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!
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!
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!
Gosh, has it been that long? The first quilt Journey started here. Further photos from the wayback time machine here on Flickr. And it has been a journey that has developed into an Odyssey. Journey was the original mooncloth.
Sometimes it’s funny to go back and read an old post. Notice how some things change and others remain the same. Like how I am still not a quilter. Blogging for over 10 years now and there are so many posts I still enjoy going back and re-reading- as a reminder. Others not so much- but still a good reminder.
In a much more recent post, I showed you how I was binding the edge of the test mooncloth Under One Moon in a little video. A couple of pics of the semi-finished piece:
This was sent off as a gift with a hope of continuing. Some thread and a needle included.
Continuing on with the larger one I’m calling Odyssey, I’m realizing how much I like the feel and drape of this cloth in my hands as I stitch on it. And right now as I head towards Quilt Festival I also realize that about 90%+ of the fabric I see there is not fabric that I would want to hand quilt with. Of course quilting began with the reuse of scraps from clothing and household textiles that lived previous lives and had a softness built into them. Fabrics now are made for machines with tight weaves, bright colors, and slick finishes. This makes them harder to push a needle through by hand. And less desirable to hand quilters. I don’t know how others feel about this but I will be noticing next month at the festival and wondering about it more.
And in workshop news… the upcoming indigo workshop at the Japanese American National Museum is going to be a little different. We will be making some small fermentation vats that folks can take home and continue with. We will also be using the pre-reduced indigo and doing more shibori. Perhaps you want to explore doing some more detailed stitched shibori on larger cloth?
all cloth and thread dyed in the fermentation vat. mostly rescued fabrics. silk and cotton threads.
I’m redoing my indigo fermentation vat this weekend. It’s been a while in coming. I emptied it out (25-30 gallons) about 2 months ago when I was redoing a fence line that it sat along and it needed to be moved. At the time I was also having some issues with fruit fly larva in the vat and wanted to have a fresh start and see if I could solve that issue.
The vat will take at least a week to ferment to a usable state and in addition I need to receive an order of ground indigo from Cheryl at Aurora Silks. Coincidentally, she is having a sale on the 1 Kilo size ground natural indigo and offers free shipping. I only had 4 oz on hand so made the vat up with that to get it started and will add the rest of the indigo when it arrives in a couple of days.
I am adding a fine mesh cover to the top of the vat since the lid to this container is not a complete seal. Additionally, I am making a large net bag to drop into the vat while dyeing to keep all the organic materials and sludge to the bottom and away from the cloth as I work. It’s really only an issue when working with larger open weave fabrics which I seem to use a lot these days. It saves having to pick out the particles by hand or resort to lots of water wasting rinsing. Water is precious here.
When I disposed of the old vat I balanced the ph with some citric acid down to about 7 and used the liquid on the ornamental drought tolerant landscaping. The rest of the sludge in the bottom I added to the compost and was ready to start again. This vat had been in use for 4-5 years.
I am adding some video of the process of this new vat to the student forum for the online indigo workshop I have in my shop. Here is a little bit of day two progress…
August 6-7 is the final summer indigo workshop at the Japanese American National Museum. Signups are through the museum here.
Last time this is some of what participants did…
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.
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.
It was a great weekend at the Japanese American National Museum. There were several returning students but the majority were new to both dyeing and to shibori in general. It is always a pleasure to introduce people to both. Most indicated they will sign up again for one of the upcoming shibori workshops featuring indigo in June and August (contact museum for reservations). The force is strong in shibori…
Participants were fortunate to be able to see the last day of the exhibit “Two Views” featuring photographs by renowned 20th-century photographers Ansel Adams and Leonard Frank who each captured distinctive views of the Japanese American and Japanese Canadian incarcerations. I had seen it previously and encouraged everyone to take a break and go through the exhibit.
Early on Sunday I had the opportunity to view the other exhibit “Making Waves” before the museum opened to the public. It was really too much to take in in the amount of time I had- I spent a scant 30 minutes and knew I couldn’t do it justice so will go back before it closes the end of June.
In other news, I am feeling much better! The garden is blooming, vegetables growing. I also had a chance to see the current exhibit at the Mingei International Museum in San Diego recently. (Thanks to Nadja for the hospitality!) One thing I was curious about was the attribution of this piece on display.
Obviously shibori dyed but yet annotated as printed. Unless I am missing something… I could see the needle marks. Anyway…there were some fabulous pieces there, like this detail from a fisherman’s raincoat woven with reed and seaweed.
I came home from the weekend to find a lovely letter from a customer. Honestly, I have to say this sort of thing keeps me going at times. I know that making things by hand is an incredibly personal and worthwhile endeavor. Sometimes a journey of the soul. Please teach any children in your realm this valuable gift.
now I’m crying…xo
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.
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).
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.
There’s more, but enough for now…