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.

re-loving pre-loved

Last week was a bit of a blur.  A 2 day workshop at the JANM, all the prep and putting away for that consumed days apart from the actual time at the museum. We made fermentation vats for everyone who wanted to take one home.  I decanted and took a 5 gallon container from my own ferm vat to the workshop for participants to try out.  We “seeded” each of the new vats with a cup or two of my vat, so now the mother vat has children and I may become a grandmother! Or at least an Auntie. I took NO photos that weekend- was just very involved and focused on what we were doing. Thanks to all who came and also to those who plan on returning to the upcoming workshops Dec 10-11 and also on the Feb. 4-5.

The week also brought some pomegranate dyeing into view and it feels as if I am spinning straw into gold. Using lots of old cloth-collected and gifted- re-loving them.

And now finally, I attempt to finish this post started nearly a week ago.  With the first boxes sent off to the Ed office for my Houston workshops and the studio reorganized from that fiasco I continue…
plus, we got some rain…

 

a matter of time

Somehow, this makes me feel really sad.  I did realize that this would be the eventual end game of sorts.  It always happens.
And for expressing this I am prepared to take whatever shit comes my way about it.  I am. Somehow this feels somewhat personal.  Not in the usual Me Me Me sense but in the way that something I have grown to love, understand, and practice has yet again been usurped by the commercialization of something fine and turned into something rote. Turned into something that yet again, another company will inevitably run into the ground until people are tired of it in a season or two or until the profit runs dry and no one cares.
In the meantime, they will crank out tons of cotton fabrics, printed (not dyed), to be sewn by machines into stunning show quilts for competitions and more.

Why wonder about and practice it when you can just click a few buttons on the computer or grab a stack of whacks at the show and be done?

And so it is.

The word shibori comes from the root verb of the word shiboru which means to twist or wring, to squeeze.  Yup.  Makes sense.

workshop

 

moons and stars

Took a couple of days near the cooling beach with Phil and Trev to get away from the daily doings. Shore leave as it is sometimes called…

shore leave sunset

shore leave sunset

trevor surfs!

trevor surfs!

Brought this along. Maybe it is a traveling cloth, even if only a mind traveler.  Stitching on it again with the surf pounding in front of me, I wonder about our connection to water. A morning shoreline fisherman pulls up a silvery fish.  I imagine he is fishing for moons and stars.
The indigo seed is born of water, nourished by water, dissolved in water. The silk thread I am stitching with is connected to that water as well. The mulberry leaf received its water in the form of rain, the cocoon, the sericin softened and reeled with the aid of water.
clothmore clothThe early fisherman carries his silvery catch away as others arrive, and we move on. Here is a memory from another trip this way. moons, tides, memories

The Houston show is on the horizon ahead of me.  I am working towards that.  In addition, there is a two day workshop at the JANM.  There are other things too.  Too much really.  People who want last minute orders will wait until I return.  What can you do? I stopped posting on social media for a week.  Just needed a break from it.  FB and all its crazy politics with the election is disruptive.  I guess the most I will say about all that is go and vote.  Be prepared to take responsibility for what and who you vote for. The show in Houston is the weekend pre-ceeding the election.  Always a difficult and uncertain time for people.  I plan to make my booth as beautiful and peaceful as possible.  Come.  Hang out.  Get inspired. Working with your hands is good. Booth 1921.

80+ silk mandalas forded for the workshop. have to do this ahead for them as there is not enough time and space for a whole class to do their own.

80+ silk mandalas forded for the workshop. have to do this ahead for them as there is not enough time and space for a whole class to do their own.

they will practice on paper and go away with the instruction sheet.

apricot tree in bloom is confused with our 106 degree weather.

apricot tree in bloom is confused with our 106 degree weather.

Our hot spell has subsided now and both myself and perhaps the apricot tree are feeling a little less crazy. I could not work well outside during those days. Hence all the mandala folding and other workshop kit making after sunset.

bright spot in the garden

bright spot in the garden-I think he liked the hot weather! 

Jude is rerunning her suns,moons and stars. Take a look. Wouldn’t hurt to go here too.

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.

 

 

 

the rear view mirror

This post is like looking into the rear view mirror of last week.  It’s the last Monday in August now and in some places (not here really) Summer is connecting with Fall.  Here though, it seems summer is colliding with Fall.

pomegranate rinds-early!!

pomegranate rinds-early!!

Not even out of August and the pomegranates are ready!  So we (Trevor and I) picked about 25 and he seeded them for me.  What is left will produce some beautiful golds and greens (when added to to some indigo blue).
And if that’s not enough evidence of climate change for you- the persimmons are starting to go off as well!  This is unprecedented here (in the 36 years I have lived here and been the caretaker of this garden).  Generally, these are not ready until November when I return from Houston and peel and hang them for hoshigaki.  They are smaller this year (more work) and I should have thinned them.  I never have had to before.  A few had dropped and while the tip is orangey-the top is still green.  Softened, they are still delicious.  So this means I’ll keep my eye on them to try to determine the right time to pick and peel.

And if that isn’t enough, the ginkgo tree is dropping nuts.  I’m sharing with the boys who like to sit up in the tree and drop the outside parts on my head while I sit in the shade under the tree. A few years ago, Richard showed me how to prepare them.

And just so happened that Saturday was the NM hatch chile roasting at the nearby market…so of course I had to go.

It took about 3 minutes for 25 lbs! They put them in a bag inside a box where thy seated for a while and Trevor and I spent about 2 hours peeling and seeding them.
IMG_3337Whole and chopped and in the freezer in recipe sized portions. Some went to neighbors as well.  We had to wear masks while doing this and should have worn gloves as well.  The burning on the backs of our hands didn’t start until we finished and lasted for hours but is all gone now.  Next time…

The veggie garden is minimal at the moment.  Mostly kale, cukes and a new crop of heat tolerant tomatoes (a second tomato crop this season) which I wondered about but is doing as promised and setting lots of tomatoes-currently golf ball size.  I added some vermiculite to the raised bed to help even out the moisture and conserve on watering.  It appears to be working well especially with the new basil I planted- lots for delicious walnut basil pesto.  Never have done that before except in pots.

The fruit trees all have soaker hose rings on them and even then are wanting more water than I am giving them. Lots to adjust to as we get hotter and drier.

And in the studio- lots going on there too.  Ribbon orders and lots of indigo in addition to a little more beading trying to get to the right mix for the class project in Houston.  Here’s the latest addition to the shop– garden inspired with a remnant from the past…

I always loved this porcelain button and its garden theme.  The sense of something about to happen yet it lets you wonder.  I chose green shibori ribbon of course- some tailings.  The picot edge beads are like drops of dew. I stopped and started a few times on this, letting it tell me where wander.

I restocked the shop with indigo at the beginning of last week and mostly it is gone now- thank you!  The second part of my Houston booth now paid for. Phew!

I also received a nice stack of old linens from a friend. They belonged to her mother who passed away some years ago. I knew her well back then and it will be a treat to work with them.  They will be showing up soon.

 

 

ozone & indigo

Recently, in the workshop at the Japanese American National Museum one of the participants brought some fabric that she had dyed in another workshop somewhere.  It had faded radically and even more so along the folds and creases.  She wanted to know what had happened.
This is something that also came up a couple of times in the online indigo workshop and was struggled with over there.  Occasionally, I have seen it in my own indigo dyed pieces and strive to do those things which I find help to alleviate the problem.
As far as I have been able to understand, and the experiences I have had with this type of fading have led me to the following understandings.  Please feel free to jump in here and correct , inform and add to our knowledge on this for other folks as well.
The issue:
-fading of the fabric along exposed areas and folds where the cloth is exposed to air and or humidity. I have even seen fade lines on indigo cloth that I have hung (flat) to dry outside overnight that had a bit of a sway in the hung cloth. It seemed that in this case the overnight humidity was the over-riding factor.

IMG_3264

three shades from the fermentation vat ready to assemble into the cloth packs for the shop

What is happening?
– ozone in the atmosphere is reacting to the cloth and any chemicals left in the fabric and additionally with UV light to produce an oxidizing effect. Smog and humidity also figure into the mix even in cloth that is well washed out.

At first, I thought that only fabrics dyed in a chemical vat or a pre-reduced indigo vat were susceptible to this.  Not true.  They may be MORE prone to it but fermentation vat dyed indigo is also affected.

What to do to minimize this?
– wash out your fabrics well before dyeing to remove any chemical treatments.
-build up your depth of shade over many dips in the vat. Have a light vat and a dark vat to produce various shades of blue through repeated dips and really work the dye into the cloth.
-rinse your indigo dyed cloth well between dips into the vat and then finally wash them well with a good rinse in the end.  You may have seen photos of Japanese dyers planting their indigo dyed cloths along a river or stream to let the water run through- this would definitely do it!  Getting out any chemicals that can react to the ozone is beneficial.
-once dried and ready for storage until use, you can keep your indigo cloth in a drawer or wrapped in a towel to keep the edges from fading.

Finished pieces (such as a quilt on a bed, a pillow, a wall hanging) will fade more evenly and possibly without notice as they are more evenly exposed to the atmosphere. All indigo will fade with use (think denim).  Well dyed dark shades built up by many dips seem less susceptible.   This is one reason I prefer the fermentation vat over the pre-reduced or chemical vat-more work but a more satisfying process and result. Also, be aware that different fabrics will fade differently. Think about the weave and the fiber.

There are even products out now for commercial dye houses that speed indigo fading (ozone finishing!) with the use of ozone related treatments said to be less labor and water intensive. Consulting companies work with manufacturers to troubleshoot their process and diminish the fading (or even speed it up!).

What if it’s not a problem at all?  It’s a matter of perspective.

IMG_3269

Yesterday’s moon- on an open weave linen