Category Archives: shibori

Post-show recovery

It’s over and I’m home.  A long 10 days of constant action and responsibilities. Classes, setup, teardown, travel and the lugging of more stuff than I want to remember.  Until next year!

A few highlights included classes that went smoothly, a great booth setup, and seeing so many customers and students from throughout the years. Also had some crazy weather and flooding! Note to self: pack boots next year! (I did pack umbrellas and a raincoat!)

I got to meet Deb McClintock of the blog NATURAL DYEING IN THE TEXAS HILL COUNTRY.  I have enjoyed her adventures in natural dyeing for some time now.  She also grows and dyes with indigo, madder and pomegranate (among other things). Thanks for taking the time to stop by Deb! Got to visit with Judith Montano a bit- she is so busy teaching every year at Festival she hardly gets down to the show floor.   I have admired her book Elegant Stitches for many years- have a copy of the original edition from way back and love how her work has transitioned from crazy quilting into the lovely landscapes she does now. Had a little time with Brooke from Hannah Silks- we go way back. So far back that neither one of us can any longer remember how long ago!  Was saddened to hear that her mom Hannah had passed away- she was the Hannah behind the silk.

It was a pleasure to see and meet up with folks who appreciate the techniques and materials behind the textiles.  I really enjoy the vintage dealers most I think (Carola Pfau of Textile Treasures, June Colburn, Carol Saber and others).  Their knowledge of the textiles they sell is priceless. These textiles teach us so much. What do the textiles of today teach us?  I wonder. A customer came to talk to me about what she had seen at the show.  She felt that the prizewinning quilts were lacking something. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it at first.  They were detailed, precise, painstakingly designed, impressive in scale, pleasing to look at…yet, something was missing.  Our conversation turned to the missing element- the fact that so much of the quilting done these days and especially for big quilt prizes is technology and consumer driven. Ever more sophisticated machines, tools and fabrics dominate.  In some of these pieces it causes them to feel sterile, almost as if they weren’t make by hand.  But yet they are. Such precision in cutting, stitching, and profusion of color and design made available by the limitless palette of modern fabrics takes away something I think. Comparing the vintage quilts in the show with their newer cousins one causes one to wonder about all this. I know I am speaking blasphemy when I say this.  One can wonder can’t one?

Today the show boxes arrived and were unpacked and I will send out emails to catch up a bit.  I needed a few days to recover (I forgot to mention the visit to the Urgent Doc in Houston did I?) and regain my balance, literally.  Perhaps some leftover items will appear in the shop by the end of next week…

There’s an upcoming workshop at the JANM to prepare for (sold out) and orders to start on in addition to a few custom orders placed at the show. Time to get busy…

People at the show were already excited about the 2017 Silk Study Tour to Japan and wanted to write me checks  but I am not ready for that just yet.  Hirata San and I are working out the new itinerary already and will have it up by January 30.  This time we will do 12 nights and include Kyoto!  What fun.  To be informed of these details please sign yourself up for my Constant Contact newsletter in the sidebar and make sure to check Silk Study Tour as an area of interest.

And in Freer news… I have added the Silk Shibori Ribbon Poinsettia Brooch PDF which includes links to the two videos on how to make this holiday piece.  I have also added a PDF to the simple shibori fringed flower.  This is easily made with small scraps you may have around. Please enjoy.

Here are a few shots from the show- big thanks to Donna and Virginia for helping me get through it all- you both were integral to the whole.  Also thanks to Katrina Walker and the whole Silk Experience team of teachers and Quilts Ed staff for doing a great job at Quilt Festival. It was very much appreciated.

Museum Ethics 101

You know I don’t want to have to go here again. You do. But Here We Are. Once again.

Let’s restate this, o n e  m o r e  t i m e.

If you are teaching a class, use your own work to sell or market the class. Your work. Not someone else’s. Doing so is unethical and fraudulent. If you are a museum, make sure the images you are using to sell these classes are the works of the instructor you have hired.

In this day and age you cannot simply say you “didn’t know”, you “thought it was OK”, or that “it wasn’t my responsibility”.  Your desire to “pretty up” your website does not supersede copyright infringement laws.

I thought a museum was the caretaker of art, artists, and artworks. If not museums, then what is your contribution to the art world? What happened to being a good citizen of the art community?

Here is a good set of rules to go by:

You stole an image, used it fraudulently for commercial purposes, and made money from it. You used it on your website to sell workshops. You posted about it all over the web and your various social media sites.

The United States statutory damages for copyright infringement are set out in 17 U.S.C. 504 of the U.S. Code. The basic level of damages is between $750 and $30,000 per work at the discretion of the court.  Isn’t it easier and more cost effective to use your own work?

