Category Archives: about shibori

Sweet Peas for Wednesday

Caught some wind in my sails and I’m busy prepping the studio for the workshop this weekend (lots of cleaning!). There are folks coming from NY and TX plus a couple from here in CA. Prepping equipment, materials, and space.

I had a need for a couple of new moons for something I’m working on so made a batch for us all. I’ve got 10 sets of five in the shop so please help yourself.

When I’m dyeing the moons, I’m reminded that the majority of humanity can look up and see the moon and wonder. I try to remember to look up every night or day to catch a glimpse.

As for the cloth, old silk, cotton, hemp, wool pulled from my “save for moons” clothbox. Several special fabrics were used in this batch but one stands out for sentimental reasons. It’s a simple cotton toweling that had a sweet embroidery in one corner and along another edge there was my mothers name written in black marker. Most likely a practice piece done at the instruction of Nana, her mother.

So not sure the backstory but I saved the embroidery section to use elsewhere and used the rest do dye these moons.

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.



orinui shibori and indigo おりぬい絞りと藍

After a very productive and busy weekend at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo (Los Angeles) I had a little idea in my head I needed to get out.

A few more photos might be helpful.

Dyed in the fermentation vat.

At the museum we worked with a wide range of fabrics- many recycled. Fabrics included silks, cottons, hemp, linen, & bamboo in many weights and weaves.  Much was learned about fabrics, shibori techniques and how to dye with the indigo.  Next workshops at the museum are scheduled for Oct. 8-9 and Dec. 10-11.  The new twist will be that we will also work with a fermentation vat and learn how to make a small one you can take home with you.  Contact JANM to sign up.

And just a reminder- My three classes at the upcoming International Quilt Festival in Houston are taking registrations at the Quilts Inc. site. You can see the individual events on my FB events page or go to the registration site and see all the classes there.


Creating circles of inclusion. Widening circles.
The circle as a natural shape.
A mindset of circles.
Incorporating circles.
Remember when we were children?  We sat in circles. We could easily play circle games. Easily drop hands to include another in the circle.
The illimitability of a circle.
Overlapping circles.

This weekend we will focus on circles-yet not be limited to or by them, in shibori and indigo at the Japanese American National Museum.

Museum Ethics 101

You know I don’t want to have to go here again. You do. But Here We Are. Once again.

Let’s restate this, o n e  m o r e  t i m e.

If you are teaching a class, use your own work to sell or market the class. Your work. Not someone else’s. Doing so is unethical and fraudulent. If you are a museum, make sure the images you are using to sell these classes are the works of the instructor you have hired.

In this day and age you cannot simply say you “didn’t know”, you “thought it was OK”, or that “it wasn’t my responsibility”.  Your desire to “pretty up” your website does not supersede copyright infringement laws.

I thought a museum was the caretaker of art, artists, and artworks. If not museums, then what is your contribution to the art world? What happened to being a good citizen of the art community?

Here is a good set of rules to go by:

You stole an image, used it fraudulently for commercial purposes, and made money from it. You used it on your website to sell workshops. You posted about it all over the web and your various social media sites.

The United States statutory damages for copyright infringement are set out in 17 U.S.C. 504 of the U.S. Code. The basic level of damages is between $750 and $30,000 per work at the discretion of the court.  Isn’t it easier and more cost effective to use your own work?

What?  You don’t have any credible work to show? No work worthy of museum presentation?   Ethics people!!  Do they teach you nothing these days??  Is this how you wish to be known, as someone who steals the work of others?

A letter has been sent.  Screenshots taken. Requests made. Their response?

We’re “looking into it”.

What should happen?
I’m just wondering…

each day, one at a time

Just have to add this here if you haven’t seen it yet. If so, it’s worth viewing more than once.

And if you missed the video of her I shot in 2011-

Richard had translated for me back then-

Richard says:
Yup, it’s really interesting. Someone asks her how long she’s been at it. She answers she’s been doing it for 81 years now, and that when they all started, kids started in elementary school back then. She says they competed to be the best, from even such an age. And that back then there were lots of “shokunin”, or craftsmen(and women, I imagine), 100 or more. She says she’s from Narumi. She goes on to reveal that her age is 92 and that the woman next to her is 2 years older yet(like it’s some contest or something)

And after a second listening he adds:
OOps, she’s been doing it for 83 years. Back then, you started when you started elementary school. They competed to remember different techniques and patterns. There were 120 patterns that had to be remembered, but now there are only 70 or so that are done, the others having been abandoned. She says she did a lot of work back then as a student, and then restates herself to emphasize the amt (like “I did a ton!”)

