It’s been a rough week, month, year! So many ups and downs. I been telling myself I would write a blogpost almost every single day these past two weeks but…well I just couldn’t didn’t. I read your blogs, FB pages, twitter and a few books, and took lots of stitches. First off, my dear friendlies, one of my favorite FB friends/writers/ NYC poet of life, Michelle Slater passed away. I never met her in person but here, through the blog when she began commenting many years ago. I think she came here via Spiritcloth as many of you have for so long (and even for some, more recently). We had so many wonderful exchanges over the years, through social media as well as the mail. She lived alone in a rent controlled apartment in Manhattan and gave us the gift of so many views of the city she had lived in for over 60 years. She also wrote a blog (actually several) filled with observations of life, photos, and poetry. Just reading the sidebar of her blog could change your life and worldview. She commented on my blog many times over more than a decade and I will treasure each comment once more whenever I come back to one. In the years prior to our friendliness on FB, she gave me glimpses into her world as they related to mine in her comments but it was only 4 years ago she left me the following comment that told me even more about herself than i had known:
She was found in her apartment, apparently in her usual chair, when friends noticed she hadn’t posted for several days and wasn’t answering the phone. In my mind I imagine her setting up a new post with a fabulous link or video or simply typing “Goodnight dear friendlies” with a photo view out her apartment window as she did so often. So here’s to you Michelle… Goodnight with gratitude my friend! Link to the last video she posted…here. And my original post (2016) where Michelle left the above comment.
other parts (2 and maybe 3 to follow). comment link is at the top of post.
I added a new Moonmate video a few days ago yet never got this blog post finished to announce it. This is the shortest one so far! Originally I thought they would all be about 5 minute videos but up to now I have not been able to achieve that. Today’s video focuses on making some kakishibu base fabric as a starting point- check it out…
Generally, it takes me a bit to write a post and these days you would think that would be simple, given that we are all staying at home. But herein lies the problem! We are all staying at home! And staying at home with two musicians leads to some interesting days. No one is going anywhere so finding a nice block of uninterrupted time in which to write/record/teach is somewhat problematic. In the before times, each of them would regularly be gone for hours at a time but not now! We are all seeking some separate space for our various activities. Even my noise cancelling headphones can only do so much and more often just serve as a visual reminder that I am doing my own thing. My blog posts are being written in fits and spurts and not in one nice stream of thought. On the other hand, there are positives as well- Trevor and I are enjoying more gardening time together and and Phil is working on more recordings. Plus, a marimba has arrived!
There have been many points over the past couple of weeks where I said to myself: “hey me, that is something I want to include in my next blog post”, but alas-much of it fades away as time passes by as I flit like a butterfly from one thing to the next…. I really should write them down. (ps…the monarchs are laying lots of eggs and caterpillars are hatching all over the yard!)
Here are a few links to thankfulness…that I managed to remember!
Mo from her blog “It’s Crow Time” wrote a beautiful post that included some moons and a wonderful bag she made for a friend. She’s been a long time and patient moonmate…thanks Mo! Hers is a blog I recommend subscribing to by email.
And then again, my daily read and maybe yours too, is Jude’s Spirit Cloth-taking a new turn from a new place. She is doing a “work beside me” type project that many are enjoying. This post, from a few days ago, features moons and the thought of overlapping as an idea.
And John Marshall is now doing online workshops! Maybe I mentioned that in the previous post. I finally was able to secure a copy of his book “Singing the Blues” just in time for the new indigo vat.
I’m making a new natural indigo vat- finally. An organic fermentation vat. I didn’t have enough indigo for a full 40 gallon vat so started with a smaller 10 gallon one. Pasted up the indigo, measured out the other ingredients, pulled 10 gallons of rainwater I had collected for a large vat, and dug the rest of my madder so I could use it in this vat. Moved the madder to a new location.
