Category Archives: mending

textile detective continued…

Now that the holidays are over, and the sun is back out after some very much needed rain, I’m back to finish off the mystery of the silk fabric from the obi I was deconstructing here.
As you may or may not recall, there was a question as to whether the sateen silk backing of this obi was a cloth woven of silk and paper which would have been very rare. I sent a bit to my friend Velma who makes shifu and she pointed out that she could not detect any “seeds” in the weft threads as she unwove them. The seeds would be where “the strips are joined in one continuous thread by tearing a small tab of paper from the connecting strip above two threads. This tab is rolled in the same direction you intend to spin the thread creating the “seed”. This seed is one of the most notable characteristics of paper thread, and forms a unique pattern in the final woven cloth.” See here for attribution of this explanation and more about shifu.

I too had unwoven a bit more of the weft and looked at it more closely seeing that the fiber did actually look more like a cotton or hemp than paper. I did another burn test on the warp just to make sure and it really did smell like cellulose and not protein fiber-confirmed!

I also received back a reply from the Kyoto Shibori Museum who sent me the following interesting reply:
“It looks like an obi made a long time ago.The Japanese embroidery is very beautiful, and I think it’s hard to see anything like this now. The red stamp part is usually stamped with the weight of the fabric, the name of the manufacturer, the place of origin, etc., but it cannot be identified here. The kanji woven into the silk can be read as KAMI GO. It could be the name of the manufacturer/weaver or the title given to this particular obi.
KAMI means God and GO is the name of an ancient Chinese country. Japanese kimono is also called GOHUKU, but it means the kimono that GO people came to when the shape of the kimono came from China to Japan.

The best guess at a date would be late Meiji- early Showa. So around 100 years old.

I have been wondering what fabric I would use for the January Moon of the Month Circle. To begin the year and the Moon of the Month Circle, I will be sending both moons using this beautiful obi silk lining. Can’t wait to get to the vat and make them!

A couple more projects claimed the workspace in December. first, a not so auspicious
t-shirt quilt I have been threatening/promising to make for my son trevor going on ten years now! When he went off to college and cleaned out his dresser, there were a lot of favorite t-shirts going back even to co-op preschool days. There were memories from music camps, summer camps, marching bands, favorite pokemon,surf and skate brands, and even their own rock band from when they were kids. I had cut out the graphics and backed them with a lightweight fusible and there they sat, stacked and ready to go. Over time he added a few more from college music groups, shinkendo, and Japan. As I cleared out some of the workspace I decided that THIS was the year I would finish it. I spent two days stitching them together, backing, quilting (by machine), and self binding it. Done! It’s a fun ride from preschool through college in addition to being a utilitarian quilt made with recycled fabrics. The first photo he sent me of its use had a big fluffy cat sitting on it- success!

The other project is still ongoing but I think I solved a dilemma that had been plaguing me for a while. I made this piece -a bit of an ode to fabric scraps and stitches and wasn’t sure if or how I wanted to back it. I always like the back of a stitched work-maybe just out of my own curiosity. But this has sat there feeling a bit unfinished and finally it ended up sitting next to some lovely old red lining silk. The jacquard pattern woven into the very very fine red silk are beautiful cranes with florals and vines. This auspicious pattern was probably for a wedding kimono lining or some other important kimono lining. It’s a full bolt but disassembled and stitched back into a continuous length. I decided I didn’t want to cut it to fit the width of my piece- it would ruin the full pattern. So I decided to stitch it into a tube at the proper width to stitch the lining to the back of my piece. This way, should someone ever want to reuse this beautiful silk, all you would have to do would be to unstitch it. Kind of like a kimono. Something from the Amuse Boro Museum rings in my head at times like this.

2015 Asakusa, Japan Amuse Boro Museum
i imagine sericulturist feeding the kaiko, the silkworms spitting this thread, the dyers dying the thread, the pattern designer graphing out the pattern for the loom cards, the weavers weaving… imagine what the silkworm provided!

The sun has come out here and is drying the outdoor workspace after all the rain. The snow has covered our local mountains and the new year begins with this wonderful view and hope for a year of drought recovery. About a million poppy seeds and bachelor buttons have sprouted in every nook and cranny in the backyard!

It’s November?

just a teaser for the next workshop

It was two years ago that I taught one of the last indigo workshops at the Japanese American National Museum. We made komebukuro bags with dyed and stitched fabrics from the class. Several have asked for an online version of this workshop and I have spent part of this last week thinking this one through and sorting out fabrics for kits to accompany the class. Here is the after workshop post for that weekend. It was really one of my favorites. It also speaks to why we teach and why craft matters.
So- here is the link for the online Komebukuro Treasure Bag workshop. It has all the details but if you still have questions, just email me or leave a comment.

I am starting to add the pleated silk flowers to the shop. I have more to photograph and add but the main listing is there and I will just add new ones as I get the photos taken and edited. So far… here they are.


I had held back on selling them so I could show them in the recent online workshop which just completed. I have to admit, I was a little nervous with starting a new zoom workshop but after this one I’m feeling much better about the process. It takes a little bit to figure it all out and even after having done several already I wasn’t quite happy with them…especially the recorded outcomes. I have finally figured out what works for me! Not that I won’t find other tweaks and improvements-isn’t that the way though? Learning through doing. Everything is good in theory, but doing it is the key.

It’s an interesting process to switch from the way you teach in person to virtual teaching. People take workshops for so many varied reasons-whether in person or online. My goal is to always try to meet that varied need-to figure out how I can best be of service to participants through a workshop.
I really want participants to enjoy the workshop and have it meet their needs, in addition to being able to clearly see what I am doing.

I had a couple of people email and ask me how I got my worktable in the main video as well of my “mini-me” talking head going at the same time. For those of you who might need this info- here’s the process I used:

-set up a remote camera connected to your computer
-start your zoom-your computer main camera will show your talking head as usual.
-choose to “share your screen”
-in the share screen window, click to advanced
-choose “share video from second camera”

That’s it! Why it took me so long to figure this out while I did all sorts of other more complicated configurations escapes me! But we all need to learn and grow and I’m happy to share what I have learned so far- especially if it is helpful to other makers out there earn a living at what they do.
Speaking of making…I also added another Wildflower making workshop as there were some people who told me they missed signing up. You can sign up here.

Out of the wildflower workshop-which included beaders, stitchers, dollmakers, milliners and other sorts of textile stitching enthusiasts, I found that they really enjoy working with the various pleated silks so I am working on colorway sets of interesting pleated silks for the shop. Hopefully, next week I will be able to add them. Everything takes SO much time!

On yet ANOTHER note (sorry for the long catch-up post) I am still really enjoying Ann Wasserman’s quilt conservation and repair workshop. Last week’s focus was dating quilts as well as the beginning of the “triage” portion of the sessions where we look at slides submitted by participants of their quilts and what can be done to repair them (and how-using her great series of videos showing all the methods she uses). If you have any interest in this topic I highly recommend it. How can you go wrong with a group of people who want to save quilts and textiles from the rubbish heap? Saving quilts is often saving stories- and adding stories too! Ida Belle will require quite a process and I’m already thinking a little differently about repairing her than I was at the beginning of Ann’s workshop.
So to finally conclude…thanks for making it this far and I hope that some of you will join in to the komebukuro workshop! It’s going to be fun and inspired!

a little crazed…

The recent days and weeks have been busy, full of daily goings on, dyeing, kit making, workshop prepping, visitors, and then the big event- a beach wedding!

It was a simply beautiful affair on the beach with a BBQ afterwards as the sun set. I had the privilege of making the wedding cheesecakes, vegan chili and helping with the clothing alterations. Others brought food, flowers and officiated. It was a perfect October evening with mild temps and a slight breeze. Children played at the shores edge and adults enjoyed food and conversation. Some surfed prior to the ceremony with the groom. Several people camped overnight nearby, under a bright near full moon.

