Category Archives: inspiration

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!

 

going with the flow

Ahhh… my last post of the year.  I’m just going with the flow…

going with the flow in 2014

going with the flow in 2014

I sat down with a length of silk shibori ribbon some beads, a few pearls, a shell or two, some silk and before long a tide pool began to form…I just went with the flow.

Before long, an anemone appeared and a starfish crawled out from beneath some seaweed. The moon in the form of a shell (found on a walk along Hayama beach) turned the tides and the current swept sparkling bubbles of air along on the adventure. A bright star appeared reflected in the calm of one of the pools before waves washed over and changed the composition.  Seaweed grasses formed along the edge and swayed with the tidal surges altering my view of this seascape moment by moment.

I want to extend many thanks to so many people who traveled along with me this past year. From indigo and silk, to Japan and back, from show to show, over the internet via all the social networks and email, through workshops here and there, to the folks at the Japanese American National Museum– my, this list could get pretty long!  Through yards and yards of silk shibori ribbons I have come to know so many more of you and your myriad talents and passions. Thank you.

Of course there are friends whispering to me in the background like Jude and Dar, and Richard, and Donna, Velma and Wendy, and Kathleen in SF, Fumiko in Japan and so many more of you who put your whole self into this thing called life and making.

Of course I add to that gratitude thanks to Phil who puts up with the daily shibori report -speaking of going with the flow of things around here- and having to move shibori off the keyboards, the drums and the pan on a daily basis.  As I write this he and Trev are off surfing during his break from grad school.  And to the boys- thanks for being the people you are which allows me to be me and not worry (too much) about you as you find your way in life.
Believe we must-in ourselves and in others worth believing in.

So as the tide ebbs and rolls out on 2013, and 2014’s New Year’s tides surge and swell, I say- go with the flow- become part of it, let it carry you along, be swept away by your passions into a New Year of love, compassion and caring for our world and everything within it.

my what a proboscis!

Metamorphosis, transformation, balance, grace, and the ability to accept change. The monarch butterfly offers itself as a beautiful example of such ideas.  We have yet to know if the changes we humans are imposing on the world will end their beautiful illustration of these useful qualities.

You likely know that for the past few years I have been growing milkweed in the yard to tempt them into laying some eggs here.  Finally- this year, success!

monarch laying eggs on backyard milkweed!

monarch laying eggs on backyard milkweed!

on tattered wings...

on tattered wings…

this was in March..then, on June 21st (summer soltice!) I found these guys munching happily…

cat detail

cats munching on milkweed in yard

cats munching on milkweed in yard

Unfortunately, they ended up being overtaken by by other pests.  Some kind of orange bug. Even their friends the ladybugs couldn’t keep ahead of the deluge. But I am not daunted! Another spring awaits!

And in the meantime I went to Houston to do the show and teach and when I returned I had brought back a couple of friends-two to be exact.  They had been hanging out in the garden across the street from the Hilton. They were fine travelers.

one of two friends...

one of two friends…

By the next day the first one had exchanged his skin for a chrysalis and 24 hours later so had the second one.

monarch chrysalis

monarch chrysalis

I was in awe…such beauty to marvel at.  To observe…
The gold “beads” that developed intrigued. They were like real gold. More beautiful than any gold ever seen.  I wondered at their relevance (as if beauty needs relevance to exist).  I searched google trying to find an answer… almost glad not to find any real consensus.  Ahhh…beauty just because.

But reading that it took 10 -12 days for the butterfly to emerge I waited-the kitchen table once again the scene of discovery, science and nature observatory.  Finally, one morning I came into the kitchen and discovered that one of the two chrysalis’ had turned black! Horrors! What had I done?  I was a monarch killer.  I decided to go look it up online and see what had happened.
Delightfully, I read that this is what happens when they are about to emerge!  So for the next two mornings I dutifully watched the two beings emerge.  It was amazing, gorgeous, inspiring and riveting…soon, the chrysalis turned more papery and transparent and you could see through-

prior to emerging

prior to emerging

and then…

it begins

it begins

feet first!

feet first!

head down!

head down!

almost...

almost…

a monarch emerged!

a monarch emerged!

-kind of fat and wrinkly, all this from inside that small chrysalis.  Liquid in the plump abdomen gets pumped into the wings and they hang, dry, and rest.

my what a proboscis!

my what a proboscis!

So off to the backyard they went to finish resting, first one, then the other.  When they met it was nothing short of a joyous reuniting! (see the video for how exciting…)

we meet again

we meet again!

the full monty

the full monty

almost a full 4″ fully spread!  they played together a bit in the lemon tree where I draped a few blossoms from around the yard.  They were all excited when I placed the flowers near them and immediately they rushed toward them to nourish themselves.  It had been a very long trip…

Eventually, after about an hour they flew to the persimmon tree and one at a time after circling above they headed over the back fence and away.

I also did a short video of the emerging monarch-

Monarch habitats continue to be in decline significantly in parallel with the rapid adoption of glyphosate-tolerant corn and soybeans and, since 2006, the rapid expansion of corn and soy acreage to accommodate the production of biofuels (Brower et al, 2011a,b, Pleasants and Oberhauser, 2012 and Taylor, 2012). Additionally, roadside spraying of pesticides and herbicides impacts monarchs and their habitats.

What else can we do to improve monarch habitat? We need to change our mowing practices. Protect our roadside native vegetation. Stop spraying herbicides, and mow less frequently or not at all. Speak up and tell city officials that we do not want them to mow or spray, and pat them on the back when they listen. Ask local plant nurseries to carry milkweed and native plants that are pesticide-free. Volunteer on nature preserves and at city parks—encourage management to plant milkweed. Collect milkweed seeds. Monitor a milkweed patch. Educate the public—through school programs, talks at local libraries, displays at nature centers, articles in the newspaper or on radio—by any means we have at our disposal. Realize that no one person can do it alone, we all have to pitch in—and every one of us has a voice that is valuable. (from monarchwatch.org)

Alone, we cannot do much. but each of us in our small part can together do a lot. This year, I am devoting the back corner of the yard to milkweed.  And I’m planting more butterfly friendly plants.  I already have milkweed sprouting up everywhere in the yard.  (Once you start growing it, it just keeps on coming back…the seeds are windblown and prolific.) I even gathered some seeds from another type of milkweed when I was up north this year.  I wonder how they will do down here…

Want a job related to preserving and monitoring monarchs?

more info and a great interview regarding the current state of monarch population.

a video on monarch migration

(having a little flu-induced down time and feeling a bit better today.  cleaning out some photos and writing a bit…back to it in a day or so me thinks…)

mata ne!