I have wanted to try rainwater for quite some time and now finally getting the chance. I notice that it is one full point higher (9) in pH than our regular tap water (7.8). I re-calibrated my ph meter and realized that I needed a new container of calibrating solution but had enough for about 2 more times. Used up the last of my soda ash so ordered a bit of that too from a local pool supply shop. Also found that my titanium aquarium heater was no longer working so went ahead and ordered one. Seems they have gotten cheaper since the last time I ordered one-hope it’s a good one for my purposes. It’s still cool at night here (upper 50’s/low 60’s) so it needs a little help. I have it sitting in a sunny location for the time being and will dig out some insulating wrap for it today. After retrieving the wheat bran, indigo and some additional madder from the garagio freezer, I note that a good sorting out of the freezer is in order. There are dyestuffs, cocoons and other materials in there along with walnuts (squirrels continue to visit), last seasons roasted hatch chili peppers (very spicy!), various flours and other things. Need to remove all and defrost this week. Updates on how the vat is doing in the next post I imagine…
On a sad note, I saw a notice that Michelle Whipplinger of Earthues has passed away. I didn’t purchase often from her site but did gain invaluable information from her writings. I know many were fortunate to take workshops from her and benefit directly from her global expertise gained over a long and sustained practice. She left a beautiful, kind and compassionate knowledge base in her wake for us to enjoy. Blessings to her memory and to her family and friends.
And in celebration of beginnings… my old silk moth eggs did not hatch but I ordered a small batch of eggs (mainly since I had gotten the neighbor kids interested and a little home schooled science might be good) and they should be hatching any day now.
To beginnings and endings…and to continuing. I think I’ll leave it here.
Time slowed a bit this week, or at least that’s my perception. In the Moment.
I did a little tinkering with moonmaking and the result was a pleated moon on silk ro. I included a bit on that in the new moonmates video.
I talked a little bit about the fabrics I use. I could go on and on with that topic as it really is key to dyeing anything at all and can dictate the type of shibori process best suited for the cloth.
But back to the pleated moon. I’ve wanted to try this for some time. I really liked the process. Adjustments were made to allow the pleats to be retained (not wetting the fabric first, then letting the piece dry while clamped after rinsing out well). Then the whole thing was trimmed a bit before stabilizing on a background cloth using Jude’s glue stitch (or invisible basting stitch). I love the sculptural quality of it stitched onto the background. I don’t know where this piece is going or what it will lead to. For now, I have it pinned to the wall where I can think on it a while. What I did find was that the pleats were easily retained- even around the outside edge of the resist. The silk has a memory and unless forcefully removed, remains.
Here is a quicklink to Jude’s youtube showing her glue stitch that I referred to. There were other interesting moons this week, they continue to fascinate me, endlessly.
TIme now to go do a drop off of supplies to Amma. For some reason this past week the facility would not allow the Kaiser hospice nurse to do her regular visit there- without explanation. After a series of calls to various people in positions to question this, nurse visits have resumed. You really do have to keep up with what is going on in these facilities.
I open up my wordpress site to write this post and see that almost 3 weeks have passed since the last post! Has reality melted time? Dali’s Persistence of Memory comes to mind. I’ve been busy, but time seems incongruous with reality. Maybe it’s my memory or perception of time that can be faulted. In any case…
It’s time for a new Moonmates tutorial. If you recall, they are free, but don’t let that discourage you from contributing using the pay as you wish link in the sidebar. In these times, all contributions are welcomed. Today’s tutorial is a bit different as we had lots of rain here the week I started working on the video, so I took a little different approach. I think you might like it. I also cleared out all the orders for the moons and ribbon scrap bags so if you were waiting for your moonsets, you may have them now or they are in transit. I also restocked the shop with moonsets.
In the news over the past week was an an announcement that Quilts Inc. was not going to refund vendors for their booth fees from the cancelled Pittsburg Spring Market. Then after what appears to be a virtual landslide of negative social media commentary lashing out at their decision, they found the money, turned that decision around and are now refunding booth fees. I know many who were relieved to hear it! My question is what are they doing regarding the scheduled Long Beach Quilt Festival scheduled July 9-11? They have yet to announce any cancellation of the show- although from everything I am hearing in the city and the state, there will not be any large events happening that early. Lots of vendors are wondering and have sent in booth fees. I seriously doubt that the public will be rushing out to attend large events this soon. I just received a cancellation for a show I was going to do in early October here in LA. If I were them, I’d get ahead of that and announce the cancellation now. The future is very uncertain isn’t it?
Working on moons this past week, I made a little discovery. I became obsessed with the patterns on the little blocking fabrics I was using to make a particular type of moon. I started setting them aside and then altering them in divergent ways. The rain, having driven me inside to work, I started arranging them in variously. I settled on one layout and started piecing them together using Jude’s non-paper piecing method. I have been enjoying the lookback review she is doing on her blog of all the techniques she uses in her work and I wanted to practice a bit with them. Now pieced and ready to attach to a background cloth, I have it hanging on the wall gathering thoughts on how I want to proceed. I’m leaning toward simplicity and see it as a bit of a meditation piece. I think I’ll use Jude’s glue stitch to mount this on the background cloth.
Several pieces have been added to the wall and are gathering thoughts on what they might become. here’s another…
Again, the woven moon is a takeoff on Jude’s cloth weaving technique. The background moon is dyed on an old grainsack that had been repaired. The lower moon is on some old thick silk organza I found in Japan. It looks like a planet with a gaseous cloud swirling around it. Who knows where this one will go? I hope I don’t have to wait for more rain to find out. It might be quite a while…
The post-rain garden is looking really wonderful and flowery. We pulled the rest of the beets and daikon for pickling, making room for more summer veggies. Another round of beets, lettuces and beans are in the works. Seeds are sprouting everywhere. The weed pulling continues…
Since we last visited, the full moon came and went and we are approaching the new moon soon. I’ve been playing with new ideas for moons and they become more complex.
Perhaps you would like to visit the shop?
If you have previously pondered purchasing one of the pieces in the shop under the Zakka category, you might want to take advantage of the marked down prices there. A lot of work went into these pieces and while I hate to do it, they aren’t doing me any good sitting here in my inventory. Maybe today is your lucky day-and mine too!
We are sure to emerge from the corona in an altered state. Some things are going to change completely (some of those things will be positive for sure) and other things will drift back towards a state of complacency. One of the positive outcomes will hopefully be our increased attention to hygiene, health and communicable illnesses in the modern era. Having spent lots of time living in and visiting Japan, mask wearing there is de rigueur, or essential- a responsibility and expected, especially if you are sick with even a minor cold. We could definitely benefit from this. We are going to go forward with holes in our lives where people who held our hearts, hands and memories used to reside. We will go forward with uncertainty, in our work, our play, our basic well being. I don’t imagine this will ever really “be over”. It will “be different”. I think it warrants imagining and wondering what that looks like now, so as to adapt, adjust, and plan for a different kind of future. I keep thinking of the analogy of a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis. It’s like we might have the opportunity to rethink how we want to emerge from life in the corona. The time to think about that is now. Looks like we will still have a couple more months to think about all this possibility and prepare! There have been lots of monarchs emerging in the backyard lately. They float through the air as I am weeding out the grasses that have taken over here and there after the rains. There are lots of wildflowers blooming that have reseeded from past seasons. I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of poppies back there (not that i would want to!).
These are just some of the thoughts that pass through my mind as I keep busy out in the studio and garden this past week.
One item of note, it was one year ago yesterday I tripped over the low dog fence in the backyard breaking my arm. It was an instantly regrettable moment. A not so funny April Fools Day. One year later now, there is no pain, and all has healed very well. But to ensure I don’t do any such silly thing again, Trevor has built a new fence with a wonderfully easy opening gate! Sometimes, isolation allows for chores that have been long put off, to be accomplished! Yay! Now onto the fence on the left side which has needed new posts for a long time, thanks to termites. Currently we are enjoying lettuce, beets, daikon, eggplant and herbs from the garden. Just put in some broccoli, zucchini, chilis and tomatoes and have other seedlings to plant out soon.
