Category Archives: silkworms

year end announcements…

I am tying up some loose ends on things that have been in the works around here for a while.  Everything takes longer than expected it seems-especially around the holidays when there are lots of comings and goings.

Today the wind died down a bit (not completely) but the surfers were devoted to getting into the water which leaves me in complete and blissful silence to work on these unfinished details.

workshop

First- the In Studio Workshop with Richard Carbin and myself  is available in the shop. Just click here to visit the listing and read through it carefully. If you have any questions,  just use the contact form or email me.  Leaving a comment here is OK too- I can reply privately via your comment.

arashi shibori    ++++  mandalas  ===?????  

I’m excited to collaborate with Richard again.  Ours has been an wonderful pairing of interests and talents. We met virtually via Flickr several years ago becoming fans of each others work.  Richard is an ex-pat living in Nagoya Japan with his wife and two boys. In June 2009 when Phil & I visited Nagoya for the Arimatsu Shibori Festival, we made a pact to meet up and get to know each other better and in person. We visited late into the night and although our work is completely different we shared a passion for Japan, silk, and dyeing.  Afterwards, we continued getting to know each other online via Facebook and via email and decided to create a collaborative workshop. Our online workshop Indigo Mandalas (born of the original In Studio workshop last year) was the first internationally collaborative online workshop as far as I know.  We continue to inspire and draw on each others experience and interests using the internet & media, learning as we grow.

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Secondly, the Silk Study Tour to Japan is filling nicely.  We only have 4 spots (out of 20) left so,  if you think a trip to Japan to see silk sericulture, beautiful textiles, a natural dye workshop and more are in your future for May of 2013-contact me soon.  We never really know if we will repeat this tour-so far our third biennial tour. Life has a way of keeping us on our toes and in the present which is a good thing and keeps up from putting off those things that we really want to do but somehow don’t. More and more I realize that today is the day!   Click the link for details and feel free to contact me if you you have any questions at all. I’m getting excited all over again.  New things await us in Japan every time we go!

yes, it matters how a thing is done.

craft to industry, guild to union, cottage to factory. this is what is generally considered as progress.

sometimes, progress has a high price to pay.  some things become streamlined, simplified. other things become automated, even people become cogs in the automation (and consumption) wheel. other things become lost and forgotten.  do we stop to think of what these prices extract from us?

i am still reading. speaking of SustainAbility,  the current essay asks the question “how have we been able to sustain such unsustainability for so long?”. a good question

i think it helps to know the history of this. how did we get here?  the earth is plentiful in it’s bounty but we are poor and careless consumers of it’s offerings. in his essay titled “The Historical Production (and Consumption) of Unsustainability: Technology, Policy, and Culture”,  Benjamin Cohen restates a cultural axiom of technology and risk this way:

“The more we seek to control nature, the more risk we create.”

hmmm…i think we can all think of some pretty big examples of this. some might say Monsanto, others might say Fukushima,  or monoculture.  most of this progress has distanced consumers from producers. a move over time from the qualitative to quantitative gave rise to more human control over the natural world.

by distancing ourselves from the gathering of energy materials and water sources, the growing of food, the making of product in far away places extracts a toll not only on those locales and their culture and environments but on us physically, morally, and spiritually.

ah…such big thoughts for such a lazy hot day like today. a morning earthquake here shook us up a bit and reminded us that nature is truly in charge. but what does craft have to do with all this?  i wonder…

silkworm workers prepare straw bedding for cocooning

yesterday i was testing out more cocoons and and was wondering about tsumugi.i have been experimenting with this. i like that it requires almost no equipment.  i remembered seeing this video a while back and went to watch it again.  the part i was most interested in seeing again begins at 3:07.

i am stacking up a few good books to take to the woods next weekend.  some i have already read or partially read and want more time with.  one of them is Azby Brown’s book “just enough- lessons in living green from traditional japan”. i really enjoy this book.

