Category Archives: flowers

hanamayu- はなまゆ

Over the weekend the silk moths began to emerge.  This year I separated out a half dozen or so of the best white and yellow cocoons for mating.  Last year,  I let them mix and got a lot of variations.  We will see where this leads.

Mr Koizumi, the former Director of the Yokohama Silk Center show us cocoons from all the past periods of Japan’s sericulture history. So many types!

When I was at the Silk Center in Yokohama recently, I picked up a book on silk cocoon flowers (hanamayu- はなまゆ or cocoon flower) by artist Tomiko Sakai. She is a Nagoya native and has been making her fantastic floral creations for over 20 years. Each diminutive blossom is often fashioned into larger sprays with each complete floral work worthy of display at the most formal event. Imagine wedding, tea ceremony, formal entry, or any honorific occasion. One day, I would love to see some of her work in person. She uses only the finest of Gunma produced silk cocoons.  I see that an exhibit of her work was sponsored by both the Gunma Prefectural Government and the Tokyo Silk Science Research Center-both entities that we have visited on previous Silk Study tours.  I wonder…

The book is all in Japanese and was the only one in stock but has an ISBN 0f 4-89977-174-6 which you might be able to track down if desired.  I think the title is something like “Flower Born of a Silk Cocoon” but don’t quote me on that. I will contact the museum in Yokohama prior to our visit there next year and ask about the possibility of having a few in stock for our group when we are there.

The flowers are not anything like the ones I recently did but I would like to see what I could create based on some of her works.  Her craftsmanship (or perhaps the craftsmanship of her studio directed by her) is supreme.  She also uses some of the stained cocoons, incorporating the natural stains created by the emerging moths into the works.  My recent trials pale in comparison!

And on Saturday, I had the privilege of giving an indigo shibori workshop for a group of great high school kids here in So Cal.  Their teacher, Debra, has been the art teacher at this school (gr 7-12) for 32 years and you can tell that she loves her work and that her students love her.  This is a great credit to her, as difficult as it is to be a teacher in the public school system these days, she is full of energy and ideas for her students.  As she told me, she was in the right place at the right time and this is a very special school.  The students were wonderful and we all had a great time.  Several of the students are off to college soon and this was a great way for them to end the year.  A few pics:

the group and Debra waving from the back

gathering threads

discovering the results and wondering

resisting the temptations to pull it up and look

they got a glimpse of arashi shibori too-

volvo doubles as a clothes line…

some results- they all did a sample stitched piece before trying the dragonfly motif

and before i left i turned the drying indigo

me waving to you and the dried and separated first indigo harvest

early summer garden- happy to say that i have been meeting my personal challenge to feed us at least something daily out of the garden here for over a year. may it continue!

Thanks to Cathy Bullington of Elephant Booty for the idea to save all the various harvests through the summer and use an ice chest for a composting bin.  Also, thanks to jude for  introducing me to Debra’s blog Artisun through the link in her sidebar.

Now back to the dyepot, cocoons.

the very industrious silkworm

So today was the big day. Time to stifle the cocoons.  I know- some of you are squeamish about this so perhaps you want to click away to the kittens right NOW!

Turns out I have about 800 cocoons-actually 794 to be precise. Since I didn’t order the eggs but used my own from the last rearing I wasn’t sure.  I guessed around 1000.  Not a bad guess as you lose a few along the way.

794 cocoons

There are a preponderance of yellow cocoons so apparently most of the eggs were from the reverse silkworms.  This year, I separated out a few of the best cocoons into two separate boxes for mating  purposes in case I want to do this again next year in a more controlled manner.  Last year it was pretty much an inter-racial silk moth sex party.

cocoon detail

I also saved out a few cocoons for more fresh reeling.  I need to get to these tomorrow before they emerge.

So, continuing on, it was time to stifle the cocoons so they can be stored and used later.  I used Michael Cook’s instructions as before for this which involves drying them out in a low oven over a couple of drying sessions.  A little toast (no, not that kind) was made in their honor (coffee, mind you as it was morning) and the drying is in progress.

