I recently had some scrap silk left over from having bias ribbon made for my silk shibori ribbon. It was enough that I wanted to see what could be done with it so I had the converter do some flat bias tube (unfilled cording). I always want to use as much as possible without throwing any away of course. I found out that the previous company I was using to do the biasing was throwing out the end cuts! Once I found that out I started having them save them for me for odd projects but they were very irregular. These days, I am a little smarter. I work with the converter to minimize any waste so we can plan ahead to make something with the end cuts. Below, I am playing around with some ideas for the trims I will start having made- which I will be dyeing. I started out with an autumn colorway.
So far I have just finished the one piece. It’s in the shop as a made up brooch /necklace combo. When I get more of this made in different colorways, I’m thinking I’ll do some kits and workshops with it. It’s always fun to experiment with new things!
At the same time, I’m working on the September moons for the circle. This month I’m focusing on plant dyed moons. Using the feathery cassia seed pods and the fermentation vat on some vintage silk taffeta and cotton lawn, two very different moons are the result using the exact same dyes.
Also on the dye table are the materials for the kits for the upcoming Mermaid Adornment workshop. If you didn’t get a chance to check that out see here.
And my new daily visitor keeps me company in the studio…another squirelley girl but younger and smaller than my original friend!
Seems like it’s been a few weeks since I started to work on getting this workshop up online. We have a saying around here- I’m sure you are familiar with it. Everything takes a lot of time! But anyway… it’s done.
I re-posted a photo of this piece on my FB feed from a memory suggestion there and got a lot of responses and requests for a kit or an online workshop. I had made these quite a few years back and sold a few at my Houston show when I was doing that . So I thought I would accommodate but first had to recreate it.
In order to set up something for a workshop there is a lot of “behind the scenes” work. It’s one thing to make something to sell individually and another quite different thing to make and create a workshop for something. Online or in person, I need to be very familiar with the making of it. So making a new sample, calculating time and materials, adding options (beads or no beads), gathering the kit supplies, picking color choices (so many possibilities!), getting everything loaded up online etc etc….
This time I decided to try Squarespace’s email marketing option since I have a lot of people who have subscribed to me over time. Usually, I would go to my Constant Contact account and do it from there but after posting the shop item, there it was… just a click and $14 a month away. It was simple and we’ll see how it does. So just warning you, some of you here may be getting that in your email.
I posted 6 different color possibilities- hopefully one that suits everyone. If you have a special request, let me know and I’ll see if I can accommodate. You can see all the details in the listing here- Silk Shibori Mermaid Adornment. These are fun to make and not super time consuming. Of course beading adds some time and effort but not difficult- just straight stringing.
We are still in the midst of the heatwave here-upper 90’s and low 100’s near the coast with minimal night cooling until last night so that was a bit of relief. Still getting power alerts on electricity use but guess WHAT?? It’s supposed to rain on Saturday! I’m glad of course but….it’s the day of the shibori ribbon studio workshop! We will forge ahead- better wet than too hot I say…. I hope it pours!
And since I began writing this post, we get word of the passing of Queen Elizabeth at 96 years of age. At times here on the blog we remark on the passage of time. But 70 years a monarch in this modern era is really pretty amazing. No matter your thoughts on monarchies in general, or this one specifically, Queen Elizabeth has been there as Queen of England our entire lives. I wasn’t ever a passionate royalty follower or fan, but you couldn’t avoid news of her over the decades. From this great distance she seemed to be strong, steadily graceful and willingly responsible. Beloved by many, willing to accept her role and also to accept change as needed. She sacrificed much to live so richly as well as publicly. May peace be her eternal resting place.
Why is it I can’t get to writing blog posts the way I used to?
Part of it is because I let too much time pass between them and then I get to feeling overwhelmed by all that I want to communicate in a post so I put it off. But today’s the day! Another part of it is that so many other things are demanding my time and mental space at the moment. Have you ever written ballot arguments for measures appearing in an upcoming election? Walked for a candidate? Worked on social media to get a good candidate out there? Involved yourself organizing and researching issues for a community and candidate? It’s a lot of mental space. Paying attention to your local politics is important since many want to move up in the ranks and we can’t afford to have unethical people running our cities-regardless of party. City governments need to remain nonpartisan!
