just going…no step is too small.

I don’t believe in magical thinking, in being positive without action. I do believe that one can manifest things or people or places into their lives by educating one’s self and taking actions, even tiny ones, toward that thing, that place, or even a person. This may be especially good information for young people these days.

This post is going to be about this sort of thing. It’s also about shibori, Japan, travel, and probably other things I’m not aware of just yet.

You all know I like to garden. Nature relaxes me. Gardening inspires me and gives me small daily moments to appreciate the details of Nature. Seed planting is one example of this. I can literally throw some seeds on the ground and they might sprout. Nature might convene with me. And maybe not. They may be easy to take care of where they pop up or they may be in a path and get trampled to death without ever flowering and re-seeding themselves. The location might be too sunny, too shady, or take too much water to thrive. Or, I can plant the seeds, nurture them in a container until they become a strong seedling and transplant them somewhere they will successfully grow to maturity.
We can’t (and aren’t meant to) control everything but we can work with what we have and adjust and learn along the way.

You probably know I grew up in Japan. I really longed to return-to surround myself with that place I remembered and had fond memories. Many years ago, I was selling my porcelain buttons at Quilt Festival. In those days (mid 90’s), there were many Japanese visitors to that show-much to my surprise at the time. I didn’t then know how popular quilting in Japan had become. I had great fun interacting with these women and speaking with them using my rudimentary Japanese. Eventually, they would make a point of always coming to my booth and sometimes even asking for my help with another vendor to make a purchase or ask a question. Then, an interesting thing happened.
I was invited to go to Japan and sell my porcelain buttons at the first World Quilt show in Tokyo. Only ten US vendors were invited. They would handle everything. The booth would be free. They paired me up with a quilter who was also doing the show at whose home I was graciously offered to stay. All I had to do was get to Japan with my goods. I went from dreaming of going back to standing on the street in Kawasaki. I could feel it all around me, the climate, the street shops, the aromas… I literally cried right then and there, I was so overcome with gratitude from ending up just standing in that spot. I’m pretty sure anyone who might have seen me in that moment on the street was mystified. But I was HOME!

It was probably about a decade later that I had closed the porcelain company and had given myself a year sabbatical to figure out what the heck I was going to do next. It was time to reinvent Life. By this time, I’d processed the death of my first husband, married a second, had two kids (then in high school) and was still in the process of a very ugly complicated divorce that was just dragging on and on. Phil had come into the picture. But dammit- I was going to take the kids to Japan! They had been studying Japanese at school and were anxious to go. So we went! Again, in co-operation with the Universe I was once again HOME! We went on a very tight budget- often spending $40 a night for all of us in a “gaijin house”- pre AirBNB. We stayed with some Yakuza too, another interesting adventure and a story for another time.
It was 2006. I returned back to Long Beach and began to make shibori- and shibori ribbon was born!

Back to the Quilt Festival I went with the ribbon and my other shibori textiles. This was around 2007. Enter Maggie Backman (for whom I’ll forever be grateful). Maggie was the originator and seller of the Colorhue Silk Dyes and herself was a master of Japanese embroidery selling both the dyes and the silk threads to other US distributors. She asked me to teach some shibori on silk classes using her dyes at the show. I told her didn’t feel I was qualified. She fortunately did not listen to this nonsense! (If you know Maggie-she’s hard to say NO to!) And so it was. I ended up teaching shibori there for many years, really coming into my own. Another HOMEcoming of sorts thanks to Maggie. Turned out we had both lived in Yokohama/Yokosuka at the same time. Me, as an elementary school girl, and she, the wife of a Navy Captain and mother to her own kids.

A couple of years later she was beginning the Silk Study Tour to Japan. She had gone once to lay some groundwork and was now ready to take some paying travelers. It was 2009. She INSISTED I come. When I demurred because of the cost, she arranged a loan from a fund her Aunt had left with easy pay back terms so I could go. I went and assisted her in every way I could. By the next tour, she really needed my help (due to her husband’s health and the fact she was 81) and I started to take over the tour for her. By 2011, I was in charge of the tour and although Maggie no longer comes with us (she turned 92 this year!) she always loves a full report and gives advice.

So where is all this leading you may ask by now(if you are still here!)? I’m circling it back to how one manifests the life you want to live. This is for you-feel free to share the sentiment:

when what you do is perceived as being frivolous, persist!

