Category Archives: inspiration

cloth to treasure…and a quick check-in

it’s actually confusing me as to where all the time goes. suffice to say it passes and there seems not enough of it to do all the things my mind wonders about and wanders into.

i have many stories yet to tell and photos and notes to sort through and write about here on the blog- all promised but not yet accomplished. many things are being done here behind the scenes and along the sidelines- prioritized by daily needs and responsibilities, but for a few minutes today, i put a little something here on the blog.

having shipped out all the fabric packs collected on the tour and the other requests made by students and friends, i spent a day making up a new garment! i wore one that i made while in japan and wanted to do a new version in order to honor some of the vintage fabrics i purchased. like the other one, this is made with recycled hand woven cloth previously from kimono that have been taken apart. (btw- NO! Kimono should not be trademarked–as if…you all here know my thoughts on that nonsense)
a couple of things about this garment- i had seen a version of this somewhere in japan a couple of years ago but it was made from western width cloth and only had a front and back made from the same cloth. my idea here is to utilize the kimono width cloth and keep it as intact as possible so that it would be possible perhaps, to take it apart and reuse it one day (or at least in large part). to do this meant that the back and front would need to be split to accommodate typical kimono width cloth and since i wasn’t a fan of having it split down the middle in front, i added a faux placket in front to offset that making it asymmetrical. using a combination of hand woven cloth, i made the amami oshima tsumugi silk the star of the garment while adding three coordinating kasuri patterns. i matched the pattern in the front placket just for fun and did not cut the selvedge on at least one side of all the main pieces. the selvedge contains part of the cloth-story for anyone who might be interested in the future. i have several other sets of cloth i will be using to make a few more of these. it’s very easy to wear with some leggings and even sandals or tennis shoes. i have promised several on the tour that i’d do up a muslin pattern for them to make up for themselves- so far, not yet done… will have to make a few more to settle in on the pattern.
my favorite part of this piece and the ones i’m excited to make going forward is that i’m using beautiful textiles that will be once again worn! some of the techniques used in making these fabrics are disappearing and my hope is that by making useful and wearable garments that these fabrics will be further treasured and worn again, not just cut up and used as scrap. whole cloth in a way. there is a small bit of boro in the lower part of the front placket that i kept intact, preserving further the treasure that this fabric continues to be. someone else thought enough of this piece of cloth to restore it with a patch. who am i to cut it away and discard it?

onto the next thing…the past few days have been consumed with making up an order of silk shibori no hana for the kyoto shibori museum. they are taking me longer than expected and i’m only half way through. several orders of ribbon also await and will be base dyed today. here’s a peek at a few of the flowers heading to kyoto soon…

hopefully, i will have some of these available in the shop later this summer when i’m caught up a bit around here. for those waiting on ribbon orders, i’ll start sending those out next week. stock is very low at the moment and the shop a bit disorganized. colors showing in stock where there is none, so some of you may get a note from me asking if you would accept a color substitute until i get things all straightened out. apologies for that…

life here continues, phil and his band steel parade have been out singing and performing for people young, old , and in between. the other night’s performance at the local nature center concert was a whole lot of fun. it’s wonderful to see everyone dancing out under the trees there.

the yard is in summer clean-up mode and little by little weeds are being removed, the second crop of veggies are being planted, and springs tomatoes and eggplant are being served up. hope your summer is wonderful and full of hope.
gotta run-baby dean just arrived! time to put my nana hat on…

Kamakura, Yamanashi, and heading to Kyoto…

I’m finally getting a bit of time to do another post or two while I’m still here in the Tokyo area (I’m now in Amamioshima)! I really am struggling with all the information and photos I have collected-trying to get it put together into some order that makes sense without just rambling on and on…
Not to mention that Hirata sends me folders of photos each day on dropbox to share with participants and some were mistakenly deleted and I had to sort through that and figure out what was missing and get them re-uploaded. Easy to do if you are not used to dropbox. Need to get a new system for that. Anyway,here goes…

