Category Archives: shop talk

It’s all about Shibori Ribbon today

In the third quarter of last year there started to be an issue with ordering silk satin yardage. Suppliers did not have it in stock. Some suppliers said that government tariffs with China were an issue. Later we found that in addition, mills were not weaving it. Then I was told that the usual sources would not accept the wholesaler’s orders as it did now not meet minimum yardage for a run (minimum was HUGE-even for a large distributor).

What I do know about silk satin is that it was not a fabric that was widely available wholesale even when I first started dyeing the ribbon. Seems that there are either limited textile mills in China that produce it, that it may be done on specific looms that are not in good repair. The main use for this fabric is fine lingerie and bridal. With fine lingerie and bridal mfgs/retailers not ordering as much as before, perhaps the yardage needed to do a run just was no longer there. I’m not sure.
Seems that anyone I contacted overseas said yes they had it, only to find out what they really wanted to sell me was charmuese. I have tried this for the ribbon with less than desired results.

So, I set out to find another type/weave/weight of silk that could produce the results I wanted. After test dyeing many, many silks I have finally settled on one. I have sent samples to beaders and folks who use the ribbon who report they like it just as well. In fact, for some users it seems to be preferred for its ability to take the pleating well.
I have spent the past months working on this and learning to dye the new ribbon to my liking. Each silk weave and weight has its own characteristics and challenges when it comes to dyeing, discharging, and pleating. I’m still getting used to it.

In some ways, it got me thinking about back when I started to learn about shibori and the dyeing of silk. I’ve done a LOT of experimenting and learning along the way. It’s been quite an adventure!

I’m glad to say that I am finally ready to add some to the shop today. I am adding two different selections. The first are sets of three assorted colors (one yard each and one set only) and the other is three colors by the yard (ten yards per color available right now). In the shop now. Here is how they look:

The second addition is yardage- three colors are available in the shop by the yard as usual. There are a couple rolls of the original SATIN ribbon there too. I’ll be adding more as they are dyed.

In addition to what I have in my own shop, Michelle just received a set of colors for her shop Fundametals Annex. Michelle has been the most consistent and devoted reseller of my shibori ribbon since the beginning-supplying creative folks with a wide array of well sourced craft supplies. Not being able to stock the ribbon has been hard on both of us! Both her and her husband are self-employed and with three young teens at home they also have the added job of overseeing their online schooling during these corona days. Through it all, Michelle continues to do what she does best-run her home and family as well as supply creative folks with beautiful craft supplies for inspired handwork, while providing great customer service (despite the added difficulty of shipping issues with USPS!). These past six months have been hard on small businesses and I’m glad to be able to fill her orders once again.
As I look back over the arc of making and selling my silk shibori ribbon, in addition to those who find joy and creative expression in using the ribbon themselves, it makes me content in knowing that the ribbon has helped many sustain themselves by providing an income- whether by reselling the ribbon or by buying and using it to hand make items they sell to supplement their own income. I have received many lovely emails from people all over the world about this much to my surprise. This is almost without exception being done by women. It is a small thing but it feeds my soul to participate in the circle.
Even those who copied the ribbon to make and sell in competition have a place in this circle.


addendum in the light of day
On a perfect note after writing this post last night, I received a spam comment this morning on an old post about the ribbon from 5 years ago. I deleted the spam comment and went and re-read the original post along with all the comments. Writing this blog over the past 14 years surely has been a journey… I appreciate all those who cheered and even jeered along the way. thank you.

And even more perfectly, a friend sent me this Buddhist prayer this morning. Perhaps you might also enjoy it as I did. (thank you Michelle!)
“A balm to turn me inward where all that ever was, or ever will commence, arrives in perfect, present tense.”

Shop update and a few tidbits of advice…

Today’s post is all about my online shop. I just did an update today in the shibori ribbon category. Making handmade gifts for giving is a lovely way to share a little of yourself when celebrating the holidays, but one must get started! Here is a little gallery of colors I added today and a link to the shop. There are many more colors there than these but these are just the newer ones.