This Saturday is the first of the two Zoom flower workshops. The material kits have been mailed, the work table set up and today I will do some test runs. The second Zoom date is next Thursday for those who would like to do it a second time or perhaps already had something scheduled for the first date. You can also still order a kit and get the video link when it’s done.

from plain to pleated

I made a whole bunch of extra kits and have added them in the shop. Here in Long Beach, we have hundreds of cargo ships off the coast and politicians encouraging people to shop early for the holidays since the logjam is delaying the arrival of goods. I say, why not make things instead? Here is a list of kits I have in the shop right now if you are inclined to make a hand made gift. I also have a few things ready made that might suit. I’m working on several more. If you have a special custom request, let me know. (I just looked over the shop and see I need to add a few things I never added so that will be my next task…)

Last week’s workshop with Ann Wasserman in her “Preserving Our Quilting Heritage” we were treated to her lecture with samples of quilts she had worked on and new ones now on her work table. We have all sent in photos of a quilt we want to “triage” and of course mine is that unfinished crazy quilt (Ida Belle) I acquired some time back. Here are the photos I sent in.

In between my own work, I have become somewhat obsessed with this crazy quilt thing. In doing a little research, I wondered where the term “crazy” had developed in regards to quilting. It seems (whether true or lore), to have been a reference to the crazed glazes on porcelain the Japanese had exhibited in the 1876 Centennial Exposition  in Philadelphia. Crazing on ceramics occurs when the clay body and the glaze don’t “fit”. That is, they don’t cool at the same rate after firing. This can be caused by a number of things-too thick a coating of glaze, the (intentional or not) chemical composition of the glaze, or thermal shock of cooling off a kiln too quickly. Tension between the clay body and the glaze creates a network of fine crackling. This can be enhanced by rubbing ink into the cracks to make the pattern of crazing stand out on a decorative piece. You don’t want crazing on dinnerware because over time and use the crazing can collect bacteria that may not be desirable. But on decorative ware, glazes can be designed to create a variety of crackle patterns and when I was a ceramic student we had to do just this in the Chemical Clay and Glaze classes. I loved the chemistry of ceramics. During 30 years of running my own porcelain company, we “cracked” many crazing issues. For the most part, even when we wanted a crazed glaze effect on a decorative line, stores and customers would often see it as a defect and we just abandoned it altogether. But that was another time and place…so, back to crazy quilts. So as the story goes, the crazed patterns on Japanese porcelain pieces at this exhibition in 1876 inspired a “craze” itself where quilters found beauty and interest in recreating this type of pattern in their quilts. Previously, quilts had been mostly geometric organized affairs. I imagine that the pieces that were exhibited were possibly Japanese raku.

In between this and that this week, I was looking at Ida Belle and realizing what a task it is going to be to restore it to a reasonable condition and as I was inspecting various parts of it I kept coming back to my interests in Japanese boro traditions and techniques. I can see so many instances where boro repair techniques could be applied. I am not trying to do a traditional restoration of this crazy quilt. This quilt in fact was never completed by Ida Belle. It does not have a binding or a quilt back- it was never quilted or tied or embroidered (something tells me-mainly the types of materials used that Ida never intended to embroider it or embellish her quilt). Perhaps she died before finishing it. The fact that it exists in a fairly decent condition is that it was never used since it was never actually finished. It exists as a quilt top only.
My list of “goals” currently is as follows:

-repair Ida Belle to a condition where it can be lightly used
-use materials I have on hand (as I believe would be Ida’s way)
-apply hand stitching and repair techniques from Ann’s class as well as my knowledge of boro repairs observed in pieces I have collected

-apply a backing and a binding
-steadily work on it as I can-don’t abandon the project!

I may add others as I go but that’s it at the moment. In another twist, I was cleaning up my work table for the Saturday workshop and sorted some scraps of vintage Japanese indigo fabrics. Another project emerged alongside. I became a little obsessed and worked late into the night. It seems that Japanese vintage textiles and crazy quilting are quite like peanut butter and jam.

