it’s summer. here, one can tell by the garden jobs that need attending each day before getting started on other things. plus, by the amount of tomatoes piling up on the kitchen counter.
and in all things summer, the mockingbirds sing throughout the night, the fans hum in the background by day, and earlier morning watering is preferred. also, the garden is filled with creatures. (and the dog got skunked)
the hornworm was put in a box in the garden where a bird flew off with it for a juicy meal. the monarch cats are now in their beautiful green chrysalis’ and the neighbor cat…well… let’s just say he appears to be moving in from over on the next block. i’ve taken to making tomato soup and hot processing it to use the extra tomatoes that i don’t pass on to friends and family. it’s even really good cold! i’m drying lots of the cherry tomatoes. there are thousands i think. each day, one at a time.
the ladybugs have been breeding here and having a garden party. they daily eat all the available aphids so no damage to plants-lucky me! seriously, they are everywhere. these are tiny! earlier in May I found tons of the nymphs. found these ones when i was picking tomatoes this morning. meanwhile i also continue to harvest and save assorted dye materials- right now mostly cassia pods and marigolds. speaking of doubt, out a an abundance of caution, i cancelled the in-person tekumo shibori workshop and reformed it as a zoom workshop. Covid does not seem to be done with us even as we vaccinate and with the delta variant and numbers rising throughout the state and county it seemed the right thing to do. and just when i do this, now silk organza is no longer available. at least not until late august i’m told. fortunately, i have enough on hand for the workshop but jeeze…it’s always something. fortunately, in addition to the organza i have on hand i have a nice selection of other japanese silks for us to experiment with. each cloth to its own.
stay safe, get vaccinated, and keep masking when indoors in public. your families love you. each moment is precious.
Oh jeeze…i was working between my phone and my laptop to write this post and I accidentally published it in an incomplete form. So if you subscribe by email, you got a notification that once you click on, is no longer there. oops..sorry. Anyway… onward!
Friday night I will be doing a Parents Night event at a private school in Los Angeles. As always, preceding such workshop, I am in prep mode. Each workshop event is unique. This one might be a little more so than usual. There will be 30 people for 3 hours! Each will make two shibori cotton kitchen towels.
Designing an indigo shibori workshop with these sorts of parameters is a challenge. Of course, the main challenge is to see that everyone can achieve a good outcome. Then perhaps to tempt them into further explorations in shibori, having only scratched the surface in this brief 3 hour encounter. From what I understand, it’s also a parents night out and partially a social outing. Maybe some will only make one towel in that period of time- it will kinda be up to them.
For this short workshop I have chosen cotton kitchen towels as the canvas for their indigo shibori experience . Who can’t use a new kitchen towel? The cotton is almost sarashi type weave, but hemmed all around, and 28″ x 28″. Throw them in the wash and wipe the floors with them if you like. A practical item.
Next, the challenge is to come up with several suitable design ideas that are simple and practical for the complete novice shibori practitioner. Designs that 30 people with two towels each can accomplish in 3 hours. Maybe.
This sort of an event can be a little difficult for me to predict what the energy in the room will be when people arrive. I don’t know the room but am assured there are tables & chairs for 30, as well as work space and sinks and water. It’s a Friday, people are tired, looking forward to the weekend with their families I would think. I will watch and listen as they arrive and read the room. Adjust accordingly. Give them what they need and send them off into the weekend with a couple of indigo shibori towels they made themself! Sounds like fun!
Here’s a quick couple of photos of the samples I made as samples. Two are shown as towels and the third uses the towel as furoshiki- quite versatle!
I’m putting together all the additional supplies, filling orders, & moon making tomorrow. Orders on moonsets got ahead of inventory. Also, life in general.
You might enjoy this pic from Sunday evening.
And in between this and that, I dug this out to start finishing up. Lots more stitching to go, but I resolved the edge. Backed with old Japanese jacquard silk that I indigo dyed a while back. The backing itself is wonderfully soft. Several different patterns are stitched together. One has cranes woven into the silk. Self binding- all by hand of course. To me it’s more fun that way. Of course I want to spend days on it right now but other duties call. Oh, and if you don’t recall from previous posts about this piece, all the shibori pieces in this are demonstration sample pieces I dyed in workshops.
