Category Archives: in the garden

Up or Down?

…or somewhere inbetween?

I have been feeling very confused lately. Lost really. One day I decide to offer some workshops, the next day I it all seems wrong and I change my mind, only to retrieve the idea a couple of days later. Take this post for example, will I keep it? Delete it? I just don’t know…

In the meantime, I make moons for the moon circle. The March moons are almost all finished. I took a little different approach to March. Maybe it’s the mood I’ve been in lately. March moons focused on process- the discharge process. Discharge is the removal of color- the discharging or releasing of the dye molecule from the cloth. Separation. Like mind from body. Disappearing the color…less and loss. Waning…declining, diminishing, decreasing.
It’s a process in itself to study.


I decided what I am going to do with my moons. I’ve been wondering about that, and about when that might happen. Up to now I have just been saving one set each month along with the description I enclose in a notebook until i figured it out. Mostly I thought I would do a wall piece or a small quilt that included all the moons from 2022. But then I had a little visit with my grandson…
I was wearing my cross shoulder moonbag and we were looking at some photos of himself I had just taken of him on my phone. He wanted to look at other photos and so I showed him some garden photos, the cats and dogs, and as we flipped by some of the moons, he identifies them…”Nana, moon!” (yes, he’s talking up a storm at 2 1/2 now). Then he looks at my bag, and says “Nana’s Moon”. Could you love it any more? I kept thinking about it over the next day and each time it just made me smile. As I was packaging up the moons in their cards and printing out the mailing labels it came to me…a little moonbook for Dean! Nothing too elaborate, just one page a month- small and simple enough so it’s doable and can be completed easily over time little pages I can take along and stitch on here and there. Now I’m a little excited and l am looking forward to this project!

Moonbags

I wonder what some of you out there are doing with your moons. Maybe you too are collecting them until the right moon mood hits you. I hope some of you will eventually share your moon projects with me.

As I finish up one month’s set of moons I think about the next. I already have my idea for May but for April, I may focus on some natural dyed moons using the seed pods from the feathery cassia out front.

Leslie from NSW Australia identified the mystery plant from the last post as a type of wattle in the comments and said that the seed pods from a particular wattle yield a green. Must test that out. The wattle is just now setting pods so in a couple of months I will collect them. The cassia too- but I have a bag of pods I saved from last summer so will use those now. She also clued me into a website I wasn’t familiar with that had a great list of wattle. I only had my own moon leaf wattle so didn’t realize how many other types there are! Especially did not guess that many of them are a narrow leaf variety.

I’ve planted some marigold seeds again for some late summer /fall possibilities. I have lots of tomato seedlings almost ready to plant out. I was out checking on the madder this week and broke off a few skinny root bits to propagate some new plants for another area- they are already sending out shoots! In the same area, I have a cyclamen I planted nearly 40 years ago. It disappeared a few times over the years but when we had enough rain it would reappear. It’s not a fancy one but a bright deep red/pink and in the past few years I’ve made an attempt to water it when needed just to keep it alive. It’s at the base of the ginko tree and benefits from the great mulch of ginko leaf drop in the winter. While i was checking on the madder (nearby) I noticed HUNDREDS of tiny cyclamen babies! Not knowing how these reproduced I looked it up on youtube and saw a fascinating vid on cyclamen plantings. Not having to worry about propagating them myself, I’m just potting up some of these to spread around. They are kinda expensive to buy at the nursery if you want a bunch of them. They little babies are pretty adorable. It will be fun to watch them grow. I didn’t know that they preferred dry shady areas! I think they really like the ginko mulching they get here.

And speaking of seed pods, Nancy surprised me with a package today of the pods she collected in this post from her blog Pomegranate Trail. I had commented on them and they are more fascinating in person. They really do float my boat Nancy! What I noticed also is that they make a cool percussive sound when they knock together. (this is what happens when you have lots of drummers around you-everything becomes percussion!

nancy’s seed pod boats!


And speaking of percussion, we went to see Trev and Jen in the pit orchestra for Fullerton College’s production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It was great fun- I had never seen this live and was amazed at how much the music relied on the percussionist. It was written for 3 percussionists I think but there was only budget for one (remember this is education and the arts, not war) and he held it down well hopping from one instrument to the next. But in the hallway there I saw this poster. It’s great don’t you think?

There were also 4 more relating to music and theater degrees. Looks like they had been there a while and produced by the college some time ago…

Also, when I am doing handwork etc., I’ve been taking Robert Reich‘s “open class” called “Wealth and Poverty” on YouTube. It’s quite good and you don’t even have to enroll in a University! I’m a little behind and on week four at the moment. I think he’s a great teacher on this topic. His website is here.

