Category Archives: photography

enjoy, create, wonder

As a practitioner of shibori dyeing and maker of silk shibori ribbon for over ten years now, I continue to wonder about what I do for a living, and why.  It’s a good thing to wonder about consciously in order to keep ahead of things and remain independently viable.

Things I know that have been part of the cloth of a life woven with craft, at least for me are the following:
I was born to work with my hands and to make things. This has been true since I was a child and cannot be removed from who I am, except perhaps by a lobotomy. I learned at an early age I felt better when being creative and productive making things by hand and later on learned I also did enjoy the marketing of my own work,even though I hated it in the beginning and remember crying in my ’69 VW bug after an unproductive day of sales calls and appointments -I was about 19 at the time. I persisted. Forty years later now, I do it from behind a computer and the rare consumer trade show.

I seem to have a knack for creating things that others want to buy, and in enough quantity that at times I have had to employ quite a number of others to participate in this unlikely form of employment. I found a certain joy in being able to provide a living for others in addition to myself in handmade craft here in California.  It has been an honor really-because of the people I worked with.  Eventually (and after over 30 years), the joy of that was diminished by the burden of being an employer and the demise of manufacturing in the US. No problem!  I reinvented my life as a solo dyer and continued on my way. Even my shibori ribbon has the privilege of helping support many others as they resell it or make things with it which to resell. Kinda cool.

I enjoy the interaction with customers from all over the world. I love seeing other creative folks take something I made and add it to their own work in so many ways I never ever conceived. Some of the things they make are quite extraordinary!

-I wonder weekly, what comes next? Who knows? I just know that every day I get up and take the next step. I hope you do too. I enjoy the interaction with readers of this blog and the many who have followed and contributed here for so many years as I wondered, created, and thought out loud about things.

This week, I started thinking more about the most recent issues I had with image copyrights and decided to resurrect something I used to make and sell- blank greeting cards. Now, for some of you that go WAY back (even further back than this blog) I had a line of greeting cards with porcelain pins incorporated into them that were sold throughout the US.  When I first started doing shibori, at shows I also sold blank greeting cards with images of my shibori work as well as cards with small pieces of shibori attached to them.  I have been making them for my own and friends’ personal use over the more recent years. Sometimes I send them out with a personal note in an order or as a thank you for a small kindness afforded to me. Recently, someone asked me if they could purchase some and I wondered…

So, for now, I decided to reintroduce sets of these cards in my webshop. Right now I have two collections- Shiboriscapes and Indigo Moonscapes.  In the works are Shibori Flowerscapes.  This will perhaps, help even out the financial ups and downs every artisan has in their flow of work and money but also it feels good to know that I will be the beneficiary of my own work as I continue to hound Amazon into removing those sellers on their site that use my images without permission.

Here’s the link to the card sets. It’s nice to have a few blank cards on hand when you find yourself in need to send a thought or a thank you…

I get letters…

It was a great weekend at the Japanese American National Museum.  There were several returning students but the majority were new to both dyeing and to shibori in general. It is always a pleasure to introduce people to both.  Most indicated they will sign up again for one of the upcoming shibori workshops featuring indigo in June  and August (contact museum for reservations).  The force is strong in shibori…

Participants were fortunate to be able to see the last day of the exhibit “Two Views” featuring photographs by renowned 20th-century photographers Ansel Adams and Leonard Frank who each captured distinctive views of the Japanese American and Japanese Canadian incarcerations. I had seen it previously and encouraged everyone to take a break and go through the exhibit.

Early on Sunday I had the opportunity to view the other exhibit “Making Waves” before the museum opened to the public. It was really too much to take in in the amount of time I had- I spent a scant 30 minutes and knew I couldn’t do it justice so will go back before it closes the end of June.

In other news, I am feeling much better! The garden is blooming, vegetables growing. I also had a chance to see the current exhibit at the Mingei International Museum in San Diego recently.  (Thanks to Nadja for the hospitality!) One thing I was curious about was the attribution of this piece on display.

shibori yukata IMG_1862 IMG_1863
Obviously shibori dyed but yet annotated as printed.  Unless I am missing something…  I could see the needle marks. Anyway…there were some fabulous pieces there, like this detail from a fisherman’s raincoat woven with reed and seaweed.
woven reed and seaweed

