a matter of time

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.

workshop

 

76 thoughts on “a matter of time

  1. richardbrundle235

    I’m so sorry to hear that. I have this beautiful fabric that  I’m no longer able to use because of my disability but I’m trying to get someone to take it. Never thought about using it in quilts. Perhaps someone could do that.

    Liked by 1 person

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      1. vdbolyard

        yes. you’ve said it. it makes me sick, too. at one point i thought of taking printed fabrics to a quilt show (small and local) and decided not to, the cost would cause an uproar…though it should not. but more, there’s a gluttony of people wanting, and no one to say wait or make it yourself, or pay a maker to do that hard work…and this business is all about money, not about making and supporting and dare i say it, living the life of a maker of fine fabric. not sure i’m making sense here…

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        1. shiborigirl Post author

          so much sense! i am having a thought or two along these lines. as you can see by the multitude and sway of comments here, perhaps some possibilities exist to keep these thoughts and real traditions in front of the consuming public. i have a little idea in the back of my head…

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Kathy Chevalier

    I am like the previous person there can never be a replacement for real shibori! The printed one does not have the color, texture, hand of the real deal! The difference is like cotton compared with polyester!

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      1. shiborigirl Post author

        i would also add that i believe there is a vibration that exists in the cloth that exists as a result from intention that can not be replicated by manufactured means. it just can’t. i have learned this by holding in my hands many many cloths that had former lives, been made anew, been infused with thought and wonder. this may sound very airy fairy to some, but it is true. i have felt it.

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  3. Susan Ritchie Voegtly

    It will never ever feel the same as your Shibori. It’s the “feel” of the fabric that comforts me so much. I have an early piece dyed and stitched by an early Shibori teacher. Everyone I touch this small wall hanging, I feel comforted. Besides – the process is – magical!!! Not everyone has that time in their lives – now. Maybe they’ll be back for the whole magic – when they can?

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      i don’t see this as about me or “my” shibori. the process is magical. just because they can print it on a commercial cloth doesn’t make it shibori. or magical. it makes a dollar.

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  4. Linda Vandiver

    So sad. This is not true progress when there is no art involved. I will always love true shibori and thank you for introducing me to it long ago!

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      you are very welcome! and my thanks to Karren Brito who wrote the book and pretty much where I learned to dye silk. and to all the people of Japan and Arimatsu who brought us to today in this wonderful art form.

      Liked by 1 person

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  5. debmcclintock

    I ran into this in Laos markets about 2005. The wonderful Lao skirts had been scanned and printed on polyester. I bought one for the Textile Museum’s collection. It needed to be put in a collection. The silk strands that were drifting out of place were even scanned faithfully. Gah!

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      Gah indeed! yes, here we have seen all the poly & poly/cotton cheap apparel marketed with printed shibori too. two minute fashion. i’m dreading having to see it in every other quilt booth at the festival. see you there!

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  6. Kathleen Stack

    There will always be those that know the difference and respect the labor put into hand dyed. I think the other in its way raises awareness of the craft and tradition. Same with batik, some learn to value hand done. Your fellow Shibori artist, Kathleen

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      this has always been why I teach at Houston and at the JANM. to raise awareness. my classes are not project based. they are about the technique. the process. I have a vast collection of shibori samples I take with me to show. it costs $ to collect/purchase and ship this collection around. there was a person some time back who sent me an email about how I was killing shibori since I didn’t personally send her a detailed instruction sheet on how to replicate something I had done. killing indeed!

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  7. twistedsisterweb

    So very sorry. You and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum. You are unique and are being knocked off. I am unique and beginning lumped in with all the cheap China crap. I should have called my technique The Shibori Sister insisted of Twisted Sister. C

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      let’s be clear. I am not being “knocked off”. I’m not sure what you are referring to but my point is more about the commercialization of traditional textile art forms by the fabric industry. and the loss of understanding by consumers.

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  8. freestyledesignblog

    I absolutely abhor, detest and hate this. I have seen it too many times to be complacent about it. In some cases the ripping off destroys lives – I could give examples but it would take too long. I am so so sorry, I imagine you feel as though you have been violated.

    But I will promise never to use the rubbish stuff even though it is cheaper. Cheaper generally does NOT mean better.

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      1. freestyledesignblog

        It may not seem to be a personal violation but if the plagiarism, for want of a better word, has such an impact upon an individual that that individual is sanctioned by her community then I believe it is a violation – of her rights, of the rights of her community. There is a very long back story to this which I would happily tell you but perhaps privately if you’re interested.