These two colorways were inspired by paua shell. I’m working on a sample brooch piece -still undecided if I like my design (I usually don’t at this stage) but love the ribbon and shells. There are only 10 yards of each of these colors. I acquired a box of these shells from a friend who was selling them for his dad. So pretty! I may put some of them in the shop if there are any requests now or later when I get a sample done. I really can’t stop looking at them!

I also had a request of a kit for something I had made in the past so am adding this as a kit to the shop as well. You can pick your colors from the ribbon that is in stock in the shop. The instructions will come in the form of a brief PDF and a video link. Easier to show in a video than in a bunch of words. The one pictured was made for a custom order ($75) or the kit can be ordered for $35.

And here is a little slideshow of inspiration for using my silk shibori ribbon.

If you are looking for a special something else handmade, these are still available….

And now a few words about selling online…
I am often asked for advice about selling online and also about online selling platforms. I think those of us who have been doing it a long time could write a book. People who make things and sell online are always looking for the “best”, “easiest”, “most profitable”, “effective”, etc. way to do it.
There is no one answer (which seems obvious to me) but people always want definitive answers. I can’t offer one, but the best advice I can give is to remind you that an online selling site is nothing more than a cash register in the sky(cloud). Just like a brick and mortar store (of which I have owned two of in my time), you have to get people in the door. You have to build up a following over time. That following results from good communication, trust, service, interesting content, quality, and value to begin with. All these things take time, over time. There is no rushing this process especially for artists and makers. Sure, there are outliers or trends but in order to sustain over time (40 years here), one needs to look at the long game.
Have faith and persistence. Move forward a little bit each day.
Love to you all…

Website, webshop, & workshops

Spring has taken hold here and the weather is pretty much perfect. Mid 70’s for the past couple of weeks. We enjoy it now while we get the yard in shape and the summer garden planted before months and months of heat sets in.  Then we enjoy the yard in the evenings and early mornings…

It’s too bad I can’t spend all of my time outside right now but I’ve been busy with a couple of projects.  My website has been needing a redo for a couple of years now since Apple stopped supporting iWeb and I have not been able to update it.  I finally decided to switch everything over to a new Squarespace site where I can easily add my own webshop and get rid of the BigCartel shop I’ve been using for the past several years. Of course I am keeping the wordpress blog which you can also access from the new website.

To tempt you to visit the new shop, I added some new shibori ribbon colors and some of the new shibori for you to explore. For all orders over the next two weeks I am including a sheet of bead embroidery beading foundation.
I also finished a new piece and made a little video with it.

I had fun with it, broke away from it here and there for some gardening and perspective. I never really have a solid plan when I start one of these and I think it helps me not get “stuck”. I always give myself permission to change my very loose plan at any time. Often something seems like a good idea in theory but when you get into it you realize it is wholly impractical if not completely impossible. So, a fun puzzle to solve. I also tend to go through stages where I don’t really like the piece but from past experience I’ve learned to push past that and it almost always takes a turn for the better from that point. The point is not to give up on it.  To finish. For me, with beading I find it hard to go back to a piece if I let it sit too long.

The new website also has all the info up for the 2019 Silk Study Tour to Japan. There are still about 5 spots (out of 16) left so… check it out!  I added a bunch of photos from the tour there as well.
The portfolio page is kinda fun and if you’ve been following along for a while you might see some old favorites there. One of the main reasons for redoing the website was so I could keep my Events page updated. There right now are the 3 upcoming workshops at the Japanese American National Museum. I will soon add my upcoming classes at the Houston International Quilt Festival in November.
As always, my website is always a work in progress and I will be tweaking it here and there.

here’s a few photos from around here since the last post…

 

 

 

I also get emails…

I like letters better. Sometimes, emails get weird.

It all started with an email. Well, actually it started with a $30 donation. Followed by an email.