And finally, my hanging orchid (not upright blooming) cymbidium is glorious at the moment…it has 8 flower spikes and about 270 blossoms! I repotted it and moved its location last year but other than a little worm juice from the worm bin it’s pretty much ignored.

yippee!

So I guess I found my way after all…

who, what, when, where

Somewhere I recently read that 90% of writing is rewriting. This often rings true when I’m writing blog posts. I stop and start, sometimes by design, sometimes by circumstance. Often times when I go to hit the “publish” button and I see the number of revisions I’m shocked! Some of the revisions are minor of course, a word or two here and there, a punctuation or spelling correction, or just an adjustment to make if feel better as the words roll by. Other times, it’s as if I started out with one idea and end up with a completely different post for one reason or another. Some posts are completed in one sitting, others are written over the course of several days. I never know which it will be once I’ve started.

Sadly, I’m attending a service today for a man named Bill Pearl who for 20 plus years was the journalist with the most integrity in our city. He was mostly ignored by local government as he didn’t write what they wanted him to-but the people loved him and it is very obvious by the many, many outpourings of love and stories written online in his memory. He kept politicians accountable and residents informed as best he could.
He always asked us to think about the who, what, when, and where of a story. Should you wish to spend a little time learning about our friend Bill, you can go here, and here.

Many times while I’m working I write clever blog posts in my head, fully meaning to write them very soon. Unfortunately (or fortunately), they usually disappear from my mind before I get back to the keyboard. If I’m lucky, I stop what I’m doing for a second and jot a voice note into my Notes app for later retrieval. If I’m further fortunate, I can actually remember what I meant to write about from that note!
Ahhh… so goes blogging. At least the way I do it these days. I really don’t know how Bill managed it all these years…

Recent days have had me preparing & shipping out the kits for the upcoming Komebukuro Treasure Bag workshop starting on the 20th. That reminds me…I need to go into the shop and halt all kit sales. I won’t have time to do any more to be mailed out in time before the workshop. BUT- you can still sign up for the workshop and use your own materials. In fact, there are people who only do the workshop and don’t order kits which is just fine. I love to see what fabrics they choose to use. If you sign up for that there is a materials list you can download and work from.
Workshop Only Link

In dyeing the linings for this set of kits, it was easy to see that one piece of lining evaded my poly detector. I thought I had done burn tests on all of them. This is kimono lining that I later (after dyeing) I applied a lightweight fusible to before cutting into the 6″x6″ squares.

You can easily see that one was silk and one was poly in the vat. It’s still been quite cold here and the vats are being a bit tricky outdoors. And my hands were freezing!

I originally thought I would include a slug of un-disassembled but (indigo dyed) silk lining just for the fun of having the participants see how it is before taking it all apart but I changed my mind after remembering how a few struggled with stitching the silk without a fusible. So I dyed, washed, ironed, applied the fusible and pre-cut the squares for ease of handling. The silk lining can also be tricky to cut if you aren’t set up for it and I don’t like participants to become frustrated with the project. It was a bit more work for me but better than having everyone have to fuse and cut their own.
I try to improve each time and take what I notice from the past and move ahead.

Later today, I have a monthly check in with Ann Wasserman with past students of her quilt restoration workshops. (She’s got a new workshop in signup stage if you are interested in checking it out.) It’s just a zoom check in to see what everyone is working on and how they are doing with their restorations (I only have a little progress to report myself) and I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve been up to.
(Ok, so in the meantime the check-in with Ann and group happened. Saw one gal from my session and the rest seemed to be from the prior session. Shares of repair projects all around with one pretty extensive project that took a year to complete. Lots of tiny pieces in that one. It was fun to see the excitement around the completion of it! Maybe the most interesting conversation was about the rescuing of the records of the California Heritage Quilt Project. One of the women in the group has stepped up to rescue the records and the project. Many other states have State quilt registry projects which I learned about in Ann’s class. Some state groups have published books about them. The California group is just trying to get itself back up and running so if anyone here has the interest and time, please contact them!)
Over on Twitter (which I don’t think many readers here engage in) I have been following some great historical costume and fashion accounts. Oh my! Some of the items shown are so amazing I need a fainting couch! Also, some of my favorite Japanese sericulturist accounts are starting to contemplate their spring silkworm rearing. Will I raise silkworms again this year? I don’t know.
Right now though, there has been a good amount of unexpected snow in the Kanto region. The photos of snow in Kamakura, Yokohama, and Tokyo are beautiful and make me nostalgic for the winter snows of my childhood there.

some familiar scenes in Kamakura but with snow!