What?  You don’t have any credible work to show? No work worthy of museum presentation?   Ethics people!!  Do they teach you nothing these days??  Is this how you wish to be known, as someone who steals the work of others?

A letter has been sent.  Screenshots taken. Requests made. Their response?

We’re “looking into it”.

What should happen?
I’m just wondering…

Remember Before?

don't worry- the copyright watermark is embedded in the metadata -from the indigo mandala workshop with Richard Carbin and Glennis Dolce

don’t worry- the copyright watermark is embedded in the metadata
-from the indigo mandala workshop with Richard Carbin and Glennis Dolce

Before is now a new category.

Remember Before? When people and institutions had integrity, when parents taught their children well, and children listened and remembered? Remember a time of due diligence and responsibility? It is getting harder to remember this time.  It seems a far-away land, a place of fairy tales and make believe. Are we able to return to the Time of Before? How did we come to this place?


Ahh…that’s it.  It happened when Money became King and Everything became Free, that’s when we arrived here.  Not Free(r) mind you.  Just Free for the Taking.  Free as long as you aren’t caught.

There is a situation brewing. Before things get ugly, Time will be allowed for the Right Thing to Happen.

Comments here are turned off for now. Now is not the time for conversation. It is the Time for Action!

pressing on… indigo and other stuff

On this hot and muggy Sunday I finish up a large order of the shibori ribbon and wonder. Often when I wonder about what I am doing I take to the vat and gain some perspective.  Besides, I have a couple of workshops ahead of me here-3 that involve indigo and need some wondering and planning time.

today the natural vat has a good coppery sheen but little flower. however, it is dyeing well

today the natural vat has a good coppery sheen but little flower. however, it is dyeing well

Starting off with some moons on old tattered asa (hemp) from Japan got me thinking about what ties us all together on this little planet we named Earth – as well as what tears us apart. 

tattered moon- somedays i feel just like this and am in need of a little mending

tattered moon- somedays i feel just like this and am in need of a little mending

I figure I need to order 30 yards of cotton scrim for my workshop in Houston October 26- done and crossed off the list.  The rest of the fabrics to be used are remnants and scraps I have been collecting of some very lovely old and reused fabrics brought back from Japan.  We will dye them in indigo and apply different techniques- shibori mostly, as well as use our imagination before stitching them to the indigo dyed scrim.  Kits will also include swatches of vintage kasuri, katazome, and shibori.  I will have several very nice vintage boro textiles on display for students to study as well as a selection of books and photos from my recent visit to the Amuse Boro Museum in Asakusa, Japan.

workshops start with me creating a new sample- even if I have taught the class before- I want to be very familiar with it and add to previous knowledge I  taught this class at the JANM over a year ago

workshops start with me creating a new sample- even if I have taught the class before- I want to be very familiar with it and add to previous knowledge
I taught this class at the JANM over a year ago

Pressing on, I make my sample by my own hand, I cut the fabrics, collect the swatches.  As I dye the new sample I think about the room that I will be teaching in, the number of students, the problems that will be encountered by restrictions of such a setting and must be solved before anyone walks through the door to make things go smoothly and find success for all who gather that day in that room. I aim for a version of perfection knowing full well that there will be less than that achieved but aiming high is where I like to begin.  I am already looking forward to teaching this class and its myriad lessons.

My class is called Indigo dyed and Boro Stitched and can be signed up for by going to the Quilts Inc. site for the Houston International Quilt Festival.  The class is # 117  on Monday Oct. 26, 2015 in the online catalog.

I am teaching two other classes there as well- Shibori Mandala Magic on Silk (class #217) and Splendid Silk Shibori Poinsettias (class # 611).
The Mandala class is an outcome of working with Richard Carbin and combines the folding techniques I learned from him with a completely different method of resisting and applying the dyes.
Richard’s presence will be felt in the vintage silk fabrics we will use which were collected by and purchased from him.

The Silk Shibori Poinsettia class is a fun Friday evening class- a good sit down and relax class at the end of a busy week.  Many lovely pieces are sure to be made as gifts for friends and family on this night.

I tried to upload an image of a great little boro piece I brought back from Japan but WP is being fussy right now so it will have to wait until later.  Until then, I’ll add a couple of photos of something I made the other day just to satisfy a need I had-a small bag that snaps open by pinching the sides and holds all I need. I used some obishin between the cloth layers.

It’s raining again now- hardly can believe it! It has been such a gift.  I have somewhere I’m supposed to be so until later-

mata ne!

just wondering

the reduction of something to nothing more than a commodity is what you are doing. 

are you aware of what you are doing? do you even care? 

to copy the work of another without a thought other than to gain monetary enrichment – is money your God? 

do you understand from where the material you work with eminates? how it comes into being? do you teach others of this eminence? do you reach for the deepest understanding through your work and pass that knowledge along? or are you just seeking financial rewards in the moment, unaware and uncaring of that which you may destroy along the way? 

please think about what you are doing. 

