Category Archives: in the shop

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…

Ode to shibori ribbon

Most days in the studio I look for meaning in the process, not in the end result. It might not seem that way to many as the thing most people see and react to is the end result of what I do, in the form of something they might purchase from me or enjoy looking at online.

But the reality of it all is, that much of the meaning is experienced in the process. This is where all the wondering begins, questions are asked, and solutions discovered. I appreciate simple process and basic beginning points. I really enjoy creating and practicing a process. Always have.
This past week, I had the first wholesale order of shibori ribbon in a while. I have adjusted my process a bit to fit the scale of what I am doing these days. Also, jumping around in the studio from one process to another isn’t exactly the model of efficiency. (shibori silk dyeing, indigo dyeing, moon making, teaching zoom workshops, card making, putting together fabric packs, flower making and more-phew!) That always bugs me. I feel like I am spread too thinly.
Some things are like riding a bicycle, you remember how even if you are a bit wobbly and slow at first. But you can improve the more you do it (the practice thing). I can make shibori ribbon with ease, in general. In the past I had enough orders to facilitate the making on a bigger and more efficient scale.
What do I mean by this? For example, the base dyeing. Generally, I would base dye a minimum of 60 yards of a color. If an order was for 200 yards of 12-15 different colors, I would probably be base dyeing 600-900 yards of ribbon. The extra would be consumed by the future orders and only the colors I was short of would be put into the mix for the next order.
Now, I do one order at a time. An order for 12 rolls of 12 different colors are produced one 10 yard roll at a time. Overall, this takes more time, wastes more dye, uses more water. When it comes to the overdyeing part, it takes me almost the same time to dye one colorway as it would to dye two of the same colorway. In all of this, I am spending more time to make less product and less income. I’m getting older, working harder, making less income. (Quite a familiar scenario for many these days!) These are the things I have to consider in the process. Yes, I could raise my price. I suspect I will have to the next time I have to order silk- we all understand rising prices for materials and transportation.
I’ve been also considering another option. Ending wholesale orders and switching to retail only. Seems like the practical choice.
I have some reservations about doing this. I like my wholesale customers and have created good relationships and even friendships with many of them over the more than a decade of making and selling the ribbon wholesale. I liked the fact that several of them are (and were… no longer in business) small businesses like myself and we formed interdependent relationships that benefited us both. So that feels like a loss to me. But over the past two years, wholesale orders have slowed to a near stop. The pandemic is responsible for a large portion of this but not all of it. Much like the sun and moon both rise and set, a product also has a trajectory that has a beginning, a middle, and sometimes an ending. But generally things do have a season of popularity. I have seen these product arcs last ten years or so with products I have created in the past. The shibori ribbon has seen even more time than that (since 2006/07 ish) so I am grateful!
I still love it, its beauty, the process, and all the customers that use it in their creative works. It’s really such an honor to see what you all do with it and all the beautiful things that have been made with it. Yes, there have been quite a number of people who started to make shibori ribbon to compete with me. None that I am familiar with did so on a wholesale level. That’s harder. They were more interested in getting the higher retail price selling only direct to customers. I took it to a different place.
So right now, I have one more wholesale order to complete. And from then on, I’m going to go retail only for a while. I think. Of course I can always change my mind.

I will also say that when I started making the ribbon, very few were even aware of what shibori was, let alone this new fangled thing called shibori ribbon. It was a unique creation that inspired lots of wonderful making over the years.

I thought it might be fun to do a visual look-back on shibori ribbon over time. I have a number of slide show vids and photos I’ll post below. At least I will record them again here in one place and one post. For now. It will take me a while to get set up and post product for retail only on the ribbon, but in the meantime, I’m cutting up all current stock for shibori ribbon scrap bags just to make a clean sweep.
Like a wildflower mix. Seed your imagination. Water with wonder and creativity!

And start over. In the shop here.

symphony of colors
this piece takes one yard…

I always have fun naming the colors…

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!


W o n d e r -and get WILD!

Ever w o n d e r how I make these beautiful silk shibori flowers? Now you can see and make one yourself!

This past month I have been streamlining the process of making fabric using silk organza for the new WILD Flower make-along workshop. One needs to be persistent in this process. There are lots of trials and paths to go down along the way, but in the end, with enough experimentation you can succeed! Every day is a new day to go at it again! I’ve enjoyed all the wondering and experimenting.

The silk undergoes a multi-faceted process of hemming, base dyeing, discharging, wiring, and finally pole wrapping, overdyeing and steaming. There is also some ironing in between steps. It’s taken me a bit to determine the best width of the silk, the best wire to use (for the result I am seeking), how far to discharge, the best way to add the wire, the colors to offer, before I even get to preparing the listing.

Not all the colors are photographed in the listing but you can choose from the drop down menu and trust my sense of color and dye skills. I’m working all week to get the fabrics and kits ready and may add more colors and photos as I can. But I needed to get the listing up so you can choose colors and dates that work for you.

This will be a fun Zoom workshop where you will be able to make-along with me! I’ll show you ways you can alter my basic design as well as ideas on how to use the fabric in different ways.

There are two dates scheduled and you can attend one or both! Registrants will be able to access a temporary 30 day video link of the demonstration portion of the workshop.
Two Zoom sessions will be available:
Saturday October 23
& Thursday October 28.
4-6 PM PST.