Just so you know, once the moths emerge, they will live for about 10 days (they do not eat during this time as they have no system for this) mating and laying eggs (female only of course) and then they die.  Left to their own, the eggs will hatch (500 per female!!) and if not fed they too will die.  So it’s a service they do for us- to create cocoons which then we can harvest and use.  If you want some eggs, let me know.

Also , I have been playing with the cocoons a bit-

white cocoon flower

Also, the pocket squares for the London wedding are completed and ready to ship tomorrow, the mandala class is now tying their mandalas, and other orders accumulated while I was away are ready to ship out.  I had to catch up on a little indigo today as well and I have to say the fermentation vat is just stellar right now.

wearing many hats …and colors

To order solid shade hand dyed indigo cotton, go here.

For other indigo items, try here. I just restocked some of the items.

Next up on the “to do” list- making silk shibori ribbon, silk reeling, and mawata making practice, and of course indigo dyeing on some really great fabrics I brought back with me to try.

silk cocoonery florals

When inspiration hits you just have to go with it.  No matter what else seems to be on the agenda for the day ~save life or death.  Such was the case these past couple of days as I experimented with my fresh cocoons and new (old) zakuri.

I learned a few things:

First- the zakuri works just fine-  the operator needs some practice!  Secondly, I may want to use more cocoons for reeling my silk.  I used 6 and while beautiful, it was quite fine and I had trouble re-reeling.  Michael from Wormspit and Karen from  Entwinements both chimed in over on facebook to give a few tips.  I’ll improve next time surely!

Also, never one to waste silk-especially that which I raised here, I ended up cutting the reeled silk off the zakuri and making use of it for some silk cocoon flowers.  Now those who have known me for some time really do know that most anything you put into my hands has the possibility of turning onto flowers.  Some kind of genetic thing is all I can figure.  The cocoons didn’t stand a chance.  Actually, I had done a few  test flowers with the shibori ribbon using cut cocoons as centers a while back. Never did photograph them as they sold at some show before I got around to it.

strawflower like…

magnolia-esque

dandelion

Can’t wait to make more but other things need to get done first. Put these in the shop for now…

make a silk shibori poinsettia broach

it’s always nice to make something by hand, either for yourself or as a gift for someone special. this silk shibori poinsettia broach makes a great holiday accessory, a lovely (wearable) package decoration, and perfect hostess gift. i like to have a couple on hand ready to give at a moment’s notice.

Buy Now

this is the DOWNLOAD ONLY for making the poinsettia floral broach.

the instruction is formatted as a PDF with video links. please consider your ability to watch internet media when purchasing.

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if you would like to purchase the materials kit WITH the PDF instructions, then this is the item you want to purchase:

buy it now in the bigcartel shop
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and if you are in need of one already made up and ready to go, you can order that here.

post show posts…

so much has transpired since the last post that perhaps i may break things down into some smaller bite-sized bits. don’t want to overload you and maybe it won’t seem too overwhelming for me. i write posts in my head these days and somehow so many of them just don’t seem to make it to the keyboard…

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starting from now and working backwards…
finally got all the boxes and junk from the show unpacked and put away. always a job i dislike. organizing and putting things away led to cleaning out and sorting and eventually purging and getting rid of some things that just don’t make sense to hold onto. but it really feels good to get things back in order. still, the outdoor studio awaits.

the best part was i unpacked some more of that great linen from Carola and a few goodies from habu textiles (some steel and silk yarn and some tsumugi silk yarn). am thinking to make this with it:

and perhaps ombre dyeing it with indigo in the end. big plans…

you can find the pattern here.

if you are a fan of my facebook page you know we’ve been having some silly fun with the silkmoths over there. they have been emerging, having sex and laying eggs all over the place. it’s like a silkmoth bordello.

