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.
recently when i was up north, i gathered a small amount of acorns. i wondered how they would work for a little shibori workshop i might teach next year. here is a page from the notes and swatches journal- (on old silk)
and who knew how good simmering acorns smelled? (jude of course…)
their beauty astounds.
so, a little wondering while i continue packing up for the show.
and just a small collection of indigo and pomegranate dyed bits. something for a small experiment.
for someone wanting to try something new. all on old cloth.
i am figuring out how to dye with these two separately and together. and what kinds of cloth works best.
and everything else. here is a piece of old silk – silk warp and bast weft. this may be the most favorite thing i have ever dyed so far. the silk floats in the jacquard pattern look like spun gold. there’s a bit of it in the fabric collection…but i had to keep a scrap for myself.
There are certain motifs that have always captured my attention. Of course you know the moon is one of these motifs but the other two that captivate me are water and cloud imagery. Who hasn’t laid back and watched the clouds move across the sky, felt the sun come and go across our skin…listened to the waves, a nearby stream, a roaring river or waterfall…seen the moon rise and fall? I like that these motifs are universal and shared across the globe regardless of where or who you are. It reminds me of life’s beauty, and our connectedness to each other. These things give me perspective.
I think this is why these nature based motifs have been given so much regard in design over time and space. Often each motif is imbued with a special meaning or symbology. I enjoy studying all the meanings behind the motifs and the cultures which bestowed these interpretaions.
I recently was very taken with old silk which had these images woven into the design. I purchased a couple of rolls of these silks from second hand shops recently with a few things in mind. First, to study them and then to create something out of them.
Aside from the cloud and water motifs, this one has bamboo, maple leaves and what looks to be cherry blossoms. Sort of covers it all! Originally, this sort of fabric was used for nagajuban -the ankle length under kimono which used the softest and finest silks worn next to the skin. The weight and design complexity of this silk suggests that it was to be used in a nagajuban worn for a very formal occasion. It has a beautiful hand and a lovely drape.
I saw moons in it of course…
I used a piece of this fabric for a nice indigo dyed scarf with diagonal ends and hand stitched hems- ombre dyed on one side. I think I will add an interesting bead to the two points…
I finally completed a little shop update that includes the following items- enjoy! Most items ship free with any other item. Now back to the studio to finish up a couple orders that need to go out asap!
OK- seems like the shop was desperate for a little restocking and reorganizing so here are some links to the recently requested items-
NEW! indigo dyed vintage fabric collections- all vintage fabrics…
more of the vintage whites are in stock:
vintage silk collections are available for pre-order. these will be shipped mid June and will be limited so I am taking pre-orders. (add this to any order in the shop and it will ship free in June)
and the ever popular silk shibori ribbon scrap bags. many of you have asked me to email you when they are available again but honestly- i just don’t have the time to hunt down you all. i’ll give it my best though…
and there will be more 3 way color shibori ribbon packs in a week or so. start thinking color!
that’s it for this Monday- またね！
White. Is it a color? If black is the absence of color (darkness) then is white (light) the combination of all colors in the visible spectrum? As a dyer, this is interesting to me. White is often my canvas when dyeing and dyeing something black takes a whole lot of colors mixed together. Strange.
As a dyer with an eye towards using what is around and available I have collected lots of old cloth that can be dyed. But are they white? Many are what I would call a natural white. They are what they are-ivory, cream, white, eggshell,off-white, antique white, snow white, pearl white, bleached white etc…
Many of you who have taken indigo classes from me recently have received materials kits containing a whole variety of great old fabrics-all natural and of course dyeable in indigo. It’s informative to look at the structure of old fabrics. This cloth that was formally the fabric of people’s lives. Literally- laces, tablecloths, clothing, bed coverings, kitchen towels, even mosquito netting and more. Each type of cloth reveals more about itself when dyed in the vat-it’s thickness, weave, age, and even stains that dye differently from the whole cloth. Next to each other, they can form an amazing array of beautiful blues or whites.
