Category Archives: slow cloth

Today’s textile- an antique komebukuro

Back in June 2012, I posted about this wonderful komebukuro.  Here I copy the relevant part of the post in order to list this in the shop.

This particular one appears to be quite old and with many areas repaired.  It employs various homespun cotton and hemp fabrics and the rope is handmade from hemp or other bast fibers. It is also quite large- the bottom measures 11″x11″ and each of the 4 sides about 15″(H) x 12″ .  One side (the inside?) is more interesting than the outside-you can better see the patchwork. I would guess this one to be from the Meiji era (1868-1912). I appropriately found it at a temple sale. 

This piece has been displayed at many of my workshops:

inside full view-1

more inside detail

edge detail and rope

bag bottom inside

outside view 2

another outside view

If cloth could speak!  One can only imagine the past life of this bag, but from all the mending and variety of scraps used in its making, one can guess that it was made in the Japanese spirit of “mottainai” which conveys regret over wasting something useful. Poor families saved all cloth, which was then made and remade into useful objects many times over. I love this piece as a reminder of that notion- that we can be more thoughtful and find ways to make what we have last longer, and remain purposeful.
These types of “rice bags” were used for errands, carrying rice and perhaps other daily necessities, and sometimes to take offerings to local temples.

This one I came across at a Tokyo area temple sale in 2012, before I knew much about boro and Japanese folk textiles.  I had yet to find and visit the Amuse Boro Museum in Asakusa. When I saw it it just spoke to me and I have admired it first hand since then. When I first brought it home it was quite dirty and I did give it light vacuuming,  a gentle soak and hand wash to clear the fabric of the accumulated dirt. It seemed to appreciate it. I usually display it with more patched side out. Added to the shop here.

 

There arises a circle…

There is really something special about receiving a handmade gift from someone who used what they purchased from me to make it.  It returns to me transformed. It has new life and energy that has been added.  It reminds me why I do what I do and why I enjoy it.  When I send something out I get to wonder what will become of it.  Sometimes I receive emails with photos or links showing what folks have done or made with their purchases.  I receive stories. Some are simple and heartwarming, some are funny, some are sad, and some are transformative. They are all good. There arises a circle -like the moon, a give and take -like the tides, that connects us.  So although it hardly seems enough for all these riches, I want to thank you once again. Thanks for sharing your abundance of creativity-with me and all the others in your lives.

indigo moon detail by Therese S-H

indigo moon detail by Therese S-H

mounted on a card, many tiny stitches on indigo and pommegranate by Therese S-H

mounted on a card, many tiny stitches on indigo and pomegranate by Therese S-H

When I make new things I explore them a bit knowing that once I add them to my shop offerings  the receivers will expound upon my ideas or create their own- even better and more wonderfully creative things.  This has been an intention of mine for a long time now. I wondered why-how I came to it. I’ve had a lot of years to come to understand why that is- too much to explain in a simple post.  It’s enough for me to understand it in my own life.

I returned here the other day to reread this post upon the news that my favorite ceramist Harrison McIntosh passed away locally at the age of 101. You can read about his life here. I can’t really add much to all that has been written about him and his life/work except to say that I have really admired his ability to integrate the two things seamlessly (and perhaps a message to him to tell Woody I said hello).

Harrison McIntosh (screen capture from Google)

Harrison McIntosh (screen capture from Google)

And if all this isn’t enough, with everything that has been going on here I did not do my usual announcing or my upcoming (this weekend!) workshop at the JANM.  We will be focusing on mandalas on vintage silks and there are still spots available.  You can sign up here through the museum-and I apologize for the late notice here.
JanmThere’s more, but enough for now…

mata ne!

it seems as if

Is it?
I don’t know.

But I did finally finish this piece. I had to. Some things just can’t be left undone.

20131130-102556.jpg
can they?

He asked me if it was too late to send a thank you card.
I said “it’s never too late to say thank you. or to say I’m sorry-or I love you for that matter.” It’s really a gift to yourself.

Family new and old gathered ’round here these past few days. As far as I am concerned, whoever graces our table at Thanksgiving is added to the list of “family”. My “family” is really akin to a crazy quilt. Made by hand of the finest and scrappiest of materials. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

As far as this piece goes, it goes way back to 2007 when Karren Brito started a makiage challenge on flickr and I was learning discharge. It was just a practice piece. It resurfaced from time to time and I wondered about it here and there. At one point I decided to practice some quilting on it so I discharged some black seam binding with the arashi technique.
At some other point it resurfaced again and I started doing some hand stitching on it. Eventually, the binding and the quilted part were reunited and half the binding was stitched on. A couple of years ago it surfaced again and I started hand finishing the binding. This past summer it made it’s way into my Yosemite bag and I finished the binding.
Yesterday, I stitched on a couple of hangers to the back and cut a stick onto which to mount it. Finally. Done. Only took 5 years.

Seems I’m in this for the long haul.

20131130-104912.jpg
-and finally it makes it’s way next week to San Francisco. As a reminder. Of many things.

wondering in white

White.  Is it a color? If black is the absence of color (darkness) then is white (light)  the combination of all colors in the visible spectrum? As a dyer, this is interesting to me.  White is often my canvas when dyeing and dyeing something black takes a whole lot of colors mixed together.  Strange.

As a dyer with an eye towards using what is around and available I have collected lots of old cloth that can be dyed. But are they white?  Many are what I would call a natural white. They are what they are-ivory, cream, white, eggshell,off-white, antique white, snow white, pearl white, bleached white etc…

detail white

Many of you who have taken indigo classes from me recently have received materials kits containing a whole variety of great old fabrics-all natural and of course dyeable in indigo. It’s informative to look at the structure of old fabrics. This cloth that was formally the fabric of people’s  lives. Literally- laces, tablecloths, clothing, bed coverings, kitchen towels, even mosquito netting and more. Each type of cloth reveals more about itself when dyed in the vat-it’s thickness, weave, age, and even stains that dye differently from the whole cloth.  Next to each other, they can form an amazing array of beautiful blues or whites.

But what if they were left as they are?  Left to use in other ways, to stitch together new dreams and aspirations? That is what I see going on in Jude’s new class What If Diaries. Definitely not a craftsy class where everything is laid out for you to make or do according to the plan, but a way to explore much deeper. The class is now sold out but she has others of a similar nature to explore. I like that the cloth is explored more deeply- that students not only connect themselves to the fabrics, the stitches, but that there is always a stream of consciousness floating in the background as a jumping off point to some new or even old idea. It’s kind of like what I imagine the beginning of the universe to be-  sort of like a primordial soup of creation.

battenburgold battenburg lace- in process

And speaking of creation- last weekend at the JANM (Japanese American National Museum) we had a really grand time. I took a whole silk display and we even reeled silk on the old zakuri. The students were in awe as most had never seen this before. The ingeniousness of the device AND that of the silkworm and it’s cocoon. I don’t think they’ll ever take silk for granted again!

reeling silkstudent reeling silk on the old zakuri

And of course we dyed silk- new and old. Itajime was the focus and this was a quick pic of their first pieces of the day.  After this, I got too busy to take photos-as usual. Many left class and went straight out to the front desk to sign up for the Aug 31-Sept 1 class.  

Saturday, August 31, 2013

12:00 PM—4:30 PM

Indigo and Shibori Techniques with Shibori Girl

events/shibori2.jpegIn this 2-day workshop we will focus our intentions on practicing itajime (fold and clamp) shibori on recycled kimono lining silks. Once considered as precious as gold, old silks are being discarded at an alarming rate! Let’s breathe new life into them and improve our understanding of both silk and itajime shibori. Indigo and colorhue dyes will be used in this workshop. Both days: $70 members; $90 non-members, an additional $45 materials fee (cash only) will be collected at the beginning of class, admission is included. RSVP early, 20 students max.
So, if you are in the mood for some cloth that really moves you-cloth containing texture as a main component, fragments like scattered thoughts across time and place, imperfection seen as perfection, then click on over to the shop and see what’s old.
And if you think you want to join the JANM workshop in Aug. you might want to sign up early.

