Tag Archives: ichiku kubota

tsujigahana on my mind

As those of you who have come along on the Silk Study Tour to Japan, you have had the opportunity to visit the Ichiku Kubota Museum. There is not a single person that has visited here on the various tours that left this exhibit unmoved or unchanged. Many have shed tears while experiencing this place, or while contemplating what we had just seen, while enjoying the tea room upstairs overlooking the garden waterfall. Even if you know nothing about Kubota when you enter, when you leave you long for more. There is a spiritual connection to beauty in the work, the surroundings and gardens, the architecture, and a deep respect for passion and perseverance he brought forth. Even though much of the experts in the various videos talk about the painting and imagery in his works, I am in awe of his deep understanding of and connection to the materials he used, and especially of the silk fabrics he utilized to get the results he saw in his very keen mind’s eye. The way he used stitch to bind and to texture the silk was a marvel. Even thinking about it now can transport me to that place.

Back in 2009 I blogged about my first visit there I was on the first Silk Study Tour to Japan with Maggie Backman and took a day away from the tour by bus to check out this museum. Beginning in 2011, all the tours have included a stop at this wonderful place!

You can enjoy this many part documentary covering various aspects of Kubota’s work here.

and this website-

Way back in 2008 I made a little silk baby quilt after looking at some of Kubota’s work. It was a meek attempt but I enjoyed trying out some ideas. I called it the “journey quilt”, the moon to guide the way, waves to sooth, and mountains to climb. “The baby” just turned 13! Simply made so it could actually be finished, he still has it.

One weekend at the Japanese American National Museum we studied and attempted some small tsujigahana ourselves. We came to understand its complexity. I have never really gone back to studying or practicing this technique but if you are so inclined, the marvelous John Marshall is giving an online workshop all about tsujigahana! Here he gives a brief description of the process. Here is a link to John’s workshop hosted by Botanical Colors. I’m sure it will be wonderful!

That’s all today. I have had the links to the Kubota Collection in a draft post since December and thought it would be a good time to get it out there since John is doing a tsujigahana workshop next month.

slow cloth and beyond

I’m going to defer to jude and her post today on slow cloth since as usual, she says it so well. if you think you ascribe to these ideals and believe you can learn from or add to the conversation, please join in.

if i wasn’t so beat i would be working on some slow(er) cloth but since i spent today processing ribbon i am giving myself a break and doing a quick blog post. i have a few things that i’d like to make note of and instead of too many words i offer you some visuals in the form of a slideshow:

so here you see some of the recent outcomes from the studio and ribbon i am preparing for the show next week. also are a couple of small works in indigo using some vintage ossenberg (sp?) cotton i acquired from my friend donna. it loves the indigo. today i was in need of some bookmarks so i decided to make these. i have been studying a book on loan from Japan on Ichiku Kubota. that’s him in the photo. this afternoon i heard the UPS truck stop out front and i knew he must be here to deliver my copy of “The Poetry of Place”, the book compiling much of Charles Burchfield’s 75 journals he kept over his lifetime. after visiting the show at the Hammer twice and deciding i really wanted to own this book i found that it had appreciated in price beyond my budget. i persisted and deep down on a google search i found a bookseller in NY with a copy for $65- still a bit of money but after seeing the book go from $85 to over $500 i felt fortunate to find it- apparently only 3000 copies were printed. our city library system didn’t even have a copy. when i unwrapped it and opened it up i found the pictured inscription written by the editor to a fellow who contributed some family archival materials to the project. kinda cool. i kept going back to read a page or two off and on all day. this one entry really spoke to me today:

December 25, 1914

…People invariably love the artificial more than the natural. They respect superficiality more than deeper feelings. Most are content with a paper rose. Most buy their perfume in bottles. Rather than real friendship, they are content with superficial expression. They do not care if their acquaintances are sincere, as long as they pretend to be. I would rather have ten sincere enemies than a hundred palaverers.
So I go to Nature when I want sincerity. In nature we not only find sincerity but also innocence. And when, on all sides I am beset with palaver and artifice, I feel the need of drawing a long breath, I ramble the fields.