Shiborigirl

In non traditional careers, we are often told to “get a real job”. The arts can be perceived as a frivolous pursuit. But my advice is to discard that thinking. Visualize getting where you want to go or what you want to do. Everything you do is a step in that direction. Even when it doesn’t seem so. Make it so.
It’s part of you becoming. Wishing doesn’t make things so. Actions do. Small and large. Sometimes even just reminding oneself of the direction or the destination is enough in the moment. There are lots of off and on ramps along the way! Take the road less traveled!
*****************
This post above was written several weeks ago and I just hadn’t published it. I was just wondering about it. Lots of activity here and finally now calming down a bit (I think) and I’m back to the blogging “mood”-ha!
I’ve been cleaning out the studio and found some of those old buttons on sample cards- I enjoyed looking at them and remembering the process.
Plant a seed. Adjust. Take small steps. Collectively you’ll get somewhere!

In my head… and silk sha

Over the past several weeks since the last blog post, I’ve written several posts here. Unfortunately, they’ve been in my head only! As I work through this and that, I take photos, record notes-all with the sincere intention of writing a post here. But alas, things get away from me and here we are!
But this post covers some fun and exciting silk textiles and other various news.

First I will say that local government elections are on the horizon here in Long Beach which is one of the things that have been distracting my mind and time. We have some excellent people running this time, but as usual, we are up against the money and power that the usual machine politics has installed here. BUT, there is reason to hope this time. People are sick of it.Please put a good thought forward for us to basically save this city from over-development and financial mismanagement. It’s a lot of time and an all volunteer effort for us and our grassroots candidates.

Next, I have been working on the upcoming Refashioning Kimono workshop. There is still time to sign up and even to order a kimono it you don’t have one on hand. A shipment from Richard arrived yesterday and I’m busy getting them photographed. I’ll be adding them to the shop later today. There is a nice variety to choose from. I am going to focus this post on one particular type of silk summer weave called sha. It’s one of the three types of silk gauze fabrics that are summer weight fabrics- ra, ro and sha.

Silk gauze is a transparent open weave fabric created from a complicated intertwining of warp thread. There are three basic styles of gauze weave in Japan: ra, sha, and ro. Known collectively as usumono (literally, thin fabric), silk gauze is thought to have first been worn in the summer by court nobles, samurai and other members of the upper classes in the early 8th century.

https://web-japan.org/niponica/niponica11/en/feature/feature03-3.html

Ra, a crisp silk mesh textile is often used in summer obi. Ro, a thin drapey silk woven with skipped rows to facilitate the air passing through the fabric on those hot, humid summer days Japan is famous for. Sha, is somewhere in-between. It’s defined by skipped or very open rows like ro, but more crisp than plain ro. It can also have various weights of weft threads- or even combine materials such as silk and hemp.

Here’s an example to clarify…

sha kimono, katazome replicating kasuri

When I first saw photos of this piece, I thought it was kasuri-where threads are dyed in advance of weaving to create the patterns on the cloth. The edges of the patterns are generally blurred as a result of this weaving technique. Sometimes the warp threads only are dyed, sometimes the weft, and sometimes both. Upon receiving this piece, I see now that this is a katazome(?) piece! It is paste resisted and the stencil or screen used to apply the resist includes the blurred edge pattern of kasuri- so to replicate one technique with another. Several stencils/screens or maybe even a sponging brush were used to create the overlay colors of subtle white and yellow over the turquoise. In the center photo above, you can appreciate the lightweight transparency of sha. In the third photo taken through a loop, you can see the weave structure. Every third pass a heavier weight and more twisted silk thread is used.
Textiles inform life. From the earliest times they tell us about ourselves, our history. The materials and techniques exemplify the skill and craft development of time and place. Preserving these textiles, studying them, learning from them, and using them now satisfies something very core in me. I really enjoy coming up with ways to use these old textiles.

Like the shibori I practice, the selection of cloth to be used is a key determinate to the success of the shibori work and dyeing. I often see people practice and teach shibori without a lot of thought of the fabrics being used. I find that is so key to the result. If you are trying shibori dyeing and haven’t experimented with a wide range of fabrics I suggest you give it a try and I can pretty much guarantee you will learn a lot about cloth!