I chose a piece of egasuri (kasuri with an image or picture woven into it) as a central piece to this block- bird images being quite popular in crazy quilting. I did not use the traditional method of crazy quilt piecing (surprised? haha) but opted to leave all woven selvedges intact as I honor the selvedge whenever possible. I used tattered bits and repaired them using boro techniques- but using some very old red silk in a way that reminds me a bit of the Japanese porcelain repair work called kintsugi. I used hand dyed cotton sashiko thread for the decorative featherstitch (practice needed!) across each joined patch (still a WIP). So now that I have one block near completion, I guess I’ll have to start another. This first block is 18″ x 18″ so I imagine I will do either 6 or 9 for a smallish lap type quilt. Who knows?

One last thing. I’ve started taking photos of all the oothecae I come across in the yard as I do fall clean up work. It helps me remember where they are when it’s time to watch them hatch around February (I’m guessing…). So far I’ve found 6 or so. all in different places. Each egg case can contain 50-200 eggs of the praying mantis! We had so many this past summer.

moon circling

The past few days have had me back at the indigo vats working on new sets of moons. The only vat of the three that didn’t need reviving was the fermentation vat, which had a nice coppery surface and was dyeing beautiful blues.
Cleaning up around the studio I found a couple of base cloths that I had dyed moons into and had set aside for myself to play with on a rainy day. Well, the rain never did come but I craved a little needle time so I threaded up and got to work. It was quiet peaceful work-just going along with it. I never plan them out ahead of time- just let the cloth take the lead.
I finished off the little moon cover for the buckwheat pillow that had been looking kinda shabby. It’s an envelope style so the cover can easily be removed. The back are two pieces of old sturdy kimono cloth. I love these things and much prefer them to any kind of foam pillow insert. They just have a great comforting feel.
Next I had an old feed sack that had a wonderful repair on it- I dyed a tattered moon over the repair. These are treasured and useful scraps, the scraps of our lives. As we work to put our heart and souls back together after this past year and a half, I’m feeling pretty tattered myself these days and stitching these blues seems to wash away some of the sorrows.
Circling of Moons can be considered a series of sorts. I have a number of them started around here in various stages of completion. Various moons, various cloth, but mostly indigo. The ones that aren’t indigo are natural dyes. I’m grateful for some of the stitching techniques I learned from Jude- especially what she calls the “glue stitch”. I use that extensively to stitch the frayed raw edge pieces to the base cloth. I fray them enough first so they won’t unravel more and stitch them down with these tiny stitches. You can barely see them and probably can’t in a photo. Later I add the running stitches with thicker thread to ask your eye to travel with me around the moons. I want you to meander and wonder as you look at these pieces. To take a little trip.
Someone recently said to me, ” I have a sewing machine but just don’t know where to start”. I say, start anywhere! Start with a needle in your hand- sit in your favorite chair or the kitchen table. Gather some bits of cloth- cut up old clothes- go to the secondhand store and get some old cotton cloth. (skip the poly!) No machine needed. You can always unstitch something if you really can’t live with it but just let things develop. YOU will develop with practice.
I also did a couple of short videos that were requested from participants in the recent tekumo workshop. One had to do with machine hemming using a hemming foot, and the other with wiring the edge of a hemmed silk piece. You can see them on the FB studio page by scrolling down a few posts.

Late last night I took a 2 hour zoom tour of a sericulture farm located in the Kofu Basin in the Yamanashi Prefecture of Japan. It was quite interesting. Probably the largest sericulture operation I’ve seen so far in Japan. He said they raise 160,000 cocoons at a time there and grow them from seed. Most of the sericulture farms now get the silkworms in the 3rd-4th instar from the local collective and raise them on mulberry from that point to cocooning. Here’s a few links for my “silky friends” to enjoy…


Silky moth friends at Ashizawa Sericulture
And speaking of circles, Circle of Silk is a lovely story of silk sericulture hanging by a thread.
And also, a video on silk thread reeling by my friend and sericulturist in Annaka, Nobue Higashi whom we visit with on the Silk Study Tour to Japan. Enjoy!