Ongoing here is is a series of Power Alerts- meaning residents are asked to reduce electricity use during our current heatwave. Heat always saps my energy and usually my work happens outside-in the heat. We close the nights cool air in the house and pull the shades during the day to preserve coolness. We rarely use the AC this way but there are times when it gets to the upper 90’s that I succumb to the need-keeping the thermostat at 80. It’s also not cheap! I’m doing more inside work today and for the next three days. Additionally- we are getting ready for a 2 week ban on outdoor watering. There is a major pipeline repair that will be underway on a pipe that supplies water to a large part of Southern California. Hopefully the weather will cool down and give us a little help but that’s a big if. Deep watering my critical trees, filling my rain barrels to water only the the most sensitive plants over the next two weeks. I’ve pulled all the veggie garden and won’t plant again until late fall due to all this. Hoping for cooler weather and a little rain this fall. Fire alert is HIGH!
I am thankful we have water at all…Jackson Mississippi. I am thankful to be closer to the coast…inland temps in the 100’s-110- only cooling to 90 at night! I am thankful not to be in a high fire danger zone. Currently Castaic area is burning. I am thankful we have electricity and are only asked to cut back. (Conserve for the greater good!) I’m thankful my 35 year old Volvo passed smog yesterday so it can be registered! Sad though that my beloved mechanic is calling it quits this week. He was a 240 enthusiast and specialist. He was devoted to keeping these cars on the road in good condition. So far this 35 year old car has retired two great Volvo mechanics!
In shibori news… I’ve sent off a shibori ribbon order to Michelle at Fundametals which she will have listed soon in her shop. I finally got FedEx to settle a claim on a lost order to France after it disappeared in mid June. Jeeze. An ordeal- but finally over. August moons were all sent- a little later in the month than usual and they were HOT! Hope you all liked them. I only managed to screw up a few by double shipping some due to a label printing error but that’s better than someone not getting theirs. Better to overship than undership! I hate it when people are unhappy with me. I always work to make it right for them.
Also, playing around with some hotaru (dragonfly) stencils and various stitching…
September moons will involve natural dyes- seems appropriate being a harvest month. I’ve collected quite a bit of the feathery senna seed pods and due to the heat, my fermentation indigo vat is really kicking! I will be combining those two this month. One silk and one cotton. I’m working it out now. The iron vat needs a little attention but will get to that in good time.
We are inching closer to taking deposits for the 2023 Silk Study Tour. Japan is starting to relax their restrictions a LITTLE. Thinking is that by next May we will be able to resume. Dates for the tour are 5/11-5/26 2023. Keep your fingers crossed. In the meantime, enjoy this end of summer post by Meiji Showa Old Photos of Japan about musical insects!
I didn’t mention it last post because I was still too sad about it but crazy cat Moose was taken back and moved by his “real” owners. He had been part of the daily scene here for a year, sleeping in our bed at night and by my side or harassing my own cats here by day. He was a royal PITA but we loved him and took care of him. He didn’t want to live with his owners. He was a fighter and a misfit. I hope he is OK.
We miss him every day but I do have to say that OUR cats and the neighbor cats DO NOT! They have resumed their places as top cats and I can’t blame them. Pictured here is the Captain, next door cat that spends most of the day here but goes home at night. He is Kuro chan’s buddy who has resumed sleeping in the shade on the surfboards where moose use to dominate. They look alike and the easiest way to tell them apart is by Kuro’s ragged ear and Captain’s saucer eyes
A fruitful month here in the garden yielded a delicious cantaloupe, some grapes from a neighbor, and a bunch of pomegranates I still have to get out there and pick so I can juice them. Later, when it cools off. Lemons are done for now but limes getting ripe. I just went outside for a minute and the high predicted heat has not materialized- at least so far for today it hasn’t hit 90 yet.