I realize it may be hard to understand when there really is no intention other than personal enrichment- but try to imagine another view. 

I really don’t know what else to say.  






karamatsu shibori

the way i do it…and baby squirrels too!

As I sit here tonight writing this, the silk is steaming out in the studio and I go out every 30 minutes to change out the poles.  In between, I check the chicken roasting in the oven, think about doing that final sales tax return due in a few days, answer emails, and listen to the bees. Out back the guys are recording the weekly groove.  I’ve taken to doing my weekly blog post when that happens.  A schedule of sorts.

organizing dye work

organizing dye work

Listen to the bees?  Yes, the bees are back.  Actually they never really left but now they have become problematic again since I need to do the landscaping out front and they gave my helper a sting yesterday.  Turns out he is somewhat allergic so last night we foamed up and screened off all their entrances and exits.  And today they are just downright mad.

Oops, timer just went off so time to change out the poles.  Be(e!) right back!

OK.  Where was I? Where I sit at my computer is right above where the bees have fashioned their hive underneath the house and I can actually hear them through the electric outlet…buzzing up a storm! Yes, I have had the beekeepers out and it was decided that they are just too smart for us (thankfully) and the hive is completely inaccessible for removal, so that is that.  They’ve had a good run here (8 years off and on) and have minded their own business for the most part.  So, enough about the bees.



The dogs have been groomed as of yesterday and I was reminded via mail today that the whole pack of them including the cat need their rabies vaccines updated or I will face all kinds of fines and such.  So another thing on my “to do” list beckons.  Apparently, I can send my child to school unvaccinated but there is no “belief exemption” for dogs and cats.  Milo TOLD me he really, really, does not believe in the rabies vaccine.  He heard it gives him an odor that mice can detect from 50 yards.  I said, “Sorry, no go-it’s off to the low cost vaccine clinic with you!”

I promised a sort of SOTU address of sorts in this post, so here goes.  Fact is that I am fairly overwhelmed with ribbon orders.  I’m sorry you are having to wait but that’s just the way it is at the moment.  There are no shortcuts to take here in regards to making it and besides, that would be somewhat contrary to the point of it all wouldn’t it? I have my own way of prioritizing the orders too.  I try to honor the FIFO scenario but I can and do make exceptions.  I believe in honoring the most longstanding and regular customers whenever possible as well as those who are going out on the road with the shibori ribbon incurring show fees and travel costs- I know what that entails and I do appreciate you meeting up with the customer face to face.  Small folk and designers also get an extra point and larger entities who only sell online may have to wait a bit more.  Agree or disagree, that’s just the way I do it.



Again with the timer…back in a sec…

OK- back again.  Chicken is smelling good, fed the dogs, made a salad, wine now in hand. So back to the SOTU.  Making the ribbon has become my “day job” -a good thing since it supports the household and keeps things flowing here.  I don’t want to minimize it or take shortcuts with it because something gets lost in that.  It needs to be beautiful, and that takes time.  I don’t want to farm it out which takes the specialness from it.  Each inch IS an adventure– in the making of it and the using of it.  I have seen that over and over and respect that.  A good roll of the shibori ribbon reveals that sincerity, that intent.  It matters who is involved in the making of it and why.  So I continue making and sending it- for the enjoyment and wonderment of the end user.  In my “spare time” I stir the indigo vat and dip a little here and there.  I have my personal projects on the side for now.

shibori inspiration

shibori inspiration

Last weekend was the shibori workshop at the Japanese American National Museum.  It was wonderful as usual.  Great folks, each coming together to gather some new information and practice. It was really nice to see many familiar faces mixed in with the new ones. I really enjoyed hearing the snippets of conversation between participants getting to know each other a little bit.  By the end of the second day they were exchanging info and planning to get together outside the class and visit each other.  I like that too.  With 20 people in the class I was a little envious I couldn’t get to know more about each one of them- I was so busy! But it felt good that everyone enjoyed themselves so much! One thing I wanted to stress about the workshop is that we were mostly dyeing old kimono fabric. Many of the samples I had around the room were vintage pieces.  I wanted to remind them of the beauty of aging.  That is also a very Japanese concept especially when it comes to craft.  Things of beauty DO age.  That beauty is lasting, evolving.  A good thing to remember.

Ahhh… the last timer has sounded…now to finish up and set the fans.

Back again.  Dinner served and cleaned up. Guys back outside recording.  The rest of the night is mine!