Japan… I get emails asking about the Japan tour. With omicron rising, it’s doubtful to happen this spring. I will consider the fall if things settle down. Please sign up for the constant contact newsletter via the top link in the sidebar here. That’s the best and easiest way to stay informed on the tour. If you email me or ask to be added to the list on a social media thread, I might not get to it. Just being honest…

My son and his new wife are quarantined in Taiwan for three weeks. Like Japan, there are no tourist visas but she is a Taiwanese citizen and they are visiting family once they get through the quarantine period which is very strict. Their all time number of Covid cases is only 17,000. They are serious about maintaining their low exposure to the virus. Currently the biggest complaint is that there is too much food being delivered!

We won’t restart the tour to Japan until it is safe to do so.

There’s more but must get on with it now. Stay safe out there…check on your neighbors and friends.


Almost Solstice…

The shortest day or the longest night? It all depends on your perspective I guess. As holiday decor begins to spill out across the neighborhoods and cooler weather dominates, solstice approaches.
It’s an odd time of year here-especially in the garden. The ginko is beginning to carpet the ground in golden glory- feeling very fallish. I turn around, and narcissus are blooming-is it spring already? I scoop fallen ginko leaves up from the alley to spread as mulch over the yard. Leaf-fall is valuable!
It updated news…we are supposed to get some significant rain in California next week- and boy do we NEED it!

the worm bin is doing well and loves persimmons too!


The persimmons continue to ripen and I’m sharing them with a couple squirrels! I may make some persimmon walnut bars later today with the ripe ones I rescued. A nearby women’s shelter is requesting home baked goods and since I enjoy baking on a day like today but can’t afford to eat too much of it-it’s a fine solution! Yesterday I picked a box of ripe persimmons so something must be done. I was adding some scraps to the worm bin and WOW! They really seem to love the persimmon trimmings and any half critter-eaten ones. The hoshigaki continue to dry-albeit slowly due to lots of foggy mornings.

The two “not my cats” who roam the house at their own discretion seek warm spots to hibernate on colder days, only venturing out when the sun arrives to provide a warm spot for a nap among fallen leaves. My own cat Kuro chan barely likes to come indoors!

Last week, I gave the first of the zoom sessions for the Komebukuro Treasure bag workshop. It was great to see friends new and old. I am really warming up to this format. I struggled with it in the beginning but now am finding my way with it. This was the first time I have done a machine sewing project online. It seems each time I do one of these online workshops it’s a “first time”.
Teaching online makes me get creative in different ways…
During the first session we got about halfway through making our komebukuro. This week we have a “check-in” session for anyone in the group who wants to join in and show their progress or get some extra help.

I was reassured by the comments participants sent me after the session:
Thank you bunches!  Bag is complete up to where we ended yesterday…now to dig around in my “collection” to make up another one…I loved creating this for sure!!”

Thank you for the workshop Glennis. I have followed your blog for years and have a few of your moons in my collection. I love your teaching style and I appreciate the references to traditional textiles and Japanese culture. I admire my bag even more knowing the origin of these special fabric. I look forward to next week and the many bags I am now dreaming about!

“Thanks Glennis-This was my first zoom workshop – it was so fun!!  I sewed along and made my bag lining, and am so inspired by your ideas to do the boro piece.  I’m looking forward to the next session.”

It was fun to know that for some people, it was their very first Zoom experience. Others were pros and had taken many workshops of this nature-some even with me! There were several who had gone to Japan on one of the Silk Study tours, and others who are awaiting their chance when we are able to go again. Others I had never met, and some who had seen me at my booth in Houston or taken a class at the Japanese American National Museum. A great group!

In a couple of weeks, I have another komebukuro workshop- this one a private group. A reunion of sorts. We will be doing this workshop all by hand stitching as several don’t have a sewing machine. So for any of you out there who might want to book a private group for this project, let me know. You only need 6 people. You can use your own fabrics or order a kit from me. Might be a fun thing for a sewing circle group or just a group of crafty friends. Seems like in each of my online workshops there have been friends signing up to do the projects together-I love that! It’s a fun way to get together with long distance friends or whenever you can’t get together in person. I find that people also like the option to review the class via the video link.

I added a new Komebukuro Workshop session for the New Year. (I can’t even believe that time approaches!) Perhaps this might be a nice gift for someone you know. Again you can order the kits and the workshop, separate kits, and the workshop by itself.

I also added a new free “how to” video for the Holiday Cheer kits. Of course this can be used with any of the shibori ribbon colors but in the moment…’tis the Season!

I’m working on a new post which is all about some interesting things I discovered when I took apart an old obi…still going down that rabbit hole!


a little crazed…

The recent days and weeks have been busy, full of daily goings on, dyeing, kit making, workshop prepping, visitors, and then the big event- a beach wedding!

