Category Archives: offtopic

Mottainai!

I didn’t want to add this to the last post on the Houston show since it’s a bit of a “Debbie Downer” (apologies to all Debbie’s out there), but I discovered something that I found very disappointing/disturbing (once again) at the show.  I walked the wholesale market on Sunday as I had to wait a couple of hours for the Ed office to open.

On the show floor, I saw that Moda is now producing, for February delivery, a line of fabrics called “Boro”. Now those of you regular readers of this blog probably know how I feel about this. We had a similar discussion when they came out with their “Shibori” fabric line. But this one is even MORE disturbing to me.  Is that possible? Why yes, yes it is.

Why is it that everything has to be bastardized for profit?  You might find my mindset a bit harsh but boro -really??  So now we are going to take the Japanese historical tradition of using scrap cloth to make utilitarian items for daily use and commercialize it to the point of PRINTING scanned images of boro on cotton sheeting for quilters to use in boro-esque quilt projects?  Are we really going there? And for quilters– who in general, have more scrap fabrics than any God of your choice!

I am really appalled at this.  Do they even understand the history of these fabrics? They wax poetically in their catalog about boro, but there is a certain dissonance I find disturbing. Boro was created out of poverty, a lack of having textiles for everyday needs. A certain need to use all that was at hand- to not waste.  Mottainai! Do not waste the resources you have! The ways that people in Japan found to creatively reuse what they did have is remarkable and noteworthy.  To take this and create a line of printed “boro” quilt fabrics just really is the height of irreverent insincerity in my opinion. It’s nothing more than the use of a term seen as a trend for profit. It’s actually quite the opposite of boro, which translates to tattered, ragged, torn or scrap fabrics.

We can celebrate boro by using what we already have, by stitching together the fabrics of our lives. We can study the boro fabrics so lovingly stitched by those who truly were stitching to survive cold winters in northern Japan. We can honor their resourcefulness by adopting the spirit of Mottainai in our everyday lives. Let’s do that instead.

this one’s for you…a glimpse of the morning garden

and especially for Judy.  faith, family, and persistence are her constant companions-plus a needle, thread, and some cloth.

it rained!!  and one of my favorite things is to walk around the garden the morning after. here is only some of what i saw…

also gone as well are the natural dyed fabrics i loaded into the shop yesterday- many thanks! the last payment on my little health interruption last Dec. will be paid off! took the whole year but DONE!! where would i be without you?

the shop will stay open for ribbon buyers only through Wednesday.

plus the squirrelleys say hello!

hello!

hello!

from the letters file…

It’s a good thing I don’t share all the letters I receive as some just make me want to throw something and others make me want to shed a tear. Some are so uplifting, yet too personal or bittersweet at times to publish on the blog.  This week so far I have received one of each.  Just for balance.
Remember Balance? Balance has been a theme here over time on the blog and in reality, everyday.
Which brings me to an email I received this morning.

Hi,

I ran across a piece of art that I thought was public domain but have traced it back to you. I work for Hanes, and was thinking about using the art “Indigo wall panel” in a panty print but doing it in different colors, modified digitally so that it can be rotary screen printed. Would you grant me permission to use? If not, I will do something different and try to create the look of the technique digitally and that’s perfectly fine. Have a great day.

Thank you either way,

Joel

 

So, basically he is saying that they want permission to use the image of my shibori work as a shortcut to a graphic design to screen print onto underwear.  And if I don’t grant permission, they will “create the look of the technique digitally” and carry on. In my mind, I hear- “we will alter your image enough (digitally) so as to be able to call it our own or derived and skip your permission altogether.  Have a great day!

So what happened to common courtesy?  How about “I came across your work (while searching for patterns in indigo and shibori images online that we could glean for free use of artwork for our commercial product line) and would love to use your image and compensate you modestly (say $500) for it’s use.

I don’t know.  I really don’t know anymore.  Why? When a company that has reported net sales of $5.7 billion in their most recent report has their design staff searching the internet and basically bullying artists(my opinion) into granting permission for use of their works I just don’t know anymore.

So what say you, fair readers?

Should we say yes and allow them to use this artwork knowing that every time we see this pattern on Hanes panties (and we will see them) we will be reminded of the corporately owned world we must now operate within?  It might be a good thing to remind ourselves of this on a regular basis.  It is in all our lives daily in even the smallest of things.