This is getting to be a long post- hang in there!!  I am doing some organizing and work on the Silk Study Tour to Japan as well. (So many things to do!!) It is getting exciting.  We still have some spots open so please contact me if you *think* you might like to come along.  Yes, I know it is a bit of pocket change.  I don’t take that lightly, but believe me travel is always rewarding- and life is short. Looks like it will be a smaller group this year which in itself is nice for participants and easier on me. Financially, we will squeeze by.   I never know if we will do this again.  Can we ever know the future? The dollar is good against the yen right now so we are fortunate.  I remember back in 2011 when the earthquake in Japan on March 11 resulted in the tidal wave that wiped out the coastal areas in Miyako in Tōhoku’s Iwate Prefecture as well as created a level 7 meltdown  at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. That night it so happened I was online with friends in Japan and was informed about the strong earthquake.  As the evening proceeded, video of the tsunami in progress appeared. Devastating and hard to comprehend.  In the following weeks we were not sure we would continue the tour but kept an open mind.  As it turned out we went on May 14, 2011.  We were practically the only foreigners touring in Japan at that time.  The Japanese were somewhat in a state of shock still but very glad we were there as so many (most) tourists had cancelled plans- the economy suffered.  I cannot express how grateful and hospitable they were towards us.  We were not in any danger as we did not venture into areas of concern but of course there was much media coverage of possible dangers.  Two years later we went again and brought forth a whole new group of “silkies” ( those interested in sericulture and silk).  Now, 4 years later we plan to go again.  We will learn and see many things. Some of the artisans we visit are aging rapidly.  We may never see them again.  We visited with a very interesting natural dyer in 2009 that had passed away in his late 80’s by the time we visited again in 2011. His specialty was natural dyes and their UV resistance. Fascinating!   Time is of the essence sometimes…

In finishing up the lengthy post here I will end on the Adventures of Squirrelly Gurl.  As it happened, it seems she became a Squirrelly Mom on the day of the last post- National Squirrel Appreciation Day! Go figure.  Leave it to her to make a big deal out of it.  I hadn’t seen her that day and wondered. The next day she came out and visited me quite late in the day and was very frantic- wanted her food and wanted it NOW! Then she was off.  I thought it odd but accepted.  The next day the same.  I got suspicious as she seemed a bit more svelte than usual.  Sure enough, we have been hearing babies up in the palm tree when she leaves them to take a break and come down for food and a stretch.  They make a loud screech, almost like a bird.  So today they are one week old! We won’t see them for months yet- when they are almost ready to leave the high rise nest!

more on the spirit of a thing…

Today and yesterday was a combination of things.  Saturday and Sunday is the Shibori Fusion  workshop at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.  There might be a spot of two left but you will have to check with them. Sign ups are through the museum.  So that means a lot of preparation this week.

We are focusing on using silk and color (as opposed to the indigo workshops I often teach there).  I could have just ordered silk and been done with it, but I see these workshops as an opportunity for teaching more than just shibori dyeing.   So in that spirit, the last couple of days have been busy taking apart old silk kimono and nagajuban.


These are some in progress of dismantling. Such careful stitching, some even sewn with twisted silk thread. Handsewn french seams…the drape of the silk…the sheerness of the lining silks.  Each one yields 12-13 meters and if lined twice that of two different silks. a few stains here and there but nothing that will be noticed after dyeing. In any case these will be pieces that will be practiced on and hopefully used in a future project.   So a day spent with these pieces pulling threads, ironing and organizing- all the time thinking about how we will be dyeing them.  No need for new fabrics when these ones already exist.  I hope to build an appreciation in the participants for these fabrics.  After sorting, cutting, ironing and bundling-they really are lovely!

kimono silk bundles ready for eager dyers!

kimono silk bundles ready for eager dyers!

Most of these are from interior kimono and nagajuban so are off white or very pale in color-easily over-dyed. They are also very soft as they were to be worn close to the skin as opposed to the outer kimono layers.  They have their own spirit from previous owners and the spirit of each dyer will add their own imprint to the cloth.

Other things going on here include the shipping of lots of orders. I put out a lot of silk shibori ribbon scrap bags this week to clear out the scrap box.  Thanks to all who ordered the scrap samples to play and create with- Buddy overseas all the final inspection of orders here:

I closed the etsy shop until next week- need a little break from that to concentrate on the workshop and wholesale orders for a bit – look for it to reopen in a week…or so. I have some fun little ideas I also want to play with and need a little mental space in which to do it.  I hope I can find some!

In addition, I finally heard back from the city on their approval of my re-landscaping plan which conforms to their Lawn to Garden water saving plan.  So I went to Home Depot to buy some heavy black plastic which I will lay down and cover with free mulch from the city yard to kill off the lawn- or what is left of it.  It will take at least a month to kill off this way but worth it. Apparently, most everyone else will be doing it another way and Home Depot has stocked up to take advantage:

Apparently we never learn…

I know I promised an introduction to Squirrelly Gurl for those who haven’t yet met her but this got in the way first.  Next time-for sure.