It was a simply beautiful affair on the beach with a BBQ afterwards as the sun set. I had the privilege of making the wedding cheesecakes, vegan chili and helping with the clothing alterations. Others brought food, flowers and officiated. It was a perfect October evening with mild temps and a slight breeze. Children played at the shores edge and adults enjoyed food and conversation. Some surfed prior to the ceremony with the groom. Several people camped overnight nearby, under a bright near full moon.

This Saturday is the first of the two Zoom flower workshops. The material kits have been mailed, the work table set up and today I will do some test runs. The second Zoom date is next Thursday for those who would like to do it a second time or perhaps already had something scheduled for the first date. You can also still order a kit and get the video link when it’s done.

from plain to pleated

I made a whole bunch of extra kits and have added them in the shop. Here in Long Beach, we have hundreds of cargo ships off the coast and politicians encouraging people to shop early for the holidays since the logjam is delaying the arrival of goods. I say, why not make things instead? Here is a list of kits I have in the shop right now if you are inclined to make a hand made gift. I also have a few things ready made that might suit. I’m working on several more. If you have a special custom request, let me know. (I just looked over the shop and see I need to add a few things I never added so that will be my next task…)

Last week’s workshop with Ann Wasserman in her “Preserving Our Quilting Heritage” we were treated to her lecture with samples of quilts she had worked on and new ones now on her work table. We have all sent in photos of a quilt we want to “triage” and of course mine is that unfinished crazy quilt (Ida Belle) I acquired some time back. Here are the photos I sent in.

In between my own work, I have become somewhat obsessed with this crazy quilt thing. In doing a little research, I wondered where the term “crazy” had developed in regards to quilting. It seems (whether true or lore), to have been a reference to the crazed glazes on porcelain the Japanese had exhibited in the 1876 Centennial Exposition  in Philadelphia. Crazing on ceramics occurs when the clay body and the glaze don’t “fit”. That is, they don’t cool at the same rate after firing. This can be caused by a number of things-too thick a coating of glaze, the (intentional or not) chemical composition of the glaze, or thermal shock of cooling off a kiln too quickly. Tension between the clay body and the glaze creates a network of fine crackling. This can be enhanced by rubbing ink into the cracks to make the pattern of crazing stand out on a decorative piece. You don’t want crazing on dinnerware because over time and use the crazing can collect bacteria that may not be desirable. But on decorative ware, glazes can be designed to create a variety of crackle patterns and when I was a ceramic student we had to do just this in the Chemical Clay and Glaze classes. I loved the chemistry of ceramics. During 30 years of running my own porcelain company, we “cracked” many crazing issues. For the most part, even when we wanted a crazed glaze effect on a decorative line, stores and customers would often see it as a defect and we just abandoned it altogether. But that was another time and place…so, back to crazy quilts. So as the story goes, the crazed patterns on Japanese porcelain pieces at this exhibition in 1876 inspired a “craze” itself where quilters found beauty and interest in recreating this type of pattern in their quilts. Previously, quilts had been mostly geometric organized affairs. I imagine that the pieces that were exhibited were possibly Japanese raku.

In between this and that this week, I was looking at Ida Belle and realizing what a task it is going to be to restore it to a reasonable condition and as I was inspecting various parts of it I kept coming back to my interests in Japanese boro traditions and techniques. I can see so many instances where boro repair techniques could be applied. I am not trying to do a traditional restoration of this crazy quilt. This quilt in fact was never completed by Ida Belle. It does not have a binding or a quilt back- it was never quilted or tied or embroidered (something tells me-mainly the types of materials used that Ida never intended to embroider it or embellish her quilt). Perhaps she died before finishing it. The fact that it exists in a fairly decent condition is that it was never used since it was never actually finished. It exists as a quilt top only.
My list of “goals” currently is as follows:

-repair Ida Belle to a condition where it can be lightly used
-use materials I have on hand (as I believe would be Ida’s way)
-apply hand stitching and repair techniques from Ann’s class as well as my knowledge of boro repairs observed in pieces I have collected

-apply a backing and a binding
-steadily work on it as I can-don’t abandon the project!

I may add others as I go but that’s it at the moment. In another twist, I was cleaning up my work table for the Saturday workshop and sorted some scraps of vintage Japanese indigo fabrics. Another project emerged alongside. I became a little obsessed and worked late into the night. It seems that Japanese vintage textiles and crazy quilting are quite like peanut butter and jam.