“Hi I am interested in learning the folding technique of the feather arashi scarf. Anne Selby uses this technique. Do you know how its done.”

Hmmm… my reply:

Thank you for contacting me.  I see you already do quite a bit of shibori on silk.  I have never seen Anne Selby’s work in person but online it looks very beautiful.  I have been a fan of Karren Brito’s work for some time and I think she did this folded technique first.  I have done something similar in the past but never did it on a large scale, however did discover how it was done.
I try to make my work unique through experimentation as I often find that this process takes me down my own path- one I would not have gone down by being told the exact process by someone who discovered it in their own way.  Since it is a signature styling of Anne Selby- have you asked her?  Perhaps she is not wanting to share that.  It’s not that it’s a “secret” but I’m sure she went through many trials and errors in order to create it.  Honestly, I wouldn’t feel very good about explaining how someone else goes about creating their signature look.  I am very sure you could figure this out on your own if you worked at it through trial and error. In that process, you would likely discover something very new and interesting yourself! Try it!
Yes, there are shortcuts in life- but it is not unlike driving through the countryside at 100 MPH versus riding along that same country road on a bicycle…you see and learn so much more along the way.
I see you just sent a donation through my blog.  I thank you.  I hope you find the blog of use.  If you feel that you want a refund of this donation based on this reply, let me know.    Your work is lovely as well.  Best regards.”

Then a reply:

“Thank you for replying so quickly.  I gave you Anne Selby as an example to give you an idea as to what I was talking about.  Anne Selby does not own the technique, yes I did see it in Karren Brito’s book. I guess there is not a copyright on the  Feather Boa technique.  Shibori is an ancient art form that goes back hundreds of years not only in Japan but in many other countries in the world.  Yoshiko Wade has been working very hard to preserve the techniques of Shibori.  She has been doing it by sharing, because she knows that is the only way to keep Shibori alive.  Anne Selby did not invent this technique.  She did invent the Arashi wrapping machine.  Anna Lisa Hedstrom has put out 3 DVD’s, she has held nothing back.
Thank you for your words of wisdom.  I am happy Yoshiko Wada and Anna Lisa Hedstrom do not think as you do.  Shibori would be dead.”

Ok… “shibori would be dead?”  my reply:

No, there is no copyright on any shibori technique.  I am still curious as to why you asked me about the technique Ann Selby specializes in.  Why not ask her?  Perhaps you have and she has not seen fit to share it with you.  I don’t know.  I am sure you have seen my work and that I don’t show this type of pleating online.  Respectfully, I think this is a question for Anne Selby.
I find it interesting that you choose to characterize me as someone who doesn’t share what I know.  As you know, I have free online shibori classes, I have been teaching shibori at museums, private workshops and international conventions for over 10 years now. I have literally taught 1000’s of people directly and in person not to mention the over 10 years of blogging on the subject.
I think that shibori is more widespread as a result of my work-not less. Saying that shibori would be dead as a result of my attitude is complete nonsense. Saying such things says more about you than it does about me.
Please consider what you say before you say it.  I am returning your donation.

Thankfully, today is a new day. And I know what my own intention is-regardless of how it is viewed from the outside.

Oh yeah, I made these. Just experimenting with silk shibori felt and vintage silk. Wondering.

update…after seeing some other issues like this online (where someone was being derided for not “sharing” their signature technique) I am prompted to add that there are good reasons to doing something the hard way. The struggle, while temporarily uncomfortable, allows you to experience and overcome uncertainty and anxiety. As you increase your skills through trial and error you will be able to experience exuberant surges of your own creativity that you simply will not achieve through following step by step instructions.

 

 

 

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.  