April moons are all sent out and May moons are on board! I had been anxiously awaiting a silk bolt Richard found for me and was “over the moon” when it arrived. Perfectly timed for this post, it is silk ro. So one of the two moons for the Moon Circle for May is this moon:

Each moon will be different as you can see above. Cranes are a symbol of good luck and longevity as cranes are said to live 1000 years. They actually only live 30-80 years but are in fact one of the oldest living birds on the planet with some fossils thought to go back as far as 10 million years!
The little open hole in the rows allow a little seepage of indigo so the edges are not as sharp as you see on some other fabrics I’ve used for moons. Like I said above, if you explore different fabrics, you will learn a lot! The other moon will be a crescent on an old kimono silk floral…May is the flower moon…

here you can see the weave structure in this detail. It’s much more formalized than the sha weave structure

Speaking of May and flowers…
Of course the garden nurtures and grows, despite very drastic and impending water restrictions which have been imposed here and set to begin June 1. I have been upping my water-saving tricks to include saving kitchen rinse water in a bucket that goes out to the garden. Fortunately, unlike my many neighbors here, I already took out every blade of grass years ago and don’t have to water much of anything except my edible garden and my fruit bearing trees. We will be restricted to one day of outdoor watering a week- likely until winter (or longer!). I expect to see more people taking out their lawns.

And… I found a new textile converter in LA to bias my silk. They did a great job-phew! The converter I had been using disappeared into thin air- poof!
I’m having some silk cording done as well as soon as the silk thread arrives. Ordering silk thread on cones at wholesale became a complicated ordeal! Only found a light grey which will do just fine. I need it sewn with silk so it will dye with the fabric. Most converters want to sew it with cotton or poly. Nope!
OK…well that’s it for now. Back to photographing and editing the kimono pics.
Will probably be tomorrow when I get the rest of them up there.

New Beginnings

Life is full of new beginnings. Every ending has a beginning, every beginning an ending. This is not a new thought, it’s one as old as time.
Beginnings are always interesting. There can be hope, joy, anticipation, unknowingness and even a bit of anxiety about it all, endings can likewise feel the same way! My first introduction to this sort of thinking came when I was in high school and a family whom I babysat for gave me the book, “Be Here Now” by Ram Dass as a gift. The title itself was an intrigue. She also gave me the book, “Notes to Myself” by Hugh Prather. I loved the short moment by moment thoughts in that book. Both books were a revelation to my 15 year old mind. At the same time, I was reading my way through all the Vonnegut and Kesey books…haha. Well, it WAS the 70’s.
I still have “Notes to Myself” but somewhere along the way, “Be Here Now” found its way elsewhere. Maybe that gives you a little insight on how I became me.
We are each the finder, maker, and follower of our own path.
It’s April now. Another beginning. Today it’s cloudy outside on the way to sunny but the garden is alive and well, bursting with new hope. Inside however, the fabric sorting continues…

I was going through my collection of kimono two weeks ago to separate out the various ones I use as workshop samples (mostly shibori and indigo) and other ones I have acquired over time. The “other ones” are  mostly kasuri and silk, but after having them for some time sitting in bins…well, hmmm.

still my favorite shibori and indigo workshop sample kimono

What to do?

Several of the kimono I really love for the unique kasuri weaving, the Meisen sensibilities of color and pattern, but all are regular long kimono and just not practical for wearing here. I do have several of the haori (shorter jacket type) that I do wear and really wanted to see what could be done with these stored kimono to get them out of a bin and make use of them. I hate to think of them just sitting in a bin getting no love…they’re too good for that.

On a trip many years ago I found a silk shibori piece in Kamakura that was more like a duster/vest sort of garment. It was a kimono remake. I can still remember the layout of the shop and the woman who sold it to me. She had taken a temporary pop-up shop along komachi-dori for a week and had a small place where she did sewing work about 30 minutes outside of Kamakura.
I purchased it thinking that aside from the great shibori and the wearability of it, it would make a great piece to take a pattern from and make more of these. So, when I was looking at the stack of kimono I wanted to transform (and there are only 5 or so-I rarely buy full kimono when I go to Japan) I thought of this piece.

I started disassembling one of the kimono and putting it back together as the silk shibori duster/vest version I have. What I realized was that I know there are some of you out there in the same situation with kimono that you have collected, and you may want to explore the possibility of transforming them into something currently useful and wonderful!
Hence, the birth of a new workshop-a new beginning! Supplies are simple-seam ripper, thread, needle and scissors. You will need the spirit of adventure, a willingness to dive into the unknown, and the patience to do a little hand sewing. Oh, and a kimono.

Three completely different pieces. All silk. Different periods spanning the last 120 years or so…

The one on the left is silk sha (unlined) with an interesting combination of techniques, the center is silk shibori (lined) probably ’50s-’60’s is my guess, and the one on the right is a very fine silk kimono for a young boy perhaps 1900-1920 ish. They all wear great over something (either sleeved or sleeveless) and are light and a nice statement sort of wearable.