ALL about shibori…

Now that I got that last post out of my draft folder I move on….

oldest one in the center is probably around 100 years old

Today is all about shibori….stands. Or you may consider them to be a “third hand” which is how I think of them. I have several and show you here. (I have a couple more stored in workshop boxes but they are lesser ones and one in fact was broken in a workshop and I have yet to see my way to repairing it (if possible).

I’ll start by showing you a video of how I updated the old one pictured above. As I recall, I acquired it on a flea market trip one year after the Silk Study Tour. Is needle was missing and the hook where it once existed completely rusted through, but still…

I am working my way back to offering some shibori workshops and the first one will be tekumo shibori using shibori stands with a shibori hook. For this to work, I had to create enough stands for everyone in the workshop to use and the next video is my simple design which costs less than $10 to make with odds and ends from the local hardware store.

It feels good to have rescued an old shibori stand and to also create a new version that is very affordable. Each has its pros and cons- the older versions can be used anywhere, whereas the new version needs to be used on a tabletop to which it can be clamped.

makers mark on side of stand

The wisdom of the cloth

There is something ultimately satisfying to me when I use old cloth. Especially cloth that has been previously reused-who knows how many times? The feel of it is different, the smell of it, the texture…the memories it holds. Old cloth has lots to wonder about.

Then there is the variety of the cloth. The various weaves, the fiber itself, and the skill of the weaver, the dyer, the thread maker. The cloths original intent or purpose and ultimate uses is also something to wonder about.

sorting and wondering

Today I sorted through another bundle of old Japanese fabric, all previously reused and dismantled from its former use-kimono, yukata, futon cover and more. I love things made from these old fabrics. That someone felt the cloth was precious enough to mend and then use again in something else- is enough for me to continue treating the cloth with the same respect and frugality.

As I ironed, picked threads, and lint brushed the various fabrics, I ran my fingers over each piece wondering.
Who made it? What had it been? What could it become? Japanese narrow woven cloth and the way it was used lent itself to being easily taken apart and reused after laundering. It is a testament to how cloth was valued. Mottainai! (Don’t waste!)

I see the worn and threadbare parts, the patched places, and the edges as the wisdom of the cloth.
They are there to instruct me, to show me the way. I study all the parts of it. I look at the stitches of the patches, the selvedges. I pull a few weft threads and look at them under magnification. I imagine the journey the cloth has been on – from plant or animal up to the point where I now hold it in my own hands, generations later.
In whose indigo vat was it dyed? Did this lovely katazome here serve an early 1900’s merchant family? Had this bolt or strip of cotton katazome been a wedding gift? This boro bit here later used for a layer of a futon cover for cold nights? Who raised the silkworms and warped the looms with the homespun threads? Did the shibori come from Arimatsu or Narumi? Through the passage of time and many hands I’m left with so much to wonder about as I imagine what I (or you) will do with this cloth.

The ancestors of the cloth speak to me as I run my fingers over the surfaces, identifying each textile technique as I prepare a new batch of takaramono treasure packs for the shop-kasuri, shibori, katazome, shima (woven stripes), plain dyed cloth. Some of it is very durable and some now quite thin. It all feels good in my hand and ready for a whole new “becoming”.
The new takaramono packs are now in the shop here.
Here’s a few ideas of things I’ve made-a couple are still available in the shop.

And Windy has stormy eyes…

Spent some more time mending that old favorite quilt. It’s been very windy and cold here so some afternoon inside time is welcome. I’m applying the repairs on a “what do I think will work here” basis. Not all worn areas get the same treatment. The goal here is to restore the quilt to a condition that will favor continued everyday use. So that means that repairs will be visible, practical, and in some cases whimsical!

