Following a path with no real plan. Going day to day. Having ideas and letting them float around until something takes hold. Willing to change direction…
Caught some wind in my sails and I’m busy prepping the studio for the workshop this weekend (lots of cleaning!). There are folks coming from NY and TX plus a couple from here in CA. Prepping equipment, materials, and space.
I had a need for a couple of new moons for something I’m working on so made a batch for us all. I’ve got 10 sets of five in the shop so please help yourself.
When I’m dyeing the moons, I’m reminded that the majority of humanity can look up and see the moon and wonder. I try to remember to look up every night or day to catch a glimpse.
As for the cloth, old silk, cotton, hemp, wool pulled from my “save for moons” clothbox. Several special fabrics were used in this batch but one stands out for sentimental reasons. It’s a simple cotton toweling that had a sweet embroidery in one corner and along another edge there was my mothers name written in black marker. Most likely a practice piece done at the instruction of Nana, her mother.
So not sure the backstory but I saved the embroidery section to use elsewhere and used the rest do dye these moons.
As a practitioner of shibori dyeing and maker of silk shibori ribbon for over ten years now, I continue to wonder about what I do for a living, and why. It’s a good thing to wonder about consciously in order to keep ahead of things and remain independently viable.
Things I know that have been part of the cloth of a life woven with craft, at least for me are the following:
–I was born to work with my hands and to make things. This has been true since I was a child and cannot be removed from who I am, except perhaps by a lobotomy. I learned at an early age I felt better when being creative and productive making things by hand and later on learned I also did enjoy the marketing of my own work,even though I hated it in the beginning and remember crying in my ’69 VW bug after an unproductive day of sales calls and appointments -I was about 19 at the time. I persisted. Forty years later now, I do it from behind a computer and the rare consumer trade show.
–I seem to have a knack for creating things that others want to buy, and in enough quantity that at times I have had to employ quite a number of others to participate in this unlikely form of employment. I found a certain joy in being able to provide a living for others in addition to myself in handmade craft here in California. It has been an honor really-because of the people I worked with. Eventually (and after over 30 years), the joy of that was diminished by the burden of being an employer and the demise of manufacturing in the US. No problem! I reinvented my life as a solo dyer and continued on my way. Even my shibori ribbon has the privilege of helping support many others as they resell it or make things with it which to resell. Kinda cool.
–I enjoy the interaction with customers from all over the world. I love seeing other creative folks take something I made and add it to their own work in so many ways I never ever conceived. Some of the things they make are quite extraordinary!
-I wonder weekly, what comes next? Who knows? I just know that every day I get up and take the next step. I hope you do too. I enjoy the interaction with readers of this blog and the many who have followed and contributed here for so many years as I wondered, created, and thought out loud about things.
This week, I started thinking more about the most recent issues I had with image copyrights and decided to resurrect something I used to make and sell- blank greeting cards. Now, for some of you that go WAY back (even further back than this blog) I had a line of greeting cards with porcelain pins incorporated into them that were sold throughout the US. When I first started doing shibori, at shows I also sold blank greeting cards with images of my shibori work as well as cards with small pieces of shibori attached to them. I have been making them for my own and friends’ personal use over the more recent years. Sometimes I send them out with a personal note in an order or as a thank you for a small kindness afforded to me. Recently, someone asked me if they could purchase some and I wondered…
So, for now, I decided to reintroduce sets of these cards in my webshop. Right now I have two collections- Shiboriscapes and Indigo Moonscapes. In the works are Shibori Flowerscapes. This will perhaps, help even out the financial ups and downs every artisan has in their flow of work and money but also it feels good to know that I will be the beneficiary of my own work as I continue to hound Amazon into removing those sellers on their site that use my images without permission.
Here’s the link to the card sets. It’s nice to have a few blank cards on hand when you find yourself in need to send a thought or a thank you…
Our wishes came true here- r a i n !
More expected tonight. We are way behind and grateful. So far no downpours here and we hope for the best in the burn areas.
Rain necessitated taking some photos indoors in poor lighting in order to list some things in the shop. Moons mainly. All indigo. Some moons on silk, some on cotton and all vintage cloth and collected in Japan. Several scarves, some with moons and others using various shibori techniques are also there. In she shop now, here.
In addition, over the turn of the new year, some lovely new silk shibori ribbon has arrived in Italy and in Russia.
There are new classes coming up as well. Two at the Japanese American National Museum (still open) and one at the Fresno Fiber Guild (sold out).
I did a little slideshow for each one –
-on Saturday and Sunday, February 3-4 from 11 AM to 4PM it’s Shibori Mandalas on Silk.
(sign up here)
-and then on March 24th and 25th it’s more of Indigo Shibori dyeing
(sign up here)
And one last thing, I will be sending out an email for the 2019 Silk Study Tour to Japan to interested parties who have indicated interest via the Constant Contact newsletter (signup here and in the right hand sidebar). I have been working on editing a group of photos into a slideshow from last year’s tour. It’s hard to select 30 or so out of thousands! But the memories I had while sorting were wonderful!
I have started in on the ribbon orders that have patiently been waiting my return from Houston. So far, I have dyed the base colors on about 750 yards. Next will be the pole wrapping and over dyeing in all the favorite colors. They will find their way across the country as well as to many other countries as soon as they are finished.
I also finished up sorting out and organizing the recently dyed indigo and pomegranate fabrics and moons which are in the shop now in limited amounts. After the holiday I will add more if needed.
I will have them there until Wednesday night when I will close both shops for the Thanksgiving holiday. I am a participant every year in Buy Nothing Day (so called Black Friday) where I don’t purchase or sell anything. Apparently, Black Friday is the new Thanksgiving Thursday according to Walmart and some others. It this really necessary? (Black Friday, who ever gave it that name anyway?)
The shops will be re-opened on Monday so please, have a great holiday. Enjoy your families and friends with great and shared thanks-giving.
YUM! And no, you can’t order a slice of cake with your order!
This post is like looking into the rear view mirror of last week. It’s the last Monday in August now and in some places (not here really) Summer is connecting with Fall. Here though, it seems summer is colliding with Fall.
Not even out of August and the pomegranates are ready! So we (Trevor and I) picked about 25 and he seeded them for me. What is left will produce some beautiful golds and greens (when added to to some indigo blue).
And if that’s not enough evidence of climate change for you- the persimmons are starting to go off as well! This is unprecedented here (in the 36 years I have lived here and been the caretaker of this garden). Generally, these are not ready until November when I return from Houston and peel and hang them for hoshigaki. They are smaller this year (more work) and I should have thinned them. I never have had to before. A few had dropped and while the tip is orangey-the top is still green. Softened, they are still delicious. So this means I’ll keep my eye on them to try to determine the right time to pick and peel.
And if that isn’t enough, the ginkgo tree is dropping nuts. I’m sharing with the boys who like to sit up in the tree and drop the outside parts on my head while I sit in the shade under the tree. A few years ago, Richard showed me how to prepare them.
And just so happened that Saturday was the NM hatch chile roasting at the nearby market…so of course I had to go.
It took about 3 minutes for 25 lbs! They put them in a bag inside a box where thy seated for a while and Trevor and I spent about 2 hours peeling and seeding them.
Whole and chopped and in the freezer in recipe sized portions. Some went to neighbors as well. We had to wear masks while doing this and should have worn gloves as well. The burning on the backs of our hands didn’t start until we finished and lasted for hours but is all gone now. Next time…
The veggie garden is minimal at the moment. Mostly kale, cukes and a new crop of heat tolerant tomatoes (a second tomato crop this season) which I wondered about but is doing as promised and setting lots of tomatoes-currently golf ball size. I added some vermiculite to the raised bed to help even out the moisture and conserve on watering. It appears to be working well especially with the new basil I planted- lots for delicious walnut basil pesto. Never have done that before except in pots.
The fruit trees all have soaker hose rings on them and even then are wanting more water than I am giving them. Lots to adjust to as we get hotter and drier.
And in the studio- lots going on there too. Ribbon orders and lots of indigo in addition to a little more beading trying to get to the right mix for the class project in Houston. Here’s the latest addition to the shop– garden inspired with a remnant from the past…
I always loved this porcelain button and its garden theme. The sense of something about to happen yet it lets you wonder. I chose green shibori ribbon of course- some tailings. The picot edge beads are like drops of dew. I stopped and started a few times on this, letting it tell me where wander.
I restocked the shop with indigo at the beginning of last week and mostly it is gone now- thank you! The second part of my Houston booth now paid for. Phew!
I also received a nice stack of old linens from a friend. They belonged to her mother who passed away some years ago. I knew her well back then and it will be a treat to work with them. They will be showing up soon.
because we all exist under one moon,
because we all see the moon from our own perspective,
because it is a time traveler, a wave maker, a truth teller, a light giver.
-may its peaceful countenance shine in all the darkest corners
I am dyeing more indigo cloth, more moons, more threads to hold things together. I am stitching indigo mooncloths in the evenings and in-between times.
