Last week was a bit of a blur. A 2 day workshop at the JANM, all the prep and putting away for that consumed days apart from the actual time at the museum. We made fermentation vats for everyone who wanted to take one home. I decanted and took a 5 gallon container from my own ferm vat to the workshop for participants to try out. We “seeded” each of the new vats with a cup or two of my vat, so now the mother vat has children and I may become a grandmother! Or at least an Auntie. I took NO photos that weekend- was just very involved and focused on what we were doing. Thanks to all who came and also to those who plan on returning to the upcoming workshops Dec 10-11 and also on the Feb. 4-5.
The week also brought some pomegranate dyeing into view and it feels as if I am spinning straw into gold. Using lots of old cloth-collected and gifted- re-loving them.
And now finally, I attempt to finish this post started nearly a week ago. With the first boxes sent off to the Ed office for my Houston workshops and the studio reorganized from that fiasco I continue…
plus, we got some rain…
Somehow, this makes me feel really sad. I did realize that this would be the eventual end game of sorts. It always happens.
And for expressing this I am prepared to take whatever shit comes my way about it. I am. Somehow this feels somewhat personal. Not in the usual Me Me Me sense but in the way that something I have grown to love, understand, and practice has yet again been usurped by the commercialization of something fine and turned into something rote. Turned into something that yet again, another company will inevitably run into the ground until people are tired of it in a season or two or until the profit runs dry and no one cares.
In the meantime, they will crank out tons of cotton fabrics, printed (not dyed), to be sewn by machines into stunning show quilts for competitions and more.
Why wonder about and practice it when you can just click a few buttons on the computer or grab a stack of whacks at the show and be done?
And so it is.
The word shibori comes from the root verb of the word shiboru which means to twist or wring, to squeeze. Yup. Makes sense.
Took a couple of days near the cooling beach with Phil and Trev to get away from the daily doings. Shore leave as it is sometimes called…
shore leave sunset
Brought this along. Maybe it is a traveling cloth, even if only a mind traveler. Stitching on it again with the surf pounding in front of me, I wonder about our connection to water. A morning shoreline fisherman pulls up a silvery fish. I imagine he is fishing for moons and stars.
The indigo seed is born of water, nourished by water, dissolved in water. The silk thread I am stitching with is connected to that water as well. The mulberry leaf received its water in the form of rain, the cocoon, the sericin softened and reeled with the aid of water. The early fisherman carries his silvery catch away as others arrive, and we move on. Here is a memory from another trip this way. moons, tides, memories
The Houston show is on the horizon ahead of me. I am working towards that. In addition, there is a two day workshop at the JANM. There are other things too. Too much really. People who want last minute orders will wait until I return. What can you do? I stopped posting on social media for a week. Just needed a break from it. FB and all its crazy politics with the election is disruptive. I guess the most I will say about all that is go and vote. Be prepared to take responsibility for what and who you vote for. The show in Houston is the weekend pre-ceeding the election. Always a difficult and uncertain time for people. I plan to make my booth as beautiful and peaceful as possible. Come. Hang out. Get inspired. Working with your hands is good. Booth 1921.
80+ silk mandalas forded for the workshop. have to do this ahead for them as there is not enough time and space for a whole class to do their own.
they will practice on paper and go away with the instruction sheet.
apricot tree in bloom is confused with our 106 degree weather.
Our hot spell has subsided now and both myself and perhaps the apricot tree are feeling a little less crazy. I could not work well outside during those days. Hence all the mandala folding and other workshop kit making after sunset.
bright spot in the garden-I think he liked the hot weather!
Gosh, has it been that long? The first quilt Journey started here. Further photos from the wayback time machine here on Flickr. And it has been a journey that has developed into an Odyssey. Journey was the original mooncloth.
Sometimes it’s funny to go back and read an old post. Notice how some things change and others remain the same. Like how I am still not a quilter. Blogging for over 10 years now and there are so many posts I still enjoy going back and re-reading- as a reminder. Others not so much- but still a good reminder.
In a much more recent post, I showed you how I was binding the edge of the test mooncloth Under One Moon in a little video. A couple of pics of the semi-finished piece:
under one moon
This was sent off as a gift with a hope of continuing. Some thread and a needle included.
Continuing on with the larger one I’m calling Odyssey, I’m realizing how much I like the feel and drape of this cloth in my hands as I stitch on it. And right now as I head towards Quilt Festival I also realize that about 90%+ of the fabric I see there is not fabric that I would want to hand quilt with. Of course quilting began with the reuse of scraps from clothing and household textiles that lived previous lives and had a softness built into them. Fabrics now are made for machines with tight weaves, bright colors, and slick finishes. This makes them harder to push a needle through by hand. And less desirable to hand quilters. I don’t know how others feel about this but I will be noticing next month at the festival and wondering about it more.
