Category Archives: about shibori

The wisdom of the cloth

There is something ultimately satisfying to me when I use old cloth. Especially cloth that has been previously reused-who knows how many times? The feel of it is different, the smell of it, the texture…the memories it holds. Old cloth has lots to wonder about.

Then there is the variety of the cloth. The various weaves, the fiber itself, and the skill of the weaver, the dyer, the thread maker. The cloths original intent or purpose and ultimate uses is also something to wonder about.

sorting and wondering

Today I sorted through another bundle of old Japanese fabric, all previously reused and dismantled from its former use-kimono, yukata, futon cover and more. I love things made from these old fabrics. That someone felt the cloth was precious enough to mend and then use again in something else- is enough for me to continue treating the cloth with the same respect and frugality.

As I ironed, picked threads, and lint brushed the various fabrics, I ran my fingers over each piece wondering.
Who made it? What had it been? What could it become? Japanese narrow woven cloth and the way it was used lent itself to being easily taken apart and reused after laundering. It is a testament to how cloth was valued. Mottainai! (Don’t waste!)

I see the worn and threadbare parts, the patched places, and the edges as the wisdom of the cloth.
They are there to instruct me, to show me the way. I study all the parts of it. I look at the stitches of the patches, the selvedges. I pull a few weft threads and look at them under magnification. I imagine the journey the cloth has been on – from plant or animal up to the point where I now hold it in my own hands, generations later.
In whose indigo vat was it dyed? Did this lovely katazome here serve an early 1900’s merchant family? Had this bolt or strip of cotton katazome been a wedding gift? This boro bit here later used for a layer of a futon cover for cold nights? Who raised the silkworms and warped the looms with the homespun threads? Did the shibori come from Arimatsu or Narumi? Through the passage of time and many hands I’m left with so much to wonder about as I imagine what I (or you) will do with this cloth.

The ancestors of the cloth speak to me as I run my fingers over the surfaces, identifying each textile technique as I prepare a new batch of takaramono treasure packs for the shop-kasuri, shibori, katazome, shima (woven stripes), plain dyed cloth. Some of it is very durable and some now quite thin. It all feels good in my hand and ready for a whole new “becoming”.
The new takaramono packs are now in the shop here.
Here’s a few ideas of things I’ve made-a couple are still available in the shop.

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.

workshop

 

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.

Circling

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

scenario:

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!