I chose a piece of egasuri (kasuri with an image or picture woven into it) as a central piece to this block- bird images being quite popular in crazy quilting. I did not use the traditional method of crazy quilt piecing (surprised? haha) but opted to leave all woven selvedges intact as I honor the selvedge whenever possible. I used tattered bits and repaired them using boro techniques- but using some very old red silk in a way that reminds me a bit of the Japanese porcelain repair work called kintsugi. I used hand dyed cotton sashiko thread for the decorative featherstitch (practice needed!) across each joined patch (still a WIP). So now that I have one block near completion, I guess I’ll have to start another. This first block is 18″ x 18″ so I imagine I will do either 6 or 9 for a smallish lap type quilt. Who knows?

One last thing. I’ve started taking photos of all the oothecae I come across in the yard as I do fall clean up work. It helps me remember where they are when it’s time to watch them hatch around February (I’m guessing…). So far I’ve found 6 or so. all in different places. Each egg case can contain 50-200 eggs of the praying mantis! We had so many this past summer.

and continuing…

This is what we do. Continue. Accept change. Adapt. Create and wonder. Make change. Be change…peacefully.
Today…

fermentation vat-about one year old…it’s a kind old vat that has been very forgiving. I kept my last one for about 4 years.

I add this here in case you are interested in why native plants are imperative for insects. I did not know HOW imperative until I read this book. In the future, I will be replacing any drought tolerant alien plants with natives. It seems obvious, but even though I’ve been gardening for decades, there is always more to learn and wonder about. Also available on Audible if you have unused credits. Just a few monarch chrysalis’ left here. the ladybug nymphs have pupated (there were 100’s!!) and emerged as ladybugs, and the praying mantises have mostly gone off to create their ootheca. Still seeing beautiful swallowtails though.

The praying mantis on the sunflower was there for around a month. One night Phil found her eating one of her male suitors. The next morning she was mating with (perhaps) a preferred choice. They were there the entire day and by evening only she was left and finally crawled away. I’m only seeing females in the yard now. Maybe all the males became snacks! I miss seeing her there everyday!

Also today, I worked on organza for the upcoming flower workshop kits. Got the fabric hemmed, dyed, ironed and wired. Next I will pleat, discharge, and dye it. I’m working out the materials for two different kits. I hope to have everything ready for the shop in about a week. A couple of the kits will be indigo dyed.

Captain, another cat who doesn’t live here (but thinks he does) has lately taken up millinery work at the flower making table.

No photos but my grandson was by today and we made “garden soup”. If you want the recipe:
-mint leaves
-sweet red mini bell peppers
-pomegranate arils
-basil leaves
-lemon grass
-dirt to taste
Mix all in a bucket with garden trowel. Enjoy!

Circle back

Has it been a month and a half since i blogged here?? Is that possible? This might be the longest “dry spell” here since i started blogging sometime in 2006 (maybe I’m just giving you and myself a break).

Lots going on really- I should probably break this post up in chapters, we’ll see. In brief, the summer garden has kept us well fed and busy with it’s bounty. I’ll add an annotated gallery of photos in this post. This year the garden seems like it is in perfect harmony with itself. Lots of insects keeping each other in check. Fun to watch.



The tekumo shibori zoom workshop has concluded and students are working on their own with posts on the group blog to guide them, a place to post their own work and ask questions. That is really what has kept me pretty busy. Lots of technical challenges. Multiple cameras, multiple devices, recording, lighting and audio! Jeeze- and all I wanted to do was teach you some shibori. I do miss in person workshops. I was fortunate to have a student volunteer to co- host the sessions- Thank you Komo!! She also took attendance and kept the chat questions going when I was busy presenting in addition to making me some good spreadsheets. Great fun though- a fun roster of exceptional people- some whose path I have crossed variously in the past and some new friends- all looking to learn and get creative!

Part of the class was about creating the fabrics, learning and practicing tekumo, but the end of the class was about using the fabrics you created- in any way whatsoever. One of the pieces I made from class demos for purposes of exampling what one could do, was an indigo wall hanging. I really had a good time making it and thinking about the elements of it. Using pieces I made as demo pieces was part of that fun. At a certain point I let these pieces evolve. I try not to have many pre-planned ideas or expectations as to their final outcome. Often, they are made over the course of several weeks and while that process is happening, life occurs. Natural disasters, loss, rebirth…things one contemplates while one stitches and creates. It ended up as a very tactile piece and one that really should be touched to fully experience it.
I added it into the shop here.

I’m also working on more silk organza tekumo pieces as well as a 2 hour make-along zoom class to make the organza flowers. If you were in the online workshop and made the fabric, use that! If you just want to make one and want to order a kit, I’ll have that available too!
There’s a list developing for a second online tekumo shibori workshop so if you are interested, let me know and I’ll add you to the list.

