weaving motifs into cloth (and life)

There are certain motifs that have always captured my attention.  Of course you know the moon is one of these motifs but the other two that captivate me are water and cloud imagery.  Who hasn’t laid back and watched the clouds move across the sky, felt the sun come and go across our skin…listened to the waves, a nearby stream, a roaring river or waterfall…seen the moon rise and fall?  I like that these motifs are universal and shared across the globe regardless of where or who you are.  It reminds me of life’s beauty, and our connectedness to each other. These things give me perspective.

I think this is why these nature based motifs have been given so much regard in design over time and space.  Often each motif is imbued with a special meaning or symbology. I enjoy studying all the meanings behind the motifs and the cultures which bestowed these interpretaions.

I recently was very taken with old silk which had these images woven into the design.  I purchased a couple of rolls of these silks from second hand shops recently with a few things in mind.  First, to study them and then to create something out of them.

japanese vintage silk damask -indigo dyed

japanese vintage silk damask -indigo dyed

Aside from the cloud and water motifs, this one has bamboo, maple leaves and what looks to be cherry blossoms.  Sort of covers it all!  Originally, this sort of fabric was used for nagajuban -the ankle length under kimono which used the softest and finest silks worn next to the skin.  The weight and design complexity of this silk suggests that it was to be used in a nagajuban worn for a very formal occasion. It has a beautiful hand and a lovely drape.

I saw moons in it of course…

silk moons for the supermoon

silk moons for the supermoon

flowers on the moon-indigo and silk

flowers on the moon-indigo and silk

I used a piece of this fabric for a nice indigo dyed scarf with diagonal ends and hand stitched hems- ombre dyed on one side. I think I will add an interesting bead to the two points…

indigo scarf

I finally completed a little shop update that includes the following items- enjoy! Most items ship free with any other item.  Now back to the studio to finish up a couple orders that need to go out asap!

each day, one at a time

Just have to add this here if you haven’t seen it yet. If so, it’s worth viewing more than once.

And if you missed the video of her I shot in 2011-

Richard had translated for me back then-

Richard says:
Yup, it’s really interesting. Someone asks her how long she’s been at it. She answers she’s been doing it for 81 years now, and that when they all started, kids started in elementary school back then. She says they competed to be the best, from even such an age. And that back then there were lots of “shokunin”, or craftsmen(and women, I imagine), 100 or more. She says she’s from Narumi. She goes on to reveal that her age is 92 and that the woman next to her is 2 years older yet(like it’s some contest or something)

And after a second listening he adds:
OOps, she’s been doing it for 83 years. Back then, you started when you started elementary school. They competed to remember different techniques and patterns. There were 120 patterns that had to be remembered, but now there are only 70 or so that are done, the others having been abandoned. She says she did a lot of work back then as a student, and then restates herself to emphasize the amt (like “I did a ton!”)

Also, please note that if you receive the daily dyer and have not renewed your subscription for the second 6 months- I will be removing your access as of this Friday the 21st. ( So please catch up on posts before then! And thank you for participating these past 6 months.)

If you want to sign up now, you have the option to join for the full year as a new subscriber with access to the past as well as the future!
http://shiborigirl.bigcartel.com/product/the-daily-dyer

the heron and the hummingbird

I was prompted to write this post as a reply to a recent comment on a previous post about my online indigo workshop “Let’s Dye with Indigo“. comments here.

The commenter was suggesting that I apply to teach my online indigo class at Craftsy. This is not the first time someone has suggested this to me.  Now I know that “everyone is doing it”, and before I get more emails asking  why I’m not, I thought I’d try to explain my hesitation to do so.

First, it’s not “all about the money”.  But then again, it is about the money too.   About where the money goes. I prefer it to come directly to me for the work I put into my classes.

Craftsy is great for those who don’t want to or can’t set up their own system of teaching online.  They do it for you.  And I hear they do a fine job of it.  They even do your hair and makeup and send a limo for you.  (Somehow, that just doesn’t feel like me being me.) I’ve seen some of the promos and they are pretty slick.  Again, that doesn’t really feel like me either.  I don’t want to turn my indigo dyeing teachings into something that resembles a morning talk program.  I kinda like it the way it is, personal,real, and kinda funky.  Shot here in my own studio on my trusty iphone and edited in imovie.  Not so slick.