Or should we say no, allowing them to feel like they did the right thing by asking and either remake my design in their own image (costing them a bit more) or even just to continue searching online for some other image they can use without actually having to do more than work the keyboard.


Indigo Blues was published in 2012. Like many images of my work, I find them regularly online without attribution.  This is a detail shot of the full piece that was sold through my online shop quite some time ago. The full image here.
indigo blues

On the other side of Balance, I received an order for moons the other day with an immediate email follow-up note from a fellow undergoing a very serious health challenge.  Having been hospitalized for many recent months he tells me the following:

 I have decorated each room I’ve spent time in– sometimes 4 to 6 weeks at a stretch — with fukuro obi hangings and other silk kimono fabrics,  which have always brought pleasure to me and to visitors.  A calming healing environment visitors would exclaim!    I will continue this “tradition” of Japanese design in the rooms when I re-enter for hospital for the transplant, a “cure”, in early September.  I plan to add your beautiful  moons to the room.  Many thanks.

and I reply(in part)…

It will be a privilege to make some moons for you.  Thank you for your order.

 I can imagine your room…your creating it with a certain peaceful attitude that promotes calmness, enjoyment, and healing qualities for both you and your visitors.  

I will be thinking of this as I dye your fabrics.  My favorite thing to do is to create intentional fabrics that I can infuse with thoughts and intentions for their recipients as I make them. Thank you. Be well, take care…

 

Of course a special package is being prepared.

Old cloth, old books (and a piano)

I never should have borrowed this book from my friend Donna:

 

It is very interesting and hysterical even, at times.  Especially the chapter titled “Cats and Dogs”. You might wonder why (especially now!) that I would choose NOT to entertain myself with such mirth given the dearth of nonsense going on about us.

The reason being that yesterday a piano fell on my face.

IMG_3037

yes, this piano…

And it hurts to smile or laugh.  And it is just in time for my weekend workshop at the museum (sorry- but all filled up). It’s not as bad as it sounds but it does hurt a bit and as long as I keep a straight face it doesn’t bother much.  Admittedly, I probably should have gone for a stitch or maybe two but being a bit cheap these days I lay around with a bit of ice and some pressure on it to make it behave (took a while). That being said, I was trying to come up with a funny way to describe to my workshop attendees what the heck happened.  The simple “a piano fell on my face” seemed appropriate (considering I can deliver the line with a straight face).

In actuality, I was cleaning behind the old upright piano and moving it back into position when the front board fell forward onto me and caught me in the face and arm(nice hurty bruise there too-but not too noticeable). By the end of the evening I had the room there all cleaned up and Phil got some new space to store and organize all his accumulating music. Yay! Plus I cleaned up some of my fabric stuff I needed to get to for the weekend of indigo dyeing.

Speaking of fabric, the end of the day resulted in about 50 meters of old silk kimono linings all washed up, most threads removed, ironed and folded.  These will be used this weekend and also at the upcoming Yosemite workshop. Cloth with a memory. Imperfectly perfect.

Back to the book- apparently you can get a reprint of it and also it is available on the Gutenburg Project- Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow

“Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, published in 1886, is a collection of humorous essays by Jerome K. Jerome. It was the author’s second published book and it helped establish him as a leading English humorist.” Wikipedia
 Originally published: 1886
Author: Jerome K. Jerome


Donna was also clearing out some space and found it lurking there in some dark corner. It is much more satisfying to hold this old original copy in my hand than read it off a screen though I may have to save it for next week’s readings when I can laugh out loud as I do.
Even the preface was humorous-

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wouldn’t elevate a cow… 

And really, isn’t change what we are looking for?

Old books, old cloth…got me to wondering.  What is the oldest book and the oldest cloth I have here? I wonder…

(And by the way, if you see me around town- don’t tell me a joke for at least a week!)

 

Maybe it’s just me…

but recently, of course, as indigo becomes more noticed (not unlike shibori) in the general mainstream media-in fashion, in art, in department stores, in wal-mart and beyond- you start seeing more things like this.

indigo before

Now most of you know I am not the Hollywood type (even though I live near LA- the LB being LA’s stepchild of sorts) so something like this will never be in my future but I wondered about it since it was popping up in my Google alerts.  Being a Founder and Creative Director myself (of my own life), I wondered.