Itchiku Kubota Museum and itchiku tsujigahan

Picking up where I left off… on the bus headed to Kawaguchiko and the Ichiku Kubota Museum.
I got off the bus and had to take a local bus that brings you around the lake and deposits passengers at various locations. The museum stop is 45 minutes and towards the end of the route. There were two other Japanese ladies getting off at the same stop and the bus driver requested that they take me with them as the museum was a short walk from the road. It was a good thing too, as it wasn’t immediately obvious how to get to it and I would have had to spend some time finding my way there. I chatted with the ladies along the walk and they offered to share their admission discount coupon with me which I accepted (I actually had my own which I printed from the internet before I left but it would have been rude to mention it). We separated and went on into the museum.
one of my new friends..
rock path
rock path in garden



outside entrance
one of the garden areas
courtyard between the bead display and the kimono display room
back garden area
garden area behind museum
Much has been written about the architecture of this museum in the various publications covering Ichiku Kubota and his work an the photos here don’t really do it justice. The choices of materials, the natural setting, and the blending of the two are really exquisite. It is so rare for an artist to have an opportunity to create such a setting in which to view their own work. I suppose there must be other examples of it but I am not aware of it at the moment. I’m not speaking of museums devoted to the work of a single artist but such a museum built, designed and curated by the artist him/her self. Of course photos inside were not allowed but I purchased one book that I had never seen before that has fantastic close up images of the fabrics.
kubota book
So to continue, upon entering the museum the first building is devoted to Ichiku Kubota’s world bead collection. He had collected some fascinating beads -both antique, vintage, and modern in various materials. My favorites were the ceramic beads, having been a ceramicist myself and understanding the unique processes used in the making of many of them. The glass beads were also intriguing. Beautifully displayed as well. This building also houses the museum gift shop and looks out toward the stone arches of a courtyard area.
A walkway and stone staircase lead you up to the real treasure house- the kimono collection.
There is a short video to view beforehand. They even have one in English in a separate area and ushered me into there to view it.
Here is a transcript from my journal written on the bus ride back towards Tokyo-
the sheer beauty of his work leaves you without words to express what it is like to be in the same room with the thirty or so kimono on display here. A short video which was well translated into English was almost worth the price of admission alone. At one point it shows Ichiku Kubota at work with the silk tying and capping …overdubbed is a translation of his words- “it takes so much time…why did I ever think of this?” . Looking over the pieces here I wonder the same thing. The only answer I can come up with is -for the sheer beauty of it. This was a man who was driven to create- conquer the material and perfect a process. Once he had done that he must have felt compelled to continue to create the beauty which he had discovered-tedious though it was. It seems that some people are put on this earth simply to create beauty for the rest of us and Ichiku Kubota certainly did that. The work shown here at his museum and at galleries and shows around the world cannot begin to address the amount of work that must have been created in order to reach these heights of excellence.
Surely there exists some of these experiments- the trials and inventions which led to the development of these wonderful pieces and his unique technique. If you have never done stitched shibori then I wonder if you can fully understand the magnitude of his work.
His museum itself is incredibly gorgeous and strikingly unique. What really struck me is that you can get so up close to the pieces. After removing your shoes you enter the kimono hall to view the works- no glass, no barriers of any kind. You can actually get within centimeters of these pieces. You can really study them. I saw many things that excited and inspired me. Things you cannot see by looking at a book or even from a distance of a meter or more. Let me be clear again. Shibori without texture just doesn’t speak to me in the same way. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same after seeing this exhibit.

Fast forwarding to Kamakura- June Coburn and I had an opportunity to walk up to a favorite shrine near the house where we were staying and saw a Shinto wedding underway. One of the guests was wearing this:
While all the people were taking photos (guests as well as tourists) of the bride and groom in their traditional Japanese wedding costumes, I was following this gal around positioning myself to see the tsujigahana on this fantastic kimono. I don’t think I have ever seen such a kimono ever being worn in public (or private for that matter!) I showed it to my friend (and indigo dyer) and she agreed it most likely was a work of the masters hand-Ichiku Kubota. Yesterday I received two more books on his work from her in the mail- unavailable here and most likely out of print. Not to be believed- I am overwhelmed.
A couple more things to note- from looking at the books I had prior to leaving (never having seen any of his work in person) I did not realize the amazing embroidery that exists on some of his pieces. The subtle variegation in the dyework, the stitching,the overall design, the colors, the silk, the embroidery, the textures, must I go on?

