Tag Archives: craft

wordy wondering…again

Sometimes I wonder.

As of late, in the curious world we are living in, I feel more and more that I am an outsider. More than just an outsider ( I have always been that) but as I have talked about before, the sort of species that is on the endangered list.  Something that is becoming extinct. As someone who for SOME reason believed I could become anything I wanted to to be (and I became an independent artisan) I feel that choice is in rapid decline in our world.  Maybe it is just me-I admit, I do have a weird perspective. I mean really, how many people do you personally know who has been able to make a living making things by hand and selling them for their entire adult life (40+ years so far)?  Any?  I’m not saying this to amaze or impress you.  Trust me, it’s not everyone’s gig-  THAT is for sure.  But the fact that it was even possible and at some points in history (all over the world) quite common, is interesting. The fact that it is in extreme decline is regrettable to me. I really don’t think that it is something that most people think about at all.

I think about it all the time.

hands

Why does this concern me?  I ask myself this question and it is not an easy answer.  I believe that a certain amount of distance from the norm is good for society in general. It can provide an example, a path to follow, or even inspiration.  It provides a balance of sorts. This kind of distance and independence allows for different thinking, different perspective and different choices.  Not to mention the benefits to many of working with your hands, of creating daily, of experimenting and problem solving, and for many-better mental and physical health.

I can only continue to be, to exist as I am.  All this outside the norms- whatever those are. It seems that that is really the best I can do at this point.  I am very fortunate to have a roof over my head.  Some sort of forethought allowed for that at least.  If I were to do this today, it would look very different I am sure (if I was able to do it at all). That is the point of this post in the end, I guess. It seems as if this choice is becoming so unavailable, so rare-a choice I once took for granted without even knowing what an extravagance it really was. I didn’t know because I just did it. One day at a time, every day-until it was my normal.

The rising cost of living in general seems to necessitate rushing to a job-the sort of job that can pay the bills and leaves little time for much else.  Once one has money coming in, there are the expectations of society, others and even ones self.  A car- a payment, a house-a payment, taxes-payments, health-payments, family-$, etc..  It is a cycle that once one arrives at, is very hard to disengage from.  Only if one can become very creative, frugal, and perhaps fortunate, can you craft a situation that allows distance from the norm. I see people all around me longing to disengage from the desk chair, the screens, the keyboards, the commutes.  Yet the lifestyle that has been created makes it difficult to do so.  The actions needed to disengage are overwhelmed by the changes needed to make this happen.   One is thought of as irresponsible (if not just plain crazy) for not fully engaging in this cycle.

All I can say at this point is find a way.  Just find a way. 
beautyI love Soetsu Yanagi‘s thoughts…

This exhibit is still up at he Mingei Museum in San Diego until Oct. 2nd. I’ve seen it three times now and loved it all three times.

wondering leads down new paths… and back again

It’s true, my blogging sabbatical is over.  It was never really “official”, whatever that means, but in the 9 months in which I haven’t blogged here I have been missing it.  Missing you, those of you who don’t partake in the flurry of other social media offerings.

What exactly do I miss about it?  I miss the wordier, more thoughtful, slower pace of writing a blog post as opposed to the quick quip on Facebook or a clever (maybe) image on Instagram.  If I want to give myself a sorry excuse, I will say I have been very busy these past months. I am quite thankful for that as there have been times when I wondered…financially speaking, if continuing was the way to go.  But being my persistent self, yes, once again persistence was the way.

Often over the past nine months I have thought- “Oh!  I should blog about that.”  Then I let it be and carried on in my work and the moment passed.  (Sometimes for the better I will admit.)

Blogging is more like a homemade meal, often with ingredients right out of your own garden. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the rest are more akin to a fast food joint- you’re in and you’re out. Things can happen in fits and bits.  That is what I have noticed.  And while I work out in the dye studio I can keep up with all that on my phone in a staccato-like way.  I can even throw up a photo ever so easily as I work.(Squirrelly Gurl says Hello!) Throw out a comment or two, commiserate, cheer on, congratulate, and send birthday wishes to people (some of whom I actually know!)  But in the end,  it’s the words and thoughts I miss.  Expression in a different form.

So, even if you can only stop in for a home cooked meal every now and then, come on by- I’ll be here stirring the pot a bit.

Some images from 2014 on your way out, great thanks to all who were a part of it- enjoy, create and wonder!!  We need more wonder in the world…

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!

back to the future-again

The story goes something like this:

One day Richard and I were emailing back and forth about this and that.  Mostly about textiles and old things he had come across and how they could be saved and utilized.  And about him coming here from Japan to teach another workshop.  And about how he had gone into the attic of an old farmhouse and found some remnants of the family’s sericulture activities.  At the time I was putting together the “Silk Experience, Then and Now” exhibit for last year’s Houston’s International Quilt Festival.  He had found some examples of the straw cocoon bedding and of the cardboard cocoon trays which followed years later.  He saved me some samples that I was able to display at the show.  A couple of weeks later, he emailed me to say that he had come across some washi “cocoon bags”- was I interested?  Without hesitation I said yes! Get what you can, I said, not really knowing what they were but instinctually sure they were important somehow.  If you saw the exhibit last year you saw these remarkable examples of what I consider to be folk craft-handmade objects that served a purpose in daily life. I love stuff like this.  Everyday objects that are used but also are beautiful both visually and for the fact that they fit into the structure of everyday life of the time in which they were produced by craftsman of those times.  Eventually, he had the opportunity to acquire a few more.