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        1. shiborigirl Post author

          for those of you wondering (as i was) freestyledesignblog was kind enough to share a long and related story about Aboriginal art in Australia and a show put on at a major gallery there titled “Copyrites” which documented this issue.
          I found a couple of related links here:
          https://www.amazon.com/Copyrites-Aboriginal-reproductive-technologies-exhibition/dp/1864082232
          http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/mob/collection/database/?irn=387859&search=birth&images=&wloc=&c=0&s=0

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  9. tdwjohnson

    I’m very sad about this. I try very hard to use hand dyed fabrics, shibori include in my work. I also use old textiles. I use these not only for the look and feel but to help give life to cloth that has touches others lives, either by dyeing, wearing or both! I even purchase old shibori in the form of kimono scraps. I won’t purchase commercial fabric like this, even if it is less expensive, because in the end, it isn’t.

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      it’s interesting to me that the commercial quilt world does not give more acknowledgement to contemporary quilts using “used” fabrics, being that the origins of quilting were based on people using fabrics that had previous lives.

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  10. whereishenow

    it’s like the pottery you buy at the dollar store. People stock up on souveniers from Japan at the local DAISO (100 yen store) which is just factory manufactured “stuff” probably from China. sad sad sad.

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  11. Heather Grover

    I agree with you about how commercial some things get. I closed my quilt shop 2 years ago because I tired of people wanting the latest fad, newest fabric when they have so much sitting at home waiting to be used.Trying to keep up with all that sucked my soul dry.The average american quilter has about $6000 worth of fabric in their stash. I started out using used clothing for my quilts and have gone back to it.

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      isn’t that true? yes. so tiring. as if creating beautiful and wonderful things require such commerce. back in my hand painted porcelain button days people would collect the pieces and when i asked them what they had done with what they previously purchased they said they were saving them- but they wanted more. I would gently suggest they use what they had first-then come back. weird, I know. yet…
      one day i would love to see a section of the quilt exhibit devoted entirely to quilts made from from used fabrics. an entire exhibit section. then, there might be some reason to hope.

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  12. coralseas

    While demonsrating Japanese embroidery at a show I heard a woman say to her friend “my machine can do that”. What can you say? Smile and carry on stitching!

    On stash building, I have a large stash and am still adding to it. Right now I have income to feed my stitching habit but precious little time to endulge it. When I retire the cash:time ratio will reverse. I like to think of my stash as my retirement fund.

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      yes. over 30 years of shows and i still have not heard everything! but thankfully, the core folks who appreciate and relate to what i do keep returning. that keeps me going. perhaps an SRA (stash retirement account) will become more valuable than an IRA- who knows! nice to hear from you Carol-

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  13. jude

    that day, when i saw “boro” in a runway show, I thought oh gee. here we go. appreciation is really about education isn’t it? and the time it takes to understand. and experience. I might post about this. It’s been on my ind lately. And so have you.

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      yes. without understanding and learning there can’t be appreciation. i just listened to a podcast on the state of the quilt market by a fabric mfg. he said that they used to produce 35-40 pattern collections annually and now produce 100. with a minimum run of 3000 yards per design we can assume (i think) at least 300,000 yards PER YEAR of printed cotton sheeting for quilting from this one mid size company (Windham Fabrics). that is not taking into account that some designs will go over that and some may be produced in a variety of color schemes. majorly woven in China and printed in Korea. He spoke of their new “substrate” for a line of african mudcloth designs they are producing in India. (Gah!- my new word thanks to Deb) this is only one company of the many many producing for the quilt market. and the quilt market being a drop in the bucket when it comes to overall fabric production (including apparel and home dec). when asked why the increase in the number of collections even he said he couldn’t come up with a good reason for it. (but i could probably make a guess or two). other key points of interest were that virtually no designer makes a living of of designing fabrics exclusively and that fabrics.com is owned by Amazon (a point which had escaped me somehow)I’ve heard some shop owners complain about discounted fabrics there and even the Windham guy said that yes, they give discounts to large buyers and that fabrics.com buys A LOT of fabric. you can listen here:
      http://whileshenaps.com/2016/10/podcast-episode-82-mickey-krueger-president-windham-fabrics.html

      fabric- the new glut. i see a future where quilters will need about 100 years to use all the fabric currently on the planet if we stopped producing it today. maybe it could become a bigger thing.

