Category Archives: silk

more letters

Just a little follow-up to the day at the elementary school. I love these letters.

I received 33 letters from the kids at Menlo Elementary. I love each one. I will share a few- just know they were all special and heartfelt. Each one included an illustration. Mine were from one of the 3rd grade classes. I love how they saw me. I would include more but this would be a
V E R Y long post.
IMG_2588 IMG_2587 IMG_2585 IMG_2584 IMG_2583 IMG_2582 IMG_2581 IMG_2580 IMG_2578

seeds, seedlings, seeded

Back to seeds

The beauty of seeds is that they can become.  What?  Something of beauty perhaps. Many seeds are beautiful themselves. Today I was noticing the seeds in the yard.

I will save some of the sunflower and poppy seeds. That sunflower plant had over 70 flower heads all at once. There are so many.  The birds love them too and we share them.  The poppies were so successful this year and gave much delight to all who saw them.  And so easy.  I really didn’t have to do anything at all except cast them out at the right time. Nature did the rest.  Next year, if you drive by you’ll know the house for all the poppies.  The seed heads for both the sunflowers and poppies are in the drying and maturing stage. Some will just drop on their own and surprise me next year. Faithful volunteers.

Yesterday, I went to present myself and my “career”  for Career Day at a South LA Elementary school.  First, I want to say that the kids were great.  They are like little sponges that soak things up.  They were enthusiastic.   Turns out- the school does have two mulberry trees on its campus.  Just no memory of why.  I think I can solve that. Next year, I will get some silkworms started early- just when the mulberry leafs out.  Plant some silk seeds and water them into fertile ground there.  As for explaining my “career” to the kids-it was challenging, funny, and informative.  I only had 30 minutes with each of the 4 classes. Most of the time was spent talking about silk and silkworms.  I brought a tray of them-still so tiny. We cut open the cocoons and saw the pupae inside. I passed around a hank of reeled filament silk, mawata, yarn, kibisu and more.  I showed them the cocoon frames-both straw and cardboard. They all took home a cocoon and a square of silk. Three classes were 3rd graders and one was 4th grade. Trevor had 4th and 5th graders and did 5 sessions. His kids learned to play a couple of rhythms with straws at their desks with him playing bells. This K-5 has no dedicated art or instrumental music teacher.

Unfortunately, I must report that the silkworms are not thriving.  This is the latest I have ever started them. I really wanted them for the career day event and was taking a bit of a chance.   Although there is green mulberry leaf here it is not new and succulent. It is just too dry. We had rain earlier this season but has been very dry for over a month now. El Nino did not arrive in the south this year as predicted. Moving on…sadly.

But fortunately, my friend Nobue Higashi in Annaka, Japan is having a very successful cocoon rearing season. I recently watched this NHK short video on a visit to her place there.  I couldn’t find one video of the entire episode and this one repeats but you can see the portion of the show in which they visit her.

A long hot dry summer is ahead. Water will continue to be precious.
so many poppy seeds

There are a few openings left for the indigo and shibori workshop on June 18 & 19. Contact the Japanese American National Museum to sign up. I will have some indigo seeds to share as well.

demonstrated at the workshop


encouraging wonder

I’m raising some silkworms again.  As a reminder. Of why. And how. And who I am.

I’m raising them from seed (eggs) and purchased 3 types- white, green, and pink cocoons. Previously, I have only raised white and yellow cocoons.

I have been wanting to do another (smaller than last time-1000) batch and now have 200 or so of each of the above. It seemed the perfect time as I was recently asked to step in to do a “career day” in a South LA Elementary school that was lacking parents who could come and do presentations.  SO, Trevor, Phil and I will all go and do our thing next Tuesday.  I wonder if parents really want their kids to be musicians, dyers or sericulturists…
At least we will be entertaining and make them wonder.

Here is the beginning-


Silk Study Tour to Japan 2017

This past week has had me busy on a number of things.  I finally updated the events page here on the blog.  Sheesh. You’d think that would be a priority.  It use to be! These days with Facebook and Instagram I also list events there as well and things seem to fill anyway.  Thankfully! But I do resolve to get back to keeping it more updated.  Promise.

Also, I sent out the information on the upcoming Silk Study Tour to Japan 2017 last week.  That takes quite a bit of time.  I had promised to get that out in March but… well, things happened.  But now it is done and last night I even played around a bit with my iMovie.  Made a little trailer.  For fun.

The tour info can be found here.  Signups are ongoing and in the first week it is halfway filled with another 25% corresponding and wondering.  So if you had your eye on this trip before, better to wonder earlier than later.  We will keep a short wait list just in case.

Mata ne!

shibori ribbon tailings

It has been a while now since I created the silk shibori ribbon.  Ten years to be exact.

When I first created it there was no such thing on the market.  Now it is everywhere.  There are a lot of stories to tell (and I have told some of them here on the blog over the years) and this post will add one more.

In the beginning when I made the ribbon, I wasn’t sure what it would be used for.  I just was sure that it would be (used).  And back in the day, I sent some around, made some things myself and went around showing it at trade shows.  I started people wondering.  A  special friend (jude), in her special way, said something about it that really resonated with me.

“every inch is an adventure” 

And it was. No two inches alike, the beauty was in part, in its imperfection.  And I loved that about it.  Of course this sort of thing creates certain challenges.  As in how to communicate this aspect to the end user (relatively easy) and later on to the retailer (much more of a challenge!). As more people wondered, created with and enjoyed the shibori ribbon, I spent less time using it myself and more time just making it.

Over time some of the designers took to making fabulous things with it.  So much more wonderous than I had ever imagined and this was really fun.  I looked at what was being made with the ribbon and took cues from those who were using it by dyeing colorways I hadn’t yet made.  Some designers love the freeform possibilities while other designers love the perfection of the pleating.   Did I say perfection?  OOPS.  It is not perfect. But I try to make it the best I can.  More recently, as jewelry designs pop up that feature perfectly pleated sections of the ribbon, retailers and some customers want only perfectly pleated ribbon.  They didn’t want the interesting beginning or ends of the rolls, so I began cutting them off and saving them.

I thought they were delicious. So delicious that I refrained from putting them in scrap bags- to use them myself at some future magical place and time (when I had more time-ha!). Plus I didn’t want to hear back from folks who thought they were getting reject ribbon bits in scrap bags.  Then over time, since I was cutting off the ends anyway, I thought- why not just go crazy with the ends of the rolls.  So I did.  And now I have a nice little collection of  these weird scrappy “tailings”, as I call them.

~always an adventure

~always an adventure

They really are fun! More than an adventure…a happening perhaps.  Each piece so unique and weird that it makes it great fun to create something with them.  You can let go and really let the shibori ribbon lead the way.  Really see something in a new way. What am I doing with this growing collection?  I’ll be teaching a shibori ribbon bead embroidery class using my “tailings” in Houston in the fall.  I think we are going to have a really good time!

letting the ribbon lead the way

letting the ribbon lead the way

And don’t forget- the upcoming workshop at the Japanese American National Museum is April 23 & 24.  Sign up at the museum website.

Hope Spring has made its way to wherever you are. It sure looks great here.

trevor surfs

trevor surfs


fine gardening

-the top of four layers of silk shibori flowers in this last box shipping out to the show today. 

almost too pretty to close. 

busy …

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.