Friday Saturday SUnday night here and the cactus flowers are opening for the evening. The Persian jasmine and brugmansia intoxicate the night air. There is a sliver of a waning moon setting in the early evening here tonight. During the day, I took this little video of the garden pond.
These past few weeks I’ve been in the studio dyeing shibori ribbon and making silk organza flowers.
I’ll start this post now and finish it up this weekend once I complete a few things and get the accompanying photos taken.
The mind wanders as I work.
One place it has wandered is that the supply of silk satin which I have been using these past dozen years seems to have dried up. This has been preying on my mind as I consider what to do. I have tried other types of silks over the years and just have not been pleased with using other silk weaves or weights. In the beginning( 2006), I spent a lot of time testing out various silks to get what I wanted and silk satin was it! Now I find myself revisiting and repeating these tests with less than desirable results.
It appears as if the Chinese mills that weave this type of silk are simply no longer interested in producing it according to my sources. I don’t know what it is about weaving the plain back silk satin (as opposed to something like crepe back satin-charmuese) makes it less desirable to produce. Perhaps the volume has dropped and it’s not worth setting up the looms- I just don’t know. Other sources are being investigated so I can only be somewhat hopeful.
I have one last wholesale order commitment I am working on but after that, I will dedicate the remaining balance of my undyed inventory to my own online retail shop until further notice.
Tariffs are also on my mind.
For some reason, I keep having the urge to weave something. Something silk. Perhaps my visit to Amami has something to do with it. I want to weave something with silk that I have reeled here. Something simple. I can see it in my mind’s eye…I must find some time for this or the idea will simply drive me crazy! First step will be to reel the silk cocoons I have collected in the freezer. It will be a rather thick thread, something sturdy. But reeled, not spun. I want the sheen and not the fuzziness of a spun yarn. It also has to be something I can use to make with. That is just me. I have to always go there. In any case the thought lingers and hangs over my head as I work on orders. Of course I will need a loom for that. Something used, simple, affordable. But I’ll get to that as it comes or search when I have the silk thread ready.
Moving along, did I mention anything about a plant dyeing workshop? I’ll go back now and look. Ok, just checked and it appears I did. So that is ongoing. I keep looking around the yard and wondering what else I can get color from. I did a small test of the runaway mint which yielded a soft green with an iron mordant and a lovely gold with the alum/ cream of tarter. Tonight I had to trim a huge pile of the passionflower vine so into the pot that will go just to see. Might be a big nothing but since it’s not a major commitment, why not? I don’t really need another plant that dyes yellow or gold but we will see…
I am working on a couple more batches of the silk shibori pleated organza flowers for the shop. The first batch is gone and this second one has a decidedly fall feeling. The next one will be more pastels I think- I was just cutting the fabric for them tonight. I do enjoy making them and as long as they are selling I’ll keep making them. I have a small one day sales event coming up at the Japanese American National Museum in October that I will be preparing some pieces for and flowers will be part of that.
How is it that there STILL is not enough time to do everything? Baby Dean is already 3 months old and last night I was his first babysitter so mom and dad could have an evening out to dinner by themselves. We read some books and poems about the moon and bugs and a rock and roll band. I can’t wait to show him all the bugs and worms and dirt in the garden!
Saturday Sunday now and the flowers and the photos have been completed. I’ll be putting them into the shop before I post this entry.
I’m kinda excited to start dyeing the silk satin ribbon for my own shop this week. Dyeing for my own shop as opposed to producing for an order with a prescribed list of colors brings out the alchemist in me. I can just let myself go and do some combinations that never need to be repeated. Of course I will do some of the favorites but being free to dye on a whim is inspiring and often leads to some surprising colorways. I’m looking forward to that!
I did do a dye test with the passionflower vine. I can report that it dyes a mild and uninspiring gold. Left folded and in the sun for a couple of days I find it not to be very lightfast…so moving on-won’t be repeating that. Unfortunate since it’s such a prolific grower!
I’ve been reflecting back on my life and work lately as a result of Phil posting video he took of me back in early May. It’s posted to facebook if you are inclined to see it. (He’s been sick with a bladder infection and heading for an ultrasound after labor day so had a lot of unsupervised time on his hands.) I remember when a poor but inspired artist type kid who was willing to take a risk, work insanely hard and had a few ideas, could rent a run down space for an affordable price to start a little something. It took time to slowly grow it and eventually move into bigger and nicer spaces without taking on tons of debt and loans. I look around me now and don’t see this sort of opportunity anymore. Real estate values have effectively closed those doors, at least in this city. Not too many of the older industrial or store front spaces are still owned by local landlords. We had some great landlords over the years. Mainly older guys who earned some $ in their own local businesses and wanted to invest in some local properties. I remember one who even came to our wedding! Later he came to Brian’s funeral. These guys have all passed away and real estate is a corporate investment. Our first studio space was the old Signal Hill Jail. It still had the marks in the floor where the two jail cells were. It was far from fancy but it was a space we could work in. As I recall the rent was a couple of hundred dollars-maybe $300. Our neighbor was a jeweler whose space was previously the local bank. The old bank vault inside was her closet (Sue-where are you?). The building is long gone now- torn down and replaced by fancy condos with a view. Eventually we outgrew it and moved into bigger spaces. I really wonder how small artists and maker types can continue to exist in this climate. Cities say they value the arts, but do they? How exactly do they value it? The ways in which I see them claiming to value it are not creating an environment of independence and sustainability. Maybe it’s just not possible here anymore. Like I’ve said before, many times and in various posts here- I think I have become an endangered species of sorts. I wish it was easier for people to start something up and still be able to afford the basics of everyday life without a big chunk of money in hand.
It’s a lot to think about on a Sunday night. I’ll leave you with a few links to explore and some photos of some recent pieces. And a garden pic or two. Hope all is well with you…
So, from the recent garden…
I finally got the recent silk shibori ribbon and organza shibori flowers into the shop-I hope you’ll take a look. Plus, a few photos of some of the scarves I’m making for the fair at the Japanese American National Museum in October. Time is marching on…I started this post in August, and now it’s September. More geese have been flying overhead. Today, it’s too hot to be outside in the studio or the garden. We are waiting for sunset. Now it’s Tuesday… I hope you are well.