A few more pics:

In addition, you will end up with the extra fabric that can be used for something else! There is plenty for a scarf. I’ll have a sample on hand of that for you to consider as well.

Check out the workshop listing for details!

There are two dates for this workshop-one more immediately, and the other about 3-4 weeks later. This will allow those who may not have a few kimono laying around to acquire one. I am working with a friend in Japan on having him send me a set that you can choose from if you want to buy from us. Of course you can search other vendors as well, but we are curating a set that has already been predetermined to work for this project.  

Captain, the neighbor cat, helps curate the kimono selection.


In the background of all this, April moons have begun. They are going to be a little different this month… Last night’s moon was a beautiful crescent-did you see it? I hope April is treating you well so far, that Spring is warming and greening you up, and that many of the seeds you plant sprout into seedlings!

Let there be more Light than Dark

We are officially one day two days (taking me longer to finish this post!) past the Spring Equinox and that means more light than dark. Regardless of what the clocks say, I regard this as a celebration of light!
Every day I read the daily entry from my well worn copy of Hal Borland’s Book of Days and today’s entry is profound and meant so much more than the words on the page might have originally intended. It got me out early in the garden to do some work on the soil in one of my vegetable beds that I have been wanting to do and the timing is perfect. The action was like a prayer to the Universe. I’ll share the entry with you…

sun streaming across my page…and I didn’t know that about frost since we don’t get that here except once in a blue moon…

The action/prayer for today was to screen several buckets from the compost bin that have been fully rendered into a beautiful dark loam and teeming with earthworms. I added this to the next vegetable bed I intend to plant. I dug and forked and mixed until my back said enough and left it so the many earthworms could retreat into their darkness. Many seeds have been planted and have already sprouted with their own promises of miracles. I’ve been planting them out little by little. (There are already flowers on some of the tomato transplants!)

Speaking of the food of life (one cannot exist solely on tomatoes, greens and garlic!), there is other studio work to be done. Here I tend to the “soil” of my work by planting the seeds and giving them nourishment.
I’m listing two workshops today for August. These dates are chosen to be convenient for those who are coming to the Long Beach Quilt Festival should visitors want to take advantage of being geographically convenient to me. Of course this is not limited to show attendees! Please see the listings below for details. Several people have been emailing me for workshops and I’ll start with these since people are making their travel plans now and registering to attend the festival. I also working on a couple of other workshop opportunities that will happen before then- both online and in person. Of course everything continues to be premised on staying and keeping us all healthy!

March moons are all sent out- there are even a few extras if anyone wants to start their subscription with March…I now sort fabrics to find the canvas for April moons…also known as the Pink Moon, not for the color pink but for the pink phlox flowers that bloom in April. There are other names for the April moon and almost all are associated in one way or another with the end of Winter and the changes that Spring brings. I think some vintage silk might be where I begin as April is also when sericulture season begins in Japan. The mulberry farmers are tending their fields and noticing the new growth sprouting out. Soon, they will be hatching out the silkworm eggs…

I have also been doing a little stitching on a piece I started a while back which resurfaced while cleaning up some fabric stacks…it’s another cover for a pillow. The “MHNMC” Moose, has been taking advantage of the new window work table setup so he can harass the cats outside (who live here) from inside THEIR house. I got a kick out of my grandson when he was here and I called the cat “Moose”. He said, “Nana, that’s NOT a moose, it’s a CAT!”. He thought it was the silliest thing ever to name a cat Moose. I did not name this cat. I have no idea why he is named Moose. It’s on his collar. He’s obviously familiar with the Give a Moose a Muffin books. Always was a favorite way back when his dad was youngster. Glad to see these things repeat themselves.

Moose eye view…

Back to the workshops… I finally got them into the shop!

Here are the workshops available for signup now.

One is an indigo shibori workshop and the other is an inspired by cloth stitching workshop. So whether or not you will attend the Long Beach Quilt Festival or not, you are invited to sign up! My mind is already swirling with ideas!

Up or Down?

…or somewhere inbetween?

I have been feeling very confused lately. Lost really. One day I decide to offer some workshops, the next day I it all seems wrong and I change my mind, only to retrieve the idea a couple of days later. Take this post for example, will I keep it? Delete it? I just don’t know…

In the meantime, I make moons for the moon circle. The March moons are almost all finished. I took a little different approach to March. Maybe it’s the mood I’ve been in lately. March moons focused on process- the discharge process. Discharge is the removal of color- the discharging or releasing of the dye molecule from the cloth. Separation. Like mind from body. Disappearing the color…less and loss. Waning…declining, diminishing, decreasing.
It’s a process in itself to study.


