Category Archives: itajime

waiting for the thread to dry…

…is kind of like watching paint dry. Having finished off some orders in this heat I am able to get back to the vat today.  Dyeing a bit of this and that as needed.  As for the vat- it’s a happy vat at the moment.  My little experiment of sewing a big cotton scrim bag to put down into it (keeping any organic materials out of my more open weave cloth as I dye) has been successful.  I placed a few round stones in the bottom to keep it anchored below (somewhat). I also found I could move it over to my smaller light vat as well when needed.  It is not forming much hana (flower) but has a nice coppery sheen on top and is a deep green and dyeing well.
indigo vatAs a reminder- one needs to continue to stir the vat each day, especially when not using it.  This action reintegrates the organic materials and any undissolved indigo in the vat.  There are various theories on whether or not you want to get some oxygen into the vat while stirring (especially if the vat is in disuse).  My particular theory is that since the bacteria consume oxygen they need at least a little bit ongoing to keep up the good work.  That hana you see on your vat is a sign of good fermentation and the result of oxygen bubbling to the top and meeting with the air.

I am anxious to get on with it while I am in the mood but the thread I am dying to use is still wet.  I am working on a show piece for Houston (as in “show”, I mean a piece for the wall of my booth) and it seemed to me that I needed to set it aside and work on a smaller, simpler piece to solve some puzzles and answer some questions I was running into on the larger one.  I also depend on wondering here to catch a few thoughts.

Let’s just get clear on one thing. I am not a quilter.  This may not even be a quilt. It is something.

So that being stated, I have lots to wonder about as I go down the path with this one.  I will say that if you define a quilt as:

“layers of cloth held together with threads drawn through with a needle”

-then this is (a version of) a quilt. But maybe it is something else. Maybe it is a dyers cloth (run through with a needle)? Ahh…to define something. To categorize. To make it black or white. How can it be one thing and still be another? Two things at the same time? Or none at all.  Maybe it is its own thing. That might ring true sometimes. Maybe for today. For now, it is a beginning. It is blue. Many blues. And it has moons. Many moons.


I think the thread may be dry now.

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

I get letters…

It was a great weekend at the Japanese American National Museum.  There were several returning students but the majority were new to both dyeing and to shibori in general. It is always a pleasure to introduce people to both.  Most indicated they will sign up again for one of the upcoming shibori workshops featuring indigo in June  and August (contact museum for reservations).  The force is strong in shibori…

Participants were fortunate to be able to see the last day of the exhibit “Two Views” featuring photographs by renowned 20th-century photographers Ansel Adams and Leonard Frank who each captured distinctive views of the Japanese American and Japanese Canadian incarcerations. I had seen it previously and encouraged everyone to take a break and go through the exhibit.

Early on Sunday I had the opportunity to view the other exhibit “Making Waves” before the museum opened to the public. It was really too much to take in in the amount of time I had- I spent a scant 30 minutes and knew I couldn’t do it justice so will go back before it closes the end of June.

In other news, I am feeling much better! The garden is blooming, vegetables growing. I also had a chance to see the current exhibit at the Mingei International Museum in San Diego recently.  (Thanks to Nadja for the hospitality!) One thing I was curious about was the attribution of this piece on display.

shibori yukata IMG_1862 IMG_1863
Obviously shibori dyed but yet annotated as printed.  Unless I am missing something…  I could see the needle marks. Anyway…there were some fabulous pieces there, like this detail from a fisherman’s raincoat woven with reed and seaweed.
woven reed and seaweed

I came home from the weekend to find a lovely letter from a customer. Honestly, I have to say this sort of thing keeps me going at times. I know that making things by hand is an incredibly personal and worthwhile endeavor. Sometimes a journey of the soul. Please teach any children in your realm this valuable gift.
i get lettersnow I’m crying…xo

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



the wondering wall

as soon as the taxes are finished, i can get back to wondering.  and dyeing. it’s has been quite busy here as of late but a shop update is on the horizon! mostly ribbon to start out with but also some lovely old whites.  Jude is also busy wondering in white. I’m going to go there for a bit too. But my wonderings usually end up turning blue.

cranes in the moon-indigo on silk

cranes in the moon-indigo on silk

In Japan, cranes have long been associated with longevity and good fortune. Often a wedding kimono will have cranes incorporated into the design.  This old silk with jacquard crane imagery had me wondering if combining it with a moon might enhance its loveliness.  The moon has long been associated with beauty and the appreciation of beauty in Japan.  I think it makes a handsome pairing.

double arashi

some wondering about more shibori texture.  more of this soon.

first indigo

and the indigo has had its first haircut which has been dried and stored!  these plants volunteered themselves by self sowing.

itajime on silk

and some old silk kimono linings had me practicing my itajime with the fermentation vat

which is really liking spring!

mokume wondering

from the fermentation vat. i’ve been working almost exclusively with it since the beginning of the year.

the chem vat  is off in a corner. i wonder if i will ever use it again?

on my table

and… i’m going to saturday school to practice my Japanese (hence the old かな cards).  this old doll came out of the cupboard to help me design a piece for my friend Donna’s line of mannequins. it all looked interesting lying on the table soI snapped this shot for fun.

that’s it for now- back to finishing up the taxes.  need to get them in asap so my son can figure out if he can get the appropriate mix of financial aid and scholarship funds so he can accept his graduate school acceptance offer from ………

…the San Francisco Conservatory of Music!  (so proud of him….congrats Trev!) cross your fingers for him…it’s an honor and a really big deal. If he can swing it, he will be studying under Jack Van Geem and David Herbert the principal percussionist and principal timpanist of the San Francisco Symphony. He’s making his dreams come true through hard work, persistance and practice.

ad free…again

you may or may not know this.  but having a free WP blog comes with costs.  there are lots of upgrades one can purchase to keep your blog running the way YOU want it to.  one of those things is the “ad free” upgrade.  i will gladly keep paying the $30 a year to keep ads off my blog.  so today, I hereby devote the next $30 of income from selling my shibori and indigo work to WordPress to keep this blog ad free.

Yippee!!  ad free- it’s just so much nicer this way.

indigo silk scarf

this is the last of this roll of narrow width silk i brought back from Japan last time. it is so lightweight and loves the indigo.  i don’t get too fancy with it as it’s delicacy speaks for itself.  it will be in the shop.

and Richard will be here soon.  we still have 2 spots left so if you are feeling inclined to join us on a whim pop over to the shop and sign up.  we will be having a couple of trunk shows as well.  the first one being private for those in the workshop and the second one will be open (will announce this on the Facebook studio page too since many locals watch that daily and it’s bound to be quick and last minute.  make sure you *like* the page so it shows up in your stream…).   we will also be doing some of what we did last time- selling some of the collaborative pieces online in the shop so if you are not a local you can still join in on some of it.  he’s also bringing over some special vintage items.  can’t wait!

mon 紋 もん

itajime mon indigo

mon are emblems used in Japan to identify groups or individuals.  also know as Japanese crests, Wikipedia states that mon

may have originated as fabric patterns to be used on clothes in order to distinguish individuals or signify membership in a specific clan or organization.

some indigo itajime pieces i have been working on remind me of these mon.  perhaps a shibori no ai mon 藍搾り纹 is in order. will be wondering more about this.  i think they would make nice pillows…

these pieces are an outgrowth of what i have learned from Richard, who is due to be here shortly.  we will have some more time together, standing on common ground, and under the same moon.  we have 2 spots still open if you are in the neighborhood…

meanwhile, Susan over at ito de has been incorporating thoughts of kanji into her work.  lots of good posts over there.