I wondered how one can cram so many hippy hop cool things into one ultra coolio trend setty project?  I also wondered what statement is being made by advocating the shutting down of nuclear reactors while growing indigo hydroponically indoors under artificial lights ( no mention of solar generated power here) when plenty of free sunshine is readily available right outside the door.

What is the connection and significance of surfing, indigo, hydroponics (we are reminded-we are not talking about pot growing here!), SanO (watch out long time SanO surfers-a new invasion is on the horizon), Echo Park (hipster paradise), environmentalism,  heart, soul, handmade, new wave, artisan, vessels filled with knowledge, poetry, relationships, honest living and hard work, small farms and the big picture? Turning green into blue?  Or perhaps more clearly, blue into green.

“Artists, musicians- a.k.a. the collective consciousness”  really?  Let’s not take ourselves too seriously here.

indigo after cutting

It’s hard to come up with a better list of trend worthy words or topics to associate one’s self with. Then again, this is LA, and this is Southern California. A place where concept art and all of those things aforementioned are trend forecasted and rolled into one tidy bundle for our experiencing pleasure. Who said manufacturing has left the building in LA?

I’ve made a few waves in my time here, and I’m likely to make a few more. But I prefer a different approach to my work- a slower persistant approach that naturally begins from the center and moves outward, growing in gentle circles as it expands.

But now,  I have to go and spread out the first cutting of the indigo for drying and pack the car so I will be ready to go give an indigo workshop tomorrow for Debra’s kids at Artisun. More on that later.

indigo first harvest drying

such a sadness…

be the love...


another act of incredible violence has occurred in the city adjoining ours. many lost their lives and many others directly affected not to mention the town as a whole. how will they ever recover from this? please send love.

last night as i walked the dog late with the full moon high in the sky i wondered…and today still wondering after i also heard that this tragedy was the worst mass killing in the history of Orange County-second only to one that occurred in July of 1976 in Fullerton where a gunman walked into the CSUF campus library, shot 9 people killing 7 of them.
i lived and worked in Fullerton that year- i was 18 and waiting to head off to UCD at the end of the summer, taking classes at FCC and working at a porcelain studio with several ceramics majors from CSUF. it was a day where sorrow hung heavy in the air. we all breathed of it. like today in Seal Beach and into Long Beach, Huntington Beach and further i imagine. i had almost forgotten that day until today when that feeling overwhelmed me and triggered that memory.

wondering, i googled July 1976 and looked at the full moon calendar for that month- July 11, 1976 2:08pm. the CSUF library shooting occurred on July 12, 1976. both events clearly occurring within the 24 hour period of the full moon.

wondering further…i found this.

but i still do wonder. World Mental Health Awareness Day was this past Monday.

just wondering…

for some reason, i have been oblivious to the fact that apparently, while i thought wordpress was ad-free, occasional ads appear to select visitors to my blog. WTH? maybe i am the last person to figure this out and really am living in LA-LA Land or something, but when i went to renew my blog subscriptions (which cost about $100 a year) they were trying to sell me something called No Ads for $30 a year.

they say:

We sometimes display discreet advertisements on your blog—this keeps free features free!

The ad code tries very hard not to intrude on your design or show ads to logged-in readers, which means only a very small percentage of your page views will actually contain ads.

To eliminate ads on your blog entirely this is the upgrade you want.

So, I am just wondering, how many of you, if any, see ads when you visit my blog? either leave me a comment or email me separately. i guess this is why lots of people move to wordpress.org. CONTROL!

also, i am going to let my video upgrade lapse until i figure out what i want to do- i can just store everything on youtube for now- not doing many videos right now anyway. but you’re probably seeing ads there already since i have a free account and i am not monetizing any of it. honestly, i am just too busy working to manage all this nonsense.

that’s all i have time to say today-

communities of practice

dsc_0483.jpgAs I create my personal course of study on shibori, textiles, craft etc., I mix actual practice of shibori with the desire to understand the market for crafts and the significance of craft in today’s world. As often is the case, I turn to Karren Brito’s blog for a lesson and discovered the term “communities of practice”. For an indepth explaination of this, you can listen to Dennis Stevens’ talk for which she provides a link.

Personally, I find this a fascinating topic. I want to hear the thoughts of other artists/makers on this subject. By posting comments on this and other related topics, I am able to sort out my thoughts and add my perspective to the conversation.
I am not right or wrong, just involved in the process of learning. When you add your thoughts in a comment it allows us, as a community of practice, to discover and learn from each other. (so check it out and leave a thought behind!)