New Year, New Post. Who knows what to expect this year? I know I certainly don’t. Some days it feels as if the wheels are coming off the bus, other days, I can remain hopeful. What to do but continue? Beyond this, it seems like the new decade (apparently depending on how you count your years) will bring lots of changes. As far as my studio work goes, shibori, cloth and indigo remain a focal point. But then again, who knows? What about you?
Over the transition from 2019-2020 I had some ideas that I just could not stop thinking about. You know, those sorts of ideas that you just have to actually do to get them out of your system…and see where they might take you. It was one of those sort of things. So I did it once and am about to do it again just to see. At first, I wasn’t sure about it so let it hang around for a while just to let it settle in. I’m still not sure about it (or much of anything these days to be honest), but after letting it be for a while, I’m ready to do another one. It might be “ART” , so I am cautious…
In other activities, the New Year is always a time when I want to obsessively clean, organize and clear out things. A perfect opportunity arose as there is about to be a new instrument brought into the house. You might be thinking a guitar, or something larger like a piano or drumset (but no, we already have plenty of those). It’s a marimba! Being quite large, it required the cleaning out and removal of the space I was formally using as a desk/office area. Which led to the next room, and the next…you can see where this is going. Huge swaths of things have been removed, sorted, relocated, and cleaned to within an inch of their lives. It really is a great activity for the magical in-between-time after Christmas and before New Years. Also, having the local version of whatever virus is going around helps, as it can be done bit by bit without leaving the house yet leaves one feeling incredibly productive. One last corner needs sorting-the dreaded bead and flower making corner. Perhaps tonight. Tomorrow. One day…
As seems to be the way lately, another week has passed before I finish this post. A welcome and steady stream of overnight visitors, the latest virus going round with the never-ending cough, and a workshop at the JANM. Not to mention local politics as we try to rally around some new blood in our local city council as well as put down a couple of tax increasing ballot measures. All this takes time and the studio work has been suffering! So, here’s to getting this thing done today!! NOTE*** Nope! Didn’t happen… Had to call 911 for grandma who is now in the hospital and also take the cat to the vet for an emergency. I live to post another day…
The workshop at the Japanese American National Museum this past weekend two weekends ago was focused on mandala dyeing on silk. I really do love teaching textile dye techniques and watching the participants skill levels improve. Each person comes with their own direction and focus and my job is more of a coach and facilitator. I always demonstrate throughout the workshop so as to give everyone a sense of the possibilities. Here are a few of the mandalas that were made…
I demonstrated a mandala start to finish to begin with so everyone could have a vision of where they were headed. We begin by folding (be as precise as you can!), then drawing our design(stay simple-don’t try to overthink in the beginning!), stitching the design, and finally dyeing (make sure that dye penetrates through all layers-take your time!).
And then some variations on fold and dye-without the clamping as in itajime…some with stitching, some without.
Not sure if I ever added this here but I did make a couple of useful objects using the silk mandalas and various old silks I had here. The mandalas make a lovely pillow cover.
And now, a glimpse of the garden. Since we had quite a bit of rain recently there are lots of seeds sprouting, many of which are weeds and crowding out the wildflowers. (Winners will be determined in future posts.)
We also had a day where we visited the beach with our guests and saw the sea lion rescue center, herons and the tidepools. Whales were spouting as they traveled along the coast.
it’s actually confusing me as to where all the time goes. suffice to say it passes and there seems not enough of it to do all the things my mind wonders about and wanders into.
i have many stories yet to tell and photos and notes to sort through and write about here on the blog- all promised but not yet accomplished. many things are being done here behind the scenes and along the sidelines- prioritized by daily needs and responsibilities, but for a few minutes today, i put a little something here on the blog.
