Category Archives: memory

a quickie announcement…

I’vee had a couple requests to set up a local silk shibori flower making class, so I did!
There are only 4 spots open so if you are interested, please check the shop listing here.

All materials are included in this small group class.

I was going to post this on FB yesterday as a new event but there was a worldwide FB outage affecting postings,comments etc.  Maybe that isn’t a bad thing?

And while I am at it, I will remind you of the upcoming April 6-7 Shibori and Indigo workshop at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles (or as it is sometimes known as- Japangeles).  Signups are through the museum at above link.

The rain here has gone away for at least the next couple of weeks and I was able to replace the shade structure over the dye space outside. There is a new squirrel in town (or even possibly Squirrelly Gurl herself as they can live up to 8 years or so). She is so friendly to me and personality wise, much like the OG Squirrelly Gurl. I can’t know for sure but am enjoying her daily visits. Buddy the dog enjoys watching her and feeding time but the new cat-Kuro chan is trying to chase her when she can!  SG is too fast for Kuro-thankfully and outsmarts him every time.

I did channel a little bit of Ume san last week and made this bag from the piece of sashiko laced boro from the last blog post. Adding it to the shop now.

Cross shoulder bag, made entirely from used/recycled and vintage materials outside of the thread and the shoulder strap. One outside pocket on back side, one inside. Completely lined with vintage kasuri kimono silk.
Front fabric covered button closure with indigo twined wrap-around cording. Outside pocket fits large mobile phone while an ipad can fit inside.

Link to shop

 

Plus the Silk Study Tour to Japan is in high gear. Everyone is getting ready for this great adventure.  I’m receiving the bio pages for the booklet I make to hand out to our hosts so they can learn more about us.  It’s always interesting to them!  We still have 2 spots open for anyone wanting to make last minute plans to join our textile adventure.  Link here. 
In the absence of the Amuse Boro Museum (which closes this month) we are making plans to visit the Mingei Folk Museum instead.  It just so happens that they are having a special exhibit of the work of Motohiko Katano, known for his adventurous and creative shibori patterns.  I have never seen his work in person so I am quite excited about this.  My first visit to this museum was with vintage textile dealer Carola Pfau’s husband Makoto (now passed), who also treated me that day to several of his favorite temple sales.  Boy did we have a good time! Great memories…
We will also be visiting the Ichiku Kubota Museum as well as the Kyoto Shibori Museum so participants will have the opportunity to study some of the best shibori in the world!

Time to go and dye the rest of the indigo thread for this weekend’s workshop!
mata ne!

Tribute to Ume san and then some…

Sometimes I stay away from the blog or social media in general just to hear my own thoughts without a lot of feedback. Sometimes I want to share something but feel that it’s better to think and wonder about them by myself for a while.

I haven’t posted on Instagram for a while and I’m not even exactly sure why. I know most people really love Instagram because it’s fun to look at lots of pretty pictures-I don’t disagree. Sometimes I don’t feel a lot of connection there to be honest. And really when it comes right down to it if, I’m going to share something online or even in person, there has to be a connection or communication that occurs to inspire that sharing of something.

I can tell already that this is likely to be a long, and rambling post. Please brace yourself.

We’ve had a lot of rain here lately and it’s been quite windy at times as well. Everything is wet, the garden is alive and well, and the weeds are growing furiously. It makes it difficult to work in the studio which is really outdoor and subject to all of the whims of weather. Not to mention that the wind really did a number on my outdoor wet studio area.

Actually pretty much did it in. I’m trolling craigslist and letgo for a bargain on a used replacement canopy.

I’ve pulled out the floor mats in the studio several times now and dried them in between rainstorms. Turned on the box fans in there just to keep things dried out. When too much rain falls too fast, it floods the floor of the studio.

Looks like we should only get a small amount of rain in this coming week so things can dry out a bit.

The garden doesn’t seem to mind one bit however. I’ve been enjoying doing a little bit every chance I get, in between rainstorms.

