Category Archives: artisits

just going…no step is too small.

I don’t believe in magical thinking, in being positive without action. I do believe that one can manifest things or people or places into their lives by educating one’s self and taking actions, even tiny ones, toward that thing, that place, or even a person. This may be especially good information for young people these days.

This post is going to be about this sort of thing. It’s also about shibori, Japan, travel, and probably other things I’m not aware of just yet.

You all know I like to garden. Nature relaxes me. Gardening inspires me and gives me small daily moments to appreciate the details of Nature. Seed planting is one example of this. I can literally throw some seeds on the ground and they might sprout. Nature might convene with me. And maybe not. They may be easy to take care of where they pop up or they may be in a path and get trampled to death without ever flowering and re-seeding themselves. The location might be too sunny, too shady, or take too much water to thrive. Or, I can plant the seeds, nurture them in a container until they become a strong seedling and transplant them somewhere they will successfully grow to maturity.
We can’t (and aren’t meant to) control everything but we can work with what we have and adjust and learn along the way.

You probably know I grew up in Japan. I really longed to return-to surround myself with that place I remembered and had fond memories. Many years ago, I was selling my porcelain buttons at Quilt Festival. In those days (mid 90’s), there were many Japanese visitors to that show-much to my surprise at the time. I didn’t then know how popular quilting in Japan had become. I had great fun interacting with these women and speaking with them using my rudimentary Japanese. Eventually, they would make a point of always coming to my booth and sometimes even asking for my help with another vendor to make a purchase or ask a question. Then, an interesting thing happened.
I was invited to go to Japan and sell my porcelain buttons at the first World Quilt show in Tokyo. Only ten US vendors were invited. They would handle everything. The booth would be free. They paired me up with a quilter who was also doing the show at whose home I was graciously offered to stay. All I had to do was get to Japan with my goods. I went from dreaming of going back to standing on the street in Kawasaki. I could feel it all around me, the climate, the street shops, the aromas… I literally cried right then and there, I was so overcome with gratitude from ending up just standing in that spot. I’m pretty sure anyone who might have seen me in that moment on the street was mystified. But I was HOME!

It was probably about a decade later that I had closed the porcelain company and had given myself a year sabbatical to figure out what the heck I was going to do next. It was time to reinvent Life. By this time, I’d processed the death of my first husband, married a second, had two kids (then in high school) and was still in the process of a very ugly complicated divorce that was just dragging on and on. Phil had come into the picture. But dammit- I was going to take the kids to Japan! They had been studying Japanese at school and were anxious to go. So we went! Again, in co-operation with the Universe I was once again HOME! We went on a very tight budget- often spending $40 a night for all of us in a “gaijin house”- pre AirBNB. We stayed with some Yakuza too, another interesting adventure and a story for another time.
It was 2006. I returned back to Long Beach and began to make shibori- and shibori ribbon was born!

Back to the Quilt Festival I went with the ribbon and my other shibori textiles. This was around 2007. Enter Maggie Backman (for whom I’ll forever be grateful). Maggie was the originator and seller of the Colorhue Silk Dyes and herself was a master of Japanese embroidery selling both the dyes and the silk threads to other US distributors. She asked me to teach some shibori on silk classes using her dyes at the show. I told her didn’t feel I was qualified. She fortunately did not listen to this nonsense! (If you know Maggie-she’s hard to say NO to!) And so it was. I ended up teaching shibori there for many years, really coming into my own. Another HOMEcoming of sorts thanks to Maggie. Turned out we had both lived in Yokohama/Yokosuka at the same time. Me, as an elementary school girl, and she, the wife of a Navy Captain and mother to her own kids.

A couple of years later she was beginning the Silk Study Tour to Japan. She had gone once to lay some groundwork and was now ready to take some paying travelers. It was 2009. She INSISTED I come. When I demurred because of the cost, she arranged a loan from a fund her Aunt had left with easy pay back terms so I could go. I went and assisted her in every way I could. By the next tour, she really needed my help (due to her husband’s health and the fact she was 81) and I started to take over the tour for her. By 2011, I was in charge of the tour and although Maggie no longer comes with us (she turned 92 this year!) she always loves a full report and gives advice.

So where is all this leading you may ask by now(if you are still here!)? I’m circling it back to how one manifests the life you want to live. This is for you-feel free to share the sentiment:

when what you do is perceived as being frivolous, persist!