there seems to be so much to keep up with…on so many levels. during the last 1/2 hour of the houston show i decided to try making a poinsettia with my silk shibori ribbon.
now if i could have done this BEFORE the show…but noooo. it did come out quite nice and while the silkmoths have been having their fun i made up a few more-just to get the hang of it. not too difficult really- just a little time consuming-each poinsettia has 10 separate parts plus the beaded center! but won’t they look great worn at a a holiday gala?

do you want to make your own? i will make up some kits if you think you do…it takes almost a full yard of holiday red silk shibori ribbon and 3/4 yard of the green silk organza. basically, it involves making lots of leaves in different sizes and stitching them together. if you just want to order the holiday red shibori ribbon and go it on your own….click here

next post…some exciting news for the Silk Experience and more about the Houston Quilt Festival. also, an interview with Noriko Furukawa of the Tama Silk 21 Life group. like i said, too much for one post. need to keep the sales rolling on in the background while everything else also gets done.

noticing

i have been doing more wondering about transparency. often things happen for a reasons that i can’t see until later. it’s like i have to peel away the layers to get to the understanding of what was really happening when i misjudged it to be something else. like the milkweed plant in the back yard.

you would hardly guess that those tiny little polygonal flowers would turn into big puffed out hairy balls and then split open to send seeds out on the breath of a breeze, floating upward in gravity defying flight. a few succommed to gravity and landed in the pond where they seemingly danced on water with the sky reflected beneath their myriad feet.

but usually there was a hint, a seed, a knowingness of some kind that i chose to overlook or just accept in the hope that it would pass or that i was possibly wrong. but i have found that mostly my intuition has served me well. it has in fact even saved my life on one occasion when i really paid attention. i’m paying more attention again. and keeping better company.

speaking of good company, Art Unraveled was good company and i had a chance to meet many new folks there. the vendor day was fun and a pleasure to see many unique artists that don’t pop up everywhere. a real treat.
we had a colorful time in the dye workshop and even did a quickie indigo vat. all the participants were new to dyeing and were quite happy to get their introduction using the colorhue dyes. they learned about various types of silk fabrics and had a chance to see how each type dyed. we made moons together and now i have more moon friends!

after the event was over i had a little time before the drive home to relax and enjoy catching up on my favorite blogs and online haunts. i noticed jude had been busy inspiring others to join her magic feather project so with a needle close at hand i joined in…


and in the end a beautiful sunset entertained us on the drive back home through arizona and california deserts. my, it was hot!

shop update and sea anemone

this post title seems a little odd i know but i must get the word back out that i am adding new items to the bigcartel shop and i have re-opened the etsy shop.

first some pretty pictures before i get to the messy business of words…

sea flowers


sea anemones tend to stay in the same spot until conditions become unsuitable, whereupon they can detach themselves and swim away to a new location… something to think about.

then there are also new silk flowers…

summer blooms in silk shibori

in addition to spending quite a bit of time this week with a needle in hand sewing with invisible thread, i’ve spent some time dyeing new shibori ribbon and will have some new ribbon combo packs in the shop tomorrow. just need to finish the photos and get them posted up. but here is a preview of one new color-hot tropics…things are heating up around here- and elsewhere too, i hear.

but when i feel the need to cool down, the indigo vat is always waiting. cool cool blue. at the moment i have 3 vats going which i am stirring every evening and taking note of the daily ph. one of the vats is made with cheryl kollander’s sky blue indigo which i wanted to try. it does make a nice blue but honestly i have been doing test swatches with all three vats and don’t notice too much difference. maybe it’s just me. i have a lot to learn. she is having a professional level natural dye workshop in july and although i can’t make this work out for me, maybe you can. she has a lot of experience to share. i buy all my indigo from her- it makes sense to me to buy it from someone who uses her own product on a regular basis. even if it costs a little more-which i’m not even sure it actually does.

i’ll be adding some more blue to the shop in coming days, but for now- i have added aiko there. she is ready to wander off into the world and i hope that wherever she lands we will see a glimpse of her future travels. another aiko is in the making too…

aiko has a moment by the pond as she wonders about the future