And for those of you still waiting for the Silk Study Tour to Japan 2022 signup email, I’m hesitating a bit until I see what direction the pandemic is taking. In the meantime, stay safe, masked and vaccinated so we can meet again!
Here’s a little video that Hirata san made of a new restaurant in Kamakura-I want to try it out next visit!

no doubt

it’s summer. here, one can tell by the garden jobs that need attending each day before getting started on other things. plus, by the amount of tomatoes piling up on the kitchen counter.

and in all things summer, the mockingbirds sing throughout the night, the fans hum in the background by day, and earlier morning watering is preferred. also, the garden is filled with creatures. (and the dog got skunked)

the hornworm was put in a box in the garden where a bird flew off with it for a juicy meal. the monarch cats are now in their beautiful green chrysalis’ and the neighbor cat…well… let’s just say he appears to be moving in from over on the next block.
i’ve taken to making tomato soup and hot processing it to use the extra tomatoes that i don’t pass on to friends and family. it’s even really good cold! i’m drying lots of the cherry tomatoes. there are thousands i think. each day, one at a time.

the ladies…

the ladybugs have been breeding here and having a garden party. they daily eat all the available aphids so no damage to plants-lucky me! seriously, they are everywhere. these are tiny! earlier in May I found tons of the nymphs. found these ones when i was picking tomatoes this morning.
meanwhile i also continue to harvest and save assorted dye materials- right now mostly cassia pods and marigolds.
speaking of doubt, out a an abundance of caution, i cancelled the in-person tekumo shibori workshop and reformed it as a zoom workshop. Covid does not seem to be done with us even as we vaccinate and with the delta variant and numbers rising throughout the state and county it seemed the right thing to do. and just when i do this, now silk organza is no longer available. at least not until late august i’m told. fortunately, i have enough on hand for the workshop but jeeze…it’s always something.
fortunately, in addition to the organza i have on hand i have a nice selection of other japanese silks for us to experiment with.
each cloth to its own.

three silks, same technique, same dye session-different results.

stay safe, get vaccinated, and keep masking when indoors in public. your families love you.
each moment is precious.

If …

… you’ve been watching, I’ve been practicing a shibori technique called tekumo, or kumo-as in spider web. My particular fascination is with the sculptural aspects of it after it is dyed steamed and dried. And if you know me, you know I like to practice a process. As with the arashi shibori ribbon, there is a process to make this fabric. And much like the arashi I do, it employs many of the same processes-base dyeing, ironing, binding, discharging, overdyeing, steaming, drying, and finally unbinding. The main difference being the type of binding.
And then…what? What to do with the fabric? Well, flowers of course-for starters.

All rights reserved contact shiborigirl@shiborigirlstudios.com

Aren’t they fun? I’ve added them to the shop here. I call them Hana Hoshi and you can click on the link to see why.
Silk organza is really fun to shape and sculpt since it takes direction so well. It’s the perfect accomplice for sculptural shibori. Here are some photos along the way.

In the background, my 5 little silkworms have been eating mulberry. Only 5, since the eggs I saved from last year didn’t hatch well. And since I have so many things going one in the background here, I opted not to order eggs and make the commitment to feed 500 or 1000 for 4-5 weeks. The 5 that hatched have done just fine. I took one in its 5th instar to my grandson so he could watch it and see it cocoon He’s only 2 but hey- never too early to introduce nature. Since I had so few this year I decided to try something I was always curious about- having them spit silk to a flat surface rather than forming a regular cocoon. It’s trickier than you might think! One got started with it’s cocoon before I set up the flat surface so I was down to 3. And after two days they look ready to give up one the cocoon idea and start spitting the silk. I feel kinda bad for interrupting their natural inclination to make a cocoon but from what I understand it doesn’t harm them. In this process, you can watch them form their pupae and then transform into a moth outside of a cocoon. You have to make sure they are done pooping and also throwing up their guts before putting them on the platform to spit their silk otherwise they will get that all into the silk and you can’t remove it. Here’s a couple of pics…

I came across this article you might find interesting about an experiment to do this on a much larger scale. You might have to translate it if you don’t have your system set up to auto translate. I found it interesting.

And in the background of all this, much of the west is having a terrible heat wave. Here, we have been spared the brunt of it by being closer to the coast- this time anyway. But just the same, the garden is popping off with the warmer weather and the tomatoes and zuchinni are running amok. Must go pick the cherry tomatoes tomorrow and make some bags to give to the neighbors. Zuchinni every night in one form or another.

I had to move on to something else before I got this entry posted so I thought I’d add an update. I’ve been working on a ribbon order which I finished today. Lots of pretty colors! If you are in Europe and need a good place to mail order my ribbon from, check out Perles and Co. Give them a couple of weeks for transit time before they add the the new rolls to their shop.