 

i’ve been mending lately

The great abundance of things at our fingertips temps us to forget the value of caring for the things that we do have and the way we can make more of that which we already have in our possession.

mending

Mending can come in many forms. I always admire the ways that jude mends. I’ve spent some time too, really looking at the examples of boro fabrics I have.  Recently, I’ve been mending jeans that my son and I wear. Putting  lots of different thoughts I have been having into action.  And of course I have plenty of my own indigo dyed fabrics and threads which to utilize.  And then there is the utility of it all. It seems I just can’t give that up.  I want things to be useful. And beautiful. Maybe not universally beautiful, but at least in the eye of the beholder.

jeans mending kit

We all know that fashion, industry, and media push us towards wanting new and more. But what if we collectively began to desire less and old (used,worn,repaired) and saw the beauty in that? The folks of the Tohoku region in Japan created their boro textiles out of necessity but today we can appreciate and take meaning from this unintended artform and apply it to the new necessity that we have to conserve our modern resources using and reusing that which we already possess.

modern boro mending

I also recently listened to an interview with the author of the book “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” by Elizabeth Cline. It seems that there are more and more people beginning to consider this. Her blog “The Good Closet” gives practical tips on how to reduce, reuse, and resist the urges to fill our closets with, well, crap.

What if it simplified our lives, mended our ways, and just used less. Would we be better or worse because of it? Jeans seem a good place to begin.  We all wear them. They last. They are very mend-worthy.  So with that in mind I offer this:

Ready-To-Wear Again Mending Service

Now of course, you don’t need someone else to do your mending, but but if you would like me to do it for you I will.  I’m just putting out the thought…the idea…and wondering.

More or less, less can become more.

getting ready…

Yesterday the cold wind was howling through the outdoor studio and I worried what the weather might bring this weekend when Richard and I hold our joint workshop. But then I woke this morning to bright blue sun filled skies and no wind. Still, one never knows. We will be prepared for plan B and even plan C should it be needed.


Also, getting ready for the upcoming online indigo workshop. It always is a lot of work setting things up. Even though I have done this several times before there are always fresh challenges. Updated programs, a *new* used computer and new ideas to try out. So I have been working on it. I hope to have the new online workshop site up and running by tomorrow so those of you who are signed up can begin collecting your materials and deciding what type of indigo vat you would like to begin with. As always, an online class runs on YOUR schedule so you can never be late for class!

We will be talking about many things, one of which is sourcing materials. I found this today and really like it! You can read more about her project-Researching Sustainability here.

the sacred stitch: sashiko -hand vs machine

“Create the look of traditional, hand-work stitching passed down through generations on the Sashiko Machine. Replicate this distinctive and celebrated stitch and add a hand-stitched touch to any project with a machine that is truly the first of its kind.”

is it just me or does anyone else feel the irony of this advertising pitch? am i alone in feeling that i no longer belong in this world?

somehow, replicating the look of celebrated traditional handwork by purchasing a $2000 machine to reproduce a facsimile just doesn’t work for me. if i want to make something that has the appearance of hand stitching, then i will hand stitch it. machine stitching looks like machine stitching. regardless of stitch length.

i’m sure that there are many fine uses for a sachiko (long stitch) type sewing machine. i could probably invent a few of them myself. but let’s leave sashiko to the hand stitchers. there is an inherent beauty and wisdom in sashiko that cannot be replicated by machine- no matter how you flower up the marketing.

of course if you aren’t willing to invest the time to study, practice, and observe what traditional sashiko has to offer then you will never know- not all things are meant to be diminished for the sake of speed and profit. i hope that anyone purchasing a sashiko machine for making sashiko has been able to experience the real thing just to know the difference. because we do.

for a little history of sashiko you can go here.

there are many traditional and contemporary interpretations of sashiko. and of course, sashiko’s early roots can be found in beloved boro. order the book here.

and then of course there is jude’s work. can you imagine it done by machine? i can’t.

for more images of sashiko, try google images.

i think natalie said it perfectly :

“really, sashiko is a walking meditation with thread.”

i don’t think you are going to get that with a sashiko machine.

and if you were wondering, shibori has utilized some sashiko designs:

this left me wondering, which came first- the shibori design or the sashiko design. guess i’ll have to do a little more research on that.

souvenirs…

along with stories, thoughts, and a renewed passion- i brought back a few souvenirs. mementos really, of the past. but looking forward to the future. somehow.

note the price. this is the real stuff. and you pay for it. that translates to about $850 for the roll. i would guess these were done in Japan. all this cotton shibori is sold by the roll only (full roll shibori was beyond my budget and really i don’t have a need for it but really enjoyed looking at!). no cuts, unless it’s scraps you find around here and there (which i did buy a bit of and turned into some shibori collections for the shop). some others were about $225 for a roll. they were done in China and had typical patterns. an occasional shop (not in arimatsu though) sold the Chinese shibori by the meter. not indigo dyed. these here are specifically for yukata and are more complex…not just the typical kanoko. lots more stitching here. like in the samples i brought back. the really good stuff was available in the high end custom kimono shops i saw around Tokyo. oh my! just fabulous. and very exclusive. not done in China.

