Category Archives: long beach art

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



Long Beach Museum of Art

Today I gave as special workshop for the docents at the Long Beach Museum of Art.
30 people in a small basement room for 75 minutes.
Slideshow and videos then on to the Shibori.

A simple project but enough to give them a sense of Shibori.






These are the volunteers who take the children on tours through the museum when they come here on field trips.
Thank you Long Beach Museum of Art docents!! It was a pleasure.

feathering the nest-booth 1150

the female moths are busy laying eggs now and i am busy preparing things for my booth at the upcoming Long Beach Quilt Festival. my booth is my nest of sorts for the duration of the show and i like to see it properly feathered.

jude’s spirit will be with us as well. she is sending this and a few other things for proper feathering.

the ribbons are piling up under the full moon-

some threads will make an appearance in the indigo *department*

(cotton and silk-solids, ombres, shibori’d)

also new in the *indigo department* will be a selection of what i am calling Whole Cloth.
larger pieces of indigo fabrics including my sea and sky fabrics as well as shibori indigo.
due to the time required to make these, they are somewhat limited.
they include cottons, silks, hemp, linen, wool and other interesting fabrics.

above us only sky-left to right-sunny, partly cloudy, & June Gloom

i will be posting up more pics as i can but most of my time over the next week is devoted to nest making.

a little something from HandEye

Awhile back Wendy Golden-Levitt called me up and did a little phone interview with me in advance of writing this article, which just came out in the recent online version of HandEye magazine.

We talked about a lot of things and although I wasn’t sure exactly what she took away from our little chat I trusted her intuition and ability to not only hear my words but feel the the intent and passion in regards to some of that which we discussed. After seeing the article “in print” I was pleased to see that part of the article spoke to my feelings about kids these days and what I perceive as a huge hole that we have allowed to develop in their education. We have removed so much of the joy, the potential for passion, curiosity, and wonder that it feels as if we are creating empty beings. Contemporary (K-12) public education feels like random dots on a page without a system for the students to connect the dots back to their everyday lives, or as Wendy puts it, we ask them “to develop their intellect and study for reasons that ignore their own well-being”. And although there are many groups and people (myself included) trying to counteract these losses in public schools the fact remains that we end up teaching (preaching) to the choirs with minimal effect on the condition as a whole. I feel wary of letting more generations of kids get through school like this, without experiencing passion for something, passions that may ultimately carry them through tough times in their lives ahead. As we all know- a career in art, music, dance, or theater is a difficult and unlikely choice, but a passion for any one of these things is an opportunity to grow and discover part of yourself regardless of one’s ultimate vocation. We are driven by fear to do so many things these days-whether or not they are good for us. Look at all the commercials that are based on feeding off our fears. The arts can teach us to overcome our fears in so many ways. Ahhh….fear. Another topic for another day. I thank Wendy for crafting the right words.

…in other news:
milo has taken an interest in the “other” cats

then retired to rest in the “in” box. he’s just that kind o’ cool!

the “cats”
this one is has just shed its skin. i think it’s in its third-instar
i think he/she looks more like a dog now

and these guys remind me that we all are all unique and develop at our own pace-
it’s just a matter of time and patience usually



sometimes when a new piece of shibori is opened and i am looking at it with my critical eye i ask myself many questions and wonder about it. is it a good one? this sort of grading is only relative to me in relation to the pieces that came before it and the pieces that will come after. viewed from the outside it may appear as good , or not, depending on the viewer’s perspective- but i am not too concerned with that in this moment. (eventually i am as most of what i make is for sale, but in the moment i only answer to myself.)
mainly i am asking: did i learn something from it? where does it lead me to next? as i dry the pieces, perhaps iron them i continue to look and think about them- looking into them really. this is especially true of the indigo- it has a depth that continues to intrigue me. not only in terms of the surface design but the process as well. and sometimes, but not always, it has a little something more to say. this pattern, when turned a certain way said pianissimo, especially when i set it on the piano bench which becomes a place to stack more fabrics next to the ironing board inside (much to the dismay of the piano players in the house when they have to move them if music is to be made). so my thoughts drift to this word and a gentle reminder to play softly and to remember that life is about dynamics- it’s the dynamics in both music, art, and life that keeps things interesting and alive. so these pieces have captured my attention and thought and now i am done with them. i release them. they will be cut up and divided. they are part of what makes up the indigo boro’d packs that you can find here.

i know this will be a bit of a lengthy post. apologies for that but it can’t be helped right now. aside from the indigo i have been at a few other things. mainly making colorful silk gauze that jude is using and of course in the way that she has, is inspiring others to use as well. (thank you jude and all!) as you know we have formed a somewhat symbiotic flow and i am sending her my wishes for the ailing computer to recover and let her be back on her way. as if even our computers were communicating, mine decided this week that it didn’t want to stay connected and through a series of troubleshooting steps it was deemed the wifi card was ailing. even the geniuses at the bar (apple store) were a little flummoxed but a very intuitive fellow who runs his own little apple repair shop near to me fixed me right up- quickly and within my budget-phew! thanks Pablo!! (let’s hear it for craigslist computer dudes!)