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  14. Cathy

    I feel your pain…and I stay away from mass marketing opportunities, like the quilt shows. My fabric has been collected over the past 50 years, lovingly carried from home to home. It includes vintage linens handed own, reworked, repurposed. Twenty years of shibori experimenting on and off. Felting. Japanese weaving. Natural dyeing. Now natural dyeing and shibori together.
    And on to the SunMoonStars.
    There are many, many of us out there. We will never mistake printed shibori cloth for the real thing. We will continue to learn about this artful Japanese tradition. And we will teach others.
    You will continue to teach others, I hope. Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

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  15. deemallon

    ugh. the primacy of indigo – fake and otherwise – in the fashion world is a trend that will be going soon, like they all do. I know you’re talking about something else here, but it is a bit the same – the co-opting of something with deep roots, heirloom status, master producers — and turning it into the ‘must have’ of the season. the other trend I really cannot stand — is paying money for pre-ripped jeans. Seriously?

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  16. Sally

    Sad doesn’t even touch how I feel! Mass producing all the beauty out and hurting every single person who painstakingly and laboriously creates shiboru with real indigo by hand.
    That woman & United Notions should be ashamed.

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      i guess you could say that it’s a good thing there are still some people actually doing it by hand. in spite of everything. honestly, they will move on to the next “thing” in a season or two. i was rethinking that earlier calculation about the number of yards produced annually and i was treating the “collection” as one pattern so that is way off. I would guess that each collection must have at least a dozen patterns so perhaps that number should be multiplied by 12 at least. 3.6 million yards? hmm.

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  17. freestyledesignblog

    Further to my rant of yesterday – I went to ‘that’ site with the aim of making a comment about the overall meanness of this but there seemed to be nowhere to leave a comment. Probably a good thing in the cold light of another day.

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  18. Abby Glassenberg

    I wonder how you’re feeling about Malka Dubrawsky’s fabric for Moda? It’s hand dyed with was resist in Malka’s studio, then scanned and made into a repeat by Moda and printed on fabric. And did you see the indigo print in April Rhodes’ latest collection?

    I also wonder if the commercial printing does in face reduce consumer awareness, or if it increases it by piquing curiousity?

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      honestly, i don’t know these people, nor their work specifically. without being specific- are you asking me if i feel the same way about other traditional textile techniques that have been practiced for hundreds (even thousands) of years by craftspeople (and continue to teach us things about the world around us by learning and practicing these traditions ourselves) and now have been adapted into the commercial marketplace as seasonal collections for the mass quilt fabric market? if so, then i would say that yes, i feel a sadness about that as well.
      shibori and indigo touch me personally so perhaps i feel a special sadness about this.
      and no, i don’t think that many people would see moda’s line of indigo shibori printed fabrics and say to themselves, “gee, i think i’ll take the time to explore the infinite possibilities of this craft form”. no, i don’t.
      i am waiting to see scans of original botanical / eco dyed fabric designs scanned and printed up on cotton sheeting very soon. do you see what i mean? it is the antithesis of that practice. but if the fabric companies see a dollar in it and lack an idea or two , so it shall be. perhaps it is already so.
      i did enjoy your interview with the fellow from windham fabrics. a couple of things popped out to me- he said he is “always looking for ideas on instagram”. also, that they increased the number of annual collections from 35 to 100 over the last few years but when asked why said he didn’t have a good answer for that. also that they are working with a new “substrate” (can i assume this means cotton fabric?)to produce african mudcloth (inspired?) designs in india. presumably for an upcoming collection.

      to me, authentic textile traditions express a unique time and place in our world. a culture of process connected to our surroundings. a link to people, places and times beyond our physical reach.
      all that is stripped away (for me) when i hold a piece of printed shibori in my hand and yes, i do feel a sadness about that.
      your thoughts?

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        1. shiborigirl Post author

          Unfortunately, you were not able to keep the phone interview appointment you made with me (apology accepted via email). Your newsletter that popped up in my email today contained a few errors I would like to correct. First, you ask:
          “What do you think? Do indigo shibori kits and printed fabrics devalue a rich tradition or introduce it to a new market who might not have found it otherwise?”

          This immediately followed a quote you took from one of my replies here thus confusing the reader into thinking that I had a negative or equal feeling about indigo kits and the printed shibori-esque fabrics. You emailed me that same link on the tutorial and asked me to comment on it and the indigo kits via email. I told you I had no reason or desire to comment on that but that if you wanted to ask me a question about my OWN work I would be able to answer such a question. You replied you would stop “bothering” me.

          The other thing I would like to correct is your classification of me as a “shibori master”. This is completely incorrect and I have never made such a claim about myself nor should others (about me). Anyone who really understands shibori understands this is a lifetime practice to which one aspires but may never achieve. It is sort of like someone who claims to have achieved enlightenment. There is a path, a way, and we continue to practice and learn. I would be horrified if the craftspeople in Japan ever saw me being referred to that way.

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    2. freestyledesignblog

      I guess the difference is that Malka Dubrawsky is involved with Moda, so one would expect that she is being paid (at least adequately, if not handsomely) for her designs. I can’t comment on any others. But in the case of the shibori designs being taken from all over the world, wherever traditional indigo dyeing and shibori are done is completely different as the artists do not even know it is happening until they see the printed fabric popping up in shops etc: nor of course are they getting any recognition or recompense.

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      1. shiborigirl Post author

        in general, digital technology allows for the unethical to take as they like without much if any consequence. it is only an awareness by those that care and who form like minded communities willing to think and express such thoughts and acts as to counterbalance this in our world today.

        as far as the designers being handsomely compensated, in the interview linked earlier, the fellow from Windham Fabrics said that while designers are paid for their work, that it is the very rare designer that can make a living solely off their fabric designs (unless i would imagine, they are an in-house salaried employee). for the most part, they can license the same designs to other industries (through something like the Surtex show or other means -if they are motivated to do so).

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  19. Annie Inglis

    I havent read the others comments, Shibori Girl. I just wanted to say that you have inspired me to practice shibori for many years! It is always a big learning curve but it brings me so much pleasure. I love your work as each piece is like artwork to me…unique in every way. I share my skills with beginners but have never found there to be any attitude but gratitude relating to these classes. The ancient process of Japanese tiedye is so unique that i cringe when i see the mass produced fabrics. Handmade is so underated 😦

    I wish you heaps of joy!!!!!

    Warm wishes,

    Annie xx

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  20. woollythinker

    Hi – I came here from the link in Abby’s newsletter. I feel like I’m missing something because the distress I’m seeing from you just doesn’t make sense to me. Of course I don’t know anything about shibori, and probably you’ll think that’s the problem, but on the face of it, this complaint just reeks of elitism.

    1. Not everyone can afford to buy genuine shibori, nor do they have the time and resources (or interest) to learn and practise the craft themselves. Surely it’s okay to devote your passion to one particular craft – say, quilting – instead of spreading yourself thin by trying to master everything? Does that mean they’re not qualified to admire the patterns?

    2. Surely fabric (any kind of fabric, no matter how exquisite or how painstakingly produced and dyed) is a material, in the sense of something to be used in creating another product. It’s not a finished object in itself. So whatever the cultural and indeed spiritual meaning of shibori dyeing, it’s still fundamentally about making something to make things with. This attitude seems to be all about the material as a precious artefact in itself, which feels fundamentally wrong. (Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe shibori fabric is indeed considered a finished artwork, to be hung on a wall and nothing else. But… so what? Fabric printed with reproductions of paintings is fairly common, and beautiful, and why shouldn’t it be?)

    3. It fundamentally misunderstands how culture works. Culture is all about absorbing and integrating influences, just as art is all about absorbing and expressing ideas. How is it valuing art to say that any particular craft should be exclusively practised in one, classical form? That imitating this craft or drawing inspiration from it is some kind of desecration? Is shibori that rare and magical thing, an art form that developed in purest isolation, without ever drawing from any previous or parallel craft?

    I don’t understand being offended by the existence of mass-market, commercial reproductions of something you love. Sure, it’s not the real thing. Sure, let’s talk about how it’s different to the real thing, and why real shibori is more beautiful and more meaningful. But this complaint that “some people just don’t appreciate real craft” is pure snobbery – there’s a huge difference between “don’t appreciate” and “don’t have access to”.

    Further, conflating it with complaints about excessive consumerism in quilting – oh, people have too much fabric stash, oh, textile mills are churning out too much product – is illogical and unfounded. I’ll 100% back a conversation about over-stashing, fast fashion, a culture of waste and exploitation. All bad things. But the marketing of shibori-style prints is not in itself part of that problem. And I honestly can’t see how it’s a problem at all.

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      Robynn-
      Thanks for taking considerable time to reply to this post. I understand that you see my opinion here as elitism. That is your opinion, and maybe that of others not willing to say so publicly. So be it. I won’t defend myself against being called an elitist. As someone who has made a living making handmade for over 40 years perhaps it is a fair call since I suspect I fall into a fairly small group of people able or willing to make the sacrifices to do so. An elite group, so to speak. And yes, I have opinions.

      Yes, I have heard that argument that not everyone can afford the real thing so the fabric companies and mills are just providing a service of making things affordable. I’m wondering if you have ever attended a large quilt festival such as the one in Houston. Fabrics there are not exactly cheap. Not to mention the dazzling prices of sewing machines (many costing way more than the ’87 Volvo I drive-way more). All the notions and threads and tools and patterns…it is kind of mind blowing. I’m not “buying” this one.

      Regarding your thought that fabric is just something to be used in creating a product belies my intention of making it something more than simply that. That Japanese kimono was made in panels and sewn by hand with the intention of the ultimate reuse of that fabric, eventually. Cloth was special and necessary to daily life. It is a mind set that resonates with me. If by raising an awareness about promoting excessive fabric consumerism and how it relates to what I do on a day to day basis in my studio is offensive to you, even snobbery as you say- fine. This blog is a journal of sorts (since 2006) of my world as I experience it. Right or wrong, I put it out there.

      Regarding culture- I have a hard time seeing art, craft, and culture in terms of the fabric houses and the millions and millions of yards of fabrics foisted on the market each season.Consumer culture, perhaps. When that crosses over and comes into my view I wonder about it. To me, culture is many things. One of them being communication. The passing along of beliefs, skills, knowledge, and behaviors, to name a few.

      So, again, thanks for your time in responding. I’ll continue to wonder about this topic.

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      1. woollythinker

        Without wanting to drag this out or be argumentative: I’m still confused. I don’t see how the fact that the sewing market is huge (and a lot of money is undoubtedly being made) has anything to do with the possible value to sewers of affordable shibori-style prints. The fact that very expensive tools, fabrics and notions are sold doesn’t mean everyone can afford them. Similarly, your personal intention to create a fabric that is more than just functional cloth (which I absolutely respect) doesn’t mean that those who simply need functional cloth aren’t entitled to *pretty* functional cloth. And why shouldn’t that prettiness take the form of shibori-inspired patterning?

        As I said before, I’m on your side regarding excessive consumerism. I just don’t understand why your personal art practice stands in opposition to the production of practical materials for the art or craft practice of others. Unless you think that sewing with anything other than handwoven or hand-dyed fabric is intrinsically shoddy and consumerist. (And are happy with the idea that nobody who doesn’t have time and skill to make their own fabric, or the funds to buy handmade materials, is entitled to sew at all.) In which case, where do you draw the line? Do you have to make everything you use yourself? Should nobody have a printed poster on the wall, or buy a postcard reproduction of a loved painting, but only buy original artworks or paint their own? I don’t get it.

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        1. freestyledesignblog

          I think your name says it all – woollythinker. In fact I wonder if you even think through an issue properly before engaging in meaningless discourse with the rest of us who do get it. I am sorry, Shiborigirl, but the comments from this person really made me mad.

          Liked by 1 person

  21. Joe

    “I feel like I’m missing something because the distress I’m seeing from you just doesn’t make sense to me. Of course I don’t know anything about shibori, and probably you’ll think that’s the problem,”

    I agree with that part.

    The rest is so clueless, it needs no response.

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    1. woollythinker

      I appreciate your commitment to this conversation. Clearly you share shiborigirl’s understanding of culture as communication and education.

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  22. Joe

    Ha!

    Nice try Wooly, but your original opening statement speaks volumes……especially to those who actually take a moment to educate themselves before sharing their grand insights on a subject that youopenly state you know nothing about in regards to history, cultural significance, etc.

    A baffoon of sorts.

    Im agreeing with you.
    Whole heartedly.
    Im sure others agree as well.

    Thank you for sharing. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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  23. woollythinker

    It’s interesting that the commenters here (blog owner aside) have enjoyed very rudely accusing me of cluelessness and lack of clear thinking when I am the only person who has even tried to present a logical argument, or logical questioning, rather than emotional statements. Emotional statements are completely fair among a group of shared assumptions, which this blog community is. You all share an idea of the value and meaning of shibori to you, and apparently that completely overrides the mere possibility of it being used in different ways. But here comes an outsider and you all ensure that I’ll remain so. Evidently ignorance is culpable in itself. How does that sit with the idea that “appreciation is about education”? I know I am ignorant; I am open to learning. It’s false to assume that I didn’t “take a moment” to look up shibori, but nothing I read gave me any reason to think the results of this ancient technique should not be fair game as artistic inspiration for commercial use.

    I won’t post again. I don’t want to have a fight in someone else’s internet home, and evidently you have no interest in helping me, or anyone else, understand. If your desire is to keep shibori an exclusive club and turn off anyone with a passing interest, you’re doing that very well..

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