Category Archives: experimenting

heart of blue

This is a thought I’ve had on my mind for oh-so-long.  Sort of a marriage of the past with the present.
the past…

the present…
Watermarked Photo 1 (2016-08-11-1632) Watermarked Photo 2 (2016-08-11-1632)I was playing around with some sample making for my upcoming shibori ribbon brooch class in Houston and started on this.  It answered some questions but once I got started I realized it is a little too complicated for the class project which must be completed in large part in the 3 hour time frame with most students being fairly novice to bead embroidery.  So I must simplify.  I realized it fairly early on so I decided to just let this one take me away.  I’ll be making a few more for the class, smaller and simpler but with enough technique that one can carry on and wonder after the first class piece. Sometimes these classes are a real challenge.

So in the meantime, since I still have to pay for the last half of my booth by Monday I am listing a few things in the shop.  So far, I have the booth deposit paid, the airfare for 2, and the AirBnb apartment (more economical than a hotel) for 10 days paid for.  Phew!  Now just the second half of the booth and any electricity, lights, pipes, and freight.  These show costs are a killer.  And not to mention I have to have all the inventory made and paid for up front. The money from all this doesn’t arrive until mid to late November.  It’s a long game.

On the other side of life, the night blooming cereus cactus is putting on its evening show with at least 12-18 flowers open every night (for over a week now and on into one or two more from the looks of it). The bees hang out until almost dark in anticipation,  buzzing from 15 feet up and drawing your attention as you pass by.  Once the dark has settled in, the flowers glow their fluorescent yellow under the moonlight. In the early morning the bees are back at it, eager for every last bit of pollen they can collect until the sun signals the flowers to close, once and for all, before dropping to the ground below and perhaps leaving behind the prospect of a delicious jewel.

Juicy like a watermelon, crunchy black seeds and just sweet enough with a flowery mouth perfume finish!

There are some things which are truly a gift.

 

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.

waiting for the thread to dry…

…is kind of like watching paint dry. Having finished off some orders in this heat I am able to get back to the vat today.  Dyeing a bit of this and that as needed.  As for the vat- it’s a happy vat at the moment.  My little experiment of sewing a big cotton scrim bag to put down into it (keeping any organic materials out of my more open weave cloth as I dye) has been successful.  I placed a few round stones in the bottom to keep it anchored below (somewhat). I also found I could move it over to my smaller light vat as well when needed.  It is not forming much hana (flower) but has a nice coppery sheen on top and is a deep green and dyeing well.
indigo vatAs a reminder- one needs to continue to stir the vat each day, especially when not using it.  This action reintegrates the organic materials and any undissolved indigo in the vat.  There are various theories on whether or not you want to get some oxygen into the vat while stirring (especially if the vat is in disuse).  My particular theory is that since the bacteria consume oxygen they need at least a little bit ongoing to keep up the good work.  That hana you see on your vat is a sign of good fermentation and the result of oxygen bubbling to the top and meeting with the air.

I am anxious to get on with it while I am in the mood but the thread I am dying to use is still wet.  I am working on a show piece for Houston (as in “show”, I mean a piece for the wall of my booth) and it seemed to me that I needed to set it aside and work on a smaller, simpler piece to solve some puzzles and answer some questions I was running into on the larger one.  I also depend on wondering here to catch a few thoughts.

Let’s just get clear on one thing. I am not a quilter.  This may not even be a quilt. It is something.

So that being stated, I have lots to wonder about as I go down the path with this one.  I will say that if you define a quilt as:

“layers of cloth held together with threads drawn through with a needle”

-then this is (a version of) a quilt. But maybe it is something else. Maybe it is a dyers cloth (run through with a needle)? Ahh…to define something. To categorize. To make it black or white. How can it be one thing and still be another? Two things at the same time? Or none at all.  Maybe it is its own thing. That might ring true sometimes. Maybe for today. For now, it is a beginning. It is blue. Many blues. And it has moons. Many moons.

moon

I think the thread may be dry now.

I also get emails…

I like letters better. Sometimes, emails get weird.

It all started with an email. Well, actually it started with a $30 donation. Followed by an email.

“Hi I am interested in learning the folding technique of the feather arashi scarf. Anne Selby uses this technique. Do you know how its done.”

Hmmm… my reply:

Thank you for contacting me.  I see you already do quite a bit of shibori on silk.  I have never seen Anne Selby’s work in person but online it looks very beautiful.  I have been a fan of Karren Brito’s work for some time and I think she did this folded technique first.  I have done something similar in the past but never did it on a large scale, however did discover how it was done.
I try to make my work unique through experimentation as I often find that this process takes me down my own path- one I would not have gone down by being told the exact process by someone who discovered it in their own way.  Since it is a signature styling of Anne Selby- have you asked her?  Perhaps she is not wanting to share that.  It’s not that it’s a “secret” but I’m sure she went through many trials and errors in order to create it.  Honestly, I wouldn’t feel very good about explaining how someone else goes about creating their signature look.  I am very sure you could figure this out on your own if you worked at it through trial and error. In that process, you would likely discover something very new and interesting yourself! Try it!
Yes, there are shortcuts in life- but it is not unlike driving through the countryside at 100 MPH versus riding along that same country road on a bicycle…you see and learn so much more along the way.
I see you just sent a donation through my blog.  I thank you.  I hope you find the blog of use.  If you feel that you want a refund of this donation based on this reply, let me know.    Your work is lovely as well.  Best regards.”

Then a reply:

“Thank you for replying so quickly.  I gave you Anne Selby as an example to give you an idea as to what I was talking about.  Anne Selby does not own the technique, yes I did see it in Karren Brito’s book. I guess there is not a copyright on the  Feather Boa technique.  Shibori is an ancient art form that goes back hundreds of years not only in Japan but in many other countries in the world.  Yoshiko Wade has been working very hard to preserve the techniques of Shibori.  She has been doing it by sharing, because she knows that is the only way to keep Shibori alive.  Anne Selby did not invent this technique.  She did invent the Arashi wrapping machine.  Anna Lisa Hedstrom has put out 3 DVD’s, she has held nothing back.
Thank you for your words of wisdom.  I am happy Yoshiko Wada and Anna Lisa Hedstrom do not think as you do.  Shibori would be dead.”

Ok… “shibori would be dead?”  my reply:

No, there is no copyright on any shibori technique.  I am still curious as to why you asked me about the technique Ann Selby specializes in.  Why not ask her?  Perhaps you have and she has not seen fit to share it with you.  I don’t know.  I am sure you have seen my work and that I don’t show this type of pleating online.  Respectfully, I think this is a question for Anne Selby.
I find it interesting that you choose to characterize me as someone who doesn’t share what I know.  As you know, I have free online shibori classes, I have been teaching shibori at museums, private workshops and international conventions for over 10 years now. I have literally taught 1000’s of people directly and in person not to mention the over 10 years of blogging on the subject.
I think that shibori is more widespread as a result of my work-not less. Saying that shibori would be dead as a result of my attitude is complete nonsense. Saying such things says more about you than it does about me.
Please consider what you say before you say it.  I am returning your donation.

Thankfully, today is a new day. And I know what my own intention is-regardless of how it is viewed from the outside.

Oh yeah, I made these. Just experimenting with silk shibori felt and vintage silk. Wondering.

update…after seeing some other issues like this online (where someone was being derided for not “sharing” their signature technique) I am prompted to add that there are good reasons to doing something the hard way. The struggle, while temporarily uncomfortable, allows you to experience and overcome uncertainty and anxiety. As you increase your skills through trial and error you will be able to experience exuberant surges of your own creativity that you simply will not achieve through following step by step instructions.

 

 

 

shibori ribbon tailings

It has been a while now since I created the silk shibori ribbon.  Ten years to be exact.

When I first created it there was no such thing on the market.  Now it is everywhere.  There are a lot of stories to tell (and I have told some of them here on the blog over the years) and this post will add one more.

In the beginning when I made the ribbon, I wasn’t sure what it would be used for.  I just was sure that it would be (used).  And back in the day, I sent some around, made some things myself and went around showing it at trade shows.  I started people wondering.  A  special friend (jude), in her special way, said something about it that really resonated with me.

“every inch is an adventure” 

And it was. No two inches alike, the beauty was in part, in its imperfection.  And I loved that about it.  Of course this sort of thing creates certain challenges.  As in how to communicate this aspect to the end user (relatively easy) and later on to the retailer (much more of a challenge!). As more people wondered, created with and enjoyed the shibori ribbon, I spent less time using it myself and more time just making it.

Over time some of the designers took to making fabulous things with it.  So much more wonderous than I had ever imagined and this was really fun.  I looked at what was being made with the ribbon and took cues from those who were using it by dyeing colorways I hadn’t yet made.  Some designers love the freeform possibilities while other designers love the perfection of the pleating.   Did I say perfection?  OOPS.  It is not perfect. But I try to make it the best I can.  More recently, as jewelry designs pop up that feature perfectly pleated sections of the ribbon, retailers and some customers want only perfectly pleated ribbon.  They didn’t want the interesting beginning or ends of the rolls, so I began cutting them off and saving them.

I thought they were delicious. So delicious that I refrained from putting them in scrap bags- to use them myself at some future magical place and time (when I had more time-ha!). Plus I didn’t want to hear back from folks who thought they were getting reject ribbon bits in scrap bags.  Then over time, since I was cutting off the ends anyway, I thought- why not just go crazy with the ends of the rolls.  So I did.  And now I have a nice little collection of  these weird scrappy “tailings”, as I call them.

~always an adventure

~always an adventure

They really are fun! More than an adventure…a happening perhaps.  Each piece so unique and weird that it makes it great fun to create something with them.  You can let go and really let the shibori ribbon lead the way.  Really see something in a new way. What am I doing with this growing collection?  I’ll be teaching a shibori ribbon bead embroidery class using my “tailings” in Houston in the fall.  I think we are going to have a really good time!

letting the ribbon lead the way

letting the ribbon lead the way

And don’t forget- the upcoming workshop at the Japanese American National Museum is April 23 & 24.  Sign up at the museum website.

Hope Spring has made its way to wherever you are. It sure looks great here.

trevor surfs

trevor surfs

 

patched up and mending

I figure at this point it will be easier to do a blog post than respond to folks individually regarding the goings on here the past couple of weeks.

Turned out that in a follow-up xray for the pneumonia that plagued me from Yosemite through Houston something odd was spotted on one of my ribs that required a follow up CT.  This revealed that yes, indeed, something odd was growing on one of the ribs.  Chances were a tumor and being unable to needle biopsy it, removal was the best course of action.  So a couple of nights in the hospital between Christmas and NY.  All went well and final results should be back this week.  Even though the surgeon doesn’t seem like a betting sort of fellow he actually told me that “99% chance” is that it is benign.  I’m holding out that NY bottle of champagne for that final confirmation.

A couple of things.  It hurts! They did some sort of surgical nerve block thingy which permanently cuts a section of nerves to reduce pain. Thankful for that!   I guess without it I might just drive someone crazy (r). I don’t react well to strong painkillers (nausea) so have some codine with tylenol that takes the edge off.  Everyday brings a change.  Today being better than yesterday! I will be fine.  Eventually. I am up and around. I have a couple of friends going through much much tougher crap than this and I know I am incredibly fortunate. I salute their strength and persistence!

We also had a fun day at the ER on Christmas as Amma (Icelandic for Grandma) fell and broke her ankle, cracked her head and ribs. This was a couple days before my hospital visit.  She is all OK -light break, head staple (out now) and ribs painful but improving.  Main issue is she can’t go home. She lives in a 2nd floor apartment so she is here for the next 6 weeks for sure.

Boy, when things change, they change!! The boys have cycled in and out to help but Phil is here full time to do the heavy lifting. I am indeed lucky as he is patient and a good caretaker-sometimes bossy but i’m told i’m difficult (imagine that!). So for those asking about their orders, things are a little slower than usual.  But still moving along.  After all, hospital bills must be paid along with the usual bunch.
So, moving on…
The dogs and cats have never been so happy to have so many lounging around! Bella likes nursery rhymes with kittens in clothes- a gift from meagan from my childhood kitten fetish-revisiting…

bella

and there has been time for me to enjoy Donna’s book-

Fashion history from the Kyoto Costume Museum collection

Fashion history from the Kyoto Costume Museum collection

I even pulled out one of my favorite collected pieces to look at-I don’t think I’v shared it here (at least not in many many years). this is the inside of a silk velvet cape. special kasuri silk weaving with supplemental metallic threads. it’s a marvelous thing.  every now and then i just pull it out to gape at its glory and finger its textures.
rusched silk velvet collar inside kasuri

