Category Archives: dyeing

pressing on… indigo and other stuff

On this hot and muggy Sunday I finish up a large order of the shibori ribbon and wonder. Often when I wonder about what I am doing I take to the vat and gain some perspective.  Besides, I have a couple of workshops ahead of me here-3 that involve indigo and need some wondering and planning time.

today the natural vat has a good coppery sheen but little flower. however, it is dyeing well

today the natural vat has a good coppery sheen but little flower. however, it is dyeing well

Starting off with some moons on old tattered asa (hemp) from Japan got me thinking about what ties us all together on this little planet we named Earth – as well as what tears us apart. 

tattered moon- somedays i feel just like this and am in need of a little mending

tattered moon- somedays i feel just like this and am in need of a little mending

I figure I need to order 30 yards of cotton scrim for my workshop in Houston October 26- done and crossed off the list.  The rest of the fabrics to be used are remnants and scraps I have been collecting of some very lovely old and reused fabrics brought back from Japan.  We will dye them in indigo and apply different techniques- shibori mostly, as well as use our imagination before stitching them to the indigo dyed scrim.  Kits will also include swatches of vintage kasuri, katazome, and shibori.  I will have several very nice vintage boro textiles on display for students to study as well as a selection of books and photos from my recent visit to the Amuse Boro Museum in Asakusa, Japan.

workshops start with me creating a new sample- even if I have taught the class before- I want to be very familiar with it and add to previous knowledge I  taught this class at the JANM over a year ago

workshops start with me creating a new sample- even if I have taught the class before- I want to be very familiar with it and add to previous knowledge
I taught this class at the JANM over a year ago

Pressing on, I make my sample by my own hand, I cut the fabrics, collect the swatches.  As I dye the new sample I think about the room that I will be teaching in, the number of students, the problems that will be encountered by restrictions of such a setting and must be solved before anyone walks through the door to make things go smoothly and find success for all who gather that day in that room. I aim for a version of perfection knowing full well that there will be less than that achieved but aiming high is where I like to begin.  I am already looking forward to teaching this class and its myriad lessons.

My class is called Indigo dyed and Boro Stitched and can be signed up for by going to the Quilts Inc. site for the Houston International Quilt Festival.  The class is # 117  on Monday Oct. 26, 2015 in the online catalog.

I am teaching two other classes there as well- Shibori Mandala Magic on Silk (class #217) and Splendid Silk Shibori Poinsettias (class # 611).
The Mandala class is an outcome of working with Richard Carbin and combines the folding techniques I learned from him with a completely different method of resisting and applying the dyes.
Richard’s presence will be felt in the vintage silk fabrics we will use which were collected by and purchased from him.

The Silk Shibori Poinsettia class is a fun Friday evening class- a good sit down and relax class at the end of a busy week.  Many lovely pieces are sure to be made as gifts for friends and family on this night.

I tried to upload an image of a great little boro piece I brought back from Japan but WP is being fussy right now so it will have to wait until later.  Until then, I’ll add a couple of photos of something I made the other day just to satisfy a need I had-a small bag that snaps open by pinching the sides and holds all I need. I used some obishin between the cloth layers.

It’s raining again now- hardly can believe it! It has been such a gift.  I have somewhere I’m supposed to be so until later-

mata ne!

more on the spirit of a thing…

Today and yesterday was a combination of things.  Saturday and Sunday is the Shibori Fusion  workshop at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.  There might be a spot of two left but you will have to check with them. Sign ups are through the museum.  So that means a lot of preparation this week.

We are focusing on using silk and color (as opposed to the indigo workshops I often teach there).  I could have just ordered silk and been done with it, but I see these workshops as an opportunity for teaching more than just shibori dyeing.   So in that spirit, the last couple of days have been busy taking apart old silk kimono and nagajuban.


These are some in progress of dismantling. Such careful stitching, some even sewn with twisted silk thread. Handsewn french seams…the drape of the silk…the sheerness of the lining silks.  Each one yields 12-13 meters and if lined twice that of two different silks. a few stains here and there but nothing that will be noticed after dyeing. In any case these will be pieces that will be practiced on and hopefully used in a future project.   So a day spent with these pieces pulling threads, ironing and organizing- all the time thinking about how we will be dyeing them.  No need for new fabrics when these ones already exist.  I hope to build an appreciation in the participants for these fabrics.  After sorting, cutting, ironing and bundling-they really are lovely!

kimono silk bundles ready for eager dyers!

kimono silk bundles ready for eager dyers!

