Category Archives: workshop

Solstice Silkworms

On this solstice, I think of Nature and the natural world. I think of the passing of time, our place on this planet and the global environment. The sun is not standing still, nor is time.  Recent days have seemed very, very long and dark- even at a time when light lingers. I let the change flow over me knowing it WILL change. All things change.

I am watching the silkworms change every day. They are my daily reminder.

I am sorry to report that this weekend’s workshop titled Moth to Cloth at the JANM has been cancelled due to low enrollment.  I’m a bit sad about this as I was really looking forward to it.  I guess the topic was a little esoteric for the venue. I feel like I’m taking it a little personally though.  Everyone wants indigo and shibori workshops.  The August offering there is already sold out with a waiting list now.  So for now, my 500 silkworms and I will just carry on…marking time.

silkworms for Moth to Cloth workshop

Did you know that from hatching to cocooning a silkworm increases in size by a factor of 10,000?
Here they are today, June 12, 2018.  Toby is wondering what this is all about. It’s his first experience with the silkworms.
Workshop link here.

fragments

img_4064
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

 

from Journey to Odyssey

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.

I hope I can get this one finished in time.  Or near to-at least in a way that it can be continued on the road. Late afternoon light…
mooncloth odysseySeems it’s a Nine patch.  Just turned out that way.

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?

Workshop details and registration are on the museum site. Saturday and Sunday October 8-9

all cloth and thread dyed in the fermentation vat.  mostly rescued fabrics. silk and cotton threads.

 

 

 

summertime, and…

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…
IMG_2601

And likely,since Jude had been busy with moons, folks have been ordering the moon assortments which has kept me and my studio helper hard at work…
IMG_2590

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.

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