well, back to the indigo. just as i was ready to throw in a little thiox into my new natural fermentation vat out if impatience it seems the warmer weather has coaxed it into reduction. (i like that the terms oxidation and reduction were also a part of my past relationship with the firing of clay- funny isn’t it?) so yesterday i was able to make the first pieces using this vat. i learned some very interesting things! this vat (heretoforth known as NFV as opposed to my SYNV for the sake of brevity) is quite a bit weaker. i may end up adding in the remaining 4 ounces of natural indigo i have. it took at least twice as many dips to get the same shade of blue as the SYNV provides. perhaps not all the indigo is reduced as well. we shall see. my SYnV is quite a bit greener- but less smelly! i am still using the slaked wood ash lye-even for both when i have enough of it. still struggling along without the ph meter but that’s another story. i’ve added some ombre dyed silk gauze to the shop and i was thinking that if some of you out there wanted to prepare some fabric and send it along, i would give you a price for doing the dyeing. i only have so much time and preparing lots of stitched shibori for the vat just isn’t possible right now. let me know and leave me a comment or an email.

for those of you who want a more hands on experience, i am offering a two day indigo workshop here at my studio. it will be a small and intimate affair as i can only accommodate 4 people at a time. check out the details and if you want to participate, let me know. if demand exceeds available spots i will consider a second date.

i am also in the process of detailing all my upcoming classes, workshops, lectures, and shows. so far i have them all up on facebook. adding them here and on the website next- it all takes time. the Long Beach International Quilt Festival classes are now filling up- i am teaching two classes. one on shibori dyeing and the other on luxurious shibori ribbon adornments. (#’s 323 & 316 respectively)

phew- that’s all for now as more has to get done but if you have an urge for some special fabrics to have and hold, the shop is up and running.

one more thing to look forward to is an afternoon with a local group of camp fire boys. we will be doing a little indigo work. can’t wait for that!

booth 2052 and channel 28/sixteen

i’ve got a ways to go in order to get better at this video thing but no time to fuss with it right now- just thought you might enjoy a trip through the booth if you didn’t make it to the show.
you can turn the music down of off in the lower right hand corner if desired.
give it a minute to load so the sound doesn’t drag-

Indigo children and thoughts beyond

Things have begun germinating here and children are sprouting up all over. It has been hellishly hot lately and I’m trying to be careful not to let them get dehydrated:

indigo children-shiborigirl style

indigo children-shiborigirl style

Ideas germinate as well and indigo thoughts have become viral. More on that later.

Kathleen Fasanella at Fashion Incubator recently posted some definitions (a month ago- I am seriously behind around here!) to some hard to define terms such as “handmade”. She states “hardly anyone knows what this means anymore”. It definitely is a word used broadly and as she defines the term –

“in sewn products, handmade means the item was made by one person start to finish. “

She also states that handmade should be defined by the industry to which it applies. So sensible of course. She broaches the topics and offers detailed descriptions of batching, production, manufacturing, one off, craft, craft production and their relationship to one another. I have her book and have loaned it out to a couple of DIYers thinking they want to start up sewing bizzes of their own. It seemed the least I could do. It had been a while since I had visited her site and it was, as usual, worth the trip.

Seems I have had an appetite lately for more understanding as I work hard towards the upcoming show- Quilt Festival Long Beach. Right in my own backyard. It could hardly get any better. Well, I guess it could if booth costs weren’t continually on the rise as well as all the associated costs. I’m doing a bit of an experiment here. Seeing just how low I can go.
So far- 1/2 booth ( only the second time I have done that in over 30 years of shows!), not ordering any lights or electricity (so far-we’ll see how that goes!) and putting off ordering any steel until I get there and determine my options. Maximizing profit. Keeping things simple. Focusing on the sale and the interaction with the customer. Listening.

Here’s a little preview of some of what’s been happening around here-

itajime shibori indigo virus on silk organza

itajime shibori indigo virus on silk organza

shibori ribbon- to inspire and create!

shibori ribbon- to inspire and create!

indigo silk cording

indigo silk cording

indigo cording and silver beads

indigo cording and silver beads

indigo ombre practice-cotton

indigo ombre practice-cotton

flow of silk cording

flow of silk cording

just working…

I know I have so much more to write about but simply have to be working right now- trying to take and post few pics in the process to keep the flow going here-enjoy!

click to enlarge..

Dare I ask? Just what IS the role of an artist in society today?

I think I just heard a strange sound…..must have been the sound of a can of worms being opened.

I pose this question in the wake of being accused by a local “arts advocate” of not participating, of sitting on the sidelines and criticizing instead of “rolling up my sleeves and making change by participating”. And all along I thought I was participating! So I started wondering, just what exactly is it that is expected or desired of a artist in our society/community today?

Let me begin by saying that I am as confused by this question as anyone. I could come up with some eloquently waxed statements on the matter. It of course leads to other questions-such as, “What is the role of ART in society today?”. And the omnipresent question “What is ART?”.

Let me start small. Sometimes nibbling around the edges lets me figure things out as I go so I’ll just start by saying that making things with my hands seems to be embedded deeply in my DNA. Also, that I’m not really convinced that I am an artist. See I told you I was confused. If I ever had to go out and get what my parents termed “a real job” it wouldn’t quell the deep need I have to create things. Perhaps a 12 step program or a religious conversion would do the trick, but I doubt it. It’s just there.
So I have gone along with it since I was a child and worked it out so it could pay the bills.

Here are some other questions that come up:
Does everyone need art in their life?
-probably not, of course there are many cases one could site on this one.
Are we happier as a society with art and artists in our midst?
-I think so……
But why?
-here is where it gets more difficult. More subjective.

Does the artist’s role change in relationship to the changing needs of society? If you read this book, What is Art For? by Ellen Dissanayake you might be led to believe that making and responding to art is simply part of our human nature. Or that
we as humans have a need for beauty be it in the context of nature, our surroundings, or by creating it ourselves.

Furthermore, by definition, the term artist can be construed to mean many things. Many artists I have met (and from here out I will use this term inclusively and without judgment ) create because they cannot NOT create. Are you an artist because you created something? 5 things? 10,000 things? Is there a point at which your productivity becomes so great that you are no longer considered an artist? First you are an artist, then you are an artist with bills to pay. You become a production artist. Overhead increases. Now you are a Manufacturer. Well, you can see it starts to get a little messy here. I have been in all of these situations.

Back to the question. The artist’s role in society. Do artist’s have a responsibility in society? Should they create beauty for others to enjoy? Should they lead by example? Should they share their vision and their creativity with the public by teaching? Should they communicate with other artists from around the world? Should they all participate by dictate and attend meetings hosted by tireless arts advocates?

What would you do?
Here are some things I see other artists doing-
This is an easy one- Phil working with Pan Afrika featuring Master African Drummer Dramane Kone of Burkina Faso at a local preschool last week. Dramane is a Griot from the famous Kone family of Burkina Faso and Mali. a Griot is a West African poet, praise singer, and wandering musician, considered a repository of oral tradition.:

How about Jane and her work over the past two years at Mundo Lindo (Beautiful World) which is now coming to a close.

And if you know me you may be familiar with Elementary Art .

Please feel free to post links to any you know here in the comment section (this could get pretty lengthy!).
Of course we are only scratching the surface here but the bigger question really is would the community rather see the likes of us at bored meetings or out doing stuff? It’s somewhat disingenuous to say you want our ideas and opinions yet when we give them and you don’t like them tell us we aren’t part of the solution because we aren’t playing by your rules. Artists and musician types often make great sacrifices in lifestyles in order to choose these paths as a career. It’s not 9-5. There are no paid vacations. You often work 80 hours a week. You almost never get paid what you think you should. Forget about health insurance of any real substance. Bottom line, if I’m not gonna get paid for my volunteer work, would I rather be in a bored meeting or in a roomful of children? I think you can guess my answer.

If you want my ideas, feel free to email me. No meetings required. Until further notice, only paid gigs are being considered though.

Countdown to Chicago continues…..dyeing and processing the last of the silk for the show. Just booked a series of workshops in Claremont over the next 5 months. More details will be posted shortly on the classes and shows page….gotta go and get busy now!

feeling a bit prickly

Maybe because I was working on this:
-and asking myself “what is the point?”. Having so much that needs to get done before Chicago and the study trip to Japan while at the same time being called out online for “standing on the sidelines criticizing instead of rolling up my sleeves and doing something”. This I get for publicly stating my opinion on recent discussions ( LBPost )about the future of art in our fine city of Long Beach. I admit I said the E word (education) and as you know, it is something I am passionate about when it comes to public education. But to be called out both on a youtube video as well as in a public forum by (get this) the same person who “borrowed” one of my ElementaryArt pics from my blog and then used it to promote himself without permission, attribution or anything just left me feeling a little prickly.
So, in retaliation, I headed to the studio to work where I had several rewarding days with dye and silk.
Releasing the threads that bound the pent up fabric and removing the sharp and now unnecessary barbs the silk rewarded me with small volcanic-like mountains complete with lava flow and molten ash. Very Icelandic- thank you Gudrun for your book of paintings based on natural surfaces in Iceland-just marvelous! You can see her work hanging in the airport in Reykjavik when you arrive (and by the way she is my sister in law). So much inspiration in your work- I see all sorts of “scapes” for shibori work there.
Then, another sign of renewal-
momma dove sitting on her nest in the plum tree.

some more large wraps for birthday gift’s one
Plus I get to iron silk while a band rehearses in the next room.
the sound was sweet!
( oh and I’m gonna ignore the threat of a defamation lawsuit you posted and just assume you had temporarily lost your mind- wishes for a speedy recovery)