Category Archives: live and learn

It’s all about Shibori Ribbon today

In the third quarter of last year there started to be an issue with ordering silk satin yardage. Suppliers did not have it in stock. Some suppliers said that government tariffs with China were an issue. Later we found that in addition, mills were not weaving it. Then I was told that the usual sources would not accept the wholesaler’s orders as it did now not meet minimum yardage for a run (minimum was HUGE-even for a large distributor).

What I do know about silk satin is that it was not a fabric that was widely available wholesale even when I first started dyeing the ribbon. Seems that there are either limited textile mills in China that produce it, that it may be done on specific looms that are not in good repair. The main use for this fabric is fine lingerie and bridal. With fine lingerie and bridal mfgs/retailers not ordering as much as before, perhaps the yardage needed to do a run just was no longer there. I’m not sure.
Seems that anyone I contacted overseas said yes they had it, only to find out what they really wanted to sell me was charmuese. I have tried this for the ribbon with less than desired results.

So, I set out to find another type/weave/weight of silk that could produce the results I wanted. After test dyeing many, many silks I have finally settled on one. I have sent samples to beaders and folks who use the ribbon who report they like it just as well. In fact, for some users it seems to be preferred for its ability to take the pleating well.
I have spent the past months working on this and learning to dye the new ribbon to my liking. Each silk weave and weight has its own characteristics and challenges when it comes to dyeing, discharging, and pleating. I’m still getting used to it.

In some ways, it got me thinking about back when I started to learn about shibori and the dyeing of silk. I’ve done a LOT of experimenting and learning along the way. It’s been quite an adventure!

I’m glad to say that I am finally ready to add some to the shop today. I am adding two different selections. The first are sets of three assorted colors (one yard each and one set only) and the other is three colors by the yard (ten yards per color available right now). In the shop now. Here is how they look:

The second addition is yardage- three colors are available in the shop by the yard as usual. There are a couple rolls of the original SATIN ribbon there too. I’ll be adding more as they are dyed.

In addition to what I have in my own shop, Michelle just received a set of colors for her shop Fundametals Annex. Michelle has been the most consistent and devoted reseller of my shibori ribbon since the beginning-supplying creative folks with a wide array of well sourced craft supplies. Not being able to stock the ribbon has been hard on both of us! Both her and her husband are self-employed and with three young teens at home they also have the added job of overseeing their online schooling during these corona days. Through it all, Michelle continues to do what she does best-run her home and family as well as supply creative folks with beautiful craft supplies for inspired handwork, while providing great customer service (despite the added difficulty of shipping issues with USPS!). These past six months have been hard on small businesses and I’m glad to be able to fill her orders once again.
As I look back over the arc of making and selling my silk shibori ribbon, in addition to those who find joy and creative expression in using the ribbon themselves, it makes me content in knowing that the ribbon has helped many sustain themselves by providing an income- whether by reselling the ribbon or by buying and using it to hand make items they sell to supplement their own income. I have received many lovely emails from people all over the world about this much to my surprise. This is almost without exception being done by women. It is a small thing but it feeds my soul to participate in the circle.
Even those who copied the ribbon to make and sell in competition have a place in this circle.


addendum in the light of day
On a perfect note after writing this post last night, I received a spam comment this morning on an old post about the ribbon from 5 years ago. I deleted the spam comment and went and re-read the original post along with all the comments. Writing this blog over the past 14 years surely has been a journey… I appreciate all those who cheered and even jeered along the way. thank you.

And even more perfectly, a friend sent me this Buddhist prayer this morning. Perhaps you might also enjoy it as I did. (thank you Michelle!)
“A balm to turn me inward where all that ever was, or ever will commence, arrives in perfect, present tense.”

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…

carry on child…and wonder

I remember when I was 13 and this song came out.  I believed it. So did many others I’m guessing.  We lived in Japan and we heard it on Armed Forces Radio like all the top hits. The Vietnam War was ongoing and not to be ended for several more years. We got a lot of the war news in the daily Stars and Stripes.

