Tag Archives: indigo

Kamakura, Yamanashi, and heading to Kyