I went out into the studio today and found this beautiful heart shape in which crystals had formed on my work table. It was a result of a session of making indigo moons in the chem vat. I had to run out and take care of some things without cleaning up my table outside. I had made a few indigo hearts too.
Still lots going on here. Helping someone transition to hospice is walking sacred ground isn’t it? It can be everything…exhausting, peaceful, frustrating, loving, giving, taking and more. But doing a little each day… day by day…
and then a crystalline heart just appears…to remind you.
Have to clear my head and get into the correct frame of mind to write a new post here. Things are shifting as always. I’m trying to find my way through it all with my sanity intact and without losing my mind. This song came to mind…
The weekend arashi shibori workshop was wonderful. They were a great group intent on experiencing the process of pleated silk shibori. None had done discharge work so that was interesting to me since that is what I have done so much of all these years. Many had taken workshops with all the greats out there so it was interesting to me to hear of those experiences as we worked. So many things to learn out there! And each participant came with their own goals and intentions which is always fascinating to me. The outcomes were beautifully varied and while I think everyone had one piece that was not their favorite, those were the pieces that taught the most.
There is one more workshop scheduled for this month (which is full) and I am working on putting together another one for March 28-29-30 (listed here). There was one resounding request at the last workshop- that it be expanded to 3 days in order to allow for another piece to be made after seeing the results from day one. I understand this request and will give it a try at the newly listed workshop. It will also give me time to demonstrate additional ideas for anyone who is taking the workshop over again. As I explained to the group, I really enjoy it when people take a workshop more than once as it allows them to build their skill and knowledge, which is important in order to master anything. This is why I enjoy the workshops at the Japanese American National Museum so much. Participants return over and over again to work on shibori…in fact, some have been coming for years! By the way, the next workshop at JANM is March 14-15. Sign-ups are through the museum.
Of time and changes, we are in the middle of so much right now. Trying to find the path forward, searching for a way. So many conversations, looking for the balanced path. Listening… The universe feels out of balance here and somehow, somehow, we must find a way back. For all of us. For the world.
Caught some wind in my sails and I’m busy prepping the studio for the workshop this weekend (lots of cleaning!). There are folks coming from NY and TX plus a couple from here in CA. Prepping equipment, materials, and space.
I had a need for a couple of new moons for something I’m working on so made a batch for us all. I’ve got 10 sets of five in the shop so please help yourself.
When I’m dyeing the moons, I’m reminded that the majority of humanity can look up and see the moon and wonder. I try to remember to look up every night or day to catch a glimpse.
As for the cloth, old silk, cotton, hemp, wool pulled from my “save for moons” clothbox. Several special fabrics were used in this batch but one stands out for sentimental reasons. It’s a simple cotton toweling that had a sweet embroidery in one corner and along another edge there was my mothers name written in black marker. Most likely a practice piece done at the instruction of Nana, her mother.
So not sure the backstory but I saved the embroidery section to use elsewhere and used the rest do dye these moons.
New Year, New Post. Who knows what to expect this year? I know I certainly don’t. Some days it feels as if the wheels are coming off the bus, other days, I can remain hopeful. What to do but continue? Beyond this, it seems like the new decade (apparently depending on how you count your years) will bring lots of changes. As far as my studio work goes, shibori, cloth and indigo remain a focal point. But then again, who knows? What about you?
Over the transition from 2019-2020 I had some ideas that I just could not stop thinking about. You know, those sorts of ideas that you just have to actually do to get them out of your system…and see where they might take you. It was one of those sort of things. So I did it once and am about to do it again just to see. At first, I wasn’t sure about it so let it hang around for a while just to let it settle in. I’m still not sure about it (or much of anything these days to be honest), but after letting it be for a while, I’m ready to do another one. It might be “ART” , so I am cautious…
In other activities, the New Year is always a time when I want to obsessively clean, organize and clear out things. A perfect opportunity arose as there is about to be a new instrument brought into the house. You might be thinking a guitar, or something larger like a piano or drumset (but no, we already have plenty of those). It’s a marimba! Being quite large, it required the cleaning out and removal of the space I was formally using as a desk/office area. Which led to the next room, and the next…you can see where this is going. Huge swaths of things have been removed, sorted, relocated, and cleaned to within an inch of their lives. It really is a great activity for the magical in-between-time after Christmas and before New Years. Also, having the local version of whatever virus is going around helps, as it can be done bit by bit without leaving the house yet leaves one feeling incredibly productive. One last corner needs sorting-the dreaded bead and flower making corner. Perhaps tonight. Tomorrow. One day…
As seems to be the way lately, another week has passed before I finish this post. A welcome and steady stream of overnight visitors, the latest virus going round with the never-ending cough, and a workshop at the JANM. Not to mention local politics as we try to rally around some new blood in our local city council as well as put down a couple of tax increasing ballot measures. All this takes time and the studio work has been suffering! So, here’s to getting this thing done today!! NOTE*** Nope! Didn’t happen… Had to call 911 for grandma who is now in the hospital and also take the cat to the vet for an emergency. I live to post another day…
The workshop at the Japanese American National Museum this past weekend two weekends ago was focused on mandala dyeing on silk. I really do love teaching textile dye techniques and watching the participants skill levels improve. Each person comes with their own direction and focus and my job is more of a coach and facilitator. I always demonstrate throughout the workshop so as to give everyone a sense of the possibilities. Here are a few of the mandalas that were made…
I demonstrated a mandala start to finish to begin with so everyone could have a vision of where they were headed. We begin by folding (be as precise as you can!), then drawing our design(stay simple-don’t try to overthink in the beginning!), stitching the design, and finally dyeing (make sure that dye penetrates through all layers-take your time!).
