Old cloth, old books (and a piano)

I never should have borrowed this book from my friend Donna:

 

It is very interesting and hysterical even, at times.  Especially the chapter titled “Cats and Dogs”. You might wonder why (especially now!) that I would choose NOT to entertain myself with such mirth given the dearth of nonsense going on about us.

The reason being that yesterday a piano fell on my face.

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yes, this piano…

And it hurts to smile or laugh.  And it is just in time for my weekend workshop at the museum (sorry- but all filled up). It’s not as bad as it sounds but it does hurt a bit and as long as I keep a straight face it doesn’t bother much.  Admittedly, I probably should have gone for a stitch or maybe two but being a bit cheap these days I lay around with a bit of ice and some pressure on it to make it behave (took a while). That being said, I was trying to come up with a funny way to describe to my workshop attendees what the heck happened.  The simple “a piano fell on my face” seemed appropriate (considering I can deliver the line with a straight face).

In actuality, I was cleaning behind the old upright piano and moving it back into position when the front board fell forward onto me and caught me in the face and arm(nice hurty bruise there too-but not too noticeable). By the end of the evening I had the room there all cleaned up and Phil got some new space to store and organize all his accumulating music. Yay! Plus I cleaned up some of my fabric stuff I needed to get to for the weekend of indigo dyeing.

Speaking of fabric, the end of the day resulted in about 50 meters of old silk kimono linings all washed up, most threads removed, ironed and folded.  These will be used this weekend and also at the upcoming Yosemite workshop. Cloth with a memory. Imperfectly perfect.

Back to the book- apparently you can get a reprint of it and also it is available on the Gutenburg Project- Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow

“Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, published in 1886, is a collection of humorous essays by Jerome K. Jerome. It was the author’s second published book and it helped establish him as a leading English humorist.” Wikipedia
 Originally published: 1886
Author: Jerome K. Jerome


Donna was also clearing out some space and found it lurking there in some dark corner. It is much more satisfying to hold this old original copy in my hand than read it off a screen though I may have to save it for next week’s readings when I can laugh out loud as I do.
Even the preface was humorous-

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wouldn’t elevate a cow… 

And really, isn’t change what we are looking for?

Old books, old cloth…got me to wondering.  What is the oldest book and the oldest cloth I have here? I wonder…

(And by the way, if you see me around town- don’t tell me a joke for at least a week!)

 

waiting for the thread to dry…

…is kind of like watching paint dry. Having finished off some orders in this heat I am able to get back to the vat today.  Dyeing a bit of this and that as needed.  As for the vat- it’s a happy vat at the moment.  My little experiment of sewing a big cotton scrim bag to put down into it (keeping any organic materials out of my more open weave cloth as I dye) has been successful.  I placed a few round stones in the bottom to keep it anchored below (somewhat). I also found I could move it over to my smaller light vat as well when needed.  It is not forming much hana (flower) but has a nice coppery sheen on top and is a deep green and dyeing well.
indigo vatAs a reminder- one needs to continue to stir the vat each day, especially when not using it.  This action reintegrates the organic materials and any undissolved indigo in the vat.  There are various theories on whether or not you want to get some oxygen into the vat while stirring (especially if the vat is in disuse).  My particular theory is that since the bacteria consume oxygen they need at least a little bit ongoing to keep up the good work.  That hana you see on your vat is a sign of good fermentation and the result of oxygen bubbling to the top and meeting with the air.

I am anxious to get on with it while I am in the mood but the thread I am dying to use is still wet.  I am working on a show piece for Houston (as in “show”, I mean a piece for the wall of my booth) and it seemed to me that I needed to set it aside and work on a smaller, simpler piece to solve some puzzles and answer some questions I was running into on the larger one.  I also depend on wondering here to catch a few thoughts.

Let’s just get clear on one thing. I am not a quilter.  This may not even be a quilt. It is something.

So that being stated, I have lots to wonder about as I go down the path with this one.  I will say that if you define a quilt as:

“layers of cloth held together with threads drawn through with a needle”

-then this is (a version of) a quilt. But maybe it is something else. Maybe it is a dyers cloth (run through with a needle)? Ahh…to define something. To categorize. To make it black or white. How can it be one thing and still be another? Two things at the same time? Or none at all.  Maybe it is its own thing. That might ring true sometimes. Maybe for today. For now, it is a beginning. It is blue. Many blues. And it has moons. Many moons.

moon

I think the thread may be dry now.

a moon memory…

On this day forty seven years ago I was 11 years old and living in Yokohama, Japan.  Our family had earned the privilege  of a home leave visit back to the US after having been there since 1965 and my dad having signed up for another stay in Japan.

It was the day my obsession with the moon began.

I had been dropped off to visit at the house of one of my best friends (prior to leaving WA) in Gig Harbor WA.  Her mom put on the TV to watch the moon landing which for us -in and of itself something of a novelty since we didn’t watch TV in Japan.

In the closet was her very pregnant cat having a whole box full of kittens.  We ran back and forth from the closet to the TV reporting with screams of delight, “There’s ANOTHER kitten!!” Running back to the closet, we named each kitten after the moon mission.  We started out with Neil, Apollo, Moon, Lunar, Armstrong, Rocket and others.  We started to run out of names!  There ended up being 9 kittens in all.  Such an exciting day.

It stayed with me all my life. Cats and moons.  We can all relate to both in some way. Last night was another full moon. I hope you looked up, just for a moment.  If not, don’t worry- it will still be there tonight.
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weaving across colors and then some

Some things take a long time to figure out.  I wondered about this quite some time ago while participating in one of Jude’s classes.  Then I set it aside. Recently while working on something new, I realized exactly what this was for.  And now I’m wondering again. Getting into the Spirit of things.
woven moon

encouraging process

I have always been a process oriented person.

I like to take a material and make it into something else.  I like to figure out and create a process for that.  To repeat that process.  So many times…to create the process and then alter it. The process and the repeating keeps me balanced. Even when operating within the maze.

I like to discover via process.  I discovered this process after doing a lot of this.  It takes doing. And going there many times.  And still…

In the workshops I teach, I like to lead a path to discovering.  Not solve everything for you. Your path will be different from mine.  If I am rigid and demand that you follow my example you may not find your own path.  I like to encourage wondering- which in the end means experimenting and questioning.

Lately, life does seem like a maze.  We will get through. Life is a Maze ing.
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(3 available in the shop)

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…
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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…
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Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.