I also made up a couple of new flowers. I did a test of the tekumo on the silk I use for the ribbon just to see. It works up nice enough but won’t replace the organza for these. It takes longer than making them with the organza and the cost is already up there.

Speaking of cost, I know most artisans don’t do much in the way of cost analysis when they price their items. Many don’t do ANY! Shocking I know. But it’s true. I’m thankful for my past experience in my porcelain company where it was MY job to do all the costing and time studies. When you are working on a large scale producing hundreds of thousands of pieces monthly and you are responsible for a payroll -and by virtue of that, people’s lives, you can’t screw it up! If you do the results are devastating.
So, I always do a cost accounting and time studies on most of the things I sell. If you don’t, and don’t know how to do it ask & start now! I don’t do this on one offs for the most part but anything I intend to sell many multiples of, I do.

I’m working on setting up for a couple of small in person workshops teaching the tekumo technique. Hope to have those set up and in the shop next week.

OK, time to get this posted…and make pizza with LOTS of tomatoes!

(Oh, and to all of you emailing me to be added to the Silk Study Tour to Japan next May, please sign yourself up to the newsletter here. I’ll be sending out the first newsletter with applications in July.)

Milo and Neko chan

It’s been 15 years here on the blog and almost just as long Milo the cat has appeared here and there. I went back and searched posts (he started appearing in early 2008) and found many photos and mentions that even I had forgotten about. He has been a steadfast companion all this time and during this past year he even insisted on making appearances on zoom too. It was with a heavy heart that we had to put him to sleep a couple of weeks ago. I was just too sad to post about it and even now… we miss him dearly.

On an upbeat note, we got our second vaccination last week and all was well-even without any side effects at all other than a sore arm for one day. May 5th will be our two week mark. I am hoping that more and more people choose to get vaccinated so we can begin to congregate more and see fewer people fall ill. I’ve barely seen my nearby grandson who will turn two next month this entire year. I know many of you have also missed seeing dear ones. While people in many other countries are literally dying for a vaccine, people here are saying “no thanks, I’m good”. Astounding. Here in LA, even the police are only 50% vaccinated (while having access for months now) leading one to believe they are choosing to remain unvaccinated while working with the public! Even Japan seems determined to have a summer olympics against all reason with only a 1% vaccination rate and rising infection rates.
And India! Such suffering…

Ok…moving on.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been going through some of my collected Japanese fabrics as well as cleaning out a cupboard or two. In one of the cupboards I found an old hand stitched cat doll my grandmother had made. It is so basic, yet with a lot of personality. Made with what looks like a cotton toweling and red thread it seems to have been an exercise in hand sewing practice. The face and her name are drawn on with a (now faded) marker of some sort. Interestingly, in one place where the stitching came undone the material that was used to stuff the piece was showing. It is stuffed with women’s nylons. Since nylons were not available commercially to women until around 1940, I had to reassess who/when this little cat was made. So either my Nana made this for my mom (maybe a class?) or my mom made it and for some reason my Nana’s name was written on it for identifying purposes. My mom would have been around 10 in the early ’40’s. Nana was born in 1901. Both Nana and mom loved cats. This little guy is probably about 80 years old…

Back to the fabric sorting/organizing and I wondered…what if I made a little cat based on Nana’s cat? So I did. What if I made one for my grandson with some photos and a story? What if I made a pattern and a kit with instructions using some of the Japanese fabrics I have? And so it is… a quick and fun little project for a child or just the child inside us all. Added to the shop here.

in the air…

Lots of thoughts rumbling around here since the last post. This is gonna be a longer post, so settle in.

various tomato seedlings transplanted up and getting a bit of a slow start due to cooler weather but it’s warming up now.

Spring is definitely in the air. And so is hope in many quarters. Spring always is in the very heart of a gardener and I’m no different. Like Spring seasons, life is slowly changing and renewing. Many people are getting vaccinated, getting out and adjusting to what currently is. Just being here is good. In fact, quite wonderful.

Hirata san sends me photos of the beautiful cherry blossoms in Kamakura and I’m having hanami natsukashii (cherry blossom viewing yearnings)…here are a couple to get you in the mood. We have our itinerary for the Silk Study Tour set for 2022 and are looking forward. The photos below show the new cherry trees approaching the Hachimangu shrine. It is just gorgeous with all the trees in bloom! This approach was reworked just a few years ago and is a lovely walk down the center of the main street.