having shipped out all the fabric packs collected on the tour and the other requests made by students and friends, i spent a day making up a new garment! i wore one that i made while in japan and wanted to do a new version in order to honor some of the vintage fabrics i purchased. like the other one, this is made with recycled hand woven cloth previously from kimono that have been taken apart. (btw- NO! Kimono should not be trademarked–as if…you all here know my thoughts on that nonsense) a couple of things about this garment- i had seen a version of this somewhere in japan a couple of years ago but it was made from western width cloth and only had a front and back made from the same cloth. my idea here is to utilize the kimono width cloth and keep it as intact as possible so that it would be possible perhaps, to take it apart and reuse it one day (or at least in large part). to do this meant that the back and front would need to be split to accommodate typical kimono width cloth and since i wasn’t a fan of having it split down the middle in front, i added a faux placket in front to offset that making it asymmetrical. using a combination of hand woven cloth, i made the amami oshima tsumugi silk the star of the garment while adding three coordinating kasuri patterns. i matched the pattern in the front placket just for fun and did not cut the selvedge on at least one side of all the main pieces. the selvedge contains part of the cloth-story for anyone who might be interested in the future. i have several other sets of cloth i will be using to make a few more of these. it’s very easy to wear with some leggings and even sandals or tennis shoes. i have promised several on the tour that i’d do up a muslin pattern for them to make up for themselves- so far, not yet done… will have to make a few more to settle in on the pattern. my favorite part of this piece and the ones i’m excited to make going forward is that i’m using beautiful textiles that will be once again worn! some of the techniques used in making these fabrics are disappearing and my hope is that by making useful and wearable garments that these fabrics will be further treasured and worn again, not just cut up and used as scrap. whole cloth in a way. there is a small bit of boro in the lower part of the front placket that i kept intact, preserving further the treasure that this fabric continues to be. someone else thought enough of this piece of cloth to restore it with a patch. who am i to cut it away and discard it?
onto the next thing…the past few days have been consumed with making up an order of silk shibori no hana for the kyoto shibori museum. they are taking me longer than expected and i’m only half way through. several orders of ribbon also await and will be base dyed today. here’s a peek at a few of the flowers heading to kyoto soon…
hopefully, i will have some of these available in the shop later this summer when i’m caught up a bit around here. for those waiting on ribbon orders, i’ll start sending those out next week. stock is very low at the moment and the shop a bit disorganized. colors showing in stock where there is none, so some of you may get a note from me asking if you would accept a color substitute until i get things all straightened out. apologies for that…
life here continues, phil and his band steel parade have been out singing and performing for people young, old , and in between. the other night’s performance at the local nature center concert was a whole lot of fun. it’s wonderful to see everyone dancing out under the trees there.
the yard is in summer clean-up mode and little by little weeds are being removed, the second crop of veggies are being planted, and springs tomatoes and eggplant are being served up. hope your summer is wonderful and full of hope. gotta run-baby dean just arrived! time to put my nana hat on…
and especially for Judy. faith, family, and persistence are her constant companions-plus a needle, thread, and some cloth.
it rained!! and one of my favorite things is to walk around the garden the morning after. here is only some of what i saw…
i had hopes…the drought apricots are falling …
the garden maiden is probably a matron by now- she had been surveying the garden for quite some time. a long-ago gift…
the dwarf holiday avocado seems like it might rebound!
i spied her on the underside of the blue agave. it always pays to look at things from different angles!
evidence! possum? raccoon? squirrel? rat?
picking more today- and spreading the wealth around the neighborhood…
a beauty down under-the matchstick plant bloom was hiding under the ever expanding brugmansia
never to be tamed-the brugmansia marches on scenting the garden
hello old friend!
the milkweed aphids are being farmed by a expanding family of ladybugs. they were shy to the camera.
but got one resting in the crevices-burp!
and the cake is gone! was delicious and enjoyed by all!
also gone as well are the natural dyed fabrics i loaded into the shop yesterday- many thanks! the last payment on my little health interruption last Dec. will be paid off! took the whole year but DONE!! where would i be without you?
the shop will stay open for ribbon buyers only through Wednesday.
Here we enjoy some cooler than usual weather this week. That and some great clouds and broken sunlight. I say that since we usually have all sun all day until June when in a good year we along the coast are protected by what is known as “June Gloom”(somewhat a misnomer unless you want to go to the beach). This offers us some coastal fog and cloud cover in the mornings until the sun comes out to heat us up until sunset.
This weather is my favorite weather of the year-where it is temperate even inside my garage studio where it can easily reach over 100 degrees on many days. Still one must shibori on!
The big distraction (my enjoyment on mini-breaks I take throughout the day) is a wander through the yard to notice. So many things in bloom, creatures crawling, wings fluttering, birds in song. I wonder.
and from a distance…
In between. That’s where real things happen. Where one can slow time down a bit and wonder. Test out some new thoughts and answer some questions. In between making shibori ribbon for orders I did some more wondering about the silk shibori ribbon tailings with beads, some thread and a needle.
