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.
After a very productive and busy weekend at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo (Los Angeles) I had a little idea in my head I needed to get out.
A few more photos might be helpful.
Dyed in the fermentation vat.
At the museum we worked with a wide range of fabrics- many recycled. Fabrics included silks, cottons, hemp, linen, & bamboo in many weights and weaves. Much was learned about fabrics, shibori techniques and how to dye with the indigo. Next workshops at the museum are scheduled for Oct. 8-9 and Dec. 10-11. The new twist will be that we will also work with a fermentation vat and learn how to make a small one you can take home with you. Contact JANM to sign up.
And just a reminder- My three classes at the upcoming International Quilt Festival in Houston are taking registrations at the Quilts Inc. site. You can see the individual events on my FB events page or go to the registration site and see all the classes there.
It’s over and I’m home. A long 10 days of constant action and responsibilities. Classes, setup, teardown, travel and the lugging of more stuff than I want to remember. Until next year!
A few highlights included classes that went smoothly, a great booth setup, and seeing so many customers and students from throughout the years. Also had some crazy weather and flooding! Note to self: pack boots next year! (I did pack umbrellas and a raincoat!)
I got to meet Deb McClintock of the blog NATURAL DYEING IN THE TEXAS HILL COUNTRY. I have enjoyed her adventures in natural dyeing for some time now. She also grows and dyes with indigo, madder and pomegranate (among other things). Thanks for taking the time to stop by Deb! Got to visit with Judith Montano a bit- she is so busy teaching every year at Festival she hardly gets down to the show floor. I have admired her book Elegant Stitches for many years- have a copy of the original edition from way back and love how her work has transitioned from crazy quilting into the lovely landscapes she does now. Had a little time with Brooke from Hannah Silks- we go way back. So far back that neither one of us can any longer remember how long ago! Was saddened to hear that her mom Hannah had passed away- she was the Hannah behind the silk.
It was a pleasure to see and meet up with folks who appreciate the techniques and materials behind the textiles. I really enjoy the vintage dealers most I think (Carola Pfau of Textile Treasures, June Colburn, Carol Saber and others). Their knowledge of the textiles they sell is priceless. These textiles teach us so much. What do the textiles of today teach us? I wonder. A customer came to talk to me about what she had seen at the show. She felt that the prizewinning quilts were lacking something. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it at first. They were detailed, precise, painstakingly designed, impressive in scale, pleasing to look at…yet, something was missing. Our conversation turned to the missing element- the fact that so much of the quilting done these days and especially for big quilt prizes is technology and consumer driven. Ever more sophisticated machines, tools and fabrics dominate. In some of these pieces it causes them to feel sterile, almost as if they weren’t make by hand. But yet they are. Such precision in cutting, stitching, and profusion of color and design made available by the limitless palette of modern fabrics takes away something I think. Comparing the vintage quilts in the show with their newer cousins one causes one to wonder about all this. I know I am speaking blasphemy when I say this. One can wonder can’t one?
Today the show boxes arrived and were unpacked and I will send out emails to catch up a bit. I needed a few days to recover (I forgot to mention the visit to the Urgent Doc in Houston did I?) and regain my balance, literally. Perhaps some leftover items will appear in the shop by the end of next week…
There’s an upcoming workshop at the JANM to prepare for (sold out) and orders to start on in addition to a few custom orders placed at the show. Time to get busy…
People at the show were already excited about the 2017 Silk Study Tour to Japan and wanted to write me checks but I am not ready for that just yet. Hirata San and I are working out the new itinerary already and will have it up by January 30. This time we will do 12 nights and include Kyoto! What fun. To be informed of these details please sign yourself up for my Constant Contact newsletter in the sidebar and make sure to check Silk Study Tour as an area of interest.
And in Freer news… I have added the Silk Shibori Ribbon Poinsettia Brooch PDF which includes links to the two videos on how to make this holiday piece. I have also added a PDF to the simple shibori fringed flower. This is easily made with small scraps you may have around. Please enjoy.
Here are a few shots from the show- big thanks to Donna and Virginia for helping me get through it all- you both were integral to the whole. Also thanks to Katrina Walker and the whole Silk Experience team of teachers and Quilts Ed staff for doing a great job at Quilt Festival. It was very much appreciated.
Hello. That’s a good place to start. Yes, I’m back. Here. Houston almost seems like a dream! A wonderful show and ever so busy for me on all accounts. My sincere thanks to everyone who came, who sent in pieces for the silk exhibit, and who took my workshop. We did have a great time!
