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!
this was in March..then, on June 21st (summer soltice!) I found these guys munching happily…
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.
By the next day the first one had exchanged his skin for a chrysalis and 24 hours later so had the second one.
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-
-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.
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…)
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…)
I am still gathering my thoughts here- it will take some time for them to settle in and find a place to live. but in the meantime, a few photos….
Among the very many wonderful pieces of wisdom shared at the recent basket workshop in Yosemite with Grandmother Julia Parker, her daughter Lucy, and granddaughter Ursula was the distinction between gathering and collecting. Am I a gatherer or a collector?
Am I gathering things with intention of using them in the short term or collecting things to have them for some other reason-perhaps without a specific purpose? Often we get caught up in the collecting of things-for various reasons. But what if we only had what we needed now- in the present? My, the world would look so much different!
Other highlights of the three days include walking through the wonderful basketry exhibit with Julia herself (i’d provide you with a link but since the federal “government” is shut down there is no link!) Just trust me- it was fantastic and walking through it with Julia and Lucy was really wonderful. A special visit into the roundhouse where Julia and Lucy performed a special happy dance and song along with a blessing. Sitting outside under the trees making baskets while deer wandered through and hearing stories-priceless!
And on another exciting note- the first copy of Julia’s new book , Scrape the Willow until it Sings was delivered to her during the workshop. We all got to look at it and it will be available soon from Heyday Books. It looks wonderful. I had a copy of her previous book, It will Live Forever which is a wonderful introduction to not only acorn culture in Yosemite but also includes the baskets used to gather and process the acorns into food. She graciously signed my copy. She will be in San Francisco Oct. 20th for a book signing if you are fortunate enough to be able to go.
A basket can hold many things- food, objects, water-even thoughts and ideas. I gathered some cattail while I was at my friends cabin. They are drying out in the driveway on top of the car (the dogs can’t get them there).
I intend to make a cattail basket when I return from Houston mid November-and fill it with memories from this time. To use in the garden- a gathering basket. We all gave away our first baskets as tradition dictates.
There is a lot to do now to get ready for Houston. I don’t even know where to start today….
just somewhere i suppose.
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.
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.
i got back to beauty.
ladybugs danced on a log in the woods near the creek
in fact, they had made a nest in an old rotting log about 20 feet long. millions of them i imagine. what a sight!
i ate wild blackberries from the canoe as i floated and read my book…
traveling, the mind wanders
i hiked with trevor in woods, meadows, and along creeks in the wilds of the sierra national forest.
i explored some history of the local area. this word, painted on an old patch of asphalt and buried under inches of pine needles and oak leaves, long abandoned deep in the woods was from a girl scout camp in the 40′s and 50′s. it was funny to see it like this. perhaps it was reserved for me that day.
i gathered cattails from the ponds edge…
and made some dinner!
here, fishermen need jeans, not coats. so i did a little patchwork.
my, the fishermen here are handsome!!
i made a windchime with some rusty bits found on a hike. it takes a stiff breeze but sounds wonderful if hung on a thin weak limb.
the view from up high- Vernal Falls, Yosemite. crashing water rainbows and emerald pools
and higher still! view from the top
we found out we have friends in high places too
on the eve of darkness-we start to settle in to watch the sky and the Perseid Meteor Shower
a small impression of the wonder seen
practical too, for patching where the mice had chewed the outdoor cushions. made of memories
time to stitch and think too
a feather found, an old indigo cloth -which path to take?
Speaking of trends…without any real understanding of the thought behind it. But let’s be cool, let’s be hip. Let’s make believe boro!
Japanese vintage boro huh?
After having been to the Amuse Boro Museum last month this sort of thing really leaves me cold. If you go there and feel the energy of those pieces, of the passage of time, the hardships, the heart and everything else they engender, I doubt you would be making a joke of it all by making faux shoes like these. These shoes seem to be the anti-boro.
