Category Archives: silk

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.  






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.


in the Spirit of things

I am doing lots of repetitive things in the making of this shibori ribbon.  Lots of measuring, counting, winding, ironing and pot stirring.  Waiting for pots to heat up, things to cool off, dry up, unwind.  In the in-betweens and during the repetition I have time to think. And wonder.

People often ask me things at workshops like “What kind of brush do you use”  or, “what brand of “x” do you buy?”  I try to answer the best I can but really it’s not about these things.  It’s more about your commitment to what you are doing, the time you devote to it, your willingness to repeat something over and over than to anything else.  Take my brushes for example:

brushesThey are simple, basic and acquired over time.  Some are repaired, most not very expensive. But it’s more about HOW I use them and how they’ve become part of my daily routine.  I get used to these simple tools and I like things that last- especially under the duress of the dye studio.  Most of these are made by hand and the maker has also taken care and added their skill to the process.

This past month two of the family cars have been sent to the scrap yard.  They were each around 30 years old.  I really hated to see them go. They have served us well -one was already a salvage vehicle when we acquired it over 10 years ago. We got an additional 10 years out of it!   But we were faithful and repaired them many many times. I seemed a shame to not!  They were replaced by two *new* cars 5 years younger. I saved a memento…
Looking around the other night while folks were in the back studio rehearsing my eyes settled on this-

reel to reelYou might remember these from some time ago.  I was actually thrilled when my son fell in love with this.  It works and he has used it here and there.  As a recording engineer, I think he wanted to recreate the fidelity of past recordings in some of his current work.  It gave me the chance to tell him about how my dad had one of these at home and how I learned to splice tape back in high school for a “video” project I did about the Kent State killings and the Vietnam War.  Must have been around ’74-’75.  I made a slide presentation of images I collected from books, newspapers, drawings I had done etc. and had made into slides. To this I set music, radio news recordings and overdubbed my voice recorded on a Sony reel to reel.  I didn’t think it was really a big deal as I had watched my dad put together such things many times but when I presented it in class apparently, it was a big deal.  I wonder who owned this machine in the past? I hate it when useful things become obsolete.  I like it when folks find a way to use the obsolete.

old banjoA good musical instrument never becomes obsolete.  One recently came our way and it will be repaired and played.  This definitely has some spirit and a story.  We will find out more soon.


It’s late now, and the pomegranate tree casts its shadow on the back fence as the last of today’s silk steams.

The next post, in which I introduce you to Squirrelly Gurl ( for those who don’t follow FB), is forming in my mind…

things flow through

i have always liked figuring things out.  a production run is like a puzzle of sorts.
one must figure out and streamline the entire process.  thinking about such things as efficiency, energy, materials. the order of things.  and most importantly, the FLOW.  beautywood

the flow can refer to many things- the physical space in which i work-allowing me to move through my workspace without hinderance.  the flow of energy as i choose and mix the colors, prepare the silk, thinking several steps ahead of myself so as to maintain that flow.

the flow of work in and out of here as orders come and go, the flow of communication with all of those who email,comment,ask,etc..the flow of paperwork, money, and of course time.

but most of all i enjoy the process of transition. of taking something rather plain and mundane (although i can say that the miracle of the silkworm is anything but mundane!) and turning it into something else by hand.

so, lots of shibori ribbon being made here at the moment. if i have overlooked an email, been tardy in sending you something promised-please send me a little reminder nudge and accept a proforma mea culpa from me.  i appreciate your patience.

in all this busyness, i have quite forgotten to post here about the upcoming workshop with Richard!

speaking of flow. one also needs to refill the vessel and when Richard and I get together for a workshop that is part of the intention- to give you lots to wonder about- to get your flow going-or back into the flow.
good grief…in my mind i had done it!  but alas no- just on Facebook and constant contact. there are still a couple of spaces.  and several requests to Skype/broadcast the workshop which we will be accommodating as well (figuring this out now).  this workshop will combine itajime AND mandalas. you will learn both in the first two days.  on the third day you can work on whichever one (or both) is moving you-and get into your own flow.  patterns of time and space

of course we will be working on the process, the technique, of folding and dyeing and resisting-but also larger concepts of time and space in regards to patterns.  patterns are everywhere-in nature and in life.  sometimes you need to look at the bigger picture to see them.