I decided what I am going to do with my moons. I’ve been wondering about that, and about when that might happen. Up to now I have just been saving one set each month along with the description I enclose in a notebook until i figured it out. Mostly I thought I would do a wall piece or a small quilt that included all the moons from 2022. But then I had a little visit with my grandson…
I was wearing my cross shoulder moonbag and we were looking at some photos of himself I had just taken of him on my phone. He wanted to look at other photos and so I showed him some garden photos, the cats and dogs, and as we flipped by some of the moons, he identifies them…”Nana, moon!” (yes, he’s talking up a storm at 2 1/2 now). Then he looks at my bag, and says “Nana’s Moon”. Could you love it any more? I kept thinking about it over the next day and each time it just made me smile. As I was packaging up the moons in their cards and printing out the mailing labels it came to me…a little moonbook for Dean! Nothing too elaborate, just one page a month- small and simple enough so it’s doable and can be completed easily over time little pages I can take along and stitch on here and there. Now I’m a little excited and l am looking forward to this project!

Moonbags

I wonder what some of you out there are doing with your moons. Maybe you too are collecting them until the right moon mood hits you. I hope some of you will eventually share your moon projects with me.

As I finish up one month’s set of moons I think about the next. I already have my idea for May but for April, I may focus on some natural dyed moons using the seed pods from the feathery cassia out front.

Leslie from NSW Australia identified the mystery plant from the last post as a type of wattle in the comments and said that the seed pods from a particular wattle yield a green. Must test that out. The wattle is just now setting pods so in a couple of months I will collect them. The cassia too- but I have a bag of pods I saved from last summer so will use those now. She also clued me into a website I wasn’t familiar with that had a great list of wattle. I only had my own moon leaf wattle so didn’t realize how many other types there are! Especially did not guess that many of them are a narrow leaf variety.

I’ve planted some marigold seeds again for some late summer /fall possibilities. I have lots of tomato seedlings almost ready to plant out. I was out checking on the madder this week and broke off a few skinny root bits to propagate some new plants for another area- they are already sending out shoots! In the same area, I have a cyclamen I planted nearly 40 years ago. It disappeared a few times over the years but when we had enough rain it would reappear. It’s not a fancy one but a bright deep red/pink and in the past few years I’ve made an attempt to water it when needed just to keep it alive. It’s at the base of the ginko tree and benefits from the great mulch of ginko leaf drop in the winter. While i was checking on the madder (nearby) I noticed HUNDREDS of tiny cyclamen babies! Not knowing how these reproduced I looked it up on youtube and saw a fascinating vid on cyclamen plantings. Not having to worry about propagating them myself, I’m just potting up some of these to spread around. They are kinda expensive to buy at the nursery if you want a bunch of them. They little babies are pretty adorable. It will be fun to watch them grow. I didn’t know that they preferred dry shady areas! I think they really like the ginko mulching they get here.

And speaking of seed pods, Nancy surprised me with a package today of the pods she collected in this post from her blog Pomegranate Trail. I had commented on them and they are more fascinating in person. They really do float my boat Nancy! What I noticed also is that they make a cool percussive sound when they knock together. (this is what happens when you have lots of drummers around you-everything becomes percussion!

nancy’s seed pod boats!


And speaking of percussion, we went to see Trev and Jen in the pit orchestra for Fullerton College’s production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It was great fun- I had never seen this live and was amazed at how much the music relied on the percussionist. It was written for 3 percussionists I think but there was only budget for one (remember this is education and the arts, not war) and he held it down well hopping from one instrument to the next. But in the hallway there I saw this poster. It’s great don’t you think?

There were also 4 more relating to music and theater degrees. Looks like they had been there a while and produced by the college some time ago…

Also, when I am doing handwork etc., I’ve been taking Robert Reich‘s “open class” called “Wealth and Poverty” on YouTube. It’s quite good and you don’t even have to enroll in a University! I’m a little behind and on week four at the moment. I think he’s a great teacher on this topic. His website is here.

And finally, my hanging orchid (not upright blooming) cymbidium is glorious at the moment…it has 8 flower spikes and about 270 blossoms! I repotted it and moved its location last year but other than a little worm juice from the worm bin it’s pretty much ignored.

yippee!