Seems sacrilegious to me. Boro my ass.
there are days. then there are THOSE days, yesterday being one of them. i was reminded of the toll mental illness can take and where it leads to in a society with heels firmly dug in against the costs of creating solutions-or at the very least putting into place a safety net for people who are in no condition to make decisions for their own health, safety, and welfare without going to extremes. but no, once again we must wait for the bottom to fall out before we can affect some sort of solution. in that waiting period, we trust; what else can we do?
on another front, i am reminded that even if you do your best work over many years, you share that work far and wide, you teach that work, that this does not assure education managers of trade shows won’t pass over your teaching proposal in favor of someone who signed up for your online class a year ago; someone who has no body of work on the subject at hand to back it up but has an “in” with the right crowd. just know that to be true. i am reminded to remember this when choosing shows and teaching venues. sometimes i am naive and forget these things, being in the bubble of my studio here.
then, as if that were not the end of a very, very long day, a late email arrives effusively deriding (even threatening!) me for a mistake on an order. crestfallen, i make haste in correcting the error, reshipping the order via express mail and emailing back all pertinent info and an even more effusive apology AND refunding the original order (although, admittedly, in the back of my mind thinking- ya know, i really don’t need this sort of treatment from a customer even if i did make a mistake).
waking up this morning, i see an email from said customer. the order WAS correctly received. oops. sorry. her mistake.
i had sent a small gift of a silk shibori ribbon scrap bag with the order and for some reason she thought it was all she had received. ahh…nice. a gift turns into this? perhaps we should not be so hasty next time…beauty takes time. even the buds on the apricot tree are slowly bringing us their beautiful sweet bounty.
have a little sympathy for us who make for a living. we are not robots, amazon.com, walmart, or even craftsy. we will make a mistake now and again. we might get a little behind, trying to balance all the things we must do to keep the ship afloat. but the makers i know will go above and beyond for you, making each item by hand. and we will often tuck a little something extra into your package just because we like to imagine your surprise when you receive the order.
all i can say is, i’m glad it is a new day… is it spring where you are yet?
maybe it’s just spring fever!
The story goes something like this:
One day Richard and I were emailing back and forth about this and that. Mostly about textiles and old things he had come across and how they could be saved and utilized. And about him coming here from Japan to teach another workshop. And about how he had gone into the attic of an old farmhouse and found some remnants of the family’s sericulture activities. At the time I was putting together the “Silk Experience, Then and Now” exhibit for last year’s Houston’s International Quilt Festival. He had found some examples of the straw cocoon bedding and of the cardboard cocoon trays which followed years later. He saved me some samples that I was able to display at the show. A couple of weeks later, he emailed me to say that he had come across some washi “cocoon bags”- was I interested? Without hesitation I said yes! Get what you can, I said, not really knowing what they were but instinctually sure they were important somehow. If you saw the exhibit last year you saw these remarkable examples of what I consider to be folk craft-handmade objects that served a purpose in daily life. I love stuff like this. Everyday objects that are used but also are beautiful both visually and for the fact that they fit into the structure of everyday life of the time in which they were produced by craftsman of those times. Eventually, he had the opportunity to acquire a few more.
Now, I have been to the main sericulture/silk museums in Japan as well as seen the collection of items at the Tokyo Silk Science Institute associated with Tokyo University. I had never before seen anything like these washi bags! I wondered…
I started researching online. Couldn’t find anything. In fact, vintage or antique washi itself was rare to find. Mostly now you find a scrapbooking product claiming to be vintage washi tape. An image search of “vintage Japanese washi” comes up with this page. Not e x a c t l y…
What we have surmised so far is this- that these bags were made in Mino City-known for it’s papermaking and it’s close proximity to where they were discovered by Richard. That they are easily over 100 years old. That some are treated with kakishibu (persimmon tannin) and others were dyed with tumeric (the yellow ones or yellow patches on them). That they predate the use of cotton bags for silk cocoon transportation and storage. That they were regularly sent back for repair and patching when needed and in the end, they were abandoned in favor of cotton bags. Since Mino was a center of papermaking, they may be a somewhat regional object-using what comes naturally and is close at hand. Hence, why I have yet to see them in other areas like Gunma or Yokohama which are more north.