And then some variations on fold and dye-without the clamping as in itajime…some with stitching, some without.
Not sure if I ever added this here but I did make a couple of useful objects using the silk mandalas and various old silks I had here. The mandalas make a lovely pillow cover.
And now, a glimpse of the garden. Since we had quite a bit of rain recently there are lots of seeds sprouting, many of which are weeds and crowding out the wildflowers. (Winners will be determined in future posts.)
We also had a day where we visited the beach with our guests and saw the sea lion rescue center, herons and the tidepools. Whales were spouting as they traveled along the coast.
For the first time I am offering an in-studio workshop on pleated silk shibori (known as arashi shibori). This type of workshop requires space and equipment that is not feasible to provide at most of the workshop locations where I generally teach. In order to provide a successful outcome for all participants, the workshops will be limited to 4 people on two separate dates- February 1-2 and February 15-16.
As most long time followers of this blog know, but which I shall repeat for more current readers, I started exploring shibori in 2006 after taking a one year sabbatical upon closing my porcelain studio of over 30 years. I was looking for something new. After becoming fascinated and intrigued with shibori from Japanese textile samples I had began to collect over time at quilt shows, I came across Karren Brito’s blog and her book Shibori-Creating Color and Texture on Silk. I was in love with the pleated texture that could be created. Using her book as a guide to learn how to dye silk using acid dyes and to also learn about discharge dyeing, I set about seeing what I could create. Her blog was a wealth of information. It still is, even though she has moved to Mexico and has taken up weaving there. At one point (not exactly sure when) she moved her original blog Entwinements over to a new site but lost all the original photos in the older posts. This is a real shame, but for anyone who has moved a blog from one of the original and older blog sites you can understand the pain and difficulty in doing so. It is still quite worth reading through as there is so much useful information-just missing all her fabulous photos. Karren was a chemist by trade and as such was able to apply that important information and detail to her dyework-detail and persistence that she is now applying to weaving. She is amazing!
I’ll tell a funny story about one of my communications with Karren many years ago. I submitted many comments on her blog over the years regarding her posts and asking (probably sometimes annoying !) questions. I tried not to be a stalker! I went to see her work once at a show she was doing in LA and was able to meet her. I had occasion to speak with her on the phone a couple of times and was excited to share with her the concept of my shibori ribbon when I first came up with the idea. Being the sort of direct type of person I came to know her to be (I really liked that about her!) she asked me how did I think I would ever sell it and who would the customer be(very good questions btw!)? I explained to her my plan (sample sending, making samples with it, exhibiting at textile trade shows, etc.) she directly told me it wouldn’t work. I was appreciative of her opinion but was not at all daunted by it. In fact, quite the opposite! It only made me MORE determined to make it work. So, not only did she teach me so much about shibori and dyeing, she inspired my persistence and determination to make the shibori ribbon a success! I thank her very much for this! It’s just a reminder that there are so many different perspectives out there to take into consideration. She was operating and marketing her work in a much different way than I did. I was always impressed by her photo shoots! I recommend her book as a “must have” for any serious silk shibori dyers. It is currently out of print but many used copies are available.
So, how about a little bit on the history of arashi shibori? Arashi shibori is a technique where cloth is wound around a pole in a diagonal way with a fine thread wound at intervals along the pole and over the cloth before scrunching the cloth and dyeing it. Many variations and experimentations have been done to expand on this original idea. Pole wrapping shibori (as we call it here) was introduced in Japan much later than other forms. Early shibori and dye techniques began around the 8th century in Japan. Shibori that we recognize today began much later (in the 1600’s along the Tokaido) and in the mid 1800’s various devices were being made and used to increase production and thereby lower the time and cost of many of the time-honored but time-heavy methods used to produce the beautiful cloth. Arashi was invented by Kanezo Suzuki in 1880 and Yoshiko Wada has a great history of the technique here. I wrote this little post back in 2006 when just starting out on my shibori adventure.