But in the studio, I have been at a number of things, moons of course. And I’m adding a new tutorial for moonmates on the Moonmates page. One thing I realize while doing these, is that I will never run out of ideas for making moons. Each time I make some I want to try something different. It’s just how it goes. I have tried so many things over the years and it’s fun revisit some of them and to also try out new ideas. This is what I do love about shibori- the endless possibilities. There is always something new or different to try.
I’ve received some lovely emails and messages from you all upon receipt of your moonsets. Thank you. It inspires me to continue. My friend Mo in Australia who always makes love-ly and heart-felt objects put an indigo moon to work in her recent post Raggedy Blue Moon Heart. Jude was so kind as to put a link in her sidebar to the moonmaker page. If you haven’t ever visited Jude’s blog, Spirit Cloth, I would recommend it and subscribing by email. She’s been at it at least as long as I have (2006ish) so you have a lot of catching up to do over there!
In other announcements… all May and June workshops at the JANM have been cancelled and we are working on creating a schedule for July -Dec in the coming week. Stay tuned. Also, stay tuned for some new silk shibori ribbon in the shop. Haven’t got them photographed or listed yet…that’s next on “the list”.
You might be a fan of John Prine like I am and since hearing he was ill (COVID-19) I’ve been refreshing my play list with some of his music. Here’s one to get you started…I picked this version as it has a monologue about the song at the beginning.
One thing I have really enjoyed during this isolation time has been checking in with friends I don’t often communicate with. Some great catching up has been going on. A friend and I were texting re John Prine and other things (like how we’ve been friends for probably close to 20 years and she hadn’t subscribed to the blog (subscribe by email in the sidebar). She had a sweet memory of John Prine she shared (her husband has been a dealer of vintage vinyl albums forever) and she said I could share it here-
Time seems to have taken on a strange floating quality these days. Not really sure where it’s going, or where we are on the timeline. Here we don’t operate on a M-F or a 9-5 schedule anyway, but I hear others asking “what day is it?”. I know it’s Wednesday here because it’s street sweeping, if that helps…
I hope you are reaching out to close friends and family to check in on them and say hello. I know I am. In most cases, they are fine, staying home, and riding this out. But sometimes, they are not. I reached out to my good friend VaVa in Houston to see how she was and how it was going there, only to find out that last week she had a stroke and was in a car accident! She will be in rehab for at least a couple of months to recover and regain her lost functions. Some of you may have met her working in my booth at the Houston show. I was so glad I reached out now. I am so far away and can’t pop in to visit her but will be checking in with her daily. Love to you VaVa! So do, check in. You just never know!
As the “stay at home” order continues, we can’t go and visit my MIL who we had just moved to a board and care home that is much closer to us. She’s doing OK but not being able to visit her is concerning. Our communication is limited to texting and facebook-she has aphasia as well and can no longer speak. Her iPad is her window to the world and to her family in NZ and Iceland. We go and drop off things she needs each week. We will have a party when this is over and get to see her in person again! I know many of you are separated from family as well. It’s really an easy choice as they are safer in isolation. We will hang in there together!
After the last post and video tutorial I decided I wanted to make the tutorial vids 5-7 minutes long max. Nope! Today’s moonmaker tutorial was even longer, so I broke it up into two vids. Hopefully, I can get them down to the 5-7 minute goal. Today’s tutorial shows a moon using two different techniques- arashi and itajime shibori. I also added a little something else in the second video. This video shows you how to use a “blocking fabric” in itajime. It can be applied to larger board itajime as well. Think about how you might use this technique.
Today is a new moon with all the possibilities of starting anew. It’s a good time to sprout new seeds of intention. Soon, we will be able to look up at the moon together again and watch as it grows full. Meanwhile, take care, reach out, stay healthy.
