Category Archives: inspiration

from the letters file…

It’s a good thing I don’t share all the letters I receive as some just make me want to throw something and others make me want to shed a tear. Some are so uplifting, yet too personal or bittersweet at times to publish on the blog.  This week so far I have received one of each.  Just for balance.
Remember Balance? Balance has been a theme here over time on the blog and in reality, everyday.
Which brings me to an email I received this morning.

Hi,

I ran across a piece of art that I thought was public domain but have traced it back to you. I work for Hanes, and was thinking about using the art “Indigo wall panel” in a panty print but doing it in different colors, modified digitally so that it can be rotary screen printed. Would you grant me permission to use? If not, I will do something different and try to create the look of the technique digitally and that’s perfectly fine. Have a great day.

Thank you either way,

Joel

 

So, basically he is saying that they want permission to use the image of my shibori work as a shortcut to a graphic design to screen print onto underwear.  And if I don’t grant permission, they will “create the look of the technique digitally” and carry on. In my mind, I hear- “we will alter your image enough (digitally) so as to be able to call it our own or derived and skip your permission altogether.  Have a great day!

So what happened to common courtesy?  How about “I came across your work (while searching for patterns in indigo and shibori images online that we could glean for free use of artwork for our commercial product line) and would love to use your image and compensate you modestly (say $500) for it’s use.

I don’t know.  I really don’t know anymore.  Why? When a company that has reported net sales of $5.7 billion in their most recent report has their design staff searching the internet and basically bullying artists(my opinion) into granting permission for use of their works I just don’t know anymore.

So what say you, fair readers?

Should we say yes and allow them to use this artwork knowing that every time we see this pattern on Hanes panties (and we will see them) we will be reminded of the corporately owned world we must now operate within?  It might be a good thing to remind ourselves of this on a regular basis.  It is in all our lives daily in even the smallest of things.

Or should we say no, allowing them to feel like they did the right thing by asking and either remake my design in their own image (costing them a bit more) or even just to continue searching online for some other image they can use without actually having to do more than work the keyboard.


Indigo Blues was published in 2012. Like many images of my work, I find them regularly online without attribution.  This is a detail shot of the full piece that was sold through my online shop quite some time ago. The full image here.
indigo blues

On the other side of Balance, I received an order for moons the other day with an immediate email follow-up note from a fellow undergoing a very serious health challenge.  Having been hospitalized for many recent months he tells me the following:

 I have decorated each room I’ve spent time in– sometimes 4 to 6 weeks at a stretch — with fukuro obi hangings and other silk kimono fabrics,  which have always brought pleasure to me and to visitors.  A calming healing environment visitors would exclaim!    I will continue this “tradition” of Japanese design in the rooms when I re-enter for hospital for the transplant, a “cure”, in early September.  I plan to add your beautiful  moons to the room.  Many thanks.

and I reply(in part)…

It will be a privilege to make some moons for you.  Thank you for your order.

 I can imagine your room…your creating it with a certain peaceful attitude that promotes calmness, enjoyment, and healing qualities for both you and your visitors.  

I will be thinking of this as I dye your fabrics.  My favorite thing to do is to create intentional fabrics that I can infuse with thoughts and intentions for their recipients as I make them. Thank you. Be well, take care…

 

Of course a special package is being prepared.

Old cloth, old books (and a piano)

I never should have borrowed this book from my friend Donna:

 

It is very interesting and hysterical even, at times.  Especially the chapter titled “Cats and Dogs”. You might wonder why (especially now!) that I would choose NOT to entertain myself with such mirth given the dearth of nonsense going on about us.

The reason being that yesterday a piano fell on my face.

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yes, this piano…

And it hurts to smile or laugh.  And it is just in time for my weekend workshop at the museum (sorry- but all filled up). It’s not as bad as it sounds but it does hurt a bit and as long as I keep a straight face it doesn’t bother much.  Admittedly, I probably should have gone for a stitch or maybe two but being a bit cheap these days I lay around with a bit of ice and some pressure on it to make it behave (took a while). That being said, I was trying to come up with a funny way to describe to my workshop attendees what the heck happened.  The simple “a piano fell on my face” seemed appropriate (considering I can deliver the line with a straight face).

In actuality, I was cleaning behind the old upright piano and moving it back into position when the front board fell forward onto me and caught me in the face and arm(nice hurty bruise there too-but not too noticeable). By the end of the evening I had the room there all cleaned up and Phil got some new space to store and organize all his accumulating music. Yay! Plus I cleaned up some of my fabric stuff I needed to get to for the weekend of indigo dyeing.

Speaking of fabric, the end of the day resulted in about 50 meters of old silk kimono linings all washed up, most threads removed, ironed and folded.  These will be used this weekend and also at the upcoming Yosemite workshop. Cloth with a memory. Imperfectly perfect.