cocoon bags at exhibit

cocoon bags at exhibit

Now,  I have been to the main sericulture/silk museums in Japan as well as seen the collection of items at the Tokyo Silk Science Institute associated with Tokyo University.  I had never before seen anything like these washi bags!  I wondered…

cotton coon bag with markings

cotton cocoon bag with markings

I started researching online.  Couldn’t find anything.  In fact, vintage or antique washi itself was rare to find.  Mostly now you find a scrapbooking product claiming to be vintage washi tape.  An image search of “vintage Japanese washi” comes up with this page.  Not e x a c t l y…

this is washi

this is washi

What we have surmised so far is this- that these bags were made in Mino City-known for it’s papermaking and it’s close proximity to where they were discovered by Richard.  That they are easily over 100 years old. That some are treated with kakishibu (persimmon tannin) and others were dyed with tumeric (the yellow ones or yellow patches on them).  That they predate the use of cotton bags for silk cocoon transportation and storage.  That they were regularly sent back for repair and patching when needed and in the end, they were abandoned in favor of cotton bags.  Since Mino was a center of papermaking, they may be a somewhat regional object-using what comes naturally and is close at hand.  Hence, why I have yet to see them in other areas like Gunma or Yokohama which are more north.

Imagine!  Giant gusseted cocoon bags made of thick fibrous paper, patched, repaired and saved for tens of decades.  I have saved one out to give as a gift to the Yokohama Silk Museum if they are interested.  I have not seen one there.  I have saved myself one and have it hanging on a wall where I can see it every day and wonder.  Some people have expressed an interest in using the paper itself in their own artwork.  Either way, these pieces have ki or 気 which is another way to say vital life energy.  That they have resurfaced after all these years is so interesting to me.  We have several of them available in the shop.  It’s a joint effort between us to find these pieces good homes where they can continue to produce 気.

in the shop now

engendering balance

for Fumiko-tsuki no ai


i wrote about taring the scale and bringing about balance in my work a couple of posts ago and have decided that this is something i intend to place in clearer focus for 2010. i want to to thank my indigo sensei Fumiko Sato and dedicate this piece of cloth to her. she won’t see this post as she works and lives in isolation without email or internet in the mountains of Japan but my New Year’s gift to her is a small piece of cloth to let her know her time with me last year was much appreciated and that i continue on with all i learned from her.
i learn from my work with indigo the importance of simplicity and balance. that striking that balance with the vat means building a relationship with it and letting the work speak to me as i create it. this takes time. and while this work is where my heart is it is not where the money is at the moment. which brings me back to balance. the struggle of making by hand for a living continues and i do enjoy a good challenge, but in 2010 my intention is to come from service more and trust
that the rest will work itself out. try to panic less and balance more.

i have wanted to share a story for the new year that is also a reminder to me that no matter what, i must be on the right path even though some days i really do wonder. it is also connected to indigo and the moon and you too, might remember this piece some time back-

cary the moon indigo style


a little bag made of various scraps of indigo as i was practicing with the vat and various textiles.
i put this up for sale on etsy and sold to a gal who works with children helping them with various problems. the bag was to hold an assortment of other artist’s work which the children use and play with as she works with them. on a whim, when i sent it to her i filled it with various other silks and ribbons. over time this new friend sent me stories of how the children interacted with the ribbons and how fascinating they found them, which of course pleased me greatly. some of the stories were deeply touching and i came to learn that this woman really had a way of reaching these kids and that the various aspects of the shibori silks -the colors, the pleats, the feel, when used therapeutically by her seemed to contain a little magic that allows the children to open up and communicate. talk about inspiring!
one day i was cleaning up around in the studio after some particularly bad wind which had torn apart my shade cover and broken my cheap wannabe ez up frame, i grabbed a used drumstick (household of drummers here) and strapped the frame back together with a little duct tape. i had just received yet another touching story from my friend wendy and a little idea popped into my head. i drilled a hole into the end of the drumstick and dug into my box of odd and and shibori ribbons. stitching a long piece of ribbon to the end of the stick i made a wand like the ones we used to make and play with when the kids were little. i tested it out and decided to steam out most, but not all of the pleats to better catch the wind and open up the colors. packed up a bunch of second silks and the wand and mailed it away. it’s been a while since i heard from wendy but just prior to christmas on a day i was feeling a little down and wondering why i received the following story which she shared with me:

dear glennis,
i am hoping you remember me…..you generously gifted me many pieces of ribbon and a wild drum stick with a rainbow tail!

i wanted to send you a warm and tender hug for all that you have done in restoring many a young heart.
today. a child, four years old, kicked out by many other therapists arrived at my cottage, up here in the woods. the boy and i sat on the front stoop. he said nothing could help him. four years old.
geesh.

the healing began on many levels. i brought the drum stick with the long ribbon attached, outside…in the cold, snowy, shortest day of the year, two o’clock winter time. he looked at me. took it and waved it. then he went into the snow. made track marks. flew around the front part of the forest. we walked into the forest. he wrapped it around trees, held it and marched. made circles and figures only your shibori could. and then he asked me to write a poem in the snow. it said this:

“the ribbon is the eye of a river.
the stick clicks on the trees.
i can hear the talking of trees inside.
when i knock like that.
i love this wavy talking stick.”

we walked back to my little cottage. we sat quietly. we sat together for a long time. he asked me if the stick was magic. i said: of course. he waved it. we were still for 30 seconds. then we saw the wolf, walking quietly. we got a picture just in time……

the little one said:” i think i am feeling better and will come back. tell my mother you and the drumstick lady are my goodest medicine.”

if you ever see josh freese, please let him know his kind gesture of a gift to you, has taken a most healing journey.

i am renewed , humbled, and rededicated to bringing more creativity into childrens lives in 2010. they really can see the purpose of art and craft in their lives.