Yes, I probably could sell a lot of classes there.  I might even make more money (but like I said before, it’s not all about the money). But then again I might not.  I have spent a considerable amount of time and even travel teaching, learning, practicing, marketing my own  work and “brand” over the past many years and I’m not so quick to turn that over to someone else to take a cut off the top.  I am not so interested in becoming a class in a category on a site offering everything from decorating cupcakes to pizza making and parenting. I guess I’m a little weird that way.

As I look over Craftsy, I see that since their beginning offerings in 2011 they have grown to encompass so many topics- a clearing house of sorts. They make their money by being that clearing house.  Online learning is here to stay.  That much is sure. Coursera is now booming and their offerings are free!

For some of us that have been at this, teaching craft (or whatever you want to call it) online, for longer than that, I believe we paved the way for this sort of thing. The first one I was aware of was Joggles, where I taught a couple of classes in the beginning as a requirement for having my ribbon sold on the site.  It was a fair trade in the beginning.  Later down the road, I wanted to offer more (was told that it was impossible to teach dyeing online!) and I wanted to include video so I went solo and started developing my own methods and means.  Part of my intention was that I knew there were many folks out there like myself who couldn’t afford the trips to take in-person workshops with great teachers.  Whether it was a time or money issue, I thought that teaching dyeing online was a possibility. I also didn’t want to be limited by geography. I wondered. Things were changing. Technology was offering up new possibilities. I just started doing it.  I learned as I went and I learned from and with others.

Susan Sorrell   stands out in my mind as someone who was in on the online teaching very early on. Maybe as early as 2002 from what I could see on her website! I think my own first online classes were somewhere around 2006.  And of course, we include the masterful Jude of Spiritcloth for bringing us classes online that feed our soul, make us wonder, and have helped us in so many ways-stitch by stitch- by just being herself. There are many more I am sure.  We each have created a small niche for ourselves that supports us and our families. We are not rich by conventional terms, but we are independent and we are entrepreneurial. We also want to be ourselves. I  want to own my own materials, my own copyright.  I like being able to add to my class whenever I like-as I learn and grow with the students. Once a Craftsy class is “in the can” it is what it is.

feathered friends by Peg Mathes Yates

feathered friends by Peg Mathes Yates

 

Immature Great Blue Heron looking for dinner ©2010 Peg Mathes Yates

Immature Great Blue Heron looking for dinner ©2010 Peg Mathes Yates

I am reminded of a retelling of a Native American myth that I once read called  “Heron and the Hummingbird” where the two get in a race to see who will own all of the fish in the rivers and lakes. The hummingbird loved to eat small minnows and the heron loved to eat large fish. I think we are the hummingbirds in the story.

I imagine that at some point down the road Craftsy might be bought by some media company larger than itself.  Seems that is how many of these sorts of startups go. Big fish swallowing up smaller fish -the way of the world these days.

I just hope that the future will still hold a place for hummingbirds to flit free and enjoy the nectar. Some days though, it does feel as if the odds are stacked against it. Once, when I was in Mexico, I saw a hummingbird laying dead near a large window. I went over and picked it up and to my surprise it started to move.  It sat there in my hand for a few minutes gathering itself together and then flew right out of my hand- off and away! It had merely been stunned I guess, running into that large window.

I’d never bet against the hummers out there. We’re colorful, we can take a few knocks, and we keep on zip-zipping around tasting nectar from here and there. Plus, as my friend Peg reminds me, hummingbirds can fly backwards! (thanks for the photos Peg!!)

summer indigo dyeing blues

I know that many of you are finally coming into your spring – with things warming up, plants budding out; gardening and planting might be on your mind.  As you get some of that done and look forward to summer are you considering some indigo dyeing?

indigo flowering 4/30/13

indigo flowering 4/30/13

If so, you might consider taking my online indigo dyeing class “Let’s Dye with Indigo“.  Now is a good time to consider starting your vat as the weather warms up.  I just started a new 40 gallon natural fermentation vat and within one week it was already producing beautiful blues.  My class consists of two parts- the 5 lesson workshop plus the student forum. Both are very informative.  You can easily jump from one to the other through links in the sidebar of each.  Four (4) types of vats are explained and maintained.  You choose which one is right for you.

adding the wetted out indigo into the new vat

adding the wetted out indigo into the new vat

Although this workshop covers 4 different vat types, continuing posts will focus on the fermentation vat. There have been a lot of things fermenting around here over this past year. Many having to do with how we go about our lives- what we add to it and what we take away from it; the marks we make, the marks we leave behind, perhaps leaving no mark at all!  Fermentation has produced many of the best things we can enjoy in life- wine, beer, miso, bread, yogurt, cheese, pickled vegetables and so much more (even compost!).