But what if they were left as they are? Left to use in other ways, to stitch together new dreams and aspirations? That is what I see going on in Jude’s new class What If Diaries. Definitely not a craftsy class where everything is laid out for you to make or do according to the plan, but a way to explore much deeper. The class is now sold out but she has others of a similar nature to explore. I like that the cloth is explored more deeply- that students not only connect themselves to the fabrics, the stitches, but that there is always a stream of consciousness floating in the background as a jumping off point to some new or even old idea. It’s kind of like what I imagine the beginning of the universe to be- sort of like a primordial soup of creation.
old battenburg lace- in process
And speaking of creation- last weekend at the JANM (Japanese American National Museum) we had a really grand time. I took a whole silk display and we even reeled silk on the old zakuri. The students were in awe as most had never seen this before. The ingeniousness of the device AND that of the silkworm and it’s cocoon. I don’t think they’ll ever take silk for granted again!
student reeling silk on the old zakuri
And of course we dyed silk- new and old. Itajime was the focus and this was a quick pic of their first pieces of the day. After this, I got too busy to take photos-as usual. Many left class and went straight out to the front desk to sign up for the Aug 31-Sept 1 class.
Saturday, August 31, 201312:00 PM—4:30 PM
Indigo and Shibori Techniques with Shibori GirlIn this 2-day workshop we will focus our intentions on practicing itajime (fold and clamp) shibori on recycled kimono lining silks. Once considered as precious as gold, old silks are being discarded at an alarming rate! Let’s breathe new life into them and improve our understanding of both silk and itajime shibori. Indigo and colorhue dyes will be used in this workshop. Both days: $70 members; $90 non-members, an additional $45 materials fee (cash only) will be collected at the beginning of class, admission is included. RSVP early, 20 students max.
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.
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.
some wondering about more shibori texture. more of this soon.
and the indigo has had its first haircut which has been dried and stored! these plants volunteered themselves by self sowing.
and some old silk kimono linings had me practicing my itajime with the fermentation vat
which is really liking spring!
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?
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.
sometimes the time after a show is my favorite time. the busy preparation time is over, the workshops given, information imparted, items sold, people met, much talking, boxes returned, unpacked, put away. and best of all, bills paid for the coming month from proceeds of the show.
this is the time when i can “live in the shadow of the wind”. a small space in time of seeming protection from outside forces.
i am working still, of course. but more at my own pace. and moving at one’s own pace, one can linger here and there. wonder about a thing or two. even plant a few seeds between dyepots.
last year i had saved some tomato seeds from a plant that grew along the driveway. it was particularly productive with an early , moderately sized flavorful crop. i dried them on a piece of paper toweling just because it seemed practical at the time. now that i am planting them, i just had to snip the paper towel into bits and plant it right along with the attached seeds.
and the cores of the ribbon rolls i had been saving worked great. also planted were えだまめ、ししと、おちゃ、みずな。(that would be edamame (soybeans),shishito (sweet peppers great for grilling),mizuna (greens),and tea.)
i am working at reviewing some of my offerings and changing up a few things. trying out some new ideas on arashi. stitching lots of silk. dyeing indigo. the vat continues and yesterday i started a new indigo fermentation soup. i’ve decided to leave the madder alone for now. too many things going on in one small workspace leads to confusion and mediocrity. i have enough going on at the moment. but the madder out back along the fence continues to grow…madly!
i do want to say thank you to all the wonderful folks who came out to the Sew Expo show in Puyallup. i was very pleasantly surprised by this show. it is a bit different from the other shows i have been doing in that many of the attendees are garment sewers. i like that. there were even some young middle schoolers who were learning to sew for themselves (thanks to the 4H programs there) and were eager to show me their projects. i noticed that some of the items that didn’t sell at the houston show were the first to go at this show! interesting. i was pleased because i really do want to make more of those items and next year i will be tailoring my fare to suit this customer even more.
now- i’m off to do some work on the Japan Silk Study Tour and to get to work on a boatload of silk shibori ribbon. the wind’s shadow is fading fast…
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.