And then there are the ginko nuts…ginnan in Japanese. Probably the most I have ever seen & way more than I can use with not many takers. If you are local and want some, let me know! They are currently in the “stinky phase”. The heat is baking the outside smelly part and hastening the process. Once the outside has sloughed off I will collect and process what I can. Google eating ginko nuts for ideas…. There are plenty for the squirrels to stash away for the “winter” here. They too, are waiting out the stinky phase.
And then the night blooming cactus. It has produced many evenings of 100+ blooms. The bees were in heaven and now with fruits ripening high up the purple finches are having plenty of sweet, juicy, seedy eats.
I’m finishing up details on upcoming workshops so look for that next post. It won’t be so long…
I decided to add to my indigo vat swatch card by swatching each of the three vats (chem , fermentation, and ferrous) at the end of the daylong indigo shibori workshop.
The vats all got a good workout by the six participants.
The chem vat degraded the most. It will need a complete tuneup! The fermentation vat held fairly steady but will need some rest and perhaps some bran. The blue is a bit lighter and noticeably grayer.
The ferrous iron vat held up the best with less loss of color. I might actually prefer it’s current state more than it’s original state. Seems like a nicer range of blues.
All three dips (on both occasions) were one minute.
In addition, the following day’s stitching workshop was a lot of fun. Getting people inspired to learn something new and create something beautiful is always satisfying.
One of the stitching samples I showed included a strip woven cloth with an indigo moon. Several participants wondered how it was done so I did a quick demo. They couldn’t wrap their mind around it in the beginning but then the “aha!” moment arrived. I always love that.
I’m wondering about how much work it might be to do a woven moon for the moon circle. If I do, it might be a one moon month…
First, the ever requested silk shibori ribbon making workshop. In the past I have taught arashi shibori in general but there are some very specific points and techniques when it comes to making the ribbon. This workshop will be specifically on making the ribbon.
I have been producing the ribbon since 2006 and I know there is no one who knows more about making it than myself. Yes, I can confidently say that!
So, if you would like to learn the techniques from an expert, from the originator of this product that has been copied and sold all around the world, then this link is for you! You will complete a 10 yard roll of silk shibori ribbon. You can elect to take home your entire ten yard length in the color of your making, or you can cut and trade colors with other participants! Your choice!
This workshop is scheduled for September 10, 2022 and limited to 5 participants. If you find this workshop has filled, contact me and I will add you to a list to reserve you a spot in a second workshop.
The second workshop to be listed is an in-person version of the Tekumo Shibori workshop I offered a couple of times over Zoom in 2020/2021. It was fun over Zoom but I’ve really wanted to do this in person. My favorite way to do tekumo shibori is on silk organza because I love the colors as well as the extreme texture you can get with it. I will also have the indigo vat available with some cotton or silk if you want to try that too but the focus will be with tekumo on silk organza. Each of 6 participants will have materials provided as well as the option to take home their own tekumo shibori stand. Tekumo shibori involves using a special shibori hook to “grab” the fabric and a small bobbin of thread to wrap and bind the gathered cloth. We will dye, bind, discharge, overdye and steam set the cloth. I will have various samples of things you can do with this very sculptural resulting cloth but I’m sure you will have your own ideas as well! You will take home an assortment of tekumo shibori fabrics to use in your own projects.
Today I’m preparing the fabrics for July moons. I’m kinda excited again about the cloth for this month’s moons. I enjoy deciding how to delight the moon circle each month. This time I went through my bins and chose a roll of something I’ve been saving and drooling over for YEARS! It’s silk tsumugi. But not just ANY old (and i mean old) silk tsumugi. This is the most lovely, drapey, thin, folk style cloth I’ve ever had the privilege of caretaking. It is completely hand spun and hand woven, undyed or treated in any way. In my mind I see a woman hand twisting the silk thread on her lap inside her small wooden home. It is uneven in places. Maybe she is new to the process or perhaps she knows the character which she imbues into the cloth from the wisdom of her past. But it is just wonderful. The silk floss might be what was left from her first rate cocoons- which were sold off to the local cooperative and sent off to be reeled at the filature mill. Who knows how long ago…I am just imagining here.