…is kind of like watching paint dry. Having finished off some orders in this heat I am able to get back to the vat today. Dyeing a bit of this and that as needed. As for the vat- it’s a happy vat at the moment. My little experiment of sewing a big cotton scrim bag to put down into it (keeping any organic materials out of my more open weave cloth as I dye) has been successful. I placed a few round stones in the bottom to keep it anchored below (somewhat). I also found I could move it over to my smaller light vat as well when needed. It is not forming much hana (flower) but has a nice coppery sheen on top and is a deep green and dyeing well.
As a reminder- one needs to continue to stir the vat each day, especially when not using it. This action reintegrates the organic materials and any undissolved indigo in the vat. There are various theories on whether or not you want to get some oxygen into the vat while stirring (especially if the vat is in disuse). My particular theory is that since the bacteria consume oxygen they need at least a little bit ongoing to keep up the good work. That hana you see on your vat is a sign of good fermentation and the result of oxygen bubbling to the top and meeting with the air.
I am anxious to get on with it while I am in the mood but the thread I am dying to use is still wet. I am working on a show piece for Houston (as in “show”, I mean a piece for the wall of my booth) and it seemed to me that I needed to set it aside and work on a smaller, simpler piece to solve some puzzles and answer some questions I was running into on the larger one. I also depend on wondering here to catch a few thoughts.
Let’s just get clear on one thing. I am not a quilter. This may not even be a quilt. It is something.
So that being stated, I have lots to wonder about as I go down the path with this one. I will say that if you define a quilt as:
“layers of cloth held together with threads drawn through with a needle”
-then this is (a version of) a quilt. But maybe it is something else. Maybe it is a dyers cloth (run through with a needle)? Ahh…to define something. To categorize. To make it black or white. How can it be one thing and still be another? Two things at the same time? Or none at all. Maybe it is its own thing. That might ring true sometimes. Maybe for today. For now, it is a beginning. It is blue. Many blues. And it has moons. Many moons.
I think the thread may be dry now.
on the eve of November’s full moon, i finished this little cotton flannel vintage baby jacket for baby Z. found it in a heap of fabrics at a swap meet a while ago. i imagine some mother or grandmother in the late 50’s stitched the kittens and blanket stitched the edges for a special little baby who today must be about my age. it is so very sweet. someone had kept it all these years until it landed in that heap of cloth. it was white but i took it for the indigo vat for ¢25, washed and overdyed it in the natural vat and set it aside.
when baby boy Z was born i got it out to send to him but in the this and that of things it was shuffled a couple of times until it appeared on the table with a silk velvet moon sitting on it. somehow the moon made its way there. i realized that this is was it was waiting for so i stitched it on with some silk thread. the silks iridescence catches the light- like a light catcher to shine the way. a new silk bow was also needed.
i remember this story fondly- perhaps my favorite childhood poem by Eugene Field:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe —
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!”
Said Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.
The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea —
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish —
Never afeard are we”;
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.
All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam —
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home;
‘Twas all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought ’twas a dream they’d dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea —
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.
Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one’s trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.
indigo. strengthens cloth i’ve read. it seems to. it adds to it. even the sheerest of it. like silk and cotton gauze. working on window cloths again…
but other things too need strengthening. our world seems to need it. it needs our protection. from ourselves. it’s a very big effort. but something we can all do even in our own small ways. we can continue to make, to create, to wonder, to teach the way. join forces in a mutual direction. i need it. strengthening, that is. i like what jude said here (or rather what her father said to her). and what grace says here. the indigo has to first break down before it can be of use. that thought stays with me as i dye at the vat. breaking down in order to recreate something. decomposing. this is a thought that has occupied many conversations around here over the years. i see the slow decay. some days i want to hurry it up, but like the natural indigo vat, it doesn’t rush. it is life and what is the rush?
here, black friday nonsense was turned to blue friday beauty( i dyed a few things in the natural vat). since the boys were young i’ve observed BND(and even extended it to the entire weekend at times). that means no grocery, no gas, no financial transactions at all. just for the practice of it. that means no selling either. it’s very peaceful and i look forward to it. it’s a good quiet time to get out the needle and thread and stitch up a few things.
but in the end, we do have to exist on the planet here in our daily lives so come tomorrow, we will be back at our work, paying bills, creating and making to pay those bills. but maybe a wee bit more wakeful.
tomorrow is a full moon. i’m stitching a little silk velvet moon onto a gift for a new baby in the family. it will be a light catcher for him. it leaves tomorrow and i’ll try to get a photo first.
**note: since i started this post (Sunday) this was in the news. so while stores were racking up sales at record pace, garment workers in Bangladesh were losing their lives working in sub par conditions making those very things we just have to have. or do we?