Fermentation is a cellular process that occurs in an environment lacking oxygen that converts organic matter into simpler compounds and releases energy as a result (along with the byproduct of many delicious and useful things).

Pretty cool huh?  Simplifying organic matter to create energy and other good things.  I’m gonna stick with that.   I’ll also be adding posts about growing and using indigo as well.

So let’s continue to dye indigo by fermentation this year.  Let’s Experiment. Let’s Wonder. Are you in? If so, sign up here:

Let’s Dye with Indigo-online workshop

Why should you sign up now?  For “This Week Only” (sounds like an infomercial!) I am adding in the Shibori Techniques on Silk -Self Study Online Workshop (usually sold separately for $25). The principles in the shibori techniques class can be applied to your indigo dyeing as well. This sale will be available only until this Saturday   – giving me enough time to add you into the class before the Silk Study Tour to Japan departs. So both classes for the price of the indigo class.  A sort of Sayonara Sale!

the daily dyer preview

Additionally, if you have been a part of my series the daily dyer for the past 5 months, you know we are entering the final month which will be broadcast from Japan.  Thank you to all who have participated in that little experiment- I hope you have found some of it useful or at least entertaining.  This last month should prove to be an exciting month.  I have decided to continue there as well and will be offering  two options for the daily dyer in the shop:

option one: continuing. for original subscribers only. this will secure your subscription through the end of the year.  cost is $35

option two: new subscriber. here you will get access to the full year; the upcoming Japan Silk Study Tour posts and whatever lies beyond that.  the past, the present, and the future. cost is $95.

Sign up in the shop here.

the essence of intention-意図の本質

scenario:

a small couture mfg sees some of my work and wants to incorporate it into their line.  meeting takes place where we discuss the possibilities.  i share some sources and ideas, send samples etc.  there actually was a decent possibility that i could produce something for them -basically a wide cotton woven tape arashi dyed with natural indigo.  they loved this-something of mine they had seen from a while back:

indigo arashi on cotton tape

indigo arashi on cotton tape

they also loved the silk ribbon but the above was what they started with.  indigo being ever so “popular” at the moment and the cotton being more practical for the purpose.  fast forward to now. they have worked with the cotton tape supplier i directed them to to produce a faux version of this.  of course it is only faux.  the company actually did a decent job of interpreting the idea but since it is a woven it is very regular and well, manufactured looking.  originally we talked about how adding a very artisanal element to the product was highly desired.  so now i receive an email asking if i can take what they have created and add an “artisanal” touch to it.  or if i have any ideas.

i had to sit with it a bit and think about how i would reply.  here are my thoughts on it…

I know it is a desire of many to produce a handmade artisanal effect through a quicker manufacturing process. The result of that often lacks the desired  end.    My work strives to keep the hand in the making.  It is an intentional thought all along the process. I believe that through this intention the final result contains this energy of beauty.  It is there, even if one doesn’t recognize it as such. 

it is like this process of silk and indigo. to raise some silk myself, to grow the indigo. to use a natural fermentation vat. to make the silk shibori ribbon by hand.  it is all intention.  to let the end result speak for itself.

i just thought it was interesting that at this point i was being asked back into the project to somehow inject what seemed to be missing-even to them.  i actually see it as a good sign.  that something different is being sought or desired.

perhaps next time!

indigo,vintage,and shibori shop update

OK- seems like the shop was desperate for a little restocking and reorganizing so here are some links to the recently requested items-

more indigo boro fabric collections

 

indigo_packindigo boro packs

NEW! indigo dyed vintage fabric collections– all vintage fabrics…

indigo vintageindigo vintage collection

more of the vintage whites are in stock:

detail whitevintage whites 

vintage silk collections are available for pre-order.  these will be shipped mid June and will be limited so I am taking pre-orders. (add this to any order in the shop and it will ship free in June)

detail

detail

vintage kimono silk linings

and the ever popular silk shibori ribbon scrap bags. many of you have asked me to email you when they are available again but honestly- i just don’t have the time to hunt down you all.  i’ll give it my best though…

composition in C major borealis

composition in C major borealis

shibori ribbon scrap bags-$20

also added-

indigo sky fabric

shades of indigo

silk satin bias ribbon (white) for dyeing

phew!

and there will be more 3 way color shibori ribbon packs in a week or so.  start thinking color!

that’s it for this Monday- またね!