So I guess I found my way after all…

March(ing) on…

I took a set of photos thinking I would weave them into a bigger idea for a blog post but since time has lost meaning this past week I just decided to do a quick post with them now.
Yellow is happening everywhere. It’s primary, it’s happy, it’s in full bloom at the local arboretum. For my birthday last week, we renewed our membership to the South Coast Botanical Gardens nearby. And we went for a late afternoon visit there before a dinner and musical event up in Hollywood that just happened to fall on my birthday- (Phil’s favorite drummer, Steve Gadd) and it did not disappoint!
These were not all the yellows in bloom but there was more yellow than anything by a longshot…

I’m onto something else at the moment both in the studio and a future online offering and when I need a break, I go out and count yellow clouded sulphur caterpillars in the sun.
Plus, it’s time to start the March moons… the moon is a timekeeper for sure.
And a little one minute vid of the band at the Catalina Bar and Grill, speaking of keeping time…

this is the backup band for so many famous acts…it was a great time and the audience was so appreciative!
-vax cards checked at the door too! first time going out to something like this…

and…this photo which i snapped at Phil’s Sunday gig when it was all over…seems the moon follows me everywhere…

At the intersection of craft and sanity

Who am I? I’m just going to say this here in the beginning. This post won’t be for everyone here. It’s not really about art, craft, or shibori, per se, but it touches on it and really is about balance, mental health, creativity, and life in general.

Maybe it is for everyone, come to think of it. But if you are here just for the shibori, then feel free to click away- I take no offense. Yes, this is already starting out as a weird post don’t you think?

This is a post I’ve often thought about writing over the years and actually it has been touched upon here and there. I might describe it as the intersection of craft and sanity.

Once upon a time there was a little red-headed child. Life was confusing. It was apparent from an early time to this child that she was pretty much on her own in many ways and needed a way to be balanced and stay sane. It was an intuitive thought, not verbally or even mentally articulated, but it was more a feeling of survival. As time passed, the child was more and more stressed due to issues within the family. Stress did not feel good. The child discovered that creating felt good! The child’s intuitive self awakened to this and made creating a way of life, not really knowing all this on an intellectual level, but only in an instinctual sort of way.
Stress=feeling bad, creating=feeling good.
So the child learned to spend more time in that creativity space. This way, life was livable!

Now I am not suggesting that in order to be creative, one must have anxiety, stress, and even PTSD in your life. I would never wish that upon ANY person, and especially not a child. But we do not live perfect lives and many children experience these issues on a regular basis due to many things (even in the most seemingly “normal” life), which is why it completely exhausts me to know that many kids do not get the space they need to counteract these life problems by having time for creativity.
Creativity can be in many forms- making by hand, singing, dancing performing, cooking, playing an instrument, gardening, (even cleaning the house!) and so forth.

This little redheaded child grew up and had her own children. Seeing the dearth of art and making in their school day, the redheaded mom created a space for that. Here’s an old blog for that here. There are only 55 posts published there. I’ve often thought I should delete it, but for some reason I keep putting it off. I just reread much of it and still feel pretty much the same about what I wrote there. It’s interesting to look back and read your thoughts from 15 years ago. Prior to starting that blog as a separate entity, I was writing posts about it here on Shibori Girl. It was fairly short-lived though, as we got the ax a couple of years later. (Most of the sidebar links are dead.) I did enjoy going back and reading the comments there. Special thanks to those commenters who read and participated-many whom are still readers today! (love you guys!)

This is not limited to children by the way. I only give the above example because people often tell me things like, ” you’re so talented!”, or “I could never do that”. My inner child-self knows they are coming from a different perspective and I usually say something like “well, it’s a practice” and ” really, I think you could!” (or just “thank you”). But the inner adult-self knows that for me this came as a result of an anxiety filled life where the child learned that living in that creative space was like medicine. It was also an escape where she could lose herself, feel better, and eventually it became a practice. It became a place where I made a home and just moved in.

I have seen this in many readers here, in people I meet at workshops or at shows. I hear stories from you. I saw it in the kids from the Elementary Art experience.

What is my motivation for writing this post? I wonder myself. I guess I want to remind ourselves that we can alleviate the stress in our lives with creativity. It’s positive! There are so many ways to be creative. It’s low cost! Many public schools have cut and altered art experiences and in doing so, cut off a vehicle for better mental health and well being for kids. Not good. Kids grow into adults. Our society needs every possible tool and material in the artbox to create good mental health in our schools and in our society. I’m also motivated to “pay it forward” as it were, since I personally had a situation which allowed this possibility to exist. Many do not.