i am also gathering up food from the garden to take and we are looking forward to this annual retreat where we are able to separate ourselves from daily city life. where i can sit with nothing more than the squaw hole covered granite stones listening to the sound of water rushing below and the winds whispering in the oaks overhead.  this former Sierra Miwok summer camp, later a travelers lodge visited by those traveling to the Yosemite valley by foot or horseback (perhaps even John Muir and Ansel Adams), and even later still the summer camp for the Oakland Council of Girl Scouts- bringing girls into the woods for an experience to last a lifetime.  now in private hands of old friends who kindly offer its use to us we thank them and all the past caretakers who have allowed it to remain wild with its history quite intact.

i will even be stopping by a local gallery on the way in to drop off some nigella seeds for a blog reader and quilter in the area.  perhaps we will meet up at some point- but once i am in i tend to stay put. i have some stitching i intend to take as well.

a few orders must be finished, some emails sent, so off to continue that now…

oh- and richard send me one more very intriguing item for the silk exhibit- a straw bed for silkworm cocooning- so interesting.

from an old farmhouse in rural Japan

silk cocoonery florals

When inspiration hits you just have to go with it.  No matter what else seems to be on the agenda for the day ~save life or death.  Such was the case these past couple of days as I experimented with my fresh cocoons and new (old) zakuri.

I learned a few things:

First- the zakuri works just fine-  the operator needs some practice!  Secondly, I may want to use more cocoons for reeling my silk.  I used 6 and while beautiful, it was quite fine and I had trouble re-reeling.  Michael from Wormspit and Karen from  Entwinements both chimed in over on facebook to give a few tips.  I’ll improve next time surely!

Also, never one to waste silk-especially that which I raised here, I ended up cutting the reeled silk off the zakuri and making use of it for some silk cocoon flowers.  Now those who have known me for some time really do know that most anything you put into my hands has the possibility of turning onto flowers.  Some kind of genetic thing is all I can figure.  The cocoons didn’t stand a chance.  Actually, I had done a few  test flowers with the shibori ribbon using cut cocoons as centers a while back. Never did photograph them as they sold at some show before I got around to it.

strawflower like…

magnolia-esque

dandelion

Can’t wait to make more but other things need to get done first. Put these in the shop for now…

wow! back from Japan and catching up-

zakuri

zakuri gears

zakuri maker mark- from Omiya

What a time I had!  So much to tell and so busy with things to catch up on.  Not to mention the Mandala Workshop which is posting and uploading as I write this.  Back and forth on two blogs- multitasking…

OK- a few high points just to get things started:

I was very lucky and found an Edo period zakuri. (Edo was the shogun period when Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa family, 1603 to 1868.)   This is a silk reeling machine all handmade out of wood-even the gearing!.  There were literally thousands of them made in the later part of this period for the purpose of encouraging the cottage silk reeling industry in Japan-according to Michel Cook of Wormspit. Mine is in quite excellent condition and was found in a flea market at a very fair price.  I have to mention that before I arrived in Japan my intention was to find one of these.  I didn’t know if I would succeed- I didn’t even know what they were called!  But I had seen them in museum displays on earlier Silk Study trips to Japan.  Seeing as I am collecting a fair amount of my own hand raised cocoons I really wanted to have one- for practical purposes-reeling my own silk.

My friend Makoto likes to visit flea markets on the weekends looking for various things and so the day after I arrived in Kokubunji, we went to the first of 4 markets I was to visit during my remaining stay.  At the very first one, at the very front of the market, there it was!  I was kind of astonished.  I thought, maybe I better walk around a bit and see if there are any more to compare it with.  It was front and center in the small space of an older fellow who also had some other nice and quite interesting items (but no textiles).  I decided to wander the rest of the market first wondering if I would find another.  I did find a few small boro pieces and saw some other very nice textiles quite out of my budget but no more reeling machines.  I went back to the fellow and asked if there was a rocker arm which seemed to be missing. To my surprise- he dug around and came up with it! We bargained a wee bit but since it was such a fair price I accepted his first offer of  サビスです(a sort of complimentary service of a price reduction).  Makoto also found a very nice porcelain piece for his collection and a good indigo kimono with hand loomed cottons and a bit of boro.