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the essence of intention-意図の本質


a small couture mfg sees some of my work and wants to incorporate it into their line.  meeting takes place where we discuss the possibilities.  i share some sources and ideas, send samples etc.  there actually was a decent possibility that i could produce something for them -basically a wide cotton woven tape arashi dyed with natural indigo.  they loved this-something of mine they had seen from a while back:

indigo arashi on cotton tape

indigo arashi on cotton tape

they also loved the silk ribbon but the above was what they started with.  indigo being ever so “popular” at the moment and the cotton being more practical for the purpose.  fast forward to now. they have worked with the cotton tape supplier i directed them to to produce a faux version of this.  of course it is only faux.  the company actually did a decent job of interpreting the idea but since it is a woven it is very regular and well, manufactured looking.  originally we talked about how adding a very artisanal element to the product was highly desired.  so now i receive an email asking if i can take what they have created and add an “artisanal” touch to it.  or if i have any ideas.

i had to sit with it a bit and think about how i would reply.  here are my thoughts on it…

I know it is a desire of many to produce a handmade artisanal effect through a quicker manufacturing process. The result of that often lacks the desired  end.    My work strives to keep the hand in the making.  It is an intentional thought all along the process. I believe that through this intention the final result contains this energy of beauty.  It is there, even if one doesn’t recognize it as such. 

it is like this process of silk and indigo. to raise some silk myself, to grow the indigo. to use a natural fermentation vat. to make the silk shibori ribbon by hand.  it is all intention.  to let the end result speak for itself.

i just thought it was interesting that at this point i was being asked back into the project to somehow inject what seemed to be missing-even to them.  i actually see it as a good sign.  that something different is being sought or desired.

perhaps next time!

India Flint workshop in Los Angeles

India Flint wanders to Los Angeles

Yes, it is true! India Flint will be in Los Angeles to give a 3 day workshop (July 30,31,& Aug 1) at the studio and shop of Claudia Grau in Los Angeles.  I don’t know Claudia, but she contacted me to let me know there are still a few spaces left and wondered if I knew anyone who might want to join the workshop.  India’s west coast trip has her in the Santa Barbara area giving a workshop there as well but that one sold out rather quickly and hence the LA area workshop was quickly conceived.  There really is not much time to ponder it as registration will close on Friday (this Friday!).  I hope to attend as well although I will be just finishing up the Long Beach International Quilt Festival and the Houston Silk Exhibit planning team will be in town to meet so time is pretty booked.

India Flint Workshop in Los Angeles

For those of you who might not be familiar with India and her work, she is the author on two two books, Eco Color and Second Skin, both books on sustainable dyeing using local windfall to color cloth. She wanders and wonders wherever the trade winds take her, sharing her knowledge, experience, and methods with dyers worldwide. It is a rare chance to be able to have her in Southern California.

Speaking of books, I recently received a copy of a book called Shibori Recreated produced in Australia which features the work of 20 shibori artists, dyers, and makers worldwide.  I was asked to participate in this project and found myself in the company of some others whose work I admire greatly- Hiroshi Murase, Yvonne Wakabayashi, and India Flint to name a few.  I was also pleased to be introduced to the work of Sally Campbell and Barbara Rogers (among others), two shibori-ists whom I had not been previously aware.  The choice of covers for the book (front and back), leave a little to be desired as they don’t convey the topic of shibori very effectively in my opinion.  But I was interested in the content.  Each artist was asked the same set of questions about their own work, shibori in general-past and present, and the future of shibori in terms of technology and this modern world, among other things.  It was interesting to read the artists answers, in their own words, from such a broad and diverse set of folks whose work all focuses on shibori.  I found there were several consistent themes running through the answers of many and thoroughly enjoyed reading through them.    The only other caveat I would add is that the font style and size that was chosen makes for extremely difficult reading.  An odd choice for a book that you want people to read and is actually worth reading.  I think it might be a case of getting carried away with design and form over function.  But all in all, I enjoyed it.

Back to the workshop- if you are anywhere in SoCal and want to wonder and wander a bit with India Flint, give Claudia a call, an email or click to the link to join in– I hope to be there to join you!