Shiborigirl

In non traditional careers, we are often told to “get a real job”. The arts can be perceived as a frivolous pursuit. But my advice is to discard that thinking. Visualize getting where you want to go or what you want to do. Everything you do is a step in that direction. Even when it doesn’t seem so. Make it so.
It’s part of you becoming. Wishing doesn’t make things so. Actions do. Small and large. Sometimes even just reminding oneself of the direction or the destination is enough in the moment. There are lots of off and on ramps along the way! Take the road less traveled!
*****************
This post above was written several weeks ago and I just hadn’t published it. I was just wondering about it. Lots of activity here and finally now calming down a bit (I think) and I’m back to the blogging “mood”-ha!
I’ve been cleaning out the studio and found some of those old buttons on sample cards- I enjoyed looking at them and remembering the process.
Plant a seed. Adjust. Take small steps. Collectively you’ll get somewhere!

dearest friendlies…(part 1)

It’s been a rough week, month, year! So many ups and downs. I been telling myself I would write a blogpost almost every single day these past two weeks but…well I just couldn’t didn’t. I read your blogs, FB pages, twitter and a few books, and took lots of stitches.
First off, my dear friendlies, one of my favorite FB friends/writers/ NYC poet of life, Michelle Slater passed away. I never met her in person but here, through the blog when she began commenting many years ago. I think she came here via Spiritcloth as many of you have for so long (and even for some, more recently). We had so many wonderful exchanges over the years, through social media as well as the mail. She lived alone in a rent controlled apartment in Manhattan and gave us the gift of so many views of the city she had lived in for over 60 years. She also wrote a blog (actually several) filled with observations of life, photos, and poetry. Just reading the sidebar of her blog could change your life and worldview.
She commented on my blog many times over more than a decade and I will treasure each comment once more whenever I come back to one. In the years prior to our friendliness on FB, she gave me glimpses into her world as they related to mine in her comments but it was only 4 years ago she left me the following comment that told me even more about herself than i had known:

I’ve never made a living at what I’ve loved to do, neither in twenty years of Theater, another ten or fifteen in Film, video and photography, nor as a writer, nor painter, and I only dabbled in cloth. I could blame this on the fact that I somehow managed to eek out a living on the fringes doing this and that, or that I always worked for unpopular causes (feminism, peace, justice etc.), but the truth is I was simply never ambitious enough to pursue money, nor did I have the stick-to-it that’s needed, and now, at seventy three, I’m quite poor in the pocket book. Sometimes friends send gifts, my Social security and small pension from one 11 year position just manage to keep me in internet, phone, electric, and rent (blessedly low after many Landlord battles) and I even get some food aid from a Senior nutrition program. I’m able to go to doctors thanks to medicare basic, but not dentists. I had help to pay for two cataract operations from several generous friends as I live without credit cards. But my admiration for craft and those, like you who manage to somehow make it work is unbounded. The way the 21st Century is leaning into the automated and the digital, outsourcing and growth does look bleak…not to mention the awful political wrangling and the shameful wars…still, I believe that though the artists are as endangered as the polar bear and Minki whale, we persist in another dimension, and that’s as real as the space probes and the industrial glut. Love fuels the enterprise and it’s the best fuel ever to emerge from this earth enterprise.

Michelle in NYC

She was found in her apartment, apparently in her usual chair, when friends noticed she hadn’t posted for several days and wasn’t answering the phone. In my mind I imagine her setting up a new post with a fabulous link or video or simply typing “Goodnight dear friendlies” with a photo view out her apartment window as she did so often.
So here’s to you Michelle… Goodnight with gratitude my friend!
Link to the last video she posted…here.
And my original post (2016) where Michelle left the above comment.

other parts (2 and maybe 3 to follow). comment link is at the top of post.

from the letters file…

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.

Hi,

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,

Joel

 

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.
indigo blues

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…

 

Of course a special package is being prepared.

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…

Remember Before?

don't worry- the copyright watermark is embedded in the metadata -from the indigo mandala workshop with Richard Carbin and Glennis Dolce

don’t worry- the copyright watermark is embedded in the metadata
-from the indigo mandala workshop with Richard Carbin and Glennis Dolce

Before is now a new category.

Remember Before? When people and institutions had integrity, when parents taught their children well, and children listened and remembered? Remember a time of due diligence and responsibility? It is getting harder to remember this time.  It seems a far-away land, a place of fairy tales and make believe. Are we able to return to the Time of Before? How did we come to this place?

Money.

Ahh…that’s it.  It happened when Money became King and Everything became Free, that’s when we arrived here.  Not Free(r) mind you.  Just Free for the Taking.  Free as long as you aren’t caught.

There is a situation brewing. Before things get ugly, Time will be allowed for the Right Thing to Happen.

Comments here are turned off for now. Now is not the time for conversation. It is the Time for Action!