The last day of our time in Tokyo we headed to Kamakura where Hirata is always eager to share the sights and sounds of his hometown. Everyone got a taste of riding the train and learned to use their Suica cards to enter and exit the stations and I’m glad to say that this time we didn’t lose anyone (it has happened-but the lost is always found in Japan)! They saw the first of their temple and shrines- Engaku-ji, Tsurugaoka Hachimangū and the Daibutsu (the Great Buddha) as well. Schoolchildren and tourists crowded Komachi-dori (the main shopping street) and at a point we broke up into smaller groups with the promise to either meet up for the return train trip to Ginza or to adventure it on their own. Hirata’s wife Rumiko and good friend Megumi welcomed us to their home to rest and have cold tea to those who needed a break from the heat and the walking.
Photos from Kamakura…



The next day we checked out of the Ginza hotel and our charter bus whisked us away towards Kyoto for a four night stay via Kawaguchiko and one night there. The Star Pegasus was complete with wifi, USB charging, and a bathroom! Not to mention the best bus drivers ever-they had some crazy skills!



but first… a visit with Fumiko Sato to see her studio, have a demonstration of indigo dyeing and opportunity to view and buy some of her work, as well as enjoy a bento lunch of macrobiotic vegetarian sushi that was almost too beautiful to eat!

it’s always hard for me to say goodbye to Sato-san-I want to stay, work and spend time with her. Unfortunately, this time I won’t be able to return as I usually do.

Afterwards, we headed to the Ichiku Kubota Museum to see the work of this imaginative shibori dyer who took tsujigahana dyeing to a whole new level. It’s always a pleasure to take people here since it’s such a mind-blowing experience. Unfortunately, the gift shop here no longer carries any books or postcards depicting his work. When we asked why the answer was “copyrights” without any further explanation. Also no photos this time. I’m glad for the ones I do have. The bead collection is wildly diminished and not on view as it was before. ¥500 additional gets you into the cafe where there are a few cases but we opted out of that in order to get to our hotel and relax in the onsen. Perhaps they sold off the collection to raise funds. Not sure what is going on there. Still, a beautiful museum and ever changing collection of his work.

After a full day we retired to the beautiful Kakuna Hotel for a one night stay. Views over the lake towards Mt. Fuji (which only peeked out from behind the clouds here and there as we visited the rooftop onsen) and a beautiful dinner put the day over the top and we slept with dreams of indigo, tsujigahana and beautiful Japan swirling in our heads.

The next morning it was off to Kyoto for 4 nights which deserves it’s own post (or two)!

Let’s see if I can get the next post started (Kyoto)tonight- today in Amamioshima it was very warm and humid but the day was filled with dorozome- (mud dyeing) which also will be it’s own post down the road. But just to tease a little bit…

No time for jet lag…

It’s the end of Saturday here in Japan -only three days into the tour and we have already experienced many wonderful things! I always think I will have more time to blog our adventures than ends up being the reality. There is a desire to record the day to day-ness of it all, balanced by the reality of the schedule while still remaining in the moment. So tonight I have a bit of time to catch up here, so will backtrack a bit first…

There are certain stages of the tour …milestones of a sort. The first one being- having spent almost two years gathering the group and organizing the details-I finally get to meet everyone in person! The majority of us departed from LAX (Los Angeles) and others we will meet in Japan at Narita Airport. We had a little time at the departure gate to introduce ourselves and put names that have been on lists and in emails to the actual faces! We have three people traveling with us that have been on previous tours but even still I have not seen two of them for many years so it feels good to catch up a bit! As always, when I meet the rest face to face, I’m so pleased that this tour always attracts such a wonderful group of people who want to learn more about silk, Japan, and textiles in general. Cloth people are just good folks! I’m not quite comfortable until the plane door closes and everyone is on board. At this point, final boarding is done and the door closes- I relax.
A 10.5 hour flight passes quickly and uneventfully in relative comfort. Watching a movie or reading a good book wearing noise cancelling headphones takes one away like an old fashioned Calgon bath. A couple of people knit the hours away.
Arriving at Narita we gather up the rest of the group and Hirata san who has been at the airport ahead of time to meet the early arrivals leads us and our luggage to the hired bus for the trip to the the Ginza where we will stay for the following 3 days.
Hotel check-in and a brief rest was followed by a short walk to Hirata-san’s favorite Ginza shabu shabu restaurant with those who were interested.