Fortunately as well, I bought it because I did not see another one of any sort at any of the remaining markets or temple sales I ended up visiting.  I suppose it had been waiting for me.  Since I had traveled lightly to Japan I was able to find a box and boxed it up as my second bagage to return home at no extra cost. It arrived in fine shape and there are 1000 silk worms finishing up their cocooning  in egg cartons on the bench next to the piano…(i’ve decided that the silkworms prefer piano to drums, which are in the other room-always improvising around here…)

 

i like the music book on the piano- improvise. kind of a mantra around here…

Speaking of silkworms- “cat momma” Delia and sons did a great job of watching over the silkworm farm in my absence and upon returning they are all mostly spinning-some done and a few last ones just getting into it.  I am hoping to try a little fresh reeling with some of them…Thank you Delia!

So here’s a little video from today-

 In other news, mom survived my absence. My sister checked in with her while I was away. Only (??) 2 other mobiles burned down in the park in the past 10 days- no one was hurt apparently.  They last one she reported to me tonight that they ate pizza while watching the firemen respond-there are a few other hoarders in the ‘hood but rumor is that they were “cooking incidents”. Also, her longtime cat Mr. Orange died while I was gone. He was showing some signs of something before I left so we set the mobile vet up to go for a visit-  he had a “mass” and had to be put down. Yay for mobile vet services- a great help! After that sadness, someone presented her with two small kittens. Oh dear! Will keep on top of this one. She also managed to screw up her banking so have implemented strict restrictions on that after sorting things out. So, for the moment, peace has been restored!

Tomorrow, the garden will be surveyed and dealt with.

time passes by…

seems so long since the last post but it’s only been 4 days. odd.

first i should report…the cats are getting big. seriously big.

feel like i am in a bit of a fog. just working too much and other household/garden chores. got the shipment out for houston containing all my stuff for the workshops. that’s a big worry off my mind. i got an order off to a lovely jewelry maker in switzerland after some minor difficulties but all turned out well and much was learned. i have spend lots of time making up ribbon kits and more. spent the whole day today making silk flowers and new samples in between feeding the silkworms. no flower photos until after the show i think-just no time. will be doing a weeks worth of dyeing beginning tomorrow. the last hurrah before the show. there are some really beautiful things being gathered. it’s going to be fun presenting it all once i get to houston.

the above photo was just a teaser…based on something i saw when i was in japan. here is another view…

let's be friends...

like i said, the cats are getting big. i was surprised none started spinning this weekend. they just eat, and eat, and eat. and eat more. they should start spinning by wednesday for sure that will mark 30 days since they started hatching. i have a big container ready and waiting.

i should probably mention, if you want to purchase anything before houston, please do so by this friday ( Oct.21st). sales are always welcome~ but after that, things will be shipped upon my return. (after nov. 7)

i’ll be busy for the next few days but will let you know when the cats start spinning.

silkworm samba

the silkworm cats are really starting to grow now. i started with 500 regular eggs and 200 reverse (striped). the reverse should spin golden cocoons which will be interesting. in the end though, it doesn’t matter the color of the cocoon as the color is in the sericin which is ultimately removed when silk is processed.

reverse cats at 2 weeks


a neighborhood tree generously gives its leaves to feed the tiny masters.


i can’t wait to hear Noriko Furukawa’s lecture in houston- it’s all about silk in your life. here is something you can do with silk cocoons.

a little shop update-indigo sky and more

i’ve put a few new things in the shop this morning..
(go straight to the shop and view all new items on one page)

mainly, some indigo sky fabric: 4 -1/2 yard cuts of cotton lawn sky. each comes with a little indigo silk sky as a thank you.

sky on cotton lawn

also, some more silk shibori ribbon combo packs each comes with a clip of one of the new organza ribbons

3 borealis baby!

and some indigo diffusion organza ribbon with an indigo solid blue sky ribbon to match. i’ve been experimenting with indigo a bit. wondering and what-iffing. something new…
included just for fun is a silk cocoon i raised last time

shiborigirl indigo organza ribbons

also, one of the carry the moon bags remains. these are really special-one of the favorite things i have made i think. i’m really looking forward to keeping one for myself out of the next batch. i will also add that i like making practical things that can be used every day. this is one of those things.
wrapped in something special.

