Category Archives: long beach quilt festival

Let there be more Light than Dark

We are officially one day two days (taking me longer to finish this post!) past the Spring Equinox and that means more light than dark. Regardless of what the clocks say, I regard this as a celebration of light!
Every day I read the daily entry from my well worn copy of Hal Borland’s Book of Days and today’s entry is profound and meant so much more than the words on the page might have originally intended. It got me out early in the garden to do some work on the soil in one of my vegetable beds that I have been wanting to do and the timing is perfect. The action was like a prayer to the Universe. I’ll share the entry with you…

sun streaming across my page…and I didn’t know that about frost since we don’t get that here except once in a blue moon…

The action/prayer for today was to screen several buckets from the compost bin that have been fully rendered into a beautiful dark loam and teeming with earthworms. I added this to the next vegetable bed I intend to plant. I dug and forked and mixed until my back said enough and left it so the many earthworms could retreat into their darkness. Many seeds have been planted and have already sprouted with their own promises of miracles. I’ve been planting them out little by little. (There are already flowers on some of the tomato transplants!)

Speaking of the food of life (one cannot exist solely on tomatoes, greens and garlic!), there is other studio work to be done. Here I tend to the “soil” of my work by planting the seeds and giving them nourishment.
I’m listing two workshops today for August. These dates are chosen to be convenient for those who are coming to the Long Beach Quilt Festival should visitors want to take advantage of being geographically convenient to me. Of course this is not limited to show attendees! Please see the listings below for details. Several people have been emailing me for workshops and I’ll start with these since people are making their travel plans now and registering to attend the festival. I also working on a couple of other workshop opportunities that will happen before then- both online and in person. Of course everything continues to be premised on staying and keeping us all healthy!

March moons are all sent out- there are even a few extras if anyone wants to start their subscription with March…I now sort fabrics to find the canvas for April moons…also known as the Pink Moon, not for the color pink but for the pink phlox flowers that bloom in April. There are other names for the April moon and almost all are associated in one way or another with the end of Winter and the changes that Spring brings. I think some vintage silk might be where I begin as April is also when sericulture season begins in Japan. The mulberry farmers are tending their fields and noticing the new growth sprouting out. Soon, they will be hatching out the silkworm eggs…

I have also been doing a little stitching on a piece I started a while back which resurfaced while cleaning up some fabric stacks…it’s another cover for a pillow. The “MHNMC” Moose, has been taking advantage of the new window work table setup so he can harass the cats outside (who live here) from inside THEIR house. I got a kick out of my grandson when he was here and I called the cat “Moose”. He said, “Nana, that’s NOT a moose, it’s a CAT!”. He thought it was the silliest thing ever to name a cat Moose. I did not name this cat. I have no idea why he is named Moose. It’s on his collar. He’s obviously familiar with the Give a Moose a Muffin books. Always was a favorite way back when his dad was youngster. Glad to see these things repeat themselves.

Moose eye view…

Back to the workshops… I finally got them into the shop!

Here are the workshops available for signup now.

One is an indigo shibori workshop and the other is an inspired by cloth stitching workshop. So whether or not you will attend the Long Beach Quilt Festival or not, you are invited to sign up! My mind is already swirling with ideas!

where to go from here…


every day I wonder.
yesterday I wondered how the vat was doing-since I had not dyed anything for 3 days while I entertained and cooked for a crowd of graduates and other guests. a party.


it was doing just fine. I think I missed it more than it missed me.

The Long Beach Quilt Festival is next week. It will be the last one held here. They are moving on to greener pastures it seems. I will be there-booth #1315 I think… also teaching a flower class with some needle felting of the Shibori ribbon.

I am wondering how much longer the shows can remain a financially viable vehicle for me to get my work out there.

The new show they are replacing it with will be in Portland and of course require travel expenses in addition. But no paid teaching opportunities to help offset the cost. Only quick unpaid seminars/ demos on the show floor. Doubt I can justify that. Will have to think on that one.




I like numbers

I always have. Numbers help me figure things out.

numbers, my pretties, numbers

(new in the shop) 

They help me make better decisions when I might be tempted to do something out of sheer emotion or desire (there is a time and place for that as well). Numbers are handy when measuring dye and silk or clay and glaze materials. Numbers help me be more efficient. Some of these things can be downright destructive if I weren’t paying attention to the numbers. The whole world is based on numbers. Business, governments, science, music and even art and nature can be looked at through a number filtered lens.