I came home from the weekend to find a lovely letter from a customer. Honestly, I have to say this sort of thing keeps me going at times. I know that making things by hand is an incredibly personal and worthwhile endeavor. Sometimes a journey of the soul. Please teach any children in your realm this valuable gift.
i get lettersnow I’m crying…xo

a shibori picture show

Just thought I’d post a link to the top 50 flickr photos in slideshow format.
These are the top 50 photos from my almost 1500 photos I’ve loaded up to flickr- automatically generated as viewed by flickr viewers.
(click here)

kinda fun to see what’s “popular”. not all are my favorites but there are many i am quite fond of- for various reasons. for me, there are memories and lessons attached to most of them. it’s quite apparent that people like flowers and jewelry.
but i’m pleased to see the indigo moon rise quickly to the top 50. i am working on more. it takes time. enjoy the photos. you might want to poke around in some of my individual photo sets while you’re at it.
And if you are are already signed up for my upcoming shibori class you might want to start collecting some of the following materials:



dye and water containers and applicators

Globalization-not all I hope for

Coming this October I will be in Houston, as usual, manning my booth at the upcoming International Quilt Festival selling my shibori creations. I will also be teaching a shibori techniques class which I am pleased to report is full. ( If you want to try to get into the class at this point you will have to be put on a waiting list or check the “classes for sale” board on site.)

Additionally, I will be presenting a one hour lecture Thursday morning from 9-10 Am before the show begins speaking to the global issue of connecting traditional crafts and craftspeople to contemporary artisans and their work.
My talk, entitled Silk and Shibori-Touching the past and moving forward requires registration and an $8 fee. If you are a teacher at the show or have other special affiliations I believe the talk is free but you still have to register. I have been doing a lot of thinking about this topic-not just recently but really ever since I started this shibori adventure.

WARNING! Reading beyond this point might bore you to death, cause seizures, bring on depression, or other unforeseen malaise.
(don’t say I didn’t warn you)

Over the past 3 years I have used the internet to learn, inform, and share many aspects of shibori-mainly focusing on Japanese shibori and contemporary artisans as well as my own work. I have happily devoted myself full time to this endeavor and am doing my utmost to make a living at it-combining studio work, marketing and selling, and teaching to make ends meet. I also try to be aware and respectful of the work of others as that is how I too would like to be treated. I find that to be the case at least 95% of the time which adds to my faith in humanity. But sometimes that faith fails me and I feel slightly abused as I did this morning while sifting through my email.

Here is what I saw:

Globalization breathes new life into Shibori craft

Globalization breathes new life into Shibori craft

-most if not all the shibori shown here are photo-shopped copies of my textiles. Their website claims:

“It has been a long and successful journey for fibre2fashion since our inception in early 2000. From 1000 visitors a month we have grown to more than 1.9 million visitors.”

As I have also mentioned before, I am a big fan of Google alerts. Once again I was alerted to an article on shibori-Globalization breathes new life into Shibori Craft-sounds interesting no?. Clicking over to see if there was any new info I might glean from the article (there was not), or to see if it was worth posting a link for my readers here (not in the context I would like it to be), I was no longer surprised to find a commercial entity trying to make a dime off of the use of my copyrighted shibori images. I could go through the usual machinations- contact them, ask for monetary reimbursement for a one time use, request removal, ask for attribution, SOMETHING! I could wait for a response that likely will never come and if it does it will claim they didn’t know they weren’t permitted to use it, didn’t know how to get hold of me, think I should be happy for the exposure-and on and on.
If you get the PDF version of the article, you will see this-also my image:

I might feel differently if there wasn’t a profit motive on the part of the grafter (graft-unscrupulous use of one’s position to derive profit or advantages; extortion.) but the “article” covers no new ground and simply looks to take advantage of the rising interest in shibori to sell membership and advertising on their website. The company, based in India, can’t really claim ignorance as a look at the BOD’s claims a long impressive list of law, marketing, management, and IT degrees (to name a few). One of the board members even specializes in “workshops based on modern research in management, semantics, psychology, behavioral sciences, Western thought and Eastern wisdom. They motivate the participants to realize their full potential, and facilitate successful business agreement, increased productivity and teamwork.” I am sure that my images are not the only ones being “borrowed” nor will they be the last. But I have contacted them and suggested a price for use of my images. Only seems fair. I’ll even gift them some of my silk shibori pocket squares to wear to their next board meeting should they decide on some monetary compensation.

I also might feel differently if I wasn’t working so hard to make things fall into place and create the $ to make the final booth payment, buy my airline ticket, pay my phone bill, order supplies, blah, blah, blah.
So I guess this is another bitch session- sorry about that – just feel the need to get it out and expose this sort of thing once again as it keeps cropping up and getting under my skin. I know I shouldn’t let it. Perhaps they will surprise me and restore my faith in the last 5%-I’ll keep you posted.