The cloth has texture, character, an uneven natural color in places. The warp is very, very fine reeled silk. Dressing a loom with this fine a silk must be an art in itself. There are slubs and tiny spots of darker threads in the weft which seem to me to be from discoloration of the cocoon by the silkworm. I hesitated to cut some of it for moons but I just can’t keep it all to myself. It must be shared. I happily imagine all the things it may be used for by those in the moon circle.
Some time back I did a meter or so of indigo shibori with some of this cloth for a garment. The shibori on the top right of the blog header above is some of that. It took the indigo like a dream!
The other moon this month is a departure of sorts. It’s also on old silk but on the scraps of a great and colorful silk meisen cloth that was one of the kimono pieces I remade with participants of the last Kimono Refashioning workshop. I’m enjoying putting these small bits of cloth in your hands for inspection and wondering.
Here I chose a straight forward circle for the meisen silk moon and a partial rough ombre moon for the tsumugi cloth.
I’m also preparing fabrics for the upcoming in studio August workshops. The shibori workshop is sold out with a waiting list. The Thursday August 4th workshop has one opening and the Sunday August 7th has 2 openings. Here is the link if you want to check it out. I spent the better part of today prepping all the vintage fabrics for these projects. I am dyeing the base pieces in the natural vat which is loving the warmer weather these days. I love sorting through all these fabrics and wondering about their past lives as well as imagining their future. I’m setting up the “alumni reunion” for those that were in either session of the Refashioning Kimono workshops. Look for the date in your email inbox.
I have had several requests for new dates for both the Refashioning Kimono workshop as well as the Komebukuro Treasure Bag workshop. These new sessions will begin in late August and September. Look for dates in the next blog post.
In addition to the moons for the moon circle, I was inspired to do a bunch of these moons. I recently saw some new images of the planet Venus from NASA. Pretty amazing!
That reminded me of some hand dyed fabric I had bought several years ago in Houston. I used some of it to repair the couch cushions but I had some left over that I used for Venus inspired moons. There wasn’t enough fabric for the monthly moon circles so I just put them into the shop here.
I’ll end this post with a referral once again to the blog Old Photos of Japan and Kjeld’s recent post titled 1930’s Off to War. Another well researched and interesting post about being conscripted and sent off to war in Japan and how it was “celebrated” by the families and the public. It was the first of two times this past month where I came across the term senninbari or thousand person stitches. I had not known about this and it’s another way to honor the cloth and the stitch. He has a wonderful ukiyoe he came across depicting a scene of a kimono clad woman collecting the stitched knots in public at a temple. The images depicting this practice have dots marking the position where the knots are to be stitched much like the kanoko shibori dots that are marked with aobana. A really great post. I hope you go visit his site and support his fantastic work! He includes this clip of a film with a “song for senninbari as well, Aikoku Senninbari (愛国千人針, Patriotic Thousand Person Stitches), released in 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War. In this clip of women collecting stitches on the street, you can hear part of the song as sung by Junko Mikado (三門順子, 1915–1954).“
I don’t believe in magical thinking, in being positive without action. I do believe that one can manifest things or people or places into their lives by educating one’s self and taking actions, even tiny ones, toward that thing, that place, or even a person. This may be especially good information for young people these days.
This post is going to be about this sort of thing. It’s also about shibori, Japan, travel, and probably other things I’m not aware of just yet.
You all know I like to garden. Nature relaxes me. Gardening inspires me and gives me small daily moments to appreciate the details of Nature. Seed planting is one example of this. I can literally throw some seeds on the ground and they might sprout. Nature might convene with me. And maybe not. They may be easy to take care of where they pop up or they may be in a path and get trampled to death without ever flowering and re-seeding themselves. The location might be too sunny, too shady, or take too much water to thrive. Or, I can plant the seeds, nurture them in a container until they become a strong seedling and transplant them somewhere they will successfully grow to maturity. We can’t (and aren’t meant to) control everything but we can work with what we have and adjust and learn along the way.