Daily, we have occasion to confront some pretty disturbing numbers. There are so many of those these days that I could drive myself crazy with them.  Most recently in the news JPMorgan  “mishandled” some numbers. Here, Candida Abraham says the numbers don’t lie when it comes to servicing the needs of the mentally ill in our society. The numbers Abraham speaks of have some pretty dire consequences if we don’t pay attention to them.

The numbers in my own small world are really tiny compared to such things. But, like most of us, I have to pay attention to them or the bills won’t get paid next month.  So in addition to being visually and technically creative I need to engage the other side of my brain and pay attention to the NUMBERS!  This post is just a little reminder to myself that one day, a year or so ago, I wasn’t paying close enough attention and allowed myself to agree to something I shouldn’t have.  At least not if I had been paying attention to the numbers.  I am actually pretty good at the numbers thing which is why I’m still around, independently creating daily for over 35 years.  But not that day.  I share it here so others may learn from my mistakes if you have any notion of making an honest living -of making.

This situation involves a teaching gig. I was honored to be asked and should have left it at that. Said thank you and made an excuse or some such thing. There had been something about it- like a little voice that said no,don’t-but I went against the instinct and signed the contract. Silly me.

I won’t go into all the details but as I later looked over all the n u m b e r s  I was less than happy. Not only did I feel that I had been misled in regards to scheduling and my ability to take a booth on the vendor floor I felt that the n u m b e r s  took financial advantage of my teaching in great favor of the organization who’s stated purpose is to inspire creativity and encourage excellence in the fiber arts. Hmmm.

So here are the numbers. See for yourself how it feels to you.

Class #1 (3 hour class)

35 person max. capacity for a fee of $75 per person-that’s a total of $2625 for a sold out class

My pay for the 3 hour class-$210 flat rate. (that’s $6 per student)

Now if my class doesn’t sell out, I still get paid the same.  Not very smart on their part if you ask me (they didn’t).

Class #2 (6 hour class)

24 person max. capacity for a class fee of $150 per person-that’s a total of $3600 for a sold out class

My pay for the 6 hour class-$425 if the class has a minimum of 12 people. If not, then I get paid $35 per student. (otherwise for a full class I am being paid $17.71 per student on a $150 class fee paid by the student) I think I’d be happier to take $385 for a class of 11 rather than $425 for a class of 24! Again, not a very smart move on their part.

Numbers people, numbers.

Now mind you, this is all in addition to fees that all students pay to even attend the convention itself- which runs about $200 each not including any hotel or travel.

This whole scenario created a situation for me that made me ask why would I even promote my own event? When their scheduling of my classes ended up being during prime vendor market time, I had to decline taking and paying for a booth where I might have been able to make up some of that. Feeling that I was “chosen” since I was a local to the event and they would not pay any travel expenses as with many of the other teachers,  didn’t help matters.

And as if that weren’t enough- the contract states that I am not allowed to teach the class (in this case shibori and ribbonwork-the only two things I do teach) for 7 MONTHS (6 months prior and  one month post) within the CONTINENTAL NORTH AMERICA.  SERIOUSLY?? Get a grip.

I really doubt that folks who take classes have any idea about these things.  I think they’d be surprised.

So, to sum it up- choose your events WISELY unless you are NOT in this to make a living. Not everyone is. But if you are, make sure that each event makes financial sense and pay attention to the numbers and the details. Each event should stand on it’s own merit and produce a profit.  And certainly not prevent you from making a living in your own field.

If you are a 501C3-then it’s a different story. For an organization that took in over $1,000,000 in 2010 (according to Guidestar) they give a whopping $4000 out in annual educational grants according to their website. They do a bit more when you include grants for students to attend the biannual conference($11,000-ish altogether). Many folks work as unpaid volunteers but with one exec salary at almost $100,000, additional employee compensation at $117,000 and travel expenses for the organization at over $62,000 (2010) among other things, the $4000 seems rather paltry when it’s stated purpose is to inspire creativity and encourage excellence in the fiber arts. This sort of thing starts making me, the lowly teacher/vendor feel a little like a stepchild-no nostalgia for that one. After looking at their tax returns available online, I realized I am not interested in  partnering with these sorts of organizations. Although they offer some benefits, often 501C3’s are organized around benefiting few rather than many.