I heard it again the other day and I still loved the emotion behind it. But it made me sad to hear it in our present time. In 1970 it made me feel happy and hopeful! At 13 I was not very aware of race, racism, or of the disparity life was dealing out to non-whites in the US. We were growing up in another country and when listening to the radio I often did not know (or wonder about) the race of the groups we heard until I stumbled on an album cover at the PX and when that happened it was exciting. I had my own reasons for wanting to believe the words of this song and it wasn’t until years later when we had returned to the US that it started occurring to me that this song was written about something I had no reason to understand based on my own experience at that time. Thankfully, that has changed. But maddeningly, for many, that day has still not come to pass.  We simply cannot continue down this path.  It is such a waste of our collective potential.
I was reading as I always do, jude’s blog, about saying what we are thinking. I tend to keep most of it to myself, at least here. But I am always thinking as I work and it becomes intertwined in everything I do and everything I make. It can’t NOT be that way.
So, this is what I was thinking about this morning as I prepared some silk for an upcoming workshop at the JANM. You can read more about the workshop in the previous post.
As for the silks, these are mostly collected from the last trip to Japan. Found in dark shop corners, as they are all leftover from unassembled kimono and were un-dyed which makes them perfectly suited for dyeing mandala but generally overlooked by other customers there.  Fabric kits this time include habutai, jacquards, chirimen, organza and some satin organza (new to me and difficult to work with -so far).

I actually had to go out and buy a backup sewing machine for this workshop-picked up a low end brother machine-something in case my regular machine takes a dive during the workshop and allows us to have two machines going.  In the past I just had the one and hoped for the best!  In Houston when I do this workshop we have rooms full of machines and everyone can sew their own.  This workshop requires a sewing machine.
Encouraged by jude’s blog post this morning, I dug out a video I made a month or so ago that I never used. It’s a few “loose thoughts” stitched together in video form. This one’s for you jude!

As for other goings on here, my shibori ribbon likes to travel the world and has been to so many more places than I have!  Recently to Russia, Italy, Poland, and the UK. So that continues.

The garden is producing tomatoes! Kind of crazy for January but I took a chance on equally crazy weather and voila-tomatoes! Also there are lettuces, swiss chard, carrots, onions, beets and broccoli for now. It’s also citrus time here still and whether I am sharing my own or enjoying the bounty from others we have our quota of vitamin C covered daily here. I hope you are as fortunate.

Ooh Child…

the wayback machine…

Just wanted to make sure this recently surfaced image makes it into the Wayback Machine (here https://web.archive.org/ ).

Even longer than I remembered, the moon has figured into my work. I was reminded by this photograph. As I recall, I was sitting outside the local community pool, likely babysitting. I did a lot of that in HS.  I used most of the $ to buy art supplies, fabric to sew clothes, and parts to upgrade my 10 speed.  I’m not sure why my pieces were hanging on the fence here. Maybe some sort of “show”? The piece on the left was my first try at batik.  The one on the right was a hooked wool rug from a design I did on paper. Even back then I was fiddling with color and fiber. I was in the 10th grade, so about 16 years young.

about 44 years ago in Burke, Virginia

My sister just digitized a trove of old photos (almost 800). There are some classics there.  I pulled a few more to post on FB for the Yokohama Girls. (I’ll tag you there once I get them posted.)

And a special thanks to our dad Cale, who was a photographer his whole life. His collection of slides was immense, many since discarded unfortunately. I wish I had them now- especially the 1000’s from Japan in the 60’s. Would be fascinating to see some of them now.

And into the New Year we continue to travel. I plan on making a giant pot of Pho tomorrow to start the year off.

Travel well my friends. Continue to be courageous, kind, and creative into 2018.

And in the end…

Heading into the the end of another year I’m still wondering. Wondering what this new year will bring and ready to accept and embrace all that it will be.
What will be needed most in 2018?  I think perhaps courage will be a most important ingredient. Also faith- in ourselves and in each other. In our small ways we can do much. There are so many changes occurring at such a pace that I want to remember to often find that space where I can slow down and sort things out.

I will continue my shibori dyeing, silk and indigo work as well as teaching workshops here and there. I will try again to post here more than I did this past year-perhaps rebuild my following for the blog- but more than that for myself, as a documentation of what I do. I thank everyone who participates in this journey with me in all ways- as a customer, as a student, as a blog reader, FB follower, commentator, emailer, Instagram poster, fellow blogger and all the rest. I am sustained and inspired by you all and am thankful.