I’ve struggled to post often this past year, instead letting thoughts congregate a bit before getting them written into the ether. That doesn’t mean that they are more clearly expressed with the passage of time, sometimes I think it is quite the opposite! Too many thoughts blend, are forgotten and so on, but today felt right so here we are. Sometimes I take short notes for the blog on my phone to remind me of something I want to write about and sometimes I don’t, letting the thought return like a butterfly to its host plant if it works out that way (speaking of butterflies, the caterpillars of the clouded sulfers have gone somewhere to pupate, I know not where) and the praying mantis oothecae should be hatching any second (haven’t seen the babies yet).

Fresh on my mind right now are my beader friends in the Czech Republic (CR) who write me that they are suffering greatly from their government’s misconduct and irresponsibility in regards to COVID. I felt so sad hearing her description of their situation there. Vaccines are extremely limited, and lockdowns are very strict beyond what science would rationally dictate. People feel stifled and rebellious and somewhat hopeless. They look forward to a new election in October, she says.

“forbidden to move out of our districts, forbidden to work and not compensated, forbidden to socialize, forbidden to breath without a mask even if there is nobody around us in a 100 metres range(328 feet), forbidden to leave our homes between 9pm and 5am… and god knows how long til the end, because the government has literally NO PLAN”

I know she won’t mind my sharing her words here anonymously. I can be so absorbed in my own world here, listening to others broadens my perspective. I love that we have become long distance friends sharing our worlds. At the end of our conversation I shared the music of Joan Armatrading (a long time favorite of mine). I’ve been listening to her music today in the studio after Maura in India (Mustard Seeds Kolkata) featured a song on her FB post this morning.

Seems we lost a number of writers in March, notably Beverly Cleary(104), Norton Juster(91), Larry McMurtry(84), and Marianne Carus(92). My kids and I enjoyed their work and say a fond farewell, having left us with many good reads.

My heart was warmed by a message/conversation received from the mother of a son who credits me with far too much- but as we say, we never know what good a simple act of open-heartedness can give rise to. She credits me with reaching out to him as a young teenager who was struggling greatly and saving his life but it was her perseverance and love that brought him to meet me at a show in Houston (they lived in IN) and to encourage his interest in textiles and art. It is to his credit (and hers) that he graduated with a degree in art and is now teaching art in a HS in CO and just got accepted to grad school. He is out and doing what he loves, being who he is. How can you not love that?

It’s haru basho in sumo right now and today is the final day. We enjoy watching sumo here (I love looking at the silk gyoji costumes with their jaquard weaves and wonderful color combinations) and love watching both the juryo and makuuchi divisions. In a lower division called sandanme one of the rikshi (Hibikiryū) suffered a horrible injury perhaps resulting in paralysis (yet to be determined). The resulting uproar over treatment of rikshi injuries has resumed in sumo and is very justified. If you follow sumo, you know what I am talking about. Japan needs to step up. Tradition is one thing, humane treatment of rikshi is another.

Here in CA people over 50 are eligible for vaccinations April 1 and everyone over 16 is eligible April 15. Some areas have already opened to over 50 and we just received our first vaccination here. We still need #2 in 21 days plus a waiting period but progress is happening and workshops will again begin this summer! I am noticing how it is affecting my mental well being today. I feel inspired and more alive. I hope you are taking advantage of vaccinations in your area so we can all move ahead with safety and more peace of mind. This is a time to consider the future and reinvent many things.

Speaking of the studio, my recent post on the paid blog was quite interesting (apparently only to me-haha) yet I’m not sure if subscribers are reading regularly. Makes me wonder about that path. I won’t be doing this again, methinks. All posts there are password protected unless you subscribe but I thought I would “unprotect” this one to share here. It’s about indigo and madder and what I am making now… moonfire! March moons are all about madder and indigo. Today is the full moon as well as a shop update. Moonrise last night was spectacular here. Are you watching where you are?

I also was listening to a video I came across that resonated with me by George Monbiot who promotes “feeding the world without devouring the planet “. This also applies to textiles and clothing which continue to be a resource problem. As the planet goes, so go we. We survive by walking a fragile line of coexistence with nature. The planet will outlast us surely, but by how much? That is up to us.

In the meantime, I continue to dye. I have been dyeing madder and indigo. On a frustrating note, my aquarium heater in the indigo vat is out of commission again. I think that the high pH just does it in and results in its early death. They seem to last less and less time these days (this one just 5 months). Maybe this is the answer? Pricier than replacing the heater but…less wasteful if it lasts a couple of years. The weather is heating up now (81 degrees today) so a heater for the fermentation vat won’t be needed soon. I have been sorting through old cloth and over-dyeing in both indigo and madder to create some interesting cloth sets for the shop. Moonfire sets are also available there. A little diversion is always fun. I love how madder complements the indigo. I can imagine the projects that will be made from these cloth sets. From my imagination to yours…

and in the end, a look back to an older post.