My goal for the workshop is to present arashi shibori as I practice it and get participants to wonder how they might apply the techniques in their own ways, to their own work. The critique session on day two is meant to survey the pieces that were made and allow everyone to benefit from all the various results. I’m also open to an AMA portion if participants have questions on which my experience as an independent working craftsperson of over 40 years might be able to some shed light.
There are other things I will address as the days grow longer and we round the corner into another year, but I want to get this post completed as I started this a week ago and was waylaid by time spent with my now 7 month old grandson and his dad who was recovering from some necessary surgery and mom was out of town on business. It was time well spent, dad is recovering, and mom is back in town! Those who were on the silk study tour to Japan will remember he was born while we were in Kyoto in May! Was it really 7 months ago???
So, enjoy more light, let it shine on all of us and may your holidays be peaceful shared with family and friends.
Becoming December…it arrives,and here, we never know if we will don flip flops and short sleeves or warm boots and sweaters inside the house. This year we are wearing warm shoes and sweaters. Heavy snow in the local mountains is a welcome and beautiful sight from the hilltop nearby. The ginko is busily dropping its golden carpet of leaves on the back garden, mulching it with beauty. Narcissus are blooming early. I even had the first saffron crocus bloom and more are on the way. The pomegranates exhausted themselves (and me!), and the persimmons are ripening daily. I’m sharing them with friends and neighbors and even this (not so) little guy…late at night.
In the contradiction of clashing seasons, hand fulls of strawberries can be picked every few days as they are planted where the sun seeks them out and happily seem to produce year round there-at least so far. The late eggplant and tomatoes are still heavily laden, though with this recent cold streak they will definitely slow down, but are welcoming the rain. The cold and wet has slowed the outdoor studio work but still has not vanquished me completely from getting the necessities done.
This coming weekend is the last JANM workshop featuring indigo and shibori and we will make the most of it. Many regular participants will come together for this year end creativity laboratory. No need to put the link here as it has been sold out for quite a while. There is however a “save the date” list of upcoming workshops at JANM to sign up for as soon as the museum gets them listed. You can view it here. **EDIT** JANM just emailed me to say that the January Mandala Workshop is up on the website and taking registrations. Here is the link. See the full description on the calendar page here.
Two weekends ago I taught an in-studio flower making workshop with a small group. There were some beautiful results…a garden of beauties! I’ll be adding another one of these soon. Let me know if you are interested.
A post or two ago I introduced a new item into the shop-the shibori ribbon beaded necklace kit. At the time I had not finished the instructional video but the orders received kicked me into gear getting this done. I’m offering it up to you here (free youtube video) if you are interested in seeing how this piece gets made. Perhaps you have some shibori ribbon waiting to be made into something beautiful as a gift. I am also adding this video link into the sidebar under the Feeling Free(r) page/list.
I also just added some new Mooncloth card sets to the shop. Previously, I have had photo card sets using images I have taken of my work but these card sets have actual mooncloths attached to the front of the card that can be removed and used in a project. Sets come in 3’s or 6’s, are blank inside and include an envelope. I hope you enjoy them.
I just got back from picking up my son Trevor from the airport. He has been in Japan for the past three weeks on a long awaited trip there to make new friends and surf. It was an exciting adventure and he spent time in Kyushu, Amami Oshima, and Chiba-all prime surf areas. But one of the exciting things for me was that he met up with my long time blog friend Jan Hillstead Fujikawa in Nagasaki! Long time readers of this blog might know her from her blog Oh Brother! (WhereIsSheNow) She started blogging in 2007 and hasn’t updated since 2014 but we keep up through FB and other social media. She’s an expat of over 30 years and I hope I get to meet her myself next trip. But it was kind of her to spend the day with Trevor and he also got to meet her son! In Amami Oshima, Trevor was able to meet up with our friend and surfer Ko, who showed us around Amami when we were there earlier this year. Trevor also started a blog highlighting his trip which you might enjoy. This is his first blogging experience. His blog, day one starts here.
It’s another rainy day here and the rain barrels are already overflowing. The cactus has finally stopped blooming- it was a solid 2 months of nightly blooms! Pretty amazing really. Here are a few photos collected recently from around the garden.
And a few more of some shibori ideas for this weekends workshop…shibori images on greeting cards for the holiday. I did one with a dove but tried to get too fancy and put a twig with leaves in its mouth which complicated and distorted the image making the head of the bird unclear. Will redo… Lesson: when working on small images, keep it fairly simple and use a good fine linen for best results!