Each zoom session will start with working through the making of the flower with a Q&A half way through and at the end where you can show us yours. Only the demo parts will be recorded. (The Q&A portions will not be recorded. )

I made two separate listings -one for the workshop and materials kit and a separate one for extra kits. Add on a fabric pack of assorted green bits for leaves if desired.

All kits will be shipped by October 13. If you sign up after that, please choose Priority Mail during check out. (If you want your order to be insured), also choose Priority Mail) Otherwise it gets sent via First Class Mail.

So here are the two links:
WILD Flower Workshop and Materials Kit
and
WILD Flower Extra Material Kits

You can make one for yourself, a project, and extras for a heartfelt and handmade gift.

I’m really looking forward to this -it’s always fun to see everyone’s unique results and the path they take along the way!
I added an album to flickr (remember flickr?) of assorted silk organza flowers just for fun…
I also took some time to sort out all the blogs that are no longer current and add a few others that I like to visit over in the sidebar. It’s cool that some of us are still here and blogging after so many years! 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!

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.)

uh oh…

I learned a lesson (well, probably more than one) recently when I casually mentioned to a friend that I had been keeping an eye out for a small floor loom, cheap. There was no rush and just like most things I was willing to wait for something to just come my way. The timing was right and this friend had seen one at a second hand shop and went back to check it out again. I’ll spare you the details but after texting me a few photos and negotiating a very low price, she had it delivered to me! It needs some cleaning up and a little refurbing but nothing really drastic that I can see. Another weaver friend approved of the photos and the price and sent them along to her friend who came back with a very good and detailed process to get this cleaned up and back in useful condition. Thank you Janice and Joe!
Lesson: Be careful what you wish for and what you casually mention to Carolyn!
There are no markings on this loom so maybe a homebuilt piece. The footprint is about 30″x 32″ and will fit nicely into the space where my son’s vibes now occupy (hint, hint). Vibes will be moved upstairs…
Any comments or suggestions from weavers welcomed! What I am aiming for in the beginning is to weave some sakiori.

Recently I saw a video on Vimeo that showed Hiroshi Murase demonstrating te kumo shibori and I saw something in his hand movements that caught my eye and opened up a more efficient way to do tekumo. I was going to link the the video here but it appears to have been taken down (it was previously public). I saw it in an online advertisement for the WSN/Slow Fiber workshop coming up where this technique will be covered. Looks like it would be of interest to anyone who wants to practice this particular technique. I have taught this technique in workshops at the JANM but I never felt I was really good at it. I could accomplish a good end result but I always felt that I was not being very adept or efficient while doing it. So after seeing his technique, I knew what I was missing! I have been practicing it all week and returned to do some of the work I did way back then but had decided it was too time consuming (and annoying) -at least the way I was doing it before. I then went in search of another video to show this technique and discovered that the Shibori Museum in Kyoto has been very busy during the pandemic producing shibori videos- they are so very interesting! Here is the one on tekumo. Check out the rest of their channel! It’s pretty amazing! I spent a whole day watching and catching up on the videos there that I had not seen.

Here are a few of the early results…

I am experimenting with creating more textural pieces- I really have always been drawn to shibori for the sculptural aspects (hence all the pleating I’ve done over the years) and the silk organza just loves to be shaped!
I also pleated up and dyed some new ribbons for the shop…added back the scrap bags too-I hadn’t realized they have been out of stock.

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.

The wisdom of the cloth

There is something ultimately satisfying to me when I use old cloth. Especially cloth that has been previously reused-who knows how many times? The feel of it is different, the smell of it, the texture…the memories it holds. Old cloth has lots to wonder about.

Then there is the variety of the cloth. The various weaves, the fiber itself, and the skill of the weaver, the dyer, the thread maker. The cloths original intent or purpose and ultimate uses is also something to wonder about.

sorting and wondering

Today I sorted through another bundle of old Japanese fabric, all previously reused and dismantled from its former use-kimono, yukata, futon cover and more. I love things made from these old fabrics. That someone felt the cloth was precious enough to mend and then use again in something else- is enough for me to continue treating the cloth with the same respect and frugality.

As I ironed, picked threads, and lint brushed the various fabrics, I ran my fingers over each piece wondering.
Who made it? What had it been? What could it become? Japanese narrow woven cloth and the way it was used lent itself to being easily taken apart and reused after laundering. It is a testament to how cloth was valued. Mottainai! (Don’t waste!)

I see the worn and threadbare parts, the patched places, and the edges as the wisdom of the cloth.
They are there to instruct me, to show me the way. I study all the parts of it. I look at the stitches of the patches, the selvedges. I pull a few weft threads and look at them under magnification. I imagine the journey the cloth has been on – from plant or animal up to the point where I now hold it in my own hands, generations later.
In whose indigo vat was it dyed? Did this lovely katazome here serve an early 1900’s merchant family? Had this bolt or strip of cotton katazome been a wedding gift? This boro bit here later used for a layer of a futon cover for cold nights? Who raised the silkworms and warped the looms with the homespun threads? Did the shibori come from Arimatsu or Narumi? Through the passage of time and many hands I’m left with so much to wonder about as I imagine what I (or you) will do with this cloth.

The ancestors of the cloth speak to me as I run my fingers over the surfaces, identifying each textile technique as I prepare a new batch of takaramono treasure packs for the shop-kasuri, shibori, katazome, shima (woven stripes), plain dyed cloth. Some of it is very durable and some now quite thin. It all feels good in my hand and ready for a whole new “becoming”.
The new takaramono packs are now in the shop here.
Here’s a few ideas of things I’ve made-a couple are still available in the shop.