On the brighter side-
As a maker I am thankful for so many things including:
-Stampington for seeing the value in the artists they feature in their magazines by actually compensating us for articles and features we write.
-other bloggers (too many to name-you know who you are) for the networking they provide
-Quilts Inc. for careful and knowledgeable management of their shows throughout the years and their appreciation of both vendors, customers, artists and teachers equally.
-for customers who pay on time and allow me to continue my work
-to my etsy customers around the world! including all the men who order pocket squares from me- so nice to include you as members of my shibori world (shipping an order to Dubai today!)
-to the universe for allowing me to be me and do what i do

Thank you!

just working…

I know I have so much more to write about but simply have to be working right now- trying to take and post few pics in the process to keep the flow going here-enjoy!

click to enlarge..

just some pics-

click on images to view larger



(playing around with some new images for the website redo)

some lavender filled pretties for Chicago-$16 each silk shibori dyed with ribbon flower and 2+oz of fresh lavender
thinking spring….

Oh- I will also be at the Saturday Evening Sampler in Chicago- 6-8 pm demonstrating shibori ribbon techniques….

Shibori Workshop in Chicago

I will be teaching a shibori workshop at the upcoming Chicago Quilt Festival April 17, 9Am-12 Noon.
Details can be found here. I understand there are 10 spaces left (of 25) so if you think you might wait ’til you get there to sign up you might be disappointed. I also read in the business section today that Southwest Airlines has started a “fare war” so you might be able to get some tickets at a pretty good price. I picked up my ticket about a month ago on Delta for $180 RT right out of Long Beach!

I am now preparing for the show, packing materials for the workshop, making inventory for my booth. I will get the booth # posted soon- still have to order my electricity and so forth. This is the first time I have done the Chicago show and with all the costs involved I opted for the first time to get a 1/2 booth. We’ll see how that works out. I may regret it but will make the most of it. I’ll be featuring the ribbon and kits at this show with less focus on the scarves and wall pieces. I’m sharing a room (I think!) with someone although with whom I can’t seem to remember at the moment (mental note- call Maggie and ask!).

One new thing we will be doing is dyeing some ribbon using shibori techniques that don’t result in pleated ribbon (that has to be heat set) but do give some interesting yet fairly quick results. Here’s an example of what I am talking about:

or this:

This would make a lovely silk binding on a quilt.

I am planning some great fun for the workshop. We are going to do a little bit of everything-makiage, arashi, itajime, and some of what I like to call invented shibori. I’m a little limited as to what I can afford to haul out to Chicago in the way of materials as shipping costs prevent the shipping of large poles etc., but being the inventive sort I have a few other ideas. This being a quilt show, I will focus on things I think quilters are interested in creating for insertion into quilts.

Speaking of quilts, the journey quilt is coming along- or was at least. Until I decided I didn’t like the thread I was using for the shibori ribbon binding. So now I have to tear it all out and redo it with some silk thread. This is further complicated by the unfortunate fact that I managed to give myself some rather nice burns from steaming on the back of my right hand. The blistering has subsided and now I am just being careful to keep it clean and protected but it is definitely hampering progress a bit. CAUTION: Slow down!! Use the silicone glove that was sitting right there!! Sometimes I need a reminder, apparently.

I have a deadline coming up for an article and samples to be sent for an upcoming magazine issue (no details just yet!) and sent samples to a writer of a new book coming out about ribbon- supposed to be the latest “complete guide to ribbon”. Of course it wouldn’t be complete without shibori ribbon now would it?
I just acquired some silk shantung wired ribbon which I will be dyeing today for the upcoming workshop with Candace Kling. We’ll have to see how that goes- not sure how well it will dye.

Also making more plans for Japan. Found a great little ryokan in Nagoya and made a reservation. We’ll also be attending the Tokyo Hobby Show as guests of one of the exhibitors. That is sure to be an education! I am trying to figure out how to fit in an overnight trip to Mashiko to see the Higeta Indigo workshop. Thankfully, the Shinkansen may make this possible.
The Silk Study Tour will make a stop at the Nippon Silk Center in Gunma Prefecture where we will have the opportunity to participate in a day long workshop on natural dyeing with silk, katazome techniques, and kumihimo. WOW! Wonder if my head will explode on that day. On another day we will participate in an all day workshop with Japanese quilter Noriko Endo.

And lest you think I have to do everything by myself around here, Milo is always nearby ready to help and a real photography buff to boot. Here he is helping to arrange the silk for the shoot by getting completely underneath the pop-up white box I was using and lifting the whole thing up as I was shooting the pics.

when the familiar becomes new again

I am imagining what it’s like to come to a place in life where everyday familiar objects appear unknown.
Where our mind no longer recognizes simple objects that we once took for granted and in that un-knowingness they appear new, fresh, and intriguing all over again. I think that this state of mind is often what we consider to be “child-like” and often is a state we return to at the end of our lives. It is a state of mind that artists often seek in order to be free of constraints and preconceptions when creating new work, seeing things out of context. It can get out of hand however and become a distraction that doesn’t SEEM to serve much purpose but who is to actually say?