Let me be the first to say I am not a beader. I dabble. Through my shibori ribbon I have come to know and really appreciate the artistry and craft of beading. I have enjoyed dabbling in the in-betweens. I am too hands-on to really follow instructions and patterns in the several beading books I have acquired. I’d really rather enjoy just exploring an idea until something credible happens. One day I’ll take a workshop and learn some basic beading techniques. Until then…
more shibori on silk.
“silk tailing” particularly alluring and craving some beads i think…
I’ll keep dabbling.
Wondering about the persimmons that are self thinning as you can see by the photo earlier, I saved the tiny fallen kakis to see if I could extract and ferment them to gain some color. Next step will be the food processor and some straining. Fall seems a long way off from here.
I love what Deb is doing here with her indigo. My vat has been drained and added to the compost. A new one will be started soon. I am devising a method for keeping out the flies. Hopefully…
In Silk Study Tour to Japan news- we are 3/4 of the way there with the minimum number of participants. Still room for more if you are interested. I’m looking forward to getting this part settled earlier than usual this time. Hirata san sent me some fun photos and we “facetimed” with an interesting vendor at the Kitano Tenmangu flea market in Kyoto which we will visit next year (me here and Hirata san on the street in Kyoto- gotta love it!). Hopefully the next blog post will detail that visit.
seeds. i’ve written about seeds a number of times this past year. and things related to seeds. seeds are the beginning of things. they contain the wonderful possibility of life, sustenance, beauty and even of freedom. i’ve always been a seed saver. when i was a kid it was fun to collect seeds to play with-to make things with. i remember having great fun collecting nasturtium seeds- so plentiful and easy to gather. all sizes, shapes and colors. string them, glue them, count them, eat them, plant them. seeds.
edible nigella seeds from the summer garden.
a couple of months ago i had the good fortune to be in Santa Clara for a family wedding and came across the Luther Burbank home and gardens. if you are ever in Santa Clara try to make time to stop by (the docent tour was also fantastic). I was so intrigued by this man- i bought this book –A Gardener Touched with Genius and have been reading it off and on…so interesting! The place is beautiful, gardens diverse and the house is quaint and wonderfully restored. but my favorite thing was this:
Luther Burbank’s seed vault
this is how he thought of his seeds. precious. so much so that they were kept in a vault. there also was a small shed with a little window from which he sold his seeds to neighbors and to the public. a walk around the neighborhood reveals that many of the yards still contain plants grown from his seeds. charming! he also had an experimental farm at nearby Sebastopol. i hope to visit it sometime this year. this video really speaks to who he was:
now i have mentioned once or twice before that silk moth eggs are called seeds by the Japanese. and they do look like seeds. i have a fair collection myself in the butter compartment of the fridge. i wonder if and when i will have a chance to raise silkworms this year?
of course i will grow indigo again, in fact it is already growing! seeds that dropped while collecting the flower stems have already sprouted in this mild climate of ours. we had some nice soft rain that coaxed them… i gave away most of my extra indigo seeds -i like to send them out into the hands of those who take the indigo workshops. i wonder how many will plant them?
sometimes seeds are dropped- sprout and grow! we don’t always know how or where they will bloom
I am also growing something new this year- madder. i will be experimenting with it. with combining madder and indigo. i thought it might be about time to add a second color to the natural dyescape of my studio. i’m not one to try anything and everything- i like to delve into things fairly deep and that means taking my time with it and not rushing. madder grows rather slowly and it will take couple of years for it to mature to the point where it can be harvested. honestly, i wonder if i will even get to that point with it. but i have some madder root here now that i have purchased and watching some grow will only add to my knowledge base. i was intrigued by madder several years ago when on the silk study tour we visited a natural dyer who showed me his experiments with it and some madder he had grown. he planted a seed in me that started me wondering. it’s taken a while to germinate… i wonder what new things will come of this.
Natural Dyeing Master Youjiro Takezawa shows us his madder root from the garden (Mr.Takezawa passed away 2 years ago. His wife succeeded his studio) 4-388 Umedamachi Kiryu city, Gunma japan japan,silk
seeds are a good way of spreading wonder i think. that is what i intend to continue with this year. spreading wonder and planting seeds in small ways. there’s a lot to wonder about. may the ground be fertile!