You probably know I grew up in Japan. I really longed to return-to surround myself with that place I remembered and had fond memories. Many years ago, I was selling my porcelain buttons at Quilt Festival. In those days (mid 90’s), there were many Japanese visitors to that show-much to my surprise at the time. I didn’t then know how popular quilting in Japan had become. I had great fun interacting with these women and speaking with them using my rudimentary Japanese. Eventually, they would make a point of always coming to my booth and sometimes even asking for my help with another vendor to make a purchase or ask a question. Then, an interesting thing happened. I was invited to go to Japan and sell my porcelain buttons at the first World Quilt show in Tokyo. Only ten US vendors were invited. They would handle everything. The booth would be free. They paired me up with a quilter who was also doing the show at whose home I was graciously offered to stay. All I had to do was get to Japan with my goods. I went from dreaming of going back to standing on the street in Kawasaki. I could feel it all around me, the climate, the street shops, the aromas… I literally cried right then and there, I was so overcome with gratitude from ending up just standing in that spot. I’m pretty sure anyone who might have seen me in that moment on the street was mystified. But I was HOME!
It was probably about a decade later that I had closed the porcelain company and had given myself a year sabbatical to figure out what the heck I was going to do next. It was time to reinvent Life. By this time, I’d processed the death of my first husband, married a second, had two kids (then in high school) and was still in the process of a very ugly complicated divorce that was just dragging on and on. Phil had come into the picture. But dammit- I was going to take the kids to Japan! They had been studying Japanese at school and were anxious to go. So we went! Again, in co-operation with the Universe I was once again HOME! We went on a very tight budget- often spending $40 a night for all of us in a “gaijin house”- pre AirBNB. We stayed with some Yakuza too, another interesting adventure and a story for another time. It was 2006. I returned back to Long Beach and began to make shibori- and shibori ribbon was born!
Back to the Quilt Festival I went with the ribbon and my other shibori textiles. This was around 2007. Enter Maggie Backman (for whom I’ll forever be grateful). Maggie was the originator and seller of the Colorhue Silk Dyes and herself was a master of Japanese embroidery selling both the dyes and the silk threads to other US distributors. She asked me to teach some shibori on silk classes using her dyes at the show. I told her didn’t feel I was qualified. She fortunately did not listen to this nonsense! (If you know Maggie-she’s hard to say NO to!) And so it was. I ended up teaching shibori there for many years, really coming into my own. Another HOMEcoming of sorts thanks to Maggie. Turned out we had both lived in Yokohama/Yokosuka at the same time. Me, as an elementary school girl, and she, the wife of a Navy Captain and mother to her own kids.
A couple of years later she was beginning the Silk Study Tour to Japan. She had gone once to lay some groundwork and was now ready to take some paying travelers. It was 2009. She INSISTED I come. When I demurred because of the cost, she arranged a loan from a fund her Aunt had left with easy pay back terms so I could go. I went and assisted her in every way I could. By the next tour, she really needed my help (due to her husband’s health and the fact she was 81) and I started to take over the tour for her. By 2011, I was in charge of the tour and although Maggie no longer comes with us (she turned 92 this year!) she always loves a full report and gives advice.
So where is all this leading you may ask by now(if you are still here!)? I’m circling it back to how one manifests the life you want to live. This is for you-feel free to share the sentiment:
In non traditional careers, we are often told to “get a real job”. The arts can be perceived as a frivolous pursuit. But my advice is to discard that thinking. Visualize getting where you want to go or what you want to do. Everything you do is a step in that direction. Even when it doesn’t seem so. Make it so. It’s part of you becoming. Wishing doesn’t make things so. Actions do. Small and large. Sometimes even just reminding oneself of the direction or the destination is enough in the moment. There are lots of off and on ramps along the way! Take the road less traveled! ***************** This post above was written several weeks ago and I just hadn’t published it. I was just wondering about it. Lots of activity here and finally now calming down a bit (I think) and I’m back to the blogging “mood”-ha! I’ve been cleaning out the studio and found some of those old buttons on sample cards- I enjoyed looking at them and remembering the process. Plant a seed. Adjust. Take small steps. Collectively you’ll get somewhere!