this silk started out white, like winter snow
then it became dark-like midnight
lights and darks, hills and valleys formed
and greens in many shades and hues swept across the land.
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.
Ahhh… my last post of the year. I’m just going with the flow…
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.
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.
being well prepared is half the victory
and thank you for the overwhelming response to my workshops. when they fill 2 times over I understand they get to automatically repeat the class next year. that would be nice!
and…while I am leading the indigo workshop the very talented Mary Alice Sinton of Blue Bonnet Studio will be working the booth. Mary Alice is a certified teacher of both Traditional Japanese Embroidery and Japanese Bead Embroidery. She travels and teaches many classes. Come by and say hello!
Houston Quilt Festival 2013
first, i’ll show you this:
then this (from the daily dyer blog):
and then talk a little about unwoven shibori, a phrase i’ll coin here for lack of something else to call it. recently at the JANM workshop one of the participants gave me an extra piece of open woven linen she had brought (thanks gerrie!). i took it home with intentions of putting it into the indigo vat. since it was a piece that was cut without attention to the straight of grain, i started pulling a thread to determine just that. wait a minute!
it was gathering so nicely i wondered about pulling threads to gather for shibori dyeing! then as i removed the pulled up thread, i realized it was reminding me of that lovely taiten yukata i recently acquired. did i show that to you yet?
Taiten shibori is a form of woven shibori in which supplemental warps are added in a pattern with the intention of gathering them for dyeing and then removing them. this yukata above is one of the most excellent example of it that i have seen. I love how the bolt was ombre dyed side to side and how it so beautifully expressed it’s loveliness in the finished piece. Much forethought here I imagine. I have since discovered that the gathering threads which were woven into the cloth were often waxed for maximum strength. They were also heavier than the rest of the warp and weft. Thus, once removed, they left a gap, or a pulled thread look, which added to the overall design of the fabric.
My understanding is that taiten shibori was made for a fairly brief period of time in the early 1900′s (1912 according to Wada’s book Memory on Cloth) and maybe as late as the 50′s and 60′s.
Old taiten is usually a very fine plain weave cotton with the supplementary warp threads a much heavier waxed thread (for additional strength). Thus their removal leaves the additional element of the pulled thread design. Most woven shibori I see today is on much heavier cloth. Can you imagine the gathering process of a full bolt of taiten cloth? Though eventually woven on industrial looms I wonder if the gathering process was done by hand? I imagine the heavier threads could be left attached to the warp bar (non weaver technical term!)and gathered simultaneously.
I just found all this interesting and was reminded of it all by this little piece of gathered cloth.
Just have to add this here if you haven’t seen it yet. If so, it’s worth viewing more than once.
And if you missed the video of her I shot in 2011-
Richard had translated for me back then-
Yup, it’s really interesting. Someone asks her how long she’s been at it. She answers she’s been doing it for 81 years now, and that when they all started, kids started in elementary school back then. She says they competed to be the best, from even such an age. And that back then there were lots of “shokunin”, or craftsmen(and women, I imagine), 100 or more. She says she’s from Narumi. She goes on to reveal that her age is 92 and that the woman next to her is 2 years older yet(like it’s some contest or something)
And after a second listening he adds:
OOps, she’s been doing it for 83 years. Back then, you started when you started elementary school. They competed to remember different techniques and patterns. There were 120 patterns that had to be remembered, but now there are only 70 or so that are done, the others having been abandoned. She says she did a lot of work back then as a student, and then restates herself to emphasize the amt (like “I did a ton!”)
Also, please note that if you receive the daily dyer and have not renewed your subscription for the second 6 months- I will be removing your access as of this Friday the 21st. ( So please catch up on posts before then! And thank you for participating these past 6 months.)
If you want to sign up now, you have the option to join for the full year as a new subscriber with access to the past as well as the future!
The commenter was suggesting that I apply to teach my online indigo class at Craftsy. This is not the first time someone has suggested this to me. Now I know that “everyone is doing it”, and before I get more emails asking why I’m not, I thought I’d try to explain my hesitation to do so.