I hope I can get this one finished in time. Or near to-at least in a way that it can be continued on the road. Late afternoon light… Seems it’s a Nine patch. Just turned out that way.
And in workshop news… the upcoming indigo workshop at the Japanese American National Museum is going to be a little different. We will be making some small fermentation vats that folks can take home and continue with. We will also be using the pre-reduced indigo and doing more shibori. Perhaps you want to explore doing some more detailed stitched shibori on larger cloth?
This post is like looking into the rear view mirror of last week. It’s the last Monday in August now and in some places (not here really) Summer is connecting with Fall. Here though, it seems summer is colliding with Fall.
Not even out of August and the pomegranates are ready! So we (Trevor and I) picked about 25 and he seeded them for me. What is left will produce some beautiful golds and greens (when added to to some indigo blue).
And if that’s not enough evidence of climate change for you- the persimmons are starting to go off as well! This is unprecedented here (in the 36 years I have lived here and been the caretaker of this garden). Generally, these are not ready until November when I return from Houston and peel and hang them for hoshigaki. They are smaller this year (more work) and I should have thinned them. I never have had to before. A few had dropped and while the tip is orangey-the top is still green. Softened, they are still delicious. So this means I’ll keep my eye on them to try to determine the right time to pick and peel.
And if that isn’t enough, the ginkgo tree is dropping nuts. I’m sharing with the boys who like to sit up in the tree and drop the outside parts on my head while I sit in the shade under the tree. A few years ago, Richard showed me how to prepare them.
squirrelly boy teasing me
And just so happened that Saturday was the NM hatch chile roasting at the nearby market…so of course I had to go.
It took about 3 minutes for 25 lbs! They put them in a bag inside a box where thy seated for a while and Trevor and I spent about 2 hours peeling and seeding them. Whole and chopped and in the freezer in recipe sized portions. Some went to neighbors as well. We had to wear masks while doing this and should have worn gloves as well. The burning on the backs of our hands didn’t start until we finished and lasted for hours but is all gone now. Next time…
The veggie garden is minimal at the moment. Mostly kale, cukes and a new crop of heat tolerant tomatoes (a second tomato crop this season) which I wondered about but is doing as promised and setting lots of tomatoes-currently golf ball size. I added some vermiculite to the raised bed to help even out the moisture and conserve on watering. It appears to be working well especially with the new basil I planted- lots for delicious walnut basil pesto. Never have done that before except in pots.
The fruit trees all have soaker hose rings on them and even then are wanting more water than I am giving them. Lots to adjust to as we get hotter and drier.
And in the studio- lots going on there too. Ribbon orders and lots of indigo in addition to a little more beading trying to get to the right mix for the class project in Houston. Here’s the latest addition to the shop– garden inspired with a remnant from the past…
Garden of the Heart
one of my personal favorites
I always loved this porcelain button and its garden theme. The sense of something about to happen yet it lets you wonder. I chose green shibori ribbon of course- some tailings. The picot edge beads are like drops of dew. I stopped and started a few times on this, letting it tell me where wander.
I restocked the shop with indigo at the beginning of last week and mostly it is gone now- thank you! The second part of my Houston booth now paid for. Phew!
silk and cotton thread
more base cloth
I also received a nice stack of old linens from a friend. They belonged to her mother who passed away some years ago. I knew her well back then and it will be a treat to work with them. They will be showing up soon.
Recently, in the workshop at the Japanese American National Museum one of the participants brought some fabric that she had dyed in another workshop somewhere. It had faded radically and even more so along the folds and creases. She wanted to know what had happened.
This is something that also came up a couple of times in the online indigo workshop and was struggled with over there. Occasionally, I have seen it in my own indigo dyed pieces and strive to do those things which I find help to alleviate the problem.
As far as I have been able to understand, and the experiences I have had with this type of fading have led me to the following understandings. Please feel free to jump in here and correct , inform and add to our knowledge on this for other folks as well.
-fading of the fabric along exposed areas and folds where the cloth is exposed to air and or humidity. I have even seen fade lines on indigo cloth that I have hung (flat) to dry outside overnight that had a bit of a sway in the hung cloth. It seemed that in this case the overnight humidity was the over-riding factor.
three shades from the fermentation vat ready to assemble into the cloth packs for the shop
What is happening?
– ozone in the atmosphere is reacting to the cloth and any chemicals left in the fabric and additionally with UV light to produce an oxidizing effect. Smog and humidity also figure into the mix even in cloth that is well washed out.