the souvenir shop is open again. have a few more things to post but this is it for now. time to be done with the computer.

pianissimo

pianissimo

sometimes when a new piece of shibori is opened and i am looking at it with my critical eye i ask myself many questions and wonder about it. is it a good one? this sort of grading is only relative to me in relation to the pieces that came before it and the pieces that will come after. viewed from the outside it may appear as good , or not, depending on the viewer’s perspective- but i am not too concerned with that in this moment. (eventually i am as most of what i make is for sale, but in the moment i only answer to myself.)
mainly i am asking: did i learn something from it? where does it lead me to next? as i dry the pieces, perhaps iron them i continue to look and think about them- looking into them really. this is especially true of the indigo- it has a depth that continues to intrigue me. not only in terms of the surface design but the process as well. and sometimes, but not always, it has a little something more to say. this pattern, when turned a certain way said pianissimo, especially when i set it on the piano bench which becomes a place to stack more fabrics next to the ironing board inside (much to the dismay of the piano players in the house when they have to move them if music is to be made). so my thoughts drift to this word and a gentle reminder to play softly and to remember that life is about dynamics- it’s the dynamics in both music, art, and life that keeps things interesting and alive. so these pieces have captured my attention and thought and now i am done with them. i release them. they will be cut up and divided. they are part of what makes up the indigo boro’d packs that you can find here.

i know this will be a bit of a lengthy post. apologies for that but it can’t be helped right now. aside from the indigo i have been at a few other things. mainly making colorful silk gauze that jude is using and of course in the way that she has, is inspiring others to use as well. (thank you jude and all!) as you know we have formed a somewhat symbiotic flow and i am sending her my wishes for the ailing computer to recover and let her be back on her way. as if even our computers were communicating, mine decided this week that it didn’t want to stay connected and through a series of troubleshooting steps it was deemed the wifi card was ailing. even the geniuses at the bar (apple store) were a little flummoxed but a very intuitive fellow who runs his own little apple repair shop near to me fixed me right up- quickly and within my budget-phew! thanks Pablo!! (let’s hear it for craigslist computer dudes!)

well, back to the indigo. just as i was ready to throw in a little thiox into my new natural fermentation vat out if impatience it seems the warmer weather has coaxed it into reduction. (i like that the terms oxidation and reduction were also a part of my past relationship with the firing of clay- funny isn’t it?) so yesterday i was able to make the first pieces using this vat. i learned some very interesting things! this vat (heretoforth known as NFV as opposed to my SYNV for the sake of brevity) is quite a bit weaker. i may end up adding in the remaining 4 ounces of natural indigo i have. it took at least twice as many dips to get the same shade of blue as the SYNV provides. perhaps not all the indigo is reduced as well. we shall see. my SYnV is quite a bit greener- but less smelly! i am still using the slaked wood ash lye-even for both when i have enough of it. still struggling along without the ph meter but that’s another story. i’ve added some ombre dyed silk gauze to the shop and i was thinking that if some of you out there wanted to prepare some fabric and send it along, i would give you a price for doing the dyeing. i only have so much time and preparing lots of stitched shibori for the vat just isn’t possible right now. let me know and leave me a comment or an email.

for those of you who want a more hands on experience, i am offering a two day indigo workshop here at my studio. it will be a small and intimate affair as i can only accommodate 4 people at a time. check out the details and if you want to participate, let me know. if demand exceeds available spots i will consider a second date.

i am also in the process of detailing all my upcoming classes, workshops, lectures, and shows. so far i have them all up on facebook. adding them here and on the website next- it all takes time. the Long Beach International Quilt Festival classes are now filling up- i am teaching two classes. one on shibori dyeing and the other on luxurious shibori ribbon adornments. (#’s 323 & 316 respectively)

phew- that’s all for now as more has to get done but if you have an urge for some special fabrics to have and hold, the shop is up and running.

one more thing to look forward to is an afternoon with a local group of camp fire boys. we will be doing a little indigo work. can’t wait for that!