Tokyo Ginza is where we stop first with a small hotel one block off the main street. The first day was reserved to visit the Mingei-kan- the Folk and Craft Museum which represents the finest of simple and masterful craftwork for use in everyday life. We traveled there by train and with 17 people trailing through the train stations for their first time and using their Suica cards we arrived without too much confusion! Once inside the museum we were given a short introduction in English by a docent. The Mingei folk and craft museum celebrates the beauty in the handmade object-useful items used in everyday life. Beauty is appreciated by all and to have and use basic things of beauty enhances and enriches ones life. Simplicity and beauty can be seen in everyday objects here. We were fortunate to discover that a temporary exhibit of shibori by Motohiko Katano was on display during our stay and a highlight of the visit. No photos inside the museum are allowed so here are a few from the outside and a short video…

Motohiko Katano shibori

From there we divided into two groups- one headed to a craft and folk art shop called Bingoya to see works by current craftsman across Japan. My group returned to Tokyo Ginza where a couple of us were to meet up with Megumi-san who would introduce us to a kimono shop specializing in Amami Oshima Tsumugi. Two of us will travel to Amami Oshima at the end of the tour and this visit was to educate us a bit about Amami textiles and dorozome (mud dyeing) which is done there. Completely fascinating and a very special treat!
Following this Megumi-san (an expert in kimono and known to the best shops in the Ginza) took us to several shops to see the finest of kimono made with top quality textiles.

Tea was enjoyed at the end of the day in one of the oldest tea shops along with fruit and agar.
Returning to the hotel, everyone went their own way, some meeting up with Hirata-san who led a group to Tsukiji for sushi dinner and others who just couldn’t walk one more step went next door to Ginza Six for dinner.

Ok…gotta run! It’s monday and we’re in Kyoto where I was able to steal an hour of early morning computer time. Will do more catching up later!

a quickie announcement…

I’vee had a couple requests to set up a local silk shibori flower making class, so I did!
There are only 4 spots open so if you are interested, please check the shop listing here.

All materials are included in this small group class.

I was going to post this on FB yesterday as a new event but there was a worldwide FB outage affecting postings,comments etc.  Maybe that isn’t a bad thing?

And while I am at it, I will remind you of the upcoming April 6-7 Shibori and Indigo workshop at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles (or as it is sometimes known as- Japangeles).  Signups are through the museum at above link.

The rain here has gone away for at least the next couple of weeks and I was able to replace the shade structure over the dye space outside. There is a new squirrel in town (or even possibly Squirrelly Gurl herself as they can live up to 8 years or so). She is so friendly to me and personality wise, much like the OG Squirrelly Gurl. I can’t know for sure but am enjoying her daily visits. Buddy the dog enjoys watching her and feeding time but the new cat-Kuro chan is trying to chase her when she can!  SG is too fast for Kuro-thankfully and outsmarts him every time.

I did channel a little bit of Ume san last week and made this bag from the piece of sashiko laced boro from the last blog post. Adding it to the shop now.

Cross shoulder bag, made entirely from used/recycled and vintage materials outside of the thread and the shoulder strap. One outside pocket on back side, one inside. Completely lined with vintage kasuri kimono silk.
Front fabric covered button closure with indigo twined wrap-around cording. Outside pocket fits large mobile phone while an ipad can fit inside.

Link to shop

 

Plus the Silk Study Tour to Japan is in high gear. Everyone is getting ready for this great adventure.  I’m receiving the bio pages for the booklet I make to hand out to our hosts so they can learn more about us.  It’s always interesting to them!  We still have 2 spots open for anyone wanting to make last minute plans to join our textile adventure.  Link here. 
In the absence of the Amuse Boro Museum (which closes this month) we are making plans to visit the Mingei Folk Museum instead.  It just so happens that they are having a special exhibit of the work of Motohiko Katano, known for his adventurous and creative shibori patterns.  I have never seen his work in person so I am quite excited about this.  My first visit to this museum was with vintage textile dealer Carola Pfau’s husband Makoto (now passed), who also treated me that day to several of his favorite temple sales.  Boy did we have a good time! Great memories…
We will also be visiting the Ichiku Kubota Museum as well as the Kyoto Shibori Museum so participants will have the opportunity to study some of the best shibori in the world!

Time to go and dye the rest of the indigo thread for this weekend’s workshop!
mata ne!

