ne!

this and that

Some days, the only thing to do is to clear the fog from your head with a walk on the beach.  Even if it’s foggy there- and doggy, as in dog beach.  So I did (or we did).

And when it’s time to get back to work even if the silk doesn’t want to sew itself and looks like the fog in your head and the fog at the beach, it isn’t. It’s just silk and it’s slippery and finally you manage it somehow even with your very lacking sewing skills and a crappy machine.  Not bad.

So when it turns out that you base dye it purple and discharge it, and overdye it with every color of the rainbow and it turns into purple haze, and ends up paying a bill or two (made 2, paid 2)-the fog starts to lift.  Color can always do that for me. Plus paying a couple of bills doesn’t hurt. Plus when you know that the recipients of the results of such hazy days are such kind folks and so thrilled to receive their pieces, the fog continues to lift.

And the garden continues to feed us and shower us with flowers, and the air is scented with jasmine, sweet peas and the baby birds have flown the nest- then we relax a bit.

In all of this I can’t seem to remember if I mentioned that I removed some eggs from cold storage.  Some silkworm eggs…   Nothing happening with them  yet but I’m still hopeful. It’s been about a week. Maybe they are not going to hatch. This is the first time I have hatched eggs from my own moths. Time will tell.

And I didn’t entirely abandon the vats this week. A little derangement occurred.  The 1-2-3 vat was quite cranky but I think I cured it yesterday with a bit of heat, upping the pH and some more fructose.

I also played around with some hana from the PR vat.  Was just wondering a bit.  What could one do with the hana… this experiment yeilded no answers. But it looked kinda cool in the process. Still I have other thoughts on the matter.

In between I needed to sit and do some therapy stitching as well as make a pile of silk flower broaches for the San Jose Quilt Museum gift shop ( I also sent them some ribbon packs and flower kits if you stop in to the shop looking for such things). On the recommendation of my son, I watched a movie while I worked called Melancholia. He loves Wagner and the film features Richard Wagner’s prelude to  his opera Tristan and Isolde.  Tristan (my son Tristan) loves romantic orchestral music and Wagner’s Tristan is credited with  laying the groundwork for the change of direction of classical music in the 20th century as well as influencing the development of film music. I really did enjoy this dark film about the end of the world as well as the galactic imagery enhanced by the music.  It had me thinking in moons, and the mokume I stitched while watching it became this-my shibori version of the planet Melancholia.

mokume meloncholia moon madness

I’m working on another shop update which will include an in-studio indigo workshop this June (only a month away!) as well as the coming online mandala workshop.  Gotta go!

 

indigo shop update…

Yes, it’s time for a shop update! A few things have already flown the coop-or maybe I should say vat, since this update is mainly for new indigo pieces.

there is (or was) some silk…

and then some cotton, with some patches stitched with silk. and a silk velvet moon.  a great summer weight scarf for casual wear.  boro-inspired- a reminder that no scrap is too small to use or dye.

and then some more silk…double edge ombre’d of course!   100% silk, a japanese narrow width open weave~

~double arashi plus ombre on a silk cotton blend. the ombre is across the width, not the length-I like a challenge…

and how about some moons?  or circles? or circles in squares? or any which way arashi?

all on lightweight silk habutai.

    

     

there’s a few more things but you get the idea…most 2nd items ship free with the first…

Like I said in the last post, the online indigo class is continuing and a new group is joining in. Fermentation is in progress!

The weather is warming up here a bit and the indigo vats are liking it.  There’s a bird’s nest under the eve of the house in the star jasmine and all day I can hear them while I dye. The babies yelling for food and the parents yelling at Milo the cat who loiters in the driveway, every now and then getting dive-bombed by the mockers just making sure he keeps a distance…I’m keeping an eye on him as well. Even Milo is wondering. Must be spring.

bone to pick…

simply skip this post if you are not interested in hearing some critical thoughts on making and selling your work at trunk shows.

say what? did you say bone?


so, here’s the story-

I was recently invited to do a trunk show at the Huntington Library for the re-opening of their famous Japanese Garden which has been under restoration this past year. I was excited! A great match-up between my work and the event which doesn’t present itself very often. I was honored to be asked. I love the Huntington and was looking forward to visiting the newly renovated Japanese gardens anyway.

Of course there was a hitch…they want 50% of all sales. Now you might think that sounds good to you, but if you make a living this sort of thing you realize that you will likely loose money doing this. It’s one thing to sell your items outright at wholesale (50% off retail) to a shop or gallery for that price because they are committing to buying the merchandise (and likely meeting a minimum order), they are doing the display, the sales and everything else in regards to moving your merchandise (which is now theirs!).

But in this trunk show situation, you the maker, are creating a collection of work for the event. You pack it all up, create a beautiful display for it, and stand there all day with it selling, demonstrating, and answering questions- among other things (like packing up everything that didn’t sell at the end of the day, creating an invoice for them of what sold and submitting it so you can wait several weeks to get paid-oh and NOT working in your studio on other things for that day)). So in effect, the museum shop’s only commitment is a couple of fold up tables they set up outside their shop, the ringing up of the sale and some museum bags to put the merchandise into. There is no commitment to the merchandise, no inventory for them to manage, no extra staff to hire on for the event (i guess my time is free?).

After a number of emails back and forth with the staff there it was suggested that I just increase my prices 30% to cover the difference between what I wanted and what they were willing to give. Nice one. I pointed out to them that this would increase a $185 item to $240 and I didn’t think it would be salable at that price in addition to the fact that their customers could actually go online and see that they had been overcharged which would reflect poorly on us both. Their answer? Non- negotiable. Other artists do it. Hmmmm.

No deal. Too bad. Had to turn it down. Very disappointing. I was told that in the past that artists/makers received a better % but a year or so ago they changed it to 50%/50%. I suppose we are just to be thankful for the opportunity to support the museum. I guess I’ll support it the old fashioned way by just visiting every now and again. They do have a free day each month and you can access tickets by going here.

I write this here because I think it is of value to point out the fallacy of their thinking and what always feels to me like artists/makers being taken advantage of because there is always someone else down the list that is willing to settle for this sort of nonsense. Admittedly, it’s usually not full time professional artists/makers but I believe it brings us all down in the end.

But I will still enjoy visiting the renovations at the Japanese Garden when it re-opens in late March.

By the way, the upcoming workshop at the Japanese American National Museum is this Saturday Mar 3 from 1-4 PM. We will be working on silk in color and focusing on itajime.
You can call the museum to sign up at 213-625-0414.

Also, this is a last call for those who want to join in on the online indigo workshop which begins on Monday. Looks like we have over 15 countries and 25 states represented in the class so far. I’m excited about what we all be able to learn from this!