Most of these are from interior kimono and nagajuban so are off white or very pale in color-easily over-dyed. They are also very soft as they were to be worn close to the skin as opposed to the outer kimono layers.  They have their own spirit from previous owners and the spirit of each dyer will add their own imprint to the cloth.

Other things going on here include the shipping of lots of orders. I put out a lot of silk shibori ribbon scrap bags this week to clear out the scrap box.  Thanks to all who ordered the scrap samples to play and create with- Buddy overseas all the final inspection of orders here:

I closed the etsy shop until next week- need a little break from that to concentrate on the workshop and wholesale orders for a bit – look for it to reopen in a week…or so. I have some fun little ideas I also want to play with and need a little mental space in which to do it.  I hope I can find some!

In addition, I finally heard back from the city on their approval of my re-landscaping plan which conforms to their Lawn to Garden water saving plan.  So I went to Home Depot to buy some heavy black plastic which I will lay down and cover with free mulch from the city yard to kill off the lawn- or what is left of it.  It will take at least a month to kill off this way but worth it. Apparently, most everyone else will be doing it another way and Home Depot has stocked up to take advantage:

Apparently we never learn…

I know I promised an introduction to Squirrelly Gurl for those who haven’t yet met her but this got in the way first.  Next time-for sure.


in the Spirit of things

I am doing lots of repetitive things in the making of this shibori ribbon.  Lots of measuring, counting, winding, ironing and pot stirring.  Waiting for pots to heat up, things to cool off, dry up, unwind.  In the in-betweens and during the repetition I have time to think. And wonder.

People often ask me things at workshops like “What kind of brush do you use”  or, “what brand of “x” do you buy?”  I try to answer the best I can but really it’s not about these things.  It’s more about your commitment to what you are doing, the time you devote to it, your willingness to repeat something over and over than to anything else.  Take my brushes for example:

brushesThey are simple, basic and acquired over time.  Some are repaired, most not very expensive. But it’s more about HOW I use them and how they’ve become part of my daily routine.  I get used to these simple tools and I like things that last- especially under the duress of the dye studio.  Most of these are made by hand and the maker has also taken care and added their skill to the process.

This past month two of the family cars have been sent to the scrap yard.  They were each around 30 years old.  I really hated to see them go. They have served us well -one was already a salvage vehicle when we acquired it over 10 years ago. We got an additional 10 years out of it!   But we were faithful and repaired them many many times. I seemed a shame to not!  They were replaced by two *new* cars 5 years younger. I saved a memento…
Looking around the other night while folks were in the back studio rehearsing my eyes settled on this-

reel to reelYou might remember these from some time ago.  I was actually thrilled when my son fell in love with this.  It works and he has used it here and there.  As a recording engineer, I think he wanted to recreate the fidelity of past recordings in some of his current work.  It gave me the chance to tell him about how my dad had one of these at home and how I learned to splice tape back in high school for a “video” project I did about the Kent State killings and the Vietnam War.  Must have been around ’74-’75.  I made a slide presentation of images I collected from books, newspapers, drawings I had done etc. and had made into slides. To this I set music, radio news recordings and overdubbed my voice recorded on a Sony reel to reel.  I didn’t think it was really a big deal as I had watched my dad put together such things many times but when I presented it in class apparently, it was a big deal.  I wonder who owned this machine in the past? I hate it when useful things become obsolete.  I like it when folks find a way to use the obsolete.

old banjoA good musical instrument never becomes obsolete.  One recently came our way and it will be repaired and played.  This definitely has some spirit and a story.  We will find out more soon.


It’s late now, and the pomegranate tree casts its shadow on the back fence as the last of today’s silk steams.