There is one more event of note from this day but I must leave it for now- I think you’ve had enough! I know I have! check out the flickr page for more photos. Going to load them now…


Hopefully this will be a fairly quick post-have a few pics to lay down here but not too much time. I don’t expect to be posting too much in the next 10 days or so. Just too much to do. You might catch a glimpse or two on facebook or twitter if even that-so here goes!
sol's journey
you can hardly go wrong with a cute baby pic so here it is-Sol and his mommy visiting and playing on his silk quilt in the back yard. it’s been washed once-a quick hand wash and into the dryer for good measure. Soft and silky-I’m definitely gonna do this again-but one for me! Maybe lap size.
yellow base dye
base dyed 250 yards of ribbon on Saturday. started with the yellow
the idea is to not waste dye OR water – completely exhausting the dyebath so it can be reused in the next color(darker of course) here is the water after dyeing yellow-almost clear. I then went to ecru which exhausted completely then to pine green which exhausted to near clear-then to black. then it was time for new water. each time checking the ph and adding citric acid as needed as well as salt and abegal set.
400 yards of silk ribbon
-400 yards of ribbon waiting it’s turn for a bath

glimpse of the booth in Chicago- didn’t take many photos-too busy and wasn’t happy with the 1/2 booth layout-oh well-everyone else seemed to like it.
new-joggles class
jeeze- i really can’t remember if i already posted this or not-and where? FB? Flickr? even twittpic? who knows anymore? in any case, it’s a new class on Joggles starting August 13. Keeping up with some of this stuff is getting in the way of studio time.
-then there are a few quick pics i snapped at the end of the shibori workshop in Chicago and have been meaning to post-
chicago shibori workshop
working on some stitched pieces
chicago shibori workshop
up at the dye table- using the colorhue dyes
chicago shibori workshop

chicago shibori workshop
some results-learning what does and doesn’t work
chicago shibori workshop
more stitching
chicago shibori workshop

chicago shibori workshop
more results
chicago shibori workshop
ironing in the back of the class.
We had a great class and many were introduced to silk for the first time. The Colorhue dyes are really simple to use, non-toxic and need no mordanting or heat setting. Perfect for a workshop setting like this as well as the hobby home dyer. Yes, I said the word “hobby”. Sorry folks! I didn’t get pics of everything but there were some really smashing results! Don’t forget to sign up for this class in Houston this fall!

Gosh- so much more to tell- sorry if this is getting too lengthy- really must finish it up!
First- check out Anne Selby’s work. Absolutely stunning- great photo work too! AND she’s designed and will be marketing a wrapping machine for arashi work. No details yet but she showed it off at the ISS2008 apparently. I talked to her recently and she’s hoping to get to the SDA conference in Kansas end of May.
Anxious to see her version. I currently have two- one I built and one built by someone else. I may need another!

I also have made plans to visit the Ichiku Kubota Museum at Lake Kawaguchi while in Japan. If you recall, his exquisite kimono are on display in Ohio right now.
(I was going to provide the link but it seems as if their website has been removed or is having problems-here it is anyway-maybe it will come back..

That will have to do it for now-

Kimono as Art

I am still lamenting the fact that I didn’t get to see this show when it was in San Diego recently but did find this short video you might enjoy-Ichiku Kubota video.

The show, Kimono as Art has it’s own website which has a great bio of the master himself along with many other interesting pages. I’m very tempted to order the catalog available in both hardback and soft cover format.
I’m struggling to find time to finish the journey quilt I started a while back. Can’t seem to find the ribbon I dyed up for the border. I’m thinking I’ve changed my mind on the border anyway so just as well. Have to redye and choose a new path. I took the quilt up and stitched on it when I was with my dad and he was feeling better and have found it hard to get back to at the moment. But the baby is getting bigger and has started on his own journey so time to get it done. I really do enjoy stitching on this and the virtual tour of the kimono exhibit has inspired me to get this done.

I don’t know if anyone reading this was planning on also taking the Candace Kling workshop I referred to back a few posts but if you are like me, you have had trouble signing up for this! **UPDATE**
I just received an email from Carpe Diem and emailed them my desire to sign up. I’m taking the “ribbons and trims” class on Friday the 27th. Come on down!

Speaking of getting things done. I’m finishing up the first installment of my wired shibori necklace lesson. It’s still not too late to join- this looks to be a fun group. I’ve had lots of people emailing and asking questions. You should be getting your supply list tomorrow so be on the lookout for it. If you are interested in joining and want to see what it’s all about you can click on the link in the header for classes. Instructions and fun for the 3 week class are only $35 and you must sign up for that. Remember, you can download the instructions and work at your own pace and within your own schedule. Log into the forums to ask questions, see what other students are creating, post pics, get freebies, and just generally have a good time. See you there!