Imagine! Giant gusseted cocoon bags made of thick fibrous paper, patched, repaired and saved for tens of decades. I have saved one out to give as a gift to the Yokohama Silk Museum if they are interested. I have not seen one there. I have saved myself one and have it hanging on a wall where I can see it every day and wonder. Some people have expressed an interest in using the paper itself in their own artwork. Either way, these pieces have ki or 気 which is another way to say vital life energy. That they have resurfaced after all these years is so interesting to me. We have several of them available in the shop. It’s a joint effort between us to find these pieces good homes where they can continue to produce 気.
It seems like preparation is sometimes the biggest part of getting something done. This week my desk went through what was akin to an archeological dig(out).
Due to a printer breakdown, its replacement inspired a whole clean out of the “office” area. Since the sales tax returns have to be filed by the end of the month this was a good thing. I had been avoiding it. But it did get me wondering about printing a copy of each order to include in your box when I send it. Since we all get an email or have access to our own online purchase activity I am no longer going to include this with each shipment. I think the planet will thank me for “going paperless” . Woohoo…50% less printing just like that!
Moving on, I cleaned every nook and cranny- every slip of paper- no drawer escaped my wrath!
-and in the process I unearthed a few things- fun things! like some old family photos-
And although it wasn’t “lost”, it had been shelved-a gift from an old friend so very long ago. A bound set of an old Japanese publication from 1925 called “The Graphic” or “The International Graphic” published by Kokusai Johosha. At some point while Ricard is here we will sit down and look this over.
Inside there are may colorized photos of western women, geisha, politics, foreign culture as well as ukiyo-e prints and a couple fold outs. My guess is that these are not woodblock but early litho reproductions. Still very beautiful-and suitable for framing if one wished. Here is one I thought you might find interesting-
And in the end, the desk was cleaned (and I feel so much better!) So the rest of the evening was spent working on tour business. I am getting excited for everyone!
Richard arrives tonight and we will be in the studio for a few days before next weekend’s workshop.
My online friend Scott- artist, map maker, beader and blogger (here and here) recently moved and was destashing some things he had collected along he way. One of which happened to be this vintage tux jacket in a size that was perfect for my son Trevor, who just happened to need a *new* tux jacket.
first, in photos-
So Scott sent it directly to Trevor who tried it on and was a very happy percussionist indeed! He brought it with him for mending to the cabin in the woods and lacking the ability to reweave the spot and mend it flawlessly, I opted to open the lining on one of the sleeves and remove a small patch of wool with which to mend the spot. This is where the fun began! What a marvel of tailoring! This bespoke tux jacket from the early 1900′s is made of wool, lined with silk, faced with various fabrics to shape the garment, with hand carved and dyed vegetable ivory buttons, and mostly hand sewn. The makers name as well as the customers and date the garment’s finishing date(December 5th,1918) was noted on a silk label sewn into an interior pocket. It is a marvel of attention to detail, of craft, of fine materials. It was wonderful to look at the interior of the garment and see the fine hand stitching, the various layer of interfacings and linings used-each chosen to produce a certain effect and with a purpose. And then I discovered the label. I imagined a man being measured and fitted, a tailor doing his best work with fine materials, and in the end a well dressed fellow attending an event with fine and elegant women, removing his top hat, helping her into a carriage…I can get carried away in the moment!
I goggled the names on the label and came up with a few things. J.A. Silverman from Rumania was naturalized in Kansas City in 1898. The tailor AJ Lofgren is listed in old Minneapolis city directories in the early 1900′s. It seems that tailors moved around from shop to shop and were in demand- usually able to get work when they needed it.
Then today I saw this article on NPR and was reminded that I hadn’t finished this post. It is a graphic on the difference between a $99 suit and a $5000 suit. The comments are quite entertaining. I especially liked Steve Carr’s comedic and clever reply and rewrite of my comment. Also, someone has already spoken up to be next on the list should it ever need a new home again.
But of course this all comes down to my ongoing obsession with mending, and belief in using up what we have. Throwing away less, buying less but buying the most quality that we can afford and keeping it longer. This tux is almost 100 years old and now cleaned and mended, perhaps it will go another 100!
My shibori contribution to well dressed men are my shibori pocket squares-for now, I’ll leave the tailoring to the experts!