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.
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.
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.
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!
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
Today I gave as special workshop for the docents at the Long Beach Museum of Art.
30 people in a small basement room for 75 minutes.
Slideshow and videos then on to the Shibori.
Ahh….the first Monday of 2014! And it starts off with a bang!
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!
I don’t know.
But I did finally finish this piece. I had to. Some things just can’t be left undone.
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.
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.
Seasons mark time like nothing else. The visual signs all around us are unmistakable.
-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:
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.
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.
every day I wonder.
yesterday I wondered how the vat was doing-since I had not dyed anything for 3 days while I entertained and cooked for a crowd of graduates and other guests. a party.
it was doing just fine. I think I missed it more than it missed me.
The Long Beach Quilt Festival is next week. It will be the last one held here. They are moving on to greener pastures it seems. I will be there-booth #1315 I think… also teaching a flower class with some needle felting of the Shibori ribbon.
I am wondering how much longer the shows can remain a financially viable vehicle for me to get my work out there.
The new show they are replacing it with will be in Portland and of course require travel expenses in addition. But no paid teaching opportunities to help offset the cost. Only quick unpaid seminars/ demos on the show floor. Doubt I can justify that. Will have to think on that one.