  

  

  

   

日本から、おやすみなさい。

indigo,vintage,and shibori shop update

OK- seems like the shop was desperate for a little restocking and reorganizing so here are some links to the recently requested items-

more indigo boro fabric collections

 

indigo_packindigo boro packs

NEW! indigo dyed vintage fabric collections– all vintage fabrics…

indigo vintageindigo vintage collection

more of the vintage whites are in stock:

detail whitevintage whites 

vintage silk collections are available for pre-order.  these will be shipped mid June and will be limited so I am taking pre-orders. (add this to any order in the shop and it will ship free in June)

detail

detail

vintage kimono silk linings

and the ever popular silk shibori ribbon scrap bags. many of you have asked me to email you when they are available again but honestly- i just don’t have the time to hunt down you all.  i’ll give it my best though…

composition in C major borealis

composition in C major borealis

shibori ribbon scrap bags-$20

also added-

indigo sky fabric

shades of indigo

silk satin bias ribbon (white) for dyeing

phew!

and there will be more 3 way color shibori ribbon packs in a week or so.  start thinking color!

that’s it for this Monday- またね!

is it spring yet? それはまだ春です?

apricot blossoms' sweet promise...

apricot blossoms’ sweet promise…

there are days.  then there are THOSE days, yesterday being one of them.  i was reminded of the toll mental illness can take and where it leads to in a society with heels firmly dug in against the costs of creating solutions-or at the very least putting into place a safety net for people who are in no condition to make decisions for their own health, safety, and welfare without going to extremes.  but no, once again we must wait for the bottom to fall out before we can affect some sort of solution.   in that waiting period, we trust;  what else can we do?

on another front, i am reminded that even if you do your best work over many years,   you share that work far and wide,  you teach that work, that this does not assure education managers of trade shows won’t pass over your teaching proposal in favor of someone who signed up for your online class a year ago; someone who has no body of work on the subject at hand to back it up but has an “in” with the right crowd.  just know that to be true.  i am reminded to remember this when choosing shows and teaching venues.  sometimes i am naive and forget these things,  being in the bubble of my studio here.

then, as if that were not the end of a very, very long day, a late email arrives effusively deriding (even threatening!) me for a mistake on an order. crestfallen, i make haste in correcting the error, reshipping the order via express mail and emailing back all pertinent info and an even more effusive apology AND refunding the original order (although, admittedly, in the back of my mind thinking- ya know, i really don’t need this sort of treatment from a customer even if i did make a mistake). 

waking up this morning, i see an email from said customer. the order WAS correctly received.  oops.  sorry.  her mistake.

i had sent a small gift of a silk shibori ribbon scrap bag with the order and for some reason she thought it was all she had received. ahh…nice.  a gift turns into this?  perhaps we should not be so hasty next time…beauty takes time. even the buds on the apricot tree are slowly bringing us their beautiful sweet bounty.   

have a little sympathy for us who make for a living.  we are not robots, amazon.com,  walmart, or even craftsy.  we will make a mistake now and again.  we might get a little behind, trying to balance all the things we must do to keep the ship afloat. but the makers i know will go above and beyond for you, making each item by hand.  and we will often tuck a little something extra into your package just because we like to imagine your surprise when you receive the order.

all i can say is, i’m glad it is a new day… is it spring where you are yet?

maybe it’s just spring fever!

is it spring yet?

in the shop 

ad free…again

you may or may not know this.  but having a free WP blog comes with costs.  there are lots of upgrades one can purchase to keep your blog running the way YOU want it to.  one of those things is the “ad free” upgrade.  i will gladly keep paying the $30 a year to keep ads off my blog.  so today, I hereby devote the next $30 of income from selling my shibori and indigo work to WordPress to keep this blog ad free.

Yippee!!  ad free- it’s just so much nicer this way.

indigo silk scarf

this is the last of this roll of narrow width silk i brought back from Japan last time. it is so lightweight and loves the indigo.  i don’t get too fancy with it as it’s delicacy speaks for itself.  it will be in the shop.

and Richard will be here soon.  we still have 2 spots left so if you are feeling inclined to join us on a whim pop over to the shop and sign up.  we will be having a couple of trunk shows as well.  the first one being private for those in the workshop and the second one will be open (will announce this on the Facebook studio page too since many locals watch that daily and it’s bound to be quick and last minute.  make sure you *like* the page so it shows up in your stream…).   we will also be doing some of what we did last time- selling some of the collaborative pieces online in the shop so if you are not a local you can still join in on some of it.  he’s also bringing over some special vintage items.  can’t wait!