First, it’s not “all about the money”. But then again, it is about the money too. About where the money goes. I prefer it to come directly to me for the work I put into my classes.
Craftsy is great for those who don’t want to or can’t set up their own system of teaching online. They do it for you. And I hear they do a fine job of it. They even do your hair and makeup and send a limo for you. (Somehow, that just doesn’t feel like me being me.) I’ve seen some of the promos and they are pretty slick. Again, that doesn’t really feel like me either. I don’t want to turn my indigo dyeing teachings into something that resembles a morning talk program. I kinda like it the way it is, personal,real, and kinda funky. Shot here in my own studio on my trusty iphone and edited in imovie. Not so slick.
Yes, I probably could sell a lot of classes there. I might even make more money (but like I said before, it’s not all about the money). But then again I might not. I have spent a considerable amount of time and even travel teaching, learning, practicing, marketing my own work and “brand” over the past many years and I’m not so quick to turn that over to someone else to take a cut off the top. I am not so interested in becoming a class in a category on a site offering everything from decorating cupcakes to pizza making and parenting. I guess I’m a little weird that way.
As I look over Craftsy, I see that since their beginning offerings in 2011 they have grown to encompass so many topics- a clearing house of sorts. They make their money by being that clearing house. Online learning is here to stay. That much is sure. Coursera is now booming and their offerings are free!
For some of us that have been at this, teaching craft (or whatever you want to call it) online, for longer than that, I believe we paved the way for this sort of thing. The first one I was aware of was Joggles, where I taught a couple of classes in the beginning as a requirement for having my ribbon sold on the site. It was a fair trade in the beginning. Later down the road, I wanted to offer more (was told that it was impossible to teach dyeing online!) and I wanted to include video so I went solo and started developing my own methods and means. Part of my intention was that I knew there were many folks out there like myself who couldn’t afford the trips to take in-person workshops with great teachers. Whether it was a time or money issue, I thought that teaching dyeing online was a possibility. I also didn’t want to be limited by geography. I wondered. Things were changing. Technology was offering up new possibilities. I just started doing it. I learned as I went and I learned from and with others.
Susan Sorrell stands out in my mind as someone who was in on the online teaching very early on. Maybe as early as 2002 from what I could see on her website! I think my own first online classes were somewhere around 2006. And of course, we include the masterful Jude of Spiritcloth for bringing us classes online that feed our soul, make us wonder, and have helped us in so many ways-stitch by stitch- by just being herself. There are many more I am sure. We each have created a small niche for ourselves that supports us and our families. We are not rich by conventional terms, but we are independent and we are entrepreneurial. We also want to be ourselves. I want to own my own materials, my own copyright. I like being able to add to my class whenever I like-as I learn and grow with the students. Once a Craftsy class is “in the can” it is what it is.
I am reminded of a retelling of a Native American myth that I once read called “Heron and the Hummingbird” where the two get in a race to see who will own all of the fish in the rivers and lakes. The hummingbird loved to eat small minnows and the heron loved to eat large fish. I think we are the hummingbirds in the story.
I imagine that at some point down the road Craftsy might be bought by some media company larger than itself. Seems that is how many of these sorts of startups go. Big fish swallowing up smaller fish -the way of the world these days.
I just hope that the future will still hold a place for hummingbirds to flit free and enjoy the nectar. Some days though, it does feel as if the odds are stacked against it. Once, when I was in Mexico, I saw a hummingbird laying dead near a large window. I went over and picked it up and to my surprise it started to move. It sat there in my hand for a few minutes gathering itself together and then flew right out of my hand- off and away! It had merely been stunned I guess, running into that large window.
I’d never bet against the hummers out there. We’re colorful, we can take a few knocks, and we keep on zip-zipping around tasting nectar from here and there. Plus, as my friend Peg reminds me, hummingbirds can fly backwards! (thanks for the photos Peg!!)