Today’s textile- an antique komebukuro

Back in June 2012, I posted about this wonderful komebukuro.  Here I copy the relevant part of the post in order to list this in the shop.

This particular one appears to be quite old and with many areas repaired.  It employs various homespun cotton and hemp fabrics and the rope is handmade from hemp or other bast fibers. It is also quite large- the bottom measures 11″x11″ and each of the 4 sides about 15″(H) x 12″ .  One side (the inside?) is more interesting than the outside-you can better see the patchwork. I would guess this one to be from the Meiji era (1868-1912). I appropriately found it at a temple sale. 

This piece has been displayed at many of my workshops:

inside full view-1

more inside detail

edge detail and rope

bag bottom inside

outside view 2

another outside view

If cloth could speak!  One can only imagine the past life of this bag, but from all the mending and variety of scraps used in its making, one can guess that it was made in the Japanese spirit of “mottainai” which conveys regret over wasting something useful. Poor families saved all cloth, which was then made and remade into useful objects many times over. I love this piece as a reminder of that notion- that we can be more thoughtful and find ways to make what we have last longer, and remain purposeful.
These types of “rice bags” were used for errands, carrying rice and perhaps other daily necessities, and sometimes to take offerings to local temples.

This one I came across at a Tokyo area temple sale in 2012, before I knew much about boro and Japanese folk textiles.  I had yet to find and visit the Amuse Boro Museum in Asakusa. When I saw it it just spoke to me and I have admired it first hand since then. When I first brought it home it was quite dirty and I did give it light vacuuming,  a gentle soak and hand wash to clear the fabric of the accumulated dirt. It seemed to appreciate it. I usually display it with more patched side out. Added to the shop here.

 

making the most of what you have and a vintage nobori!

When I write a post I never fill in the post title until the end, even if in my mind I have one roaming around my head.  You never know what path a post might take. Speaking of paths… I’m putting my pathfinding and wondering skills to use in upcoming city elections. I feel that I would be disregarding reality if I didn’t volunteer to help. Most of my contribution will be in helping to spread the word on social media.

Please look up and around your communities and city halls and make sure that people have a voice. Make sure that money, ambition , and politics are not sending down taproots that crowd out the voice of the city’s residents. It’s a volunteer thing and there will be a balance that needs to be struck so that work and bills get taken care of as well. More on that later…

It’s been hot here. Watering the edibles in the yard mainly. Into second rounds of crops since our summer is so long here.

I noticed some things around the yard that might be good for the dyepot or other meanderings so I collected them up.  Will be testing them out on some old silk lining fabrics.
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I started this post a few days ago and am only now getting back to it.  The red dragonfly pictured above has been hanging out in the garden for at least a week now!  I guess they are somewhat territorial.  I also ate my first cactus fruit today.  It was delicious- juicy, mildly sweet with a flowery flavor. Really amazing when you eat them right off the cactus with the warmth of the sun still holding on to the fruit.

I should back up a bit here and post a small gallery of photos of my amazing cereus cactus. It is a Queen of the Night (actual name used by about 4 different varieties of cereus night bloomers) and aptly named. I’ve been sharing these on my FB page for the last couple of weeks.
Some nights have given us over 100 blooms, others 80, 70, 50.  I would say that we will have had around 1000 blooms this year when it is all over. I spend much time outside at night gazing up.

******** feel free to skip the politics down to the ****************
City politics in Long Beach have really changed over the years. Most of city council and the mayor are on personal political trajectories fueled by big money, developers, unions, PACs, and officeholder accounts (no real news here-how is your city government doing?).

