Category Archives: teaching

fragments

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This little moon fragment carried me north recently to lead a shibori and indigo workshop for the Central Coast Weavers. It was a wonderful group of women who weave and share an enthusiasm for fiber in many forms.  The workshop space,  a large private studio affectionally known as “The Barn” kept us warm with a wood burning stove in one corner, fed with a kitchen area stocked with home baked breads and more, and busy with a large working area. Rosemary and Kay, the owners and creators of The Barn, have the second floor space lined with rows of large floor looms- maybe 15-20. I don’t think I have ever seen such a variety of large working looms in one location.
Previous to the workshop day, I gave a lecture on silk at their monthly  members meeting where they have a “show and tell”. Some of the things that they brought to share with members included this wonderful rug that was woven by one of the women. I think it was my favorite!

hand woven wool rug by Central Coast Weavers member

hand woven wool rug by Central Coast Weavers member

I can’t remember her name but she is the one holding the rug at the far end. They also had a little fundraising raffle at the meeting where members bring something fiber related they no longer need and if it is something you would like to re-home you can put some of your raffle tickets in the cup for that item.  Everything found a new home-plus the guild got some money for new books for their library. Lovely to see and thoughtfully purposeful!

The Barn workspace

The Barn workspace-a half-view

There is a new package being prepared for Wendy.  It will contain a set of needles and indigo threads.Someone might have a desire to add to the cloth in their own way, to hold the needle in their hand and feel of the thread as it is pulled through the cloth. It might just start someone wondering.

Right now though, the 3rd storm of the week here is drenching us-as if trying to wash away and clear out all the drama of this past week.  I welcome it.  I just hope all my monarch cats are finding refuge out there somewhere.  And that the sun will come out next week and dry out my poor flooded studio space!

newly emerged before the storm

newly emerged before the storms

 

Houston Quilt Festival cocoon

I have been existing in a silk cocoon these past 10 days which has been wonderful considering the noise out there in the “real” world.

In the lifecycle of a silkworm, the cocoon has evolved to protect the silkworm as it pupates and transforms into a silk moth. It offers protection against predator threats as well as not so obvious threats of bacteria and other harsh realities providing its own ideal environment inside, regulating air, water, and temperature conditions inside the cocoon as the transformation occurs.

This is not unlike a trip to Houston and the International Quilt Festival.  We are inside the GRB Convention Center halls, in our own little (HUGE!) cocoon.  As I observe my own self in this cocoon, I also observe others around me and see many transformations taking place. We are seemingly oblivious to the noise occurring outside this cocoon. We are buzzing inside here, creating an energy that is exciting and palpable. The election, other news, and even connections to family and friends not present, cease to exist for the most part.

We Are Here.  We are reminded what it is to get away from our usual activities and places.  We are gathered together inside to create, learn, teach, view beauty and connect. Inside this cocoon we meet new people and learn from them, and we learn about ourselves from these interactions. We work as a team, making things go smoothly for all. When something falls out of place, there is a rush forward to help, to solve. In classes (both as teachers and students) we learn how to fail, to accept, to improve and to create solutions. We share joy in all of this and through viewing the immense display of quilts we experience beauty, talent, process and progress.

We know we will return, each of us to our own realities and places, back to our friends and families and home. But we will return transformed. We have seen so much beauty inside that cocoon, so much joy, sharing and caring for each other in this creative playground of cloth and fiber.  Perhaps this is where the comparison ends. Unlike the silk moth who will exist only a short time more, we will continue on, perhaps unraveling the cocoon as we return filled with new ideas and intention, having made new friends, strengthened old ones and set out on new paths and directions.

Here now at the airport, I am slowly emerging from this cocoon, having been once again transformed by the experience. I met so many, heard many stories, and shared much. Thanks to all who visited, took classes, participated in so many ways large and small.

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

 

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.

 

 

 

Finally Fall(ish)

Finally Fall-ish here.  Wearing a sweater in the house.  I swear I will not go out today and into the madness that is now known as Black Friday.  I have for years chosen to call this day Buy Nothing Day.  I was introduced to this concept back when the kids were in preschool- so, that’s been a while.  What a weird name for a day- Black Friday.  It sounds ugly to begin with-somehow ominous.  I think most of us would prefer to stay home and continue to enjoy our friends and families, eating leftovers and playing games or whatever the day brings.  I saw a photo of a store window in the newspaper this morning- it said “Celebrate Black Friday!”, huh?  But somehow this nonsense beguiles us to venture forth with the promise of one time only savings on things we might want to have.  I can’t say “need” here because it is mostly on luxury items.  In any case, we’re just staying home. I hear Cyber Monday is coming up…

Weird, just weird.

With that madness behind us, I will report that the workshop at the Japanese American National Museum last week was great fun.  Almost half were returning students and the other half soon to be returning.  There really is something about the exploratory process of shibori that draws you in.  I am interested in seeing that many of the returning students are becoming more and more interested in the nui (stitched) shibori.  Interesting that in the beginning, it seemed as if they were more interested in the pole wrapping and the clamped techniques.  I have been collecting more samples of stitched shibori to show them and I also think that the indigo vat has charmed them. Stitched shibori is very indigo friendly.  I have seen some great explorations on their part over time.  They inspire me to up my own game and challenge them further.

The museum hosted a trunk show coinciding with my workshop weekend there from the Nuno company. The students also enjoyed that and made several lovely purchases.  I spoke with the two fellows there and told them I had been fortunate to see the 30 Years of Nuno Textiles in Tokyo when I was there recently.  I bought the book  ZokuZoku as a reminder.

Thank you to everyone who is patiently waiting on your order.  I have been graced with a bit of the flu this weekend and have slowed a bit.  Soon better with turkey soup.

Also, I received an email reminding me that my Daily Dyer blog ( previously a subscription only blog from 2013) is up for renewal again on WordPress.  It’s a paid blog with the ability to load video and privatize so I had to decide whether to renew or not.  I went back and viewed a few things and thought -why not add it to the Feeling Freer section for the next year?  Then I will delete it when next year rolls around.

And so it is. You may find something useful or entertaining there.  You will have to use the sidebar to navigate as the newest post appears first.

and a few photos to spice it up…

 

Free(r)

There have been some changes around here. There will be more coming.

Some things are Free(r).

Free to choose, free to contribute or not. Free to participate in freedom.

Free to be…Free(r)

Feel Free 

Oh yeah-today WordPress reminded me I’ve been blogging for 9 years now! (And I did one year before that on the old Blogger.)  That makes 10 years of blogging.  Somehow I believe it. Thanks for following along.  I know some of you have been here since the beginning. And guess what?  We’re still here.  A few of us are not, and I do miss you…

9 years
thanks WordPress!

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.
poinsettia

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!