In addition, while on an outdoor gardening break, I caught my jeans on something resulting in a large tear about 10 inches long. Into the repair pile they went after a dip into the vat to restore some color to the worn areas. I had a little fun with this repair and applying the same goal as the quilt above, I’m back to wearing them and they feel very sturdy. I have another pair that could use some of this stitchlove as well. The satisfaction I get from doing this keeps me at it.

The garden is sprouting all kinds of seeds, both wanted and not so wanted. There will be plenty of weeding in my future. The feathery cassia continues to perfume the front walkway and the knife leaf wattle is just starting to bloom with its seemingly millions of tiny bright yellow pompom flowers. I’ll add a photo later when it is fully bloomed out. My onion and garlic patch is doing just fine- I have about 50 garlic and 150 onions planted there. I’m starting to plant seeds for the spring garden but with this colder weather it will take a little extra time for them to germinate. I can wait. Gardening is all about waiting. And watching. And hoping.

The recent wind pretty much tore up the studio shade/rain cover so today’s plan is to get out there before the rain hits and replace it with a used one I found online for $40. The moon was seen through the hole…

And Windy has wings to fly…
Maybe you are too young for this song but we heard this nonstop on Armed Forces Radio in 1967, Yokohama. The Association is worth a few listens …it’s been a while.

wondering into the new year…

Here we are. The last post here for the year.

I’m suffering from a poverty of words for the New Year.
I continue on in the studio as well as with the Daily Dyer blog. It’s quiet business-wise this year so I ponder what comes next. Maybe with this poverty of words, pictures might be the best…

And here are a few of the sillier things I learned during this year’s isolation …
*****
-I can’t believe I never learned to put chicken feet in my chicken soup until this year! (try it!)
-Planting seeds every week keeps me looking forward.
-I benefited from not being one to have my hair cut, colored or permed- I look basically the same!
-Same goes for manicures! My indigo blue nails worked just fine!
-Millions of women will probably give up bras and heels for good (at least on the daily).
-I can teach on Zoom! It’s fun and sometimes hilarious! (look for more in the coming year)
-I enjoy isolation more than most.
-I like wearing a mask when in public and washing my hands more (didn’t have a cold or the flu all year)!
-I do miss teaching in person workshops, especially at JANM.
*****

I wonder what others learned…

But on a more serious note…
I’m in sympathy with all the people who lost friends and family this year. Each day brings new losses. Today I read that 1 in every 1000 Americans died of covid or covid related illness this year. I had to look that up-to be sure. A very somber statistic with which to end the year. It simply cannot go unheeded. Add to that the related statistic that 1 in every 17 Americans have been infected with covid. I put that here as a reminder to myself of what kind of year this was-not that we are likely to forget, but as a marker of sorts- a solemn headstone for 2020.
May we all continue to carry on, to hold up those who are in need of holding, to console those who suffered loss, and to help heal those who face new life and health challenges going forward as a result. In reality, we don’t need to see the New Year roll over to accomplish these humane acts but it seems that the New Year is a celebration that can unite us in these thoughts, so I offer it here.

Seems I did manage to find a few words.
Travel well my friends. Continue to be courageous, kind, and creative into 2021.
Love to you all. And let’s keep looking up.

Hopeful…楽観的 -らっかんてき

Always during this time of year I begin to get the urge to raise silkworms. Recent walks in the neighborhood encourage me when I see mulberry trees leafing out with fresh tender greens. What silkie could resist?

Reading an account of rice farming and poverty in early 1900’s Japan from one of my favorite books “Memories of Silk and Straw” I saw this, adding further to my yearning…

Watching and caring for small creatures such as silkworms is very calming-at least to me. Seeing them eat, grow, and transform is a reminder of so many things. It makes me a little sad that the local schools no longer do this even though they often have mulberry trees on their campuses, originally planted there for this very purpose.

The neighbor kids are home a lot more now so perhaps they might be interested.