Online Silk Shibori Techniques workshop

I thought I would remind folks newly interested in learning shibori techniques that my original online shibori techniques workshop is still available in my online bigcartel shop.  It has been there for over a year now  since I originally posted it- many have taken it.  After the first initial run of the class I reworked it into a self-study class for a very fair price of $25 (that’s $5 per lesson!).

Here is the intro to my online shibori workshop:

The beauty of shibori is that it was created in a much simpler time, yet resulted in some stupendous fabric designs and possibilities. It was created out of ingenuity and a desire to have decorative fabrics for the masses. You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to make yourself some basic shibori fabrics. In fact, most of what you need can probably be found in your kitchen, your garage or just hanging around the house.

As an anniversary of sorts, I am going to include a 20 minute skype call with the purchase of this class through the end of October.  You can use this call for a review of your work at the end of the class, for one-on-one help on a particular technique, or just to chat.

It’s always a pleasure to encourage creativity and wonder through shibori. Shibori is good for that. It encourages problem solving and original thought-I think that is what drew me to it in the first place and has continued my interest. I am also going to go on into the class and update a few things, perhaps add a little here and there as well.  It’s been a while since I checked in over there.

As always, the online class is always there for you regardless of timezone and time of day. No commuting necessary.  There for you when you are there and ready to check in.  No roll call needed, and you’re never late to class!

My other online classes include:

Let’s Dye with Indigo!

and

Indigo Mandala Workshop with Richard Carbin and Shibori Girl

I give you the techniques and you make it your own! You can be assured that the images I post here, on my flickr, and in my classes are of my own work (unless noted) and not of the work of others. Some examples include:

I like numbers

I always have. Numbers help me figure things out.

numbers, my pretties, numbers

(new in the shop) 

They help me make better decisions when I might be tempted to do something out of sheer emotion or desire (there is a time and place for that as well). Numbers are handy when measuring dye and silk or clay and glaze materials. Numbers help me be more efficient. Some of these things can be downright destructive if I weren’t paying attention to the numbers. The whole world is based on numbers. Business, governments, science, music and even art and nature can be looked at through a number filtered lens.

Daily, we have occasion to confront some pretty disturbing numbers. There are so many of those these days that I could drive myself crazy with them.  Most recently in the news JPMorgan  “mishandled” some numbers. Here, Candida Abraham says the numbers don’t lie when it comes to servicing the needs of the mentally ill in our society. The numbers Abraham speaks of have some pretty dire consequences if we don’t pay attention to them.

The numbers in my own small world are really tiny compared to such things. But, like most of us, I have to pay attention to them or the bills won’t get paid next month.  So in addition to being visually and technically creative I need to engage the other side of my brain and pay attention to the NUMBERS!  This post is just a little reminder to myself that one day, a year or so ago, I wasn’t paying close enough attention and allowed myself to agree to something I shouldn’t have.  At least not if I had been paying attention to the numbers.  I am actually pretty good at the numbers thing which is why I’m still around, independently creating daily for over 35 years.  But not that day.  I share it here so others may learn from my mistakes if you have any notion of making an honest living -of making.

This situation involves a teaching gig. I was honored to be asked and should have left it at that. Said thank you and made an excuse or some such thing. There had been something about it- like a little voice that said no,don’t-but I went against the instinct and signed the contract. Silly me.

I won’t go into all the details but as I later looked over all the n u m b e r s  I was less than happy. Not only did I feel that I had been misled in regards to scheduling and my ability to take a booth on the vendor floor I felt that the n u m b e r s  took financial advantage of my teaching in great favor of the organization who’s stated purpose is to inspire creativity and encourage excellence in the fiber arts. Hmmm.