Creativity leads to wondering, wondering can identify issues and problems and lead to solutions. Thusly, the algebraic equation is something like:

Creativity + Wonder = Solutions

We can see the results of the loss of factory production in the US. The loss of jobs where people produced things with their hands has left many jobless or in jobs that don’t give this sort of satisfaction and stimulation. Working with your hands stimulates chemicals in your brain (endorphins) that make you feel good. There are many studies about how working and creating with your hands benefits your overall health-both body and mind. You can be young or old for this to work. You don’t have to make it your career, you can practice it to the degree in which you choose. Like medicine, not everyone takes the same prescription or dosage.

These past couple of years have brought us new worries and stresses. We grieve the losses in our lives. There are new divisions. The recent stirrings of war…

It’s the perfect time to create and work with your hands. It can calm the mind, teach new skills, and point in new directions.

I’m going to just leave it at this for now. Isn’t it enough? And yes, I’m celebrating circles having completed another trip around the sun (or 834 moon trips around the planet if you’re keeping track…). So perhaps all this meandering is just part of that….

amazing to think that Paul MaCartney wrote this when he was 15 or 16!

No pictures, just thoughts this time…next post it’s back to “regular programming”, whatever that is!



Full Snow Moon

Today is the full moon and a February moon- the Snow Moon. And coincidentally, we had a cold snap that brought hail and snow locally here yesterday (Pasadena!). Last week it was 90! Check this out!
I’ve been working on finishing up the February moon circle subscription sets and along the way I took some photos to document the fabrics and some of the process.
This month’s main moon is indigo dyed on some very old kanoko silk shibori. This was already partially deconstructed when I found it at a temple sale. Only the lining had been removed.

February’s moons…
I love how after dyeing,rinsing, and drying as well a light steam pressing, the shibori texture endures!!

just a few shots of the work table- plus a test dip into the revived fermentation vat oxidizing… looks like it’s fine! It was in the upper 80’s and even 90 one day so I got the ferm vat back in shape. Now it’s cold again!

i was just playing around with some silk- not a moon but planetary. saw some beautiful Nasa telescope photos that were the inspiration.

This week’s shop favorites were all about moons.

I was looking around online for old images of something and I came across this site which was a lot of fun. I’ll go back later to enjoy more. This particular image about washing kimono might interest you. Enjoy and wonder!

Ode to shibori ribbon

Most days in the studio I look for meaning in the process, not in the end result. It might not seem that way to many as the thing most people see and react to is the end result of what I do, in the form of something they might purchase from me or enjoy looking at online.

But the reality of it all is, that much of the meaning is experienced in the process. This is where all the wondering begins, questions are asked, and solutions discovered. I appreciate simple process and basic beginning points. I really enjoy creating and practicing a process. Always have.
This past week, I had the first wholesale order of shibori ribbon in a while. I have adjusted my process a bit to fit the scale of what I am doing these days. Also, jumping around in the studio from one process to another isn’t exactly the model of efficiency. (shibori silk dyeing, indigo dyeing, moon making, teaching zoom workshops, card making, putting together fabric packs, flower making and more-phew!) That always bugs me. I feel like I am spread too thinly.
Some things are like riding a bicycle, you remember how even if you are a bit wobbly and slow at first. But you can improve the more you do it (the practice thing). I can make shibori ribbon with ease, in general. In the past I had enough orders to facilitate the making on a bigger and more efficient scale.
What do I mean by this? For example, the base dyeing. Generally, I would base dye a minimum of 60 yards of a color. If an order was for 200 yards of 12-15 different colors, I would probably be base dyeing 600-900 yards of ribbon. The extra would be consumed by the future orders and only the colors I was short of would be put into the mix for the next order.
Now, I do one order at a time. An order for 12 rolls of 12 different colors are produced one 10 yard roll at a time. Overall, this takes more time, wastes more dye, uses more water. When it comes to the overdyeing part, it takes me almost the same time to dye one colorway as it would to dye two of the same colorway. In all of this, I am spending more time to make less product and less income. I’m getting older, working harder, making less income. (Quite a familiar scenario for many these days!) These are the things I have to consider in the process. Yes, I could raise my price. I suspect I will have to the next time I have to order silk- we all understand rising prices for materials and transportation.
I’ve been also considering another option. Ending wholesale orders and switching to retail only. Seems like the practical choice.
I have some reservations about doing this. I like my wholesale customers and have created good relationships and even friendships with many of them over the more than a decade of making and selling the ribbon wholesale. I liked the fact that several of them are (and were… no longer in business) small businesses like myself and we formed interdependent relationships that benefited us both. So that feels like a loss to me. But over the past two years, wholesale orders have slowed to a near stop. The pandemic is responsible for a large portion of this but not all of it. Much like the sun and moon both rise and set, a product also has a trajectory that has a beginning, a middle, and sometimes an ending. But generally things do have a season of popularity. I have seen these product arcs last ten years or so with products I have created in the past. The shibori ribbon has seen even more time than that (since 2006/07 ish) so I am grateful!
I still love it, its beauty, the process, and all the customers that use it in their creative works. It’s really such an honor to see what you all do with it and all the beautiful things that have been made with it. Yes, there have been quite a number of people who started to make shibori ribbon to compete with me. None that I am familiar with did so on a wholesale level. That’s harder. They were more interested in getting the higher retail price selling only direct to customers. I took it to a different place.
So right now, I have one more wholesale order to complete. And from then on, I’m going to go retail only for a while. I think. Of course I can always change my mind.