My dad made it to his 78th birthday today and through the morphine that eases the pain I had a short phone conversation with him. Mainly I just ramble on hoping that the sound of my voice gives some comfort these days while someone stands by and holds the phone for him. I talked to him about my upcoming trip to Japan and how I will get to visit Nagoya (finally), a place my parents visited sans us kids while we lived there. (excerpt below from a previous post)

We were truly a Brady Bunch family- 2 families married together combining kids age 6-16. My dad was a photography buff and when we lived in Japan we had the luxury of our own darkroom which we were allowed to use. He used slide film almost exclusively and we are one of those families that have 1000’s of slides in carousels which now need to be transferred. Additionally, many of the slides are annotated and all are numbered! There are some stunning photos of remarkable places in Japan taken from 1965-1972. (not to mention hilarious photos of us kids in the late 60’s-and we thought we were so cool!) Imagine moving to Japan in 1965 with 6 kids ages 6-16! We took many many weekend day trips trips throughout Japan while we lived there. We were very lucky children.

I am thankful for the many sisters who have rotated in and out of his room these past 2 months and my mom who has endured the daily witnessing of his decline. I’ve been through this with a husband and a brother in law before and watching this on a daily basis can seem like some form of cruel punishment while at the same time be very enlightening. Such is life. Without death, what is life?

Well, enough of these thoughts for the moment. I have been inspired to continue on the journey quilt for a new life now entering his 3rd month already! I decided to change the color of the silk binding, using the ecru spring green instead of a blue that I had previously dyed, then lost, and then found again, only to decide that green was the answer. I am hand stitching it on as it gives me much more pleasure and while being a bit slower, not all that much really. I think better when sewing by hand anyway-and being in a think-y sort of mood, it suits. I am surprised at how many tears this quilt has absorbed as well as the thoughts, prayers and emotions it has inspired while I work on it.
I am really liking the edging. I imagine little Sol working the edging between his tiny fingers- the silky soft edge giving comfort in some way. It’s small enough (26″ x 42″) that is can be carted all over. I will encourage them to use it, not to hang it or to make it into an heirloom sort of thing. My wish will be that it becomes ragged with use-perhaps it can be reworked and repaired at some future time. It has lots of different textures and topography that I hope will encourage his curiosity about such things.





As a diversion this morning, I delved into chaos theory, randomness, and the butterfly effect via various links and searches wondering where to find true randomness in our everyday lives. It was harder than I thought!

Along the way I came upon this quote by writer Gordon Webber which expresses something that helps me stay in a creative state of mind:

To dare every day to be irreverent and bold. To dare to preserve the randomness of mind which in children produces strange and wonderful new thoughts and forms. To continually scramble the familiar and bring the old into new juxtaposition.

To remain mindfully child like can really help foster creativity. Helps to see the ordinary in a new way.
-me messing around with some base dyed hankies and some finished shibori pocket squares-getting into a playful mind in order to come up with some new marketing ideas.

Surveying the back yard to see what transpired in my absence I saw this-
which reminded me of all there is to be thankful for.
Then, I visited with Timmy3 (see Timmy2) who was recently delivered to us by a neighbor who found him struggling at the beach. (He’s a red eared slider and lives in fresh water.) I enjoy his company now that there aren’t any kids running around the yard anymore-
this little scene actually brought a tear to my eye thinking about all it was speaking to me. has some testimonials on how their random number generator is used by creative folk here.

Well then, here are my numbers as generated by for the OHOW giveaway:

-which translates into:

Diana at Idaclare
Christy at Sweet Tidings
Diane at Lavender Dreams
who have all been contacted and asked to send in their shipping info. They will each receive one of the items pictured here.

There were just so many (272) responses that I haven’t really been able to do the project justice by visiting some of the other participating blogs until recently. Here are a couple that moved and inspired me and maybe you will like them too:
Tammy at Spirithelpers– great photography!

Magpie (just magpie) at A New York Magpie’s Beads– images, thoughts, and moments added to the thread

Still catching up- filled all my backed up Etsy orders today-

Participated in a live Etsy store critique to see what that was all about. Good intentions don’t equal results. Sorry, but it’s true. And not everything is wonderful. Doubt I’ll do that again.

Made a Shibori Girl Studios fan page on Facebook.

I have to say, I’m into FB. Not only can I keep up with family, the kids who are off to college hither and yon who have been part of this household since kindergarten, I am making new connections with customers and artists around the world. I’m planning on meeting up with a fiber artist FB friend in Japan this coming May when I go on a tour with the Silk Experience (more on that next post). I’m also “friends” with several of my new male pocket square customers. One of which I see each day wearing one on CNN! Kinda cool! Also one of my latest customers is an appraiser on one of my favorite TV shows- Aniques Road Show.
So, how’s THAT for random?