The garden keeps me sane. I don’t know what I’d do without it really.

I finished an especially lovely order of shibori ribbon which will head off to France tomorrow. It included some colors I haven’t made in a while as well as some old favorites.

My biggest disappointment this past week was the rejection letter I received from Quilts Inc. (Houston Quilt Festival) that none of the workshop or lectures I submitted were accepted for this year. I actually had to laugh at myself in the end because when I got the letter via email I was confused. I didn’t understand what it was saying (granted the part about not choosing any of my submissions was in the second to last sentence in the second paragraph) and it wasn’t explicitly direct. I guess I was just used to being included. Things change. Unfortunately, it likely means that won’t be taking a booth this year either since the costs of doing the show has increased to the point that I really depended on the combination of classes and booth sales combined to make it work out financially. I have always been very frugal when it comes to doing a show and the associated expenses.  In fact, I’ve rather enjoyed making an art form out of it!

I’ve really grown to appreciate my customers and students there and I will miss all who come to see me in Houston so very much. It’s a big disappointment. The first Quilts Inc. show I did was the spring market in 1995 and I think I only missed one year since then when I was transitioning from the porcelian company to life as a shibori dyer.  I haven’t been teaching there that whole time but over the years I did start to teach there as well. It has been good for me as I really do enjoy the teaching as well as the vending aspect there. It takes time to build a following at a show and I always worked very hard, took it seriously and did my best, both in the classes and in my booth.
So for now I look in other directions. There will likely be some more in-studio workshops, more hand dyed goods in the shop, maybe a new online workshop, perhaps an additional Japan tour with a slightly different focus.
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So here we are again, a week or so later and I never did finish this post! Got some orders off, had a birthday, went to the Integretron in the desert for a sound bath, and saw the snow in the desert with Phil and the kids!

Nothing like a little local getaway to clear your mind! Get a New View!

So now back to it all and working on the tour details. I’m excited to get to know this years participants! Yesterday I sent out an email to the 2017 tourmates that one of the craftspeople we spent time with last time has passed away.  We were informed of his passing while making final checks and schedule confirmations. Ume san was a fellow that frequented the Kyoto temple and shrine sales collecting vintage and overstock shop aprons which he then re-made into spectacular bags.  Hirata san met him in the market there one day and was invited back to his workshop nearby.  After some discussion, Ume san offered to meet up with the tour group when we visited the market the following year as well as arrange a luncheon and trunk show of his work.  We had a fabulous time walking the market and streets of Kyoto with him and the trunk show was wonderful. Lots of his bags made it into suitcases and went home with participants. I received many sweet emails fondly remembering our day with him. I remember him eagerly asking my opinions on his bags and he was keen to apply any suggestions to the making of them.  His daughter told Hirata san that she will arrange one last trunk show of his work for us this year with the goods he had been making. We will definitely miss this colorful and creative spirit! Arigatou Ume san!

Ume san- Everyone at the market knew him.

I think I’ll end this here and start on the next post- a shop update! It’s going to rain again soon so must go out and batten down the hatches! Should clear up again after the weekend. I see Northern California is really getting hit hard by flooding. We will be fine here.
Mata ne!

Communicating practice

A new year. I hope it finds you well!

Recently, I’ve been busy doing organizational work for the upcoming Silk Study Tour to Japan.  I don’t think I mentioned it here, but if you are on the Shiborigirl newsletter email list you read that after being almost full, the tour lost a few folks upon my return from the Houston show. Life throws you a curve and we adjust. Those who had to change their plans will be missed but vow to join us on a future adventure (2021). They will follow along online and be travelers in spirit.  I put out a new newsletter and we regained most of what we lost in terms of participants.  There are still a couple of spots open with a few folks still considering joining us.

If you are interested, here is the link  with all the information.  If you have questions, just email me.  Tour departs May 14, 2019. It’s gonna be another good one!