As a service to my local community, I am helping a candidate for city council with her social media. I feel it’s the least I can do. It’s not something everyone does well or even understands how to do (it’s a constant moving target actually) and I have a little experience (and I learn more every day!) that I think might be helpful. So it’s my small contribution to help raise awareness and change the dynamics of our local city government. I urge more of us to look into what is happening at our local government level and do what we can to keep things from slipping away and out of our control. Money is corrupting everything it seems and transparency is weak. More and more here in my city, council members are not representing the residents adequately. Many local politicians see these positions as a ladder to higher office, paid commissions, & government pensions where monied interests are answered over the needs and desires of those represented. We know this of course, but what are we doing about it? Are we running for office, attending council or town hall meetings,helping good people who have the courage to do so, voting? I think we’ve had a wake up call in 2017…

So…courage.  People like to pick a word they can focus on over the course of a year. Something to remind them of their resolve or direction. Perhaps courage will work for me.  I see lots of potential for courage in 2018-both small and large. I will start small. I actually looked up the word courage in the thesaurus to see if there was a word I liked better.  There wasn’t. Not one that embodied what I want to think about. But what I did see that I thought was important, were its antonyms- cowardice, fear, irresolution, meekness, timidity, & weakness. Maybe 2018 can be the season of courage? Continued courage in our own lives, courage to help others live through difficult times and moments, courage to step up and make a change, to become change.
There is a Season, turn, turn, turn…2018.

So, as the pages turn and the New Year approaches I will add a few more posts, looking back over 2017. Come back and visit sometime- I’ll be here…
And in the end,

Wonder up, not down

I am seeking to set a mood in my life this coming year. The mood is peaceful, healthy, green (my favorite color!),  with blurred edges mostly (but with some straight lines and hard edges for structure). I will fight when necessary, keeping the path in focus through all times.

If I seek to change something in or about the world around me…I will think of this quote:

“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.”
                                                                                          –Paul Coelho

Additionally,  I will remind myself that to recognize life’s beauty is a gift, to share it a treasure. I will seek treasure.

Wonder up- not down.

It’s been a belief of mine that we need more wonder in the world. We need it now more than ever.  Apparently, Socrates said, “Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.” I looked it up and it has been argued that this was actually said by Aristotle, or even Plato as he was interpreting Socrates’ ideas on the matter. Another interpretation yields this- “Wisdom begins in wonder“. No matter who said it, when or where , it is a timeless thought, don’t you think? The Greek word “filosofia” means “lover of wisdom” as in philosophy.

So, I will continue to seek wisdom through wonder. To ask the question- “what if?”

Turning the page now…see you on the other side.
Love, enjoy, wonder-

glennis

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lifting nets in rough seas

Words that now feel different or words I won’t use (most of which I never did anyway):

Tremendous

Huge

Deplorables

Terrific

Great

Words I still love:

Wonder

Wondering

Wondered

Things I plan on doing more of:

Listening

Thinking

Helping

Learning

We can all help by lifting nets in rough seas.

We cannot despair. For despair leads to the graveyard of buried hopes. May any despair you feel turn you down a path to wonder more, to listen more, to help more.

 

a matter of time

Somehow, this makes me feel really sad.  I did realize that this would be the eventual end game of sorts.  It always happens.
And for expressing this I am prepared to take whatever shit comes my way about it.  I am. Somehow this feels somewhat personal.  Not in the usual Me Me Me sense but in the way that something I have grown to love, understand, and practice has yet again been usurped by the commercialization of something fine and turned into something rote. Turned into something that yet again, another company will inevitably run into the ground until people are tired of it in a season or two or until the profit runs dry and no one cares.
In the meantime, they will crank out tons of cotton fabrics, printed (not dyed), to be sewn by machines into stunning show quilts for competitions and more.

Why wonder about and practice it when you can just click a few buttons on the computer or grab a stack of whacks at the show and be done?

And so it is.

The word shibori comes from the root verb of the word shiboru which means to twist or wring, to squeeze.  Yup.  Makes sense.

workshop

 

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.

IMG_3037

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-

IMG_3035

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!)