-some of Richard’s recent work-it just keeps on getting better and better (of course). he recently completed his first continuous 10 meter cloth which is slated to be make into a summer yukata. now THAT’s impressive!
the amazing itajime of Richard Carbin

and just a reminder-  have a 2 day  indigo workshop coming up at the Japanese American National Museum Feb 1 & 2.  We will be working on shibori and indigo and creating a boro-esque indigo scarf from our bounty.  Call the Museum to register- 213.625.0414



silk shibori ribbon

Ahh….the first Monday of 2014!  And it starts off with a bang!

the original silk shibori ribbon

the original silk shibori ribbon

About my silk shibori ribbon-many folks are asking and wondering…

It was 2006 when I first started practicing and learning shibori techniques. Having closed my porcelain company of 30 years, I wanted a new challenge and a new product to make and sell. Something to continue to sustain me over the next many years. Something highly artistic, beautiful, creative, something that would excite and inspire others to make and create-I know how making can be so very strengthening both mentally and physically. I wanted to continue to be part of that but in another way.  I looked for a way.  After practicing the arashi shibori technique daily for about 6 months, I wondered.  I wondered if one could make ribbon with it.  I had never seen it done so I started searching the internet.  Nope!  Not one image or one mention anywhere that I could find.  I searched extensively.  Excited, I found a little bit of silk ribbon I had nearby and wanted to wrap it. Around what? Looking around me I grabbed a pencil.  Wrapping the ribbon around it my eyes scanned the room for something to wrap it with- some thread.  I ran downstairs ( I had been in the bedroom with my bathrobe still on) and went outside and poured some dye over it.  Steaming and drying it I opened it up- Shibori Ribbon was born-really way to small and thin and not all that beautiful.  But the beauty was in the eye of the beholder, me- and I could see all the glorious possibilities.  So it has been a long and interesting path.  Littered with miles of beautiful silk and more.

Special thanks to all those who have been teaching and using the ribbon in their classes not just this year but in all the past years since I first came up with this crazy idea. My special thanks goes to the much loved Sherry Serafini who has spread her inspiration and the shibori ribbon all over the world.  More thanks to the talented Melanie Dorman who passed on in 2012 and who introduced me to beaded needle weaving and embroidery while we sat back to back at our tables at the Pasadena Bead and Design show some years ago.  I was fascinated with her work and she with the ribbon. I think she was the first to see and show me its potential in regards to beaded embroidery work and designed several pieces and classes with it. I was saddened-even shocked, when I went to contact her about something last year and discovered her passing- a reminder…we are here only for the blink of an eye.   Adele Sciortino did her part with it in the doll world and introduced it to many doll makers. Art quilters found the ribbon at the quilt shows and put it to work in many inventive ways. It was a pleasure to have them come to the booth and tell me that their quilt entry with the shibori ribbon made it into the show.  Crazy quilter Julie Craig of Attic Heirlooms(no website) along with Judith Montano both saw the ribbons potential when I first introduced it at the shows 6 years ago. Kate Tracton (also a Shibori GIrl) found it and made some lovely necklaces with it and her handwoven focal beads. Jude’s words and musings and of course Wendy who keeps a little pile of the ribbons in her therapy room and adds her wisdom to it as she heals.  I could fill a whole page with such examples.  I thank you all. It is an exquisite privilege to have something I make be part of something you make or do.

Now, entering 2014 there are many, many folks out there enjoying the possibilities and wondering. There are many shops- both online and on the street selling my ribbon. There are two Authorized Etsy resellers of my ribbon who are putting it into the hands of many more creative folks-Michelle, who has been at it for several years now and Lisa who just discovered it late last year and doing a great job getting the word out.  This is putting the silk shibori ribbon in the hands of so many creative folks who are dreaming and wondering up so many possibilities.  I am overwhelmed!  I really couldn’t ask for more shibori love than that.

So it has been a good year and I look back at the slow and manageable uphill burn of the ribbon which makes life around here even possible. I intend as a result of the increasing demand for the ribbon, to be spending more time making the silk shibori ribbon than ever before. I like that it is also helping to support others who resell the ribbon as well as those using it to make things that they in turn sell.

I have been informed that there is someone copying the idea on etsy.  I have been approached by a very large company who wants to “blow it up” and eventually have it made in China.  No. It is true, there will be copyists- in it for the momentary buck or two.  But in the end I will still be here.  Know it.
One at a time and everyday- like I said in the beginning of this big adventure.

Now back to the poles. And speaking of poles, Keep warm out there friends.  I know some of you are withstanding record cold spells.  Janice just emailed me that it is -37 outside her studio in the woods right now.  Stand strong-and STAY WARM!


booth 1620

being well prepared is half the victory

arashi shibori on silk

vintage kasuri and taiten

some smaller bits

materials for the indigo workshop

Shibori ribbon flower kits

Shibori ribbon, of course…

indigo, always indigo

and thank you for the overwhelming response to my workshops. when they fill 2 times over  I understand they get to automatically repeat the class next year.  that would be nice!

and…while I am leading the indigo workshop the very talented Mary Alice Sinton of Blue Bonnet Studio will be working the booth. Mary Alice is a certified teacher of both Traditional Japanese Embroidery and Japanese Bead Embroidery. She travels and teaches many classes. Come by and say hello!
Houston Quilt Festival 2013