I have been also been preparing for the new workshop at the Japanese American National Museum.  This one is filled with a waiting list but if you want to read the description, you can go here. (I expect we will do it again.)  I also proposed a version of this class (due to limitations of time and facility) at this years Quilt festival in Houston.  We will see if the class is chosen for that venue.  I am really passionate about educating folks on understanding the difference between a fabric company putting out a line of “boro printed” fabrics and really knowing the history of such textiles.  I figured that by making things with all recycled fabrics is a start.  Spreading the word. It’s one thing to talk about it here on the blog and quite another to put fabric, thread and needle in the hands of someone for the purpose of education and perhaps a little thought of mottainai.  In any case, here are some pics of what I’ve been up to…(click thumbnails to enlarge)

It’s been an education to make these pieces and like anything else, a practice. I still need to put the cording on the bag but have it all dyed.   After finishing the bag, I was inspired to do a larger piece since the scraps I prepared for the class were so enticing. I tore a piece of linen off one of the old linen pieces I bought in Houston and dyed it dark indigo blue. I marked the horizontal stitching lines onto it and arranged the scraps.  Then I spent about 13 hours just stitching. It all felt good in my hands as I rocked the needle back and forth. I really learned and appreciated not just the cloth and the thread, but the use of the sashiko adjustable ring thimble with plate. It takes some practice and over the many hours of stitching, I grew to love the ingenuity of it.  Have you tried one? I do love a good thimble and have several varieties but had not spent a significant enough amount of time with this type. I plan to get even better with more practice.

That’s the thing isn’t it? Practice. As I worked on this long piece, a communication between myself, the materials and tools set in. It’s a simple running stitch-nothing fancy. But as the needle pierced each scrap my hand felt the resistance, the thickness, the density of the weave. Do we even notice this these days?  Many of the scraps were from cloth hand woven long ago, most softened by age and use. Most fabric today is made with machine sewing in mind.  The hand of it made stiff with printing inks and chemical finishing. It’s not friendly for sewing by hand. The tight weave of many modern quilting fabrics facilitates the printing of crisp patterns but resists the piercing of the hand rocked needle. I can really lose myself in the old cloth, wondering about it’s cloth story as I sew.

There is a lot to wonder about.

 

 

more mottainai …

A recent interaction on a FB post comment thread led me to thinking about sewing boxes.  It was a very funny meme shared in a closed group and went like this (some sewers will also think this is funny):
In any case, it was about preferring cookies over sewing supplies (when you presumably had no use for sewing supplies and loved cookies). We got into a conversation about remembering how personal sewing baskets can be and I said I preferred a tin of sewing supplies over a tin of cookies (especially since I could bake cookies any day of the week but to be the recipient of someone’s sewing basket…well…it was like being the keeper of their stories).

Over the years I have become the receiver of several such boxes, baskets or tins acquired by gift, trade, or purchase at a yard sale. Each sewing collection is very personal and tells a story. It’s so much fun to sort  through each collection.

I’m sure many of you know what I mean. You could also tell sewing box stories.

I even mention this since we are talking about mottainai again which is really what this meme is about!
Why throw away a perfectly good storage box?  Save and re-use! This was a Japanese American based group so it was fun to see all the comical comments about expecting something delicious only to find out that there were sewing and mending supplies inside.

I started this post a day ago and even today the thread still grows.  It really struck a vein of memories for many and I thought you would enjoy the story.

I sadly report that tonight my old man kitty, Toby, has been having some seizures for the past several hours. He’s not really mine, but I’m his.  He used to live a few doors down but decided to relocate here a couple of years ago and goes home to visit on occasion.  We’ve been attending to his needs and declining health these past couple of years but sadly I think this is the end.

He’s sitting at my feet as I write this…

I’ll sit with him tonight and if need be, take him for a last call at the vet tomorrow.  He’s been my constant companion for the past year and a half…

I know my heart will need a little mending when he’s gone.

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.

 

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.

 

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…