I will also say that when I started making the ribbon, very few were even aware of what shibori was, let alone this new fangled thing called shibori ribbon. It was a unique creation that inspired lots of wonderful making over the years.

I thought it might be fun to do a visual look-back on shibori ribbon over time. I have a number of slide show vids and photos I’ll post below. At least I will record them again here in one place and one post. For now. It will take me a while to get set up and post product for retail only on the ribbon, but in the meantime, I’m cutting up all current stock for shibori ribbon scrap bags just to make a clean sweep.
Like a wildflower mix. Seed your imagination. Water with wonder and creativity!

And start over. In the shop here.

symphony of colors
this piece takes one yard…

I always have fun naming the colors…

in February…

Before I get lost in this post and forget, I promised the recent workshop participants this NHK link about the Lost Textiles of Ryukyu. It’s a fascinating search to discover the origin of a fiber used for a brief time in the RYukyu islands for kasuri weaving before disappearing. It features Reiko Sudo who became passionate about pursuing and replicating this fiber with very interesting characteristics. It first aired in November of 2020 and will only be available until this November. Catch it if you can!

Then, also for those in the recent zoom Komebukuro Treasure bag workshops. Some had asked for a shop lising the larger moons on fabric sized for the bags in order to make more and here is that listing. Also, a listing for the wooden karuta pieces- here is that.

And for fun, I added two of the komebukuro bags I made with participants during the recent workshop to the shop. I just love these. So fun to make and beautiful to look at. It has been really fun to see all the variations participants came up with-using the kit and using their own materials. In the most recent session one of the women made her own cording by twining dogbane she had processed! Impressive! Bag one and bag two.

In an hour from now I will host the last of the currently scheduled sessions for these bags- this one for the group of friends I went to school with in Yokohama way back when. This group did an all handsewn version of the bag. Today we do the lacing at the top and finish off the bags.

One more thing… the Moon of the Month Circle. There was a snafuu in the auto subscription of this item and none of the subscriptions were renewing! I spent a day troubleshooting it with Squarespace and we got it fixed. What that meant was relisting the item, and asking everyone to re-subscribe. So I emailed all of you who had subscribed, explained the situation, and asked you to re-subscribe. So far, about half of you have done so. I’m guessing that many of the rest of you have not seen the email. I know that many people use a separate email address for ordering things that is not often checked. So if you see this notice here and have not re-subscribed, please visit this link to do so. I will be re-emailing the list that did not re-subscribe again later today.

If you still want to join the circle beginning with February, you can do so at the same link. The cut-off each month is the 20th. So anything after that, your subscription will begin the following month. It’s all working correctly now.

The past couple of weeks has been somewhat of a blur…indigo, shibori ribbon, zoom, dog skin allergies(arrgg…), but the garden has still been in my view. My sister send me a little surprise that she made out of some scrap wood. I had been sent links and photos of this more times than I can count but here is what she sent me-ha!

So the table is set, and now she expects photos, movies and various hilarity as I work in the studio outside with my squirrelly friends. They have picked the persimmon tree clean of the last orange gems so it’s back to walnuts now. Expect to see more photos of this…
And in the garden, there are lots of highlights- and weeds! I go after them as I can but I’m distracted by the senna, the salvia, the moon leaf wattle and more. There are about 10,000 fennel seedlings sprouting among the waning narcissus so I’m trying to pot up a bunch of them to put on the free table out front. Should have picked off all those seed heads…
The tomato seeds sprouted and I came across a group of Aunt Ruby’s German Green tomatoes volunteering from last year so I’m looking forward to those. The garden is my sanity!