Then one day I played with more of the gridded fusible that Carmen Geddes sampled me. I used it for a beaded ribbon embroidery piece I’m still working on but wondered how it might work to tame the ribbon into a more traditional use.  Maggie was always after me to do something like this.  Carmen was kind enough to also send me her booklet which featured a photo on the back of her and her 9 sisters.  I realized why her business is called TenSisters.  Quite the sweet photo! Wow, imagine ten sisters!  In grabbing that link I just read that there were also 7 brothers!!  Oh my! I’m looking forward to meeting her this coming year at Houston where she will be applying her skills to silk in the Silk Experience classroom.

nine patch-

nine patch-

nine patch detail

silver gold silver gold- for some reason I had never done this combo until one of the Italian designers requested it.  I can see how they will enjoy working with this colorway in their jewelry

and because I always enjoy the ghost colors that come up in the discharge process of certain base colors.  they are those colors that appear halfway up the pleat and don’t get drowned out by the overdye.  not all colors have this aspect.
ghost colorsand one more…gore-tex!  in place of that pesky rib I now have some medical Gore-Tex patching me together. kinda cool stuff. inert in the body -like silk.  I have really integrated textiles into my life!

By Abrev improved picture impression (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Abrev improved picture impression (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons


I have to add a couple more stories here. Not too long ago I received a thank you email from a gal who had been buying scrap bags pretty regularly. She wrote to say that she wanted to thank me for the ribbon and the dragonfly pattern as she was able to retire a size-able medical bill by making and selling the shibori ribbon dragonfly pins.  she also worked up a butterfly design as well and both had contributed to freeing herself from this burden and she was doing well.  How great is that?

Then, the afternoon of my surgery I was resting in my room and received a wonderful new years note from Wendy with a child’s thank you for some of my pieces that are used in her therapy work.  She told of coming to know the color blue even though she can’t see it and the way she maps life through the textiles. Who is healing who here?

 

 

transferrence

I have lots of ideas in my head.  They need transference to my hands.  This week I was able to accomplish a couple of these.  Ideas are really nothing until action is visited upon them.  Firstly, this-

silk gauze cording

Silk shibori gauze tubing.  In the testing stages and time will be needed to ramp it up into  production mode.  More endless possibilities.  I will be selling this by the yard on a retail only level in the new year-limited colors to begin with.  More on this to follow.  Maybe no one will love it like I do but this is the sort of thing that feeds my soul.  I conquered the ribbon.  I need a new and more challenging conquest.   I found a couple pendants that matched this colorway…

pendents

Watermarked Photo 1 (2015-12-12-1025)

Sorry for the crappy photo-taken on the fly.  But more wondering about silk shibori ribbon bead embroidery.  This is interesting on a few levels.  Firstly, because it is from scraps that customers don’t want. I love that.  When customers started complaining that the ends of their ribbon rolls were ugly, I started cutting them off and saving them for myself.  I thought they were the most interesting part of the roll.  Go figure.  That’s been the story of my life.  So here I have a huge box of “ends” that I don’t even put into scrap bags.  Mine, all mine!!  Now when I make a roll of ribbon I try to make the “ugliest” ends possible!  It suits me.

Secondly, Katrina and I have been busy finalizing our Silk Experience calendar for the Houston Quilt Festival 2016. It’s now finished and checked off the list.  One of the new teachers has a lightweight gridded single sided fusible product that I ordered a sample of. I have other ideas for it but in the meantime, it occurred to me to try it for my shibori ribbon brooch/pendant sample for the class I submitted to Quilts Inc. for next year.  It works great for quickly stabilizing a pleated design with the ribbon.  Just arrange and pin the ribbon to the stabilizer and hit with some steam from the back side quickly – easily holding the ribbon in place prior to beading.  This can also be done with sections of the ribbon that I see art quilters using.  Just a simple thing really, but useful.

And some of what is heading to Italy…soon

ribbon brillante!

In indigo shibori news, Buddy loves his linen pillows. Silly dog.

buddy