For moonmates, there is a whole new page which is linked in the sidebar and I’ve uploaded the first video. I’m experimenting with keeping these moonmate videos on their own page just for the ease of your finding them in between posts on the main home page here. Like I mentioned in the last post, it’s pay as you wish there (also in the sidebar).
Next task is to update some of these pages and make a new header. It’s been a while since I did a new one. I’ve really liked this one and found some sort of comfort in seeing it whenever I loaded the blogsite. But I think it’s time…
It’s also time here to plant seeds to put out in the garden. I have quite a few already started and I feel the urge to start more. Even if I end up giving them away to neighbors I enjoy watching them sprout and grow each day. We all could use a little victory garden I think…who knows? It could become a necessity!
“A faintly colored luminous ring or halo appearing to surround a celestial body when viewed through a haze or thin cloud, especially such a ring around the moon or sun, caused by scattering or diffraction of light from suspended particulate matter in the intervening medium.“
March 16, 2020 The following post was left unpublished for the better part of a week while we attended to other things here. Other things included the canceling of all scheduled workshops for at least the next 30 days- maybe longer. Due to the fact that I have been unable to secure a supplier for the plain back silk satin I use for the shibori ribbon I had started to transition to more in person events and workshops for the time being. The current health emergency due to the corona virus has made that impossible, so I am once again regrouping to switch to other possibilities. Everyone in this household has had all work cancelled for the foreseeable future. We are adjusting to this reality along with everyone, worldwide. I know you are too.
March 11, 2020
Sometimes you get an unexpected gift.
Such was the occasion at this past workshop which I was prepping for and mentioned in the last post. To recap, it was an evening Parents Art Night at a private school in LA. I only had 2.5 hours to give an indigo shibori workshop for 30 people.
Usually this type of workshop requires more time but careful consideration, preparation, and planning paid off- in smiles! It was a fabulous location. Formerly the rooftop, it was expanded as another floor with great views and two large enclosed studios-one for lower grades and one for the upper grades.
Each of the two large studios have one large wall of windows while the other side has two large stainless steel sink areas with counter space. Concrete floors, high ceilings, good light, lots of movable tables to work on, plenty of storage and more counter space under the bank of windows. A really great space! Outdoors, there are shade sails and more open workspace. These are very lucky kids! Two full time art teachers for 400 students. Of course all this comes at a price- tuition! They do also have scholarship/ financial aid programs.
If you recall, I chose kitchen towels as the canvas for their shibori indigo dyeing and it turns out that was a good call. Most did not have any experience in shibori indigo dyeing but there were a few exceptions. We focused on stitched shibori- staying simple and gathering and binding tightly. Most were concerned if they were “doing it right” or if their piece would “turn out ok”. I heard many comments about not remembering the last time they had a needle and thread in hand. They got to visit and talk while they stitched. I went around and helped and checked on their work. I assured them it would turn out and suggested they turn their fears or anxiety into creative curiosity. It really changes the experience!
Back to the smiles…
As for the unexpected gift…at the end one parent came up to me to say thank you and said that she was very grateful for the experience- that she loved her towels and that it had been a very long time since she had been proud of herself for something she had made. That was very much a gift. Such a great evening. Of course, school there is no longer in session. In LA we are hearing that it may be very unlikely that schools will resume before fall. Who knows…life in the corona is hazy. ************************
So now, today, March 19, 2020, I am on a different trajectory. I am working again on the online shop (no update yet-but soon) and I am going to be starting an online tutorial series called Moonmates. These will be short video posts on moonmaking. I will host them here on this blog but on a special linked page (I think). Life in the corona is unsure, a little hazy, so just moving forward as one can. The tutorials will be open- with a pay what you wish link. This way, everyone can enjoy them as we venture into the corona. Let’s see what we can get into… Mooncloth sets will still be available in the shop on an ongoing basis. Many of the moons in these sets will be the ones featured in the tutorials.
I was thinking how this is sort of like being in a cocoon or a chrysalis. We are keeping each other safe by our separation. We are transforming. What might we be once we emerge?