The most current & egregious effort they have made is to place a measure on the upcoming ballot to change the city charter and afford themselves an extension of term limits (from 2 to 3 terms). And all by telling voters this is a strengthening of term limit laws! They claim they are doing away with a loophole where one can mount a write in campaign in the primary election when in fact regardless of whether it is two terms, three terms or ten terms the California Election code allows this write in effort. I’ll spare you most of the gory details but when hundreds of residents showed up in the middle of the day during the week for the final hearing where council voted to place this on the ballot (all but two who spoke were against and those two were LB govt. employees!) . They voted unanimously 9-0 in favor to place it on the ballot.  They will spend about $700,000 of our tax $ on this self serving effort.  They no longer listen to the people.
This has resulted in outrage to the point that many of the city’s resident/neighborhood advocacy groups are supporting a newly formed peoples PAC- the Long Beach Reform Coalition. This has meant many hours of meetings, emails, & phone calls in order to write the ballot measures’ opposing arguments and rebuttal statements. We were even sued by the city yesterday in LA Superior court with less than 24 hour notice for something that could have been handled in the local city clerk’s office -a correction and rewording of a couple of the statements! Writing ballot measure arguments and rebuttals is not for sissies!  I learned a lot! The city is bullying the residents. This PAC is needed in order to pool resources and help finance opposition to such things as well as help new council candidates fund their campaigns against the overwhelming money of the entrenched incumbents.
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I have spent far more time than I can afford to on this. It is cutting into my studio work time. In order to compensate a bit for this (and be able to pay my bills next month!) I am listing a few of my favorite acquired textiles from Japan.  Some of these I have used as samples for students to view in my workshops or as show pieces in my booth in Houston.  I treasure them all but it is time to pass them along to others.

First off, I will show you this wonderful tsutsugaki  nobori I purchased in a small shop in Mashiko-the home and pottery studio of famed Shoji Hamada.
I honestly did not know what I was going to do with this piece at the time but had recently been given a beautiful book by a Japanese designer that inspired me and used all sorts of vintage Japanese textiles in her clothing designs.
This nobori is likely from 40’s- 50’s (Showa) and is very brightly painted. It is very large and was probably used in Boys Day festivals. I thought I might even fly it here for special occasions but it is so long and theft is an issue. I’d love to see someone put it to good use!
It is 21.5 ” x 204″. The cloth is hemp- it is more rugged than cotton and smartly so for its intended use. Not too tightly woven and slubs in the weave suggest it may be a home woven cloth. All stitching on it is by hand. As a purposeful vintage textile it is imperfect, but the imperfections are not objectionable (a few stains and unintended brush marks -no holes or tears). The image painted on the nobori is of samurai riding their horses- a familiar boys day banner theme. Let’s look at it!

highly stylized faces of both the samurai and the horses and dramatic costumes with pine tree against a blue sky

These two photos are one half of the piece. The painting is detailed on both sides as they were meant to be seen from both. Below, the simpler portion which has the crests.
The hangers on the side are hand sewn on and could be removed without damage to the main cloth itself.

Tsutsugaki is a paste resist technique used to draw on the design outlines and the colors and detail features are hand painted. The crest portion is probably done using a cut stencil like katazome with the black being screened on (i’m guessing on this).
some detail shots:

So now for some photos from the book I was gifted…

vintage nobori as a over jacket- duster length

sleeves use the crests

Aren’t those great?  So now I post the nobori in the shop. I will add the other items, hopefully tomorrow and do a shorter post (much shorter) on where I found them and their history.

Event page update-classes in Houston

I am doing a little blog and website maintenance and am now referring the events page here on the blog to my new website event page which I will keep updated. Just simplifying basically.

The new listings there are the classes I will teach at the upcoming Houston Quilt Festival. Here are the classes I am teaching this time:
Please visit the website link above for details.

I already have received a few emails expressing disappointment that I am not teaching any shibori and indigo classes there this year.  I opted to not offer those to Quilts Inc this year as they have invited several others to teach the same topics in the past couple of years and quite frankly, it diminished signups for my class last year.  Unfortunately, one of those teachers that was directly competing with my class just didn’t show up last year (!) and aside from disappointing a lot of students, lower enrollment in my all day class, there was a lot of confusion about it all. I have to ship in and buy a lot of supplies for that class which is costly and I refer all students to other vendors for supplies.  This year, all the classes I am teaching are related to supplies I will have in my booth in an effort to offset some of the costs.

These are the “behind the scenes” decision making that has to go on to keep this dyers bills paid.  These shows continue to change and one must look out for ways to make it all work in order to continue to teach and vend there.  Many of the smaller one of a kind vendors no longer do. It simply becomes too expensive. We carry on.

That being said, I am excited to teach the three half day classes I submitted. As always, I will give it my all to provide a fun, rewarding, learning experience! Hope to see you there!

Oh, and we will be using some of the cocoons that the silkworms are spinning right now!

almost ready…