The next post, in which I introduce you to Squirrelly Gurl ( for those who don’t follow FB), is forming in my mind…

wondering leads down new paths… and back again

It’s true, my blogging sabbatical is over.  It was never really “official”, whatever that means, but in the 9 months in which I haven’t blogged here I have been missing it.  Missing you, those of you who don’t partake in the flurry of other social media offerings.

What exactly do I miss about it?  I miss the wordier, more thoughtful, slower pace of writing a blog post as opposed to the quick quip on Facebook or a clever (maybe) image on Instagram.  If I want to give myself a sorry excuse, I will say I have been very busy these past months. I am quite thankful for that as there have been times when I wondered…financially speaking, if continuing was the way to go.  But being my persistent self, yes, once again persistence was the way.

Often over the past nine months I have thought- “Oh!  I should blog about that.”  Then I let it be and carried on in my work and the moment passed.  (Sometimes for the better I will admit.)

Blogging is more like a homemade meal, often with ingredients right out of your own garden. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the rest are more akin to a fast food joint- you’re in and you’re out. Things can happen in fits and bits.  That is what I have noticed.  And while I work out in the dye studio I can keep up with all that on my phone in a staccato-like way.  I can even throw up a photo ever so easily as I work.(Squirrelly Gurl says Hello!) Throw out a comment or two, commiserate, cheer on, congratulate, and send birthday wishes to people (some of whom I actually know!)  But in the end,  it’s the words and thoughts I miss.  Expression in a different form.

So, even if you can only stop in for a home cooked meal every now and then, come on by- I’ll be here stirring the pot a bit.

Some images from 2014 on your way out, great thanks to all who were a part of it- enjoy, create and wonder!!  We need more wonder in the world…

things flow through

i have always liked figuring things out.  a production run is like a puzzle of sorts.
one must figure out and streamline the entire process.  thinking about such things as efficiency, energy, materials. the order of things.  and most importantly, the FLOW.  beautywood

the flow can refer to many things- the physical space in which i work-allowing me to move through my workspace without hinderance.  the flow of energy as i choose and mix the colors, prepare the silk, thinking several steps ahead of myself so as to maintain that flow.

the flow of work in and out of here as orders come and go, the flow of communication with all of those who email,comment,ask,etc..the flow of paperwork, money, and of course time.

but most of all i enjoy the process of transition. of taking something rather plain and mundane (although i can say that the miracle of the silkworm is anything but mundane!) and turning it into something else by hand.

so, lots of shibori ribbon being made here at the moment. if i have overlooked an email, been tardy in sending you something promised-please send me a little reminder nudge and accept a proforma mea culpa from me.  i appreciate your patience.

in all this busyness, i have quite forgotten to post here about the upcoming workshop with Richard!

speaking of flow. one also needs to refill the vessel and when Richard and I get together for a workshop that is part of the intention- to give you lots to wonder about- to get your flow going-or back into the flow.
good grief…in my mind i had done it!  but alas no- just on Facebook and constant contact. there are still a couple of spaces.  and several requests to Skype/broadcast the workshop which we will be accommodating as well (figuring this out now).  this workshop will combine itajime AND mandalas. you will learn both in the first two days.  on the third day you can work on whichever one (or both) is moving you-and get into your own flow.  patterns of time and space

of course we will be working on the process, the technique, of folding and dyeing and resisting-but also larger concepts of time and space in regards to patterns.  patterns are everywhere-in nature and in life.  sometimes you need to look at the bigger picture to see them.

-some of Richard’s recent work-it just keeps on getting better and better (of course). he recently completed his first continuous 10 meter cloth which is slated to be make into a summer yukata. now THAT’s impressive!
the amazing itajime of Richard Carbin

and just a reminder-  have a 2 day  indigo workshop coming up at the Japanese American National Museum Feb 1 & 2.  We will be working on shibori and indigo and creating a boro-esque indigo scarf from our bounty.  Call the Museum to register- 213.625.0414



Long Beach Museum of Art

Today I gave as special workshop for the docents at the Long Beach Museum of Art.
30 people in a small basement room for 75 minutes.
Slideshow and videos then on to the Shibori.

A simple project but enough to give them a sense of Shibori.






These are the volunteers who take the children on tours through the museum when they come here on field trips.
Thank you Long Beach Museum of Art docents!! It was a pleasure.