front


back


i am making more to take to houston. i will be in booth 903 next to my friend jennifer who has some pretty fantastic vintage ribbons and across from helen gibb of flower and ribbon fame herself! i think we will have a ribbon and silk party! flowers too~
my houston class schedule is:
~monday october 31 all day shibori dye class (and indigo too)
class # 110 9am-5pm still a few openings
~wednesday november 2 fashioning fabrics in silk-flowers & insects class #243 9am-12 noon-
sign up here at the Quilts Inc site.
even if you don’t get into one of the classes, come visit the silk experience room during the lunch break to see what the silk experience teachers have to offer. we usually try to have someone in the room and available during that time.

folks are still adding themselves to the group for the high desert silk experience.

on the horizen~ the JANM has asked me to add a two-day workshop in january (the 21st & 22nd). this in addition to the one already scheduled in march.

and here’s today’s photo of the tiny masters:
day 4

tiny masters day 4

many moons (and kittens) ago

i was recently reminded of a time in 1969, when humans first landed and walked on the moon. being all of 11 at the time and back in the US for a brief “home leave” visit from Japan, i visited and spent the night with a friend and her family on that very day. but it was more than a moon landing and walk on the moon that made that day so momentous in my 11 year old mind.

my friend’s cat was having kittens. lots of kittens. 11 eventually, and we named them all after the astronauts, the moon, apollo (of course) and anything else we could think of related to that day.

when i think back on it, we must have seemed out of our 11 year old minds really. running back and forth down the hallway from the living room where the tv was broadcasting images of the moonwalk, to the back bedroom closet where kittens just kept streaming out. sliding on the wooden floors in our stocking feet us girls would scream, squeal and run back to the living room to report each arrival before running back to the closet to check on the next. we were running out of names!

i had never seen a live birth before and forever after i think of the moonwalk and that day on July 20th 1969 as a day of infinite possibilities.

so, with that memory in mind, i made up a few little indigo moon bags. some days, you just want to carry the moon around with you (just for memories-and other things too).

in -the shop now.


and speaking of births- 2 new batches of silkworms have hatched. remember the little moon marks the last ones had? i have once again become slave to the “tiny masters”-just for a while…

thinking ahead-and wondering a bit

~just wanted to let you know i have added two pages here on the blog.
both require some thought, consideration and planning ahead so take your time to wonder a bit.
you can reach the new pages through the links below in this post or by clicking their links in the header above.

giant silk moth display from the Silk Center Takasaki, Japan


the first one is for the High Desert Silk Experience workshop/retreat in St. George Utah. a great opportunity to take some classes all about silk in a beautiful location. Signups are ongoing until Dec.1 or when the classes fill. i think we are about halfway there now…

the second page is for those of you who might want to consider joining us for the 2013 Silk Study Tour to Japan in May of that year. that might seem like a long way off, but planning ahead is the key to a successful tour.

in other news, i’m going to start raising a new crop of silkworms. hopefully, they will be the ones we will use in the workshop in UT to demonstrate the silk reeling skills we have learned on the previous two Silk Study Tours. i’m waiting for the weather to cool slightly so my eggs can be shipped-apparently, it is too hot for them to be delivered now.

Silk Study Tour to Japan

Things are beginning to heat up for the Silk Study Tour to Japan May 18-28, 2011. As expected, there have been a couple of cancellations and some new additions to our list of participants. We will miss having you along but welcome our new tour participants! We still have room for a couple more-but at this point the tour is “made”! If you think you would like to join us, perhaps this quick slideshow of the 2009 tour might whet your appetite for a little silk experience Japanese style:

We were just informed that Tokyo University is closing it’s Museum of Agriculture and Technology while they renovate and move it to a new location. In light of this news we will be adding one of our other pre-chosen destinations to surprise and delight you. We actually had several other destinations on our list of “gee, wish we had more time and we could see this too”, so happily Hirata-san is investigating all the possibilities with visits there this week and we will get to pick from the best of them. He was actually very excited to be making new connections and exploring the possibilities-this is what he likes doing best and we are so lucky to have him as a guide. We did love the Tokyo University collection but when things change-well we just go with the flow. This is the beauty of travel. You never know what is around the next corner to discover!
If you missed the previous post which included the tour brochure, you can see it here.

Let me know if you are interested in joining us and I will get back to you with answers to any questions you may have.

Mata ne!