At first, I thought that only fabrics dyed in a chemical vat or a pre-reduced indigo vat were susceptible to this. Not true. They may be MORE prone to it but fermentation vat dyed indigo is also affected.
What to do to minimize this?
– wash out your fabrics well before dyeing to remove any chemical treatments.
-build up your depth of shade over many dips in the vat. Have a light vat and a dark vat to produce various shades of blue through repeated dips and really work the dye into the cloth.
-rinse your indigo dyed cloth well between dips into the vat and then finally wash them well with a good rinse in the end. You may have seen photos of Japanese dyers planting their indigo dyed cloths along a river or stream to let the water run through- this would definitely do it! Getting out any chemicals that can react to the ozone is beneficial.
-once dried and ready for storage until use, you can keep your indigo cloth in a drawer or wrapped in a towel to keep the edges from fading.
Finished pieces (such as a quilt on a bed, a pillow, a wall hanging) will fade more evenly and possibly without notice as they are more evenly exposed to the atmosphere. All indigo will fade with use (think denim). Well dyed dark shades built up by many dips seem less susceptible. This is one reason I prefer the fermentation vat over the pre-reduced or chemical vat-more work but a more satisfying process and result. Also, be aware that different fabrics will fade differently. Think about the weave and the fiber.
There are even products out now for commercial dye houses that speed indigo fading (ozone finishing!) with the use of ozone related treatments said to be less labor and water intensive. Consulting companies work with manufacturers to troubleshoot their process and diminish the fading (or even speed it up!).
What if it’s not a problem at all? It’s a matter of perspective.
It’s a good thing I don’t share all the letters I receive as some just make me want to throw something and others make me want to shed a tear. Some are so uplifting, yet too personal or bittersweet at times to publish on the blog. This week so far I have received one of each. Just for balance.
Remember Balance? Balance has been a theme here over time on the blog and in reality, everyday.
Which brings me to an email I received this morning.
I ran across a piece of art that I thought was public domain but have traced it back to you. I work for Hanes, and was thinking about using the art “Indigo wall panel” in a panty print but doing it in different colors, modified digitally so that it can be rotary screen printed. Would you grant me permission to use? If not, I will do something different and try to create the look of the technique digitally and that’s perfectly fine. Have a great day.
Thank you either way,
So, basically he is saying that they want permission to use the image of my shibori work as a shortcut to a graphic design to screen print onto underwear. And if I don’t grant permission, they will “create the look of the technique digitally” and carry on. In my mind, I hear- “we will alter your image enough (digitally) so as to be able to call it our own or derived and skip your permission altogether. Have a great day!
So what happened to common courtesy? How about “I came across your work (while searching for patterns in indigo and shibori images online that we could glean for free use of artwork for our commercial product line) and would love to use your image and compensate you modestly (say $500) for it’s use.
I don’t know. I really don’t know anymore. Why? When a company that has reported net sales of $5.7 billion in their most recent report has their design staff searching the internet and basically bullying artists(my opinion) into granting permission for use of their works I just don’t know anymore.
So what say you, fair readers?
Should we say yes and allow them to use this artwork knowing that every time we see this pattern on Hanes panties (and we will see them) we will be reminded of the corporately owned world we must now operate within? It might be a good thing to remind ourselves of this on a regular basis. It is in all our lives daily in even the smallest of things.
Or should we say no, allowing them to feel like they did the right thing by asking and either remake my design in their own image (costing them a bit more) or even just to continue searching online for some other image they can use without actually having to do more than work the keyboard.
Indigo Blues was published in 2012. Like many images of my work, I find them regularly online without attribution. This is a detail shot of the full piece that was sold through my online shop quite some time ago. The full image here.
On the other side of Balance, I received an order for moons the other day with an immediate email follow-up note from a fellow undergoing a very serious health challenge. Having been hospitalized for many recent months he tells me the following:
I have decorated each room I’ve spent time in– sometimes 4 to 6 weeks at a stretch — with fukuro obi hangings and other silk kimono fabrics, which have always brought pleasure to me and to visitors. A calming healing environment visitors would exclaim! I will continue this “tradition” of Japanese design in the rooms when I re-enter for hospital for the transplant, a “cure”, in early September. I plan to add your beautiful moons to the room. Many thanks.
and I reply(in part)…
It will be a privilege to make some moons for you. Thank you for your order.
I can imagine your room…your creating it with a certain peaceful attitude that promotes calmness, enjoyment, and healing qualities for both you and your visitors.
I will be thinking of this as I dye your fabrics. My favorite thing to do is to create intentional fabrics that I can infuse with thoughts and intentions for their recipients as I make them. Thank you. Be well, take care…