I once attended a local Arts Council  roundtable where one of the discussion table talks encouraged artists to form  non profit corporations so that wealthy patrons, uncles and relatives could give them money and get tax write offs!  I kid you not. Tax-free trust-fund-ism. And in times where tax dollars are in short supply-all endorsed by the Arts Council.
No talk about how to run a successful and profitable business. Very disappointing.

Fortunately,the Long Beach Quilt Festival is just around the corner (July 26 at 5:00pm until July 29 at 4:00pm) where I will have a booth with all kinds of silk shibori and indigo. I won’t be teaching since it falls in the no-no zone but I will be demonstrating for free so come on by!

Here are the relevant NUMBERS-

Long Beach Quilt Festival 2012

July 27-29, 2012
Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center
Long Beach, California

July 26: 5-9 p.m. (Preview Night)
July 27 & 28: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
July 29: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Ticket prices:
$10 daily adult
$8 seniors & students
Children 10 and under free.
$10 Preview Night (includes one free additional day)
$25 Full Show Pass (includes Preview Night)

what’s in bloom?

the past couple of days have been devoted to flower making and here are a couple of the new blooms-

(to see full image sizes and comments, click on the thumbnail pics)

other things in the making too but no time to preview now- come on by the booth in Long Beach and check it out-#1150

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.


We have returned refreshed and renewed from another amazing week at a remote cabin near Yosemite due to the very generous friends who so graciously allow us its use each summer. The heavy winter snows across the Sierras melted into gushing streams, lakes, ponds, waterfalls and rivers of the Yosemite Valley, filling them with cold clear waters and providing epic views of all the waterfalls- most notably Bridalveil, Yosemite (upper AND lower), Vernal and Nevada falls.

We took the opportunity to raft down the Merced River again and had to wait until after 2 pm just to let the river drop. It took half the usual time as the water was swifter and not so lazy. No need to get out and wade the raft through low water over the rocks this year.

A second day we hiked up to the Emerald Pool beyond Vernal Falls along the Mist Trail. A wild and wet steeply uphill climb of about 1.8 miles. Exquisite!

Much of the rest of the time was spent hiking, botanizing, reading, and just lazing. Lots of time to think, stitch some and talk.

I’ll let the camera do the talking as far as the botanizing goes, but I will say that all the water combined with a late spring and our earlier that usual arrival (we usually go in August)
meant that we got to see some beautiful Sierra wildflowers on which we usually don’t get to feast our eyes (and noses!). Some I can identify and some not- if you know what they are-let me know! One in particular I couldn’t identify much to my surprise- it is so prolific, lovely and has the most fantastic honey-scented clusters of flowers. I was surprised it wasn’t pictured in any of the Sierra wildflower books we had.

there are more and you can see them on my flickr here if you’d like. again, most are uploaded in large file sizes so you can check them out in detail which is kinda fun if you like that sort of thing.

I have always loved flowers and enjoy translating nature’s designs into whatever medium I work with. Inspired by the wildflowers of the Sierras, I did a little flower making myself-

I did quite a bit of reading-such a delicious luxury! I took along several things- The Poetics of Space (i think Velma recommended this)-loved the nest chapter, Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (recommended by Jan at Oh Brother!) a great vacation read, a book on Japanese photography– exquisite! I also brought along the Burchfield book . Read a few of the Armistead Maupin books for fun- actually realized I had read 2 of them before but went ahead and reread them anyway!

Some time back I had read about half of the book American Silk 1830-1930 by Jacqueline Field and never finished it so took that along too and really enjoyed the case histories of the the companies profiled there. I mentioned the book way back here on the blog where I purchased my copy while attending the Costume Society of America’s convention in San Diego where the author herself was attending and selling the book. Interestingly, she teaches at the same college that Hirata san’s grandfather went to back in the late 1800’s and met him on his recent trip here just by happenstance. This morning I received a call from her and she will be joining us on the Silk Study tour- how exciting! Things are firming up and filling up for the tour- I will be passing out brochures at the upcoming Long Beach International Quilt Festival later this month. (There may still be a couple of spots open in my shibori workshop…check it out.)