In other business, the flickr photo pool is growing and it’s fun to see what others are doing and what their interests are.

I’m enjoying the postcard swap and have received several back so far. I realize that the ones I’m sending out are
so different from the one’s I’m receiving-at least so far. What I would love to do is a postcard swap limited to using shibori fabics. Hmmm……any takers? Above image is of the last card I sent out. It reminded me of a spider and I used a silver metalic thread to machine quilt it with. I wanted the thread to mimic a web and I liked the way the stitching around the edge looked like fine wire(can’t see it in this photo). Also added a piece of the arashi shibori ribbon I made last week.

Oh- and here is the start of the quilt block I was playing with before.
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shibori ramblings…….

Today I’ll write a rather meandering offtopic post for your entertainment (or mostly my own) as I am taking a bit of a break from my work to let my newly surgicized shoulder recover from a bit of repair work. Too many years of production ceramic studio work! A few weeks of physical therapy and I’ll be ready to get back to the practice of shibori.

Again, Karren Brito is having an interesting discussion on the state of fine crafts in our world today. It’s worth reading and it would be great to hear comments from others who make their living as artists, makers , and craftspeople.

Recently, a friend sent me this article entitled “Twilight for the Kimono” from the Washington Post which talks about the diminishing ranks of master weavers and kimono makers in Japan. Traditional crafts as a means of support are disappearing around the world and even in Japan which is renowned for its Living National Treasures , the issue of making a living as a fine crafts person is in question. As we become a global economy, the world’s workroom shifts from one up and coming third world country to another as the search for a lower price combined with quality product continues. But at what cost? Some of these countries sacrifice the environment, workers health, and education to compete for contracts. Eventually, wages, working conditions and environmental standards rise, costs increase and perhaps the contracts shift to places where prices don’t reflect these costs. There are benefits as well- lower prices for these items and increased standard of living for the producers to name a couple.

The question of who should be educating people about arts and crafts, is difficult to answer. Of course I’d like to think that our public schools would provide a basic level of arts education but it just isn’t so. I spent many years volunteering as an art teacher at the local elementary school when I discovered my kids were not getting art class. I taught drawing, sculpture, spinning, weaving, knitting, quilting, paper making, printmaking, and ceramics among other things. I just figured I might as well do it myself if I could. I purchased all my own materials and brought in my own equipment.. We had great FUN! To this day I still run into kids (now in high school) who remember me as “their” art teacher! One recently told me he was going to study art in college. And since it was volunteer work, I happily existed “outside” the system and pretty much did whatever I was interested in teaching. The teachers were happy to have a break and not have to deal with the “mess” . Most felt completely out of their element teaching art (not to mention too busy with standards and testing) and were relieved someone else wanted to do it. There was no budget for an art teacher.

Only when one has some experience in making something can one appreciate and recognize its aesthetic value or significance. If we have never made things with our own hands, how can we understand or appreciate what went into creating it? Today, kids often don’t have exposure to creating things from scratch, even at home. Canning, gardening, baking, & sewing were things many of us in our 40’s and older grew up doing. How many kids these days are learning these skills? We make less and less here in this country it seems, in our homes as well as in manufactured goods.

As artists/makers/crafstman, we can wring our hands and complain about the paucity of hands-on art in the schools. We can write grants and beg for money to implement some art program we’ve devised. I think in the end, it is left to the crafts makers and artists ourselves to teach these skills. We can mentor younger artists/craftspeople and teach them what we know about what we do and what life choices we make to exist as artists.
We can teach at local community centers or park and recreation programs. We can share our work over the internet.

I’d love to hear comments on this subject from others who make a living from their work.. I have little daily contact with other artists/makers and am really interested in hearing other viewpoints.

…on another subject- commenting on blogs. I see quite a number of people (from all over the world!) visiting this site yet so few leave a comment. From my blog stats, I can see that many of you have arrived here from googling topics related to shibori, flickr photo pools related to textiles, or some contact you have had with me and my past or present work. Some of you visit on a very regular basis and I understand the desire to lurk anonymously. I do it all the time, and when I am visiting an artist’s (or any) blog regularly, I like to say hi and thanks for the info provided or ask a question or two. So don’t be shy, leave a comment, share your point of view, ask a question or just say hello while you’re passing through.

Got a new camera (Nikon D40) so look for new photos soon as I learn how to use it!