Category Archives: japanese textiles

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.

Silk Study Tour to Japan and the final days of silk moths…

I have been wanting to get to this post all week but, well…you know. Life, work, local politics, heatwave, gardening…need I go on?
Hope this finds you well and safe from heat, fire, flooding, typhoons, drought and in relative good health! Earth is challenging many!

First off, the update email for the Silk Study Tour to Japan has been sent to those who are signed up to go next year (May 2019).  If you are signed up and didn’t receive it let me know.  If you are interested in one of the remaining spots here is a link to the basic info and itinerary.

I previously covered my classes at the upcoming Houston International Quilt Festival and online registration is now ongoing.  Visit my website for the pertinent details and links.

We just concluded the most recent workshop at the Japanese American National Museum which was really wonderful.  They just keep getting better and better!  Returning students are really taking on more challenging designs and experimenting. New students jump right in and are encouraged by the returning students. We are now picking a couple of new dates to end the year. Will add to the website and announce as soon as they are finalized.

As I added the link to the JANM I just saw the upcoming exhibit  :Kaiju vs Heroes: Mark Nagata’s Journey through the World of Japanese Toys September 15, 2018 – March 24, 2019. This will be right up my alley since I grew up there from 1965-72! Yokohama tomodachi-let’s go! Natsukashii ne…

Anyway, back to the silk moths. The silk moths emerged, mated, laid their eggs and quietly died.  The eggs dried, turned grey and are stored in the fridge for now.   Here is a little video I put together about this stage. Even the local cat Toby helps out!

 

the sacred stitch, revisited

I came back to this post, originally published in December of 2011 because of a new comment from Linda who had visited it two years after it published. Five years late, she reports she is well and still kicking!
It gave me an opportunity to reflect on a few things and wonder how I felt about not only what I had written, but also about all the lovely and thoughtful comments by you, the readers.  I find I’m good with all of it and pleased to see how many of the comments came from folks I still interact with today. I see how many of you have persisted, endured, grown, and created over the intervening (7!) years.  Sashiko is more popular than ever these days and I’m pleased to say that it is the hand stitching method that won out over the machine on this one.
Out of curiosity, I searched for the sashiko machine online and found a forum where people were talking about their experience with it and it seems that it was pretty finicky with a high price and without good customer support. It seems the machine is still being made for home sewers and can often be found “on sale” for $1499 (as opposed to the original $2000).

Originally, I thought I would just republish the post with today’s date but then realized that editing the date would take it out of it’s space-time continuum and I don’t want to mess with the gravity of such things.

You just have to go to the post link yourself. You might be interested in re-reading it or maybe you never read it the first time. Don’t skimp on reading the comments.

Today, Toby watches the silkworms while I clean out the frass.

 

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

on a friday night…

time has seemed irrelevant lately. things just happen as they will.

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take this sunflower for instance. during the summer i had these growing outside the kitchen sink window where i could admire their happy faces smiling at me while i washed the dishes.  when they went to seed and needed removal, i cut the flower heads and dropped them in the driveway for the squirrels and the birds to enjoy (where i could watch them from where i work).  now, months later in December, a volunteer from that act is blooming in the middle of the driveway with the ginko tree shedding its golden leaves behind-definitely fall.
all it takes is a seed to be dropped, or an idea to be planted on fertile soil to generate something beautiful.

i received two intriguing books on kanoko shibori yesterday from Japan.

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some new seeds were definitely planted.

plus, he sent me an old apron from the Kyoto temple sale. we will visit there in 2017 on the silk study tour to Japan.

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and no matter what time of year, squirrelly boy hears me at work and lets me know he is hungry and needs fresh water! i’m so lucky to have such in interesting studio friend.

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ribbon orders are in full swing- thank you for being patient! there have been a few disruptions lately…
and thanks to those who have been emailing me and enjoying the Daily Dyer reruns. glad you find something useful there.

 

Finally Fall(ish)

Finally Fall-ish here.  Wearing a sweater in the house.  I swear I will not go out today and into the madness that is now known as Black Friday.  I have for years chosen to call this day Buy Nothing Day.  I was introduced to this concept back when the kids were in preschool- so, that’s been a while.  What a weird name for a day- Black Friday.  It sounds ugly to begin with-somehow ominous.  I think most of us would prefer to stay home and continue to enjoy our friends and families, eating leftovers and playing games or whatever the day brings.  I saw a photo of a store window in the newspaper this morning- it said “Celebrate Black Friday!”, huh?  But somehow this nonsense beguiles us to venture forth with the promise of one time only savings on things we might want to have.  I can’t say “need” here because it is mostly on luxury items.  In any case, we’re just staying home. I hear Cyber Monday is coming up…

Weird, just weird.

With that madness behind us, I will report that the workshop at the Japanese American National Museum last week was great fun.  Almost half were returning students and the other half soon to be returning.  There really is something about the exploratory process of shibori that draws you in.  I am interested in seeing that many of the returning students are becoming more and more interested in the nui (stitched) shibori.  Interesting that in the beginning, it seemed as if they were more interested in the pole wrapping and the clamped techniques.  I have been collecting more samples of stitched shibori to show them and I also think that the indigo vat has charmed them. Stitched shibori is very indigo friendly.  I have seen some great explorations on their part over time.  They inspire me to up my own game and challenge them further.

The museum hosted a trunk show coinciding with my workshop weekend there from the Nuno company. The students also enjoyed that and made several lovely purchases.  I spoke with the two fellows there and told them I had been fortunate to see the 30 Years of Nuno Textiles in Tokyo when I was there recently.  I bought the book  ZokuZoku as a reminder.

Thank you to everyone who is patiently waiting on your order.  I have been graced with a bit of the flu this weekend and have slowed a bit.  Soon better with turkey soup.

Also, I received an email reminding me that my Daily Dyer blog ( previously a subscription only blog from 2013) is up for renewal again on WordPress.  It’s a paid blog with the ability to load video and privatize so I had to decide whether to renew or not.  I went back and viewed a few things and thought -why not add it to the Feeling Freer section for the next year?  Then I will delete it when next year rolls around.

And so it is. You may find something useful or entertaining there.  You will have to use the sidebar to navigate as the newest post appears first.

and a few photos to spice it up…