Let’s start with a little slideshow of the silk exhibit…
Having never curated and organized an exhibit before I was pretty much winging it but in my mind’s eye I had an idea of what I wanted to communicate to viewers of the exhibit. It was also interesting to work with the exhibit staff at Quilts Inc. and see their process for receiving materials, setting up, breaking down, and returning items for the exhibit at large. Many thanks especially to Ginny and her crew who were assigned to this exhibit (they confessed that when the various exhibits were assigned they drew the short straw! in the end it wasn’t as bad as they thought-just different than the basic quilt exhibit). Thanks Ginny and crew! I got to learn a lot through organizing this exhibit.
a couple of shots of the booth-
Unfortunately, when I returned I got the flu- put me a few steps back and then it was off to see my son Trevor’s senior recital-wow!
-and then back home where I am still catching up on emails and orders. Also many proposals and fees for next years events are due any day now. Yikes!
Oh, and another great indigo workshop at the Japanese American National Museum last weekend-
Glenna came with her own wonderings-about temari. She played and devised a way to indigo dye the base for a temari. Quite inventive. I can see the possibilities now! If you are looking for a new craft to spend some serious time at check out the possibilities of making temari! I even want to try my hand at it-at least once just to gain a basic understanding. She gave me a lovely sample of her work as a gift-I love it!
The gift of home grown cotton was actually from the Houston workshop-got it mixed into the wrong set- but it is beautiful and has seeds that I have separated out- I want to grow a couple of plants just for fun.
The indigo is all cut and each participant at the JANM workshop received a seed packet in their materials kit. Perhaps some indigo will be grown in spring! As for the rest, some was bagged for gifts, and the rest of the seed was collected for next years crop. However, it looks like there may already be some dropped seed sprouting out back already! We’ll see…
More to tell, but must end it here for now- have a wonderful holiday full of thanks and giving, of friends and family.
This time I’m only going as far as Houston but the Silk Study Tour is just around the corner.
Typically in Japan, when one moves, one has a sayonara sale. That’s just the way they do it there. Also, a sayonara sale is a great place to pick up stuff you need when furnishing a new apartment. It’s easier to sell your stuff to someone moving into the area and buy stuff from someone moving out of the area you are moving into-get it? Check out the sayonara sale ads in the Tokyo craigslist. Garage sale- Japanese style.
Here we have 10 silk shibori ribbon scrap bags. A highly coveted item. 2.5 yards of assorted silk shibori ribbon for $20. Donna was here today and took control of my scrap box. In her words she had a “kinda sorta maybe plan”. For like “walking around money“.
Listing will expire in 24 hours.
Mata ne! thanks Donna!
Again, another post sparked by a series of emails with a customer and reader of the blog. No details as the specifics are not important, but in the end it came down to the topic of the evolution of ideas, of creating, and remaking an idea into something you can call your own.
This morning I woke up and for some reason the word revolve was in my head. I believe it is because of this conversation with Emily and even a post a few back and a very good comment by Cyndi who said:
I used to attempt to copy a very spiritual artist’s work because her paintings were beautiful, yet seemed so effortless. My work was pretty but unsatisfying. After struggles and deep pain entered my walk, I looked at her work with fresh eyes. It meant far more than brush strokes and technique.
The risk of putting something out there is that we can’t dictate how every individual will experience it. For some it may appear a simple craft to replicate or an effortless painting of pretty mixed colors. The journey stops in mere practice for them. However, the beauty of the connection of the feathers and their place in a greater context is priceless. For all those who may copy your work, you have touched something within them with the desire to create. For others, they may go for a walk on the path less chosen and find feathers and blessing enough to make a pair of wings.”
So, another reminder and thank you to both Cyndi and Emily – teaching and learning are like chickens and eggs.
It appears that I am in a (r)evolving phase in other things as well. It’s left me feeling kind of blue and a little bit deranged. I have lots of work to do and will be updating the shop with some indigo in a few days. Trying to catch the last of the summer indigo…you never know when summer starts and stops around here.
i’m still listening to this one…
Also taking some time is the upcoming silk exhibit in Houston. Here is some information on it:
I’ve never done an exhibit before and am feeling my way through much of it. If it ever happens again, I’ll know what to improve on for sure. It’s not over yet. The folks at Quilts Inc. have been very helpful and supportive as has both Maggie and Katrina. But I feel the pressure for sure. These things all sound good and exciting in the beginning but there is always a point (for me) when I begin w o n d e r i n g . . .but I think it’s pretty well under control now.Phew!
There are many exciting pieces in the show- John Marshall was kind enough to lend this silk shibori piece-
yardage tied and died and shaped into a decorative lobster. likely a wedding gift. and a kimono using the same fabric. thank you John Marshall!!