Category Archives: inspiration

I also get emails…

I like letters better. Sometimes, emails get weird.

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

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

Hmmm… my reply:

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

Then a reply:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

There arises a circle…

There is really something special about receiving a handmade gift from someone who used what they purchased from me to make it.  It returns to me transformed. It has new life and energy that has been added.  It reminds me why I do what I do and why I enjoy it.  When I send something out I get to wonder what will become of it.  Sometimes I receive emails with photos or links showing what folks have done or made with their purchases.  I receive stories. Some are simple and heartwarming, some are funny, some are sad, and some are transformative. They are all good. There arises a circle -like the moon, a give and take -like the tides, that connects us.  So although it hardly seems enough for all these riches, I want to thank you once again. Thanks for sharing your abundance of creativity-with me and all the others in your lives.

indigo moon detail by Therese S-H

indigo moon detail by Therese S-H

mounted on a card, many tiny stitches on indigo and pommegranate by Therese S-H

mounted on a card, many tiny stitches on indigo and pomegranate by Therese S-H

When I make new things I explore them a bit knowing that once I add them to my shop offerings  the receivers will expound upon my ideas or create their own- even better and more wonderfully creative things.  This has been an intention of mine for a long time now. I wondered why-how I came to it. I’ve had a lot of years to come to understand why that is- too much to explain in a simple post.  It’s enough for me to understand it in my own life.

I returned here the other day to reread this post upon the news that my favorite ceramist Harrison McIntosh passed away locally at the age of 101. You can read about his life here. I can’t really add much to all that has been written about him and his life/work except to say that I have really admired his ability to integrate the two things seamlessly (and perhaps a message to him to tell Woody I said hello).

Harrison McIntosh (screen capture from Google)

Harrison McIntosh (screen capture from Google)

And if all this isn’t enough, with everything that has been going on here I did not do my usual announcing or my upcoming (this weekend!) workshop at the JANM.  We will be focusing on mandalas on vintage silks and there are still spots available.  You can sign up here through the museum-and I apologize for the late notice here.
JanmThere’s more, but enough for now…

mata ne!

patched up and mending

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

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

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

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

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

bella

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

Fashion history from the Kyoto Costume Museum collection

Fashion history from the Kyoto Costume Museum collection

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

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

nine patch-

nine patch-

nine patch detail

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

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

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

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


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

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

 

 

in the Spirit of things

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

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

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

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

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

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

shadows

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

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

wondering leads down new paths… and back again

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

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

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

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

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

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

things flow through

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

じゃまた!

 

silk shibori ribbon

Ahh….the first Monday of 2014!  And it starts off with a bang!

the original silk shibori ribbon

the original silk shibori ribbon

About my silk shibori ribbon-many folks are asking and wondering…

It was 2006 when I first started practicing and learning shibori techniques. Having closed my porcelain company of 30 years, I wanted a new challenge and a new product to make and sell. Something to continue to sustain me over the next many years. Something highly artistic, beautiful, creative, something that would excite and inspire others to make and create-I know how making can be so very strengthening both mentally and physically. I wanted to continue to be part of that but in another way.  I looked for a way.  After practicing the arashi shibori technique daily for about 6 months, I wondered.  I wondered if one could make ribbon with it.  I had never seen it done so I started searching the internet.  Nope!  Not one image or one mention anywhere that I could find.  I searched extensively.  Excited, I found a little bit of silk ribbon I had nearby and wanted to wrap it. Around what? Looking around me I grabbed a pencil.  Wrapping the ribbon around it my eyes scanned the room for something to wrap it with- some thread.  I ran downstairs ( I had been in the bedroom with my bathrobe still on) and went outside and poured some dye over it.  Steaming and drying it I opened it up- Shibori Ribbon was born-really way to small and thin and not all that beautiful.  But the beauty was in the eye of the beholder, me- and I could see all the glorious possibilities.  So it has been a long and interesting path.  Littered with miles of beautiful silk and more.

Special thanks to all those who have been teaching and using the ribbon in their classes not just this year but in all the past years since I first came up with this crazy idea. My special thanks goes to the much loved Sherry Serafini who has spread her inspiration and the shibori ribbon all over the world.  More thanks to the talented Melanie Dorman who passed on in 2012 and who introduced me to beaded needle weaving and embroidery while we sat back to back at our tables at the Pasadena Bead and Design show some years ago.  I was fascinated with her work and she with the ribbon. I think she was the first to see and show me its potential in regards to beaded embroidery work and designed several pieces and classes with it. I was saddened-even shocked, when I went to contact her about something last year and discovered her passing- a reminder…we are here only for the blink of an eye.   Adele Sciortino did her part with it in the doll world and introduced it to many doll makers. Art quilters found the ribbon at the quilt shows and put it to work in many inventive ways. It was a pleasure to have them come to the booth and tell me that their quilt entry with the shibori ribbon made it into the show.  Crazy quilter Julie Craig of Attic Heirlooms(no website) along with Judith Montano both saw the ribbons potential when I first introduced it at the shows 6 years ago. Kate Tracton (also a Shibori GIrl) found it and made some lovely necklaces with it and her handwoven focal beads. Jude’s words and musings and of course Wendy who keeps a little pile of the ribbons in her therapy room and adds her wisdom to it as she heals.  I could fill a whole page with such examples.  I thank you all. It is an exquisite privilege to have something I make be part of something you make or do.

Now, entering 2014 there are many, many folks out there enjoying the possibilities and wondering. There are many shops- both online and on the street selling my ribbon. There are two Authorized Etsy resellers of my ribbon who are putting it into the hands of many more creative folks-Michelle, who has been at it for several years now and Lisa who just discovered it late last year and doing a great job getting the word out.  This is putting the silk shibori ribbon in the hands of so many creative folks who are dreaming and wondering up so many possibilities.  I am overwhelmed!  I really couldn’t ask for more shibori love than that.

So it has been a good year and I look back at the slow and manageable uphill burn of the ribbon which makes life around here even possible. I intend as a result of the increasing demand for the ribbon, to be spending more time making the silk shibori ribbon than ever before. I like that it is also helping to support others who resell the ribbon as well as those using it to make things that they in turn sell.

I have been informed that there is someone copying the idea on etsy.  I have been approached by a very large company who wants to “blow it up” and eventually have it made in China.  No. It is true, there will be copyists- in it for the momentary buck or two.  But in the end I will still be here.  Know it.
One at a time and everyday- like I said in the beginning of this big adventure.

Now back to the poles. And speaking of poles, Keep warm out there friends.  I know some of you are withstanding record cold spells.  Janice just emailed me that it is -37 outside her studio in the woods right now.  Stand strong-and STAY WARM!