So here are the numbers. See for yourself how it feels to you.

Class #1 (3 hour class)

35 person max. capacity for a fee of $75 per person-that’s a total of $2625 for a sold out class

My pay for the 3 hour class-$210 flat rate. (that’s $6 per student)

Now if my class doesn’t sell out, I still get paid the same.  Not very smart on their part if you ask me (they didn’t).

Class #2 (6 hour class)

24 person max. capacity for a class fee of $150 per person-that’s a total of $3600 for a sold out class

My pay for the 6 hour class-$425 if the class has a minimum of 12 people. If not, then I get paid $35 per student. (otherwise for a full class I am being paid $17.71 per student on a $150 class fee paid by the student) I think I’d be happier to take $385 for a class of 11 rather than $425 for a class of 24! Again, not a very smart move on their part.

Numbers people, numbers.

Now mind you, this is all in addition to fees that all students pay to even attend the convention itself- which runs about $200 each not including any hotel or travel.

This whole scenario created a situation for me that made me ask why would I even promote my own event? When their scheduling of my classes ended up being during prime vendor market time, I had to decline taking and paying for a booth where I might have been able to make up some of that. Feeling that I was “chosen” since I was a local to the event and they would not pay any travel expenses as with many of the other teachers,  didn’t help matters.

And as if that weren’t enough- the contract states that I am not allowed to teach the class (in this case shibori and ribbonwork-the only two things I do teach) for 7 MONTHS (6 months prior and  one month post) within the CONTINENTAL NORTH AMERICA.  SERIOUSLY?? Get a grip.

I really doubt that folks who take classes have any idea about these things.  I think they’d be surprised.

So, to sum it up- choose your events WISELY unless you are NOT in this to make a living. Not everyone is. But if you are, make sure that each event makes financial sense and pay attention to the numbers and the details. Each event should stand on it’s own merit and produce a profit.  And certainly not prevent you from making a living in your own field.

If you are a 501C3-then it’s a different story. For an organization that took in over $1,000,000 in 2010 (according to Guidestar) they give a whopping $4000 out in annual educational grants according to their website. They do a bit more when you include grants for students to attend the biannual conference($11,000-ish altogether). Many folks work as unpaid volunteers but with one exec salary at almost $100,000, additional employee compensation at $117,000 and travel expenses for the organization at over $62,000 (2010) among other things, the $4000 seems rather paltry when it’s stated purpose is to inspire creativity and encourage excellence in the fiber arts. This sort of thing starts making me, the lowly teacher/vendor feel a little like a stepchild-no nostalgia for that one. After looking at their tax returns available online, I realized I am not interested in  partnering with these sorts of organizations. Although they offer some benefits, often 501C3’s are organized around benefiting few rather than many.

I once attended a local Arts Council  roundtable where one of the discussion table talks encouraged artists to form  non profit corporations so that wealthy patrons, uncles and relatives could give them money and get tax write offs!  I kid you not. Tax-free trust-fund-ism. And in times where tax dollars are in short supply-all endorsed by the Arts Council.
No talk about how to run a successful and profitable business. Very disappointing.

Fortunately,the Long Beach Quilt Festival is just around the corner (July 26 at 5:00pm until July 29 at 4:00pm) where I will have a booth with all kinds of silk shibori and indigo. I won’t be teaching since it falls in the no-no zone but I will be demonstrating for free so come on by!

Here are the relevant NUMBERS-

Long Beach Quilt Festival 2012

July 27-29, 2012
Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center
Long Beach, California

Hours:
July 26: 5-9 p.m. (Preview Night)
July 27 & 28: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
July 29: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Ticket prices:
$10 daily adult
$8 seniors & students
Children 10 and under free.
$10 Preview Night (includes one free additional day)
$25 Full Show Pass (includes Preview Night)