Back to the book- apparently you can get a reprint of it and also it is available on the Gutenburg Project- Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow

“Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, published in 1886, is a collection of humorous essays by Jerome K. Jerome. It was the author’s second published book and it helped establish him as a leading English humorist.” Wikipedia
 Originally published: 1886
Author: Jerome K. Jerome


Donna was also clearing out some space and found it lurking there in some dark corner. It is much more satisfying to hold this old original copy in my hand than read it off a screen though I may have to save it for next week’s readings when I can laugh out loud as I do.
Even the preface was humorous-

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wouldn’t elevate a cow… 

And really, isn’t change what we are looking for?

Old books, old cloth…got me to wondering.  What is the oldest book and the oldest cloth I have here? I wonder…

(And by the way, if you see me around town- don’t tell me a joke for at least a week!)

 

weaving across colors and then some

Some things take a long time to figure out.  I wondered about this quite some time ago while participating in one of Jude’s classes.  Then I set it aside. Recently while working on something new, I realized exactly what this was for.  And now I’m wondering again. Getting into the Spirit of things.
woven moon

wordy wondering…again

Sometimes I wonder.

As of late, in the curious world we are living in, I feel more and more that I am an outsider. More than just an outsider ( I have always been that) but as I have talked about before, the sort of species that is on the endangered list.  Something that is becoming extinct. As someone who for SOME reason believed I could become anything I wanted to to be (and I became an independent artisan) I feel that choice is in rapid decline in our world.  Maybe it is just me-I admit, I do have a weird perspective. I mean really, how many people do you personally know who has been able to make a living making things by hand and selling them for their entire adult life (40+ years so far)?  Any?  I’m not saying this to amaze or impress you.  Trust me, it’s not everyone’s gig-  THAT is for sure.  But the fact that it was even possible and at some points in history (all over the world) quite common, is interesting. The fact that it is in extreme decline is regrettable to me. I really don’t think that it is something that most people think about at all.

I think about it all the time.

hands

Why does this concern me?  I ask myself this question and it is not an easy answer.  I believe that a certain amount of distance from the norm is good for society in general. It can provide an example, a path to follow, or even inspiration.  It provides a balance of sorts. This kind of distance and independence allows for different thinking, different perspective and different choices.  Not to mention the benefits to many of working with your hands, of creating daily, of experimenting and problem solving, and for many-better mental and physical health.

I can only continue to be, to exist as I am.  All this outside the norms- whatever those are. It seems that that is really the best I can do at this point.  I am very fortunate to have a roof over my head.  Some sort of forethought allowed for that at least.  If I were to do this today, it would look very different I am sure (if I was able to do it at all). That is the point of this post in the end, I guess. It seems as if this choice is becoming so unavailable, so rare-a choice I once took for granted without even knowing what an extravagance it really was. I didn’t know because I just did it. One day at a time, every day-until it was my normal.

The rising cost of living in general seems to necessitate rushing to a job-the sort of job that can pay the bills and leaves little time for much else.  Once one has money coming in, there are the expectations of society, others and even ones self.  A car- a payment, a house-a payment, taxes-payments, health-payments, family-$, etc..  It is a cycle that once one arrives at, is very hard to disengage from.  Only if one can become very creative, frugal, and perhaps fortunate, can you craft a situation that allows distance from the norm. I see people all around me longing to disengage from the desk chair, the screens, the keyboards, the commutes.  Yet the lifestyle that has been created makes it difficult to do so.  The actions needed to disengage are overwhelmed by the changes needed to make this happen.   One is thought of as irresponsible (if not just plain crazy) for not fully engaging in this cycle.

All I can say at this point is find a way.  Just find a way. 
beautyI love Soetsu Yanagi‘s thoughts…

This exhibit is still up at he Mingei Museum in San Diego until Oct. 2nd. I’ve seen it three times now and loved it all three times.

more letters

Just a little follow-up to the day at the elementary school. I love these letters.

I received 33 letters from the kids at Menlo Elementary. I love each one. I will share a few- just know they were all special and heartfelt. Each one included an illustration. Mine were from one of the 3rd grade classes. I love how they saw me. I would include more but this would be a
V E R Y long post.
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encouraging wonder

I’m raising some silkworms again.  As a reminder. Of why. And how. And who I am.

I’m raising them from seed (eggs) and purchased 3 types- white, green, and pink cocoons. Previously, I have only raised white and yellow cocoons.

I have been wanting to do another (smaller than last time-1000) batch and now have 200 or so of each of the above. It seemed the perfect time as I was recently asked to step in to do a “career day” in a South LA Elementary school that was lacking parents who could come and do presentations.  SO, Trevor, Phil and I will all go and do our thing next Tuesday.  I wonder if parents really want their kids to be musicians, dyers or sericulturists…
At least we will be entertaining and make them wonder.

Here is the beginning-

 

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.