I have eggs in cold storage in my fridge which I saved from my last rearing dated July 2018. A bit old and who knows if they are still viable? I took out one set and will test to see if they will hatch. If not, I may order a small amount of eggs just for fun.

Growing up in Japan in the mid ‘60’s we lived in a house owned by a very wealthy Japanese family. It was located high on a bluff which overlooked the port area of Yokohama. As a child we went on field trips to the Yokohama Silk Center and came home with a small box containing one silk cocoon, one small square of silk, one bit of reeled silk. We regularly visited a nearby famous garden (Sankeien).

Later, much later, say 40 years later, I came to realize that the wealth of the owners of that house we lived in was most likely afforded to the family by the main industry of the time-silk. All wealth in Yokohama and in many other areas of japan was driven by silk trade.

That garden we regularly visited was built and owned by a wealthy silk merchant who many decades later donated the property to the city of Yokohama. It had been their family residence. Only in the past ten years did I learn that one of my early schoolmates was a granddaughter of this family and grew up playing and roaming the private sections of this grand place and it was through her connection that special field trips there were arranged.

The Yokohama Silk Center still exists and I make an effort to go again each time I visit.

So yes, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic today and hoping some of the silkworms will hatch. I’ve put them in a warm spot, with some humidity and hoping for the best in this current corona cocoon.

Be well everyone…

fragility

I started working on this piece of cloth in order to add it to a larger piece I am stitching. The whole cloth itself is made from reclaimed, recovered, and salvaged bits of cloth-some redyed, restitched. This one in particular is from a couple of those categories.

Time stitching is time to think and reflect…
When the fabric of our lives seems to errode and threads are laid bare, those of us who have the means, the desire, or the ability to strengthen the surrounding cloth/life can help hold it together. Stitching around the red silk, the cloth/wound was revealed, memorializing it’s existence, strengthened and preserved. The still fragile and ever eroding stripes/lives are grounded by solid yet invisible (on the front side) tiny stitches. The back side shows the structure and the pieces and stitches added in an effort, though impossible, to make the cloth/person whole again. Scars/tears will remain, lives lost and forever altered.
This cloth is a small tribute to those who lost their lives this past week in Long Beach CA. In quiet moments of handwork, these thoughts rise up.

I chose this piece as it showed the story of the cloth from several perspectives. It had been reused previously (most likely as a cushion or futon cover) and taken apart. With several holes in it perhaps, the intention being to patch and reuse again.

As I handled the piece to think about how to apply it to the larger piece it became apparent that it needed some stabilization first. Using that same red silk I’ve shown you recently, I decided to highlight a couple of the duty worn areas. As I turned it over in my hand, I realized that the wear on this piece was really only in the warp areas of the brown dyed sections. This being a mainly indigo piece, it was warped in a couple of shades of indigo and what looks to be kakishibu (persimmon) dyes. The weft is indigo in two shades. What you notice is that only the kakishibu dyed sections are deteriorating- telling me that this dye was more damaging to the fibers over time. Was it treated with an iron mordant and not well rinsed? Not sure. But it’s very clear that only those sections broke down over time telling me it is dye related and not wear related.

I applied the lightest weight stabilizer to the back of the very fine red silk which I used. First stitching invisibly (front side) to stabilize the section and then further stitching the open areas revealing a bit of the red silk. Holding it up to the light, reveals its strengths and weaknesses.

I further decided that it needed more stability and added a larger piece of thin indigo dyed cotton to the backside. Copying methods I have seen on some of the vintage boro I have, I stitched the edges and again along either sides of the deteriorating stripes. It’s now ready to be part of the larger piece.

Above is just the process I used to stabilize the worn scrap. As I said in the video (last post), using the red silk to highlight patched areas reminds me of the Japanese ceramic technique generally called kintsugi. Looking up the translation of that word it contains the kanji for tsugi which means “inherit, succeed, continue, patch, graft”. So carrying this further, tsugimono would be something that is in need of patching.
Yes, the patchwork that is our life, our clothstory. Stabilized, but not made whole.