I also did some stitching for the indigo vat, the silkworms finished their cocoons, and I am busy now preparing for the show. It was great to get away and remain unplugged for the week. I had time to think and just remove myself from my usual daily activities.

The one thing that keeps repeating in my head after this break is this:
-it matters how a thing is done.
i will let this be my focus for now.

next post- the cocoons and more from the indigo vat.

what’s up?

more feeding-that’s what! here’s one doing the “feed me dance”. good thing the folks on the corner of california and bixby are so accommodating. the gal with the blue hands who shows up in the old volvo everyday with a tree trimmer gathering leaves for the worms…must be a bit entertaining.

bryce was by to help feed and clean the worm trays- he lives in ID now but was in one of the 4th grade classes we taught a few years ago. we also counted them- appears to be around 230-ish.

the next two pics show the change in size that occurred over 3 days-

they are very friendly and even beautiful- their markings are individually unique and although the pointy spike on their back might suggest danger or pain, it is soft and rubbery- just a gentle warning and not at all what it seems. they have no eyes even though their markings suggest otherwise.

and then not one to let milo get all the press, tigga decided to wonder…what if…

i have been doing my own indigo what iffing-
what if indigo on silk satin looked like the sea? what if oil stopped flowing into it?

i’ve been noticing nature all around me-

unfurling her awesome beauty

which made me wonder what if indigo on cotton looked like the sky?

always changing

never the same twice

so, what’s up with you?

shibori, silkworms, and other travelers

some days, i find myself feeling a little like this guy- needing to get away from it all. i suppose a respite from the maddening munching crowd was a welcome relief for him- they are getting big enough you can actually hear them eating!

they are just endlessly fascinating! between caretaking them, foraging for local mulberry, dyeing, ironing silk, and a hundred other tasks (class proposals for Cincinatti 2011) orders, and getting things together for the Long Beach show, i decided to close the etsy and big cartel shops for a few weeks. i need fewer distractions in order to get some work together to fill the booth otherwise it feels as if i am a pup chasing its tail! so look for them to open in a few weeks- let you know on that account.

even though i am in Jude’s class i haven’t had time to enjoy it except as an observer of all the wonderful and creative thinking going on over there. that alone is worth the cost of admission. such lovely work and words- nice to see some of my indigo put to use in so many ways. Her next class is here.

we had some travelers stop by the other day. family from Iceland dropped in and we got the boys together as well before one takes off on another band tour. we ate, visited, and of course, had a little time for blue.

the family

some solid blue to go with the moon she made…

AND….the info is out for the 2011 Silk Study Tour to Japan. If you would like to consider going, let me know and I will send you the newsletter via constant contact. I will put a tab up here on the blog soon but have a few other deadlines going today…

now, must go serve the not so tiny masters…

tiny masters and makiage

as micheal so aptly describes silkworms on his famous website Wormspit the silkworms have become my tiny masters. Susan from ito de is also working at raising some too, with varied success. so far i’m good but still i expect i may kill them off at any point in this adventure. here are a few pics at day 5. remember, they were much smaller when they first hatched (hard to believe)-

a few progress pics of the makiage piece you saw in the last post-the front side

back side-

and then the madness that is the drawing up of all these threads- a little more madness than i counted on so to remedy that i made adequate preparations…

it certainly did help-

then the indigo madness began-

culminating in this result-

now before you go all gaga and approve, i have some criticisms of the piece to list. first, while all the stitching lines held and the process in general went well, the overall design is not very desirable for makiage.
hard to tell really that it is a fish (if you didn’t know beforehand). so perhaps a bit too complicated for this size of a piece. i think it would have been much improved to my liking if some of the stitching had been eliminated altogether. while these stencils were fine for kanoko shibori, not all of them will translate well to this application. most though are not this complicated and now that i see this i know better which ones i might choose to use in this way. i will say though that using the powdered (cosmetic grade) ground indigo to brush over the stencil worked beautifully and transferred the design efficiently. i’m going to go through the stencils and pick out a few more that i want to try out. i wonder if any of you out there might be interested in purchasing some cotton marked with the design and stitch them up yourselves… think i will test out the thought at the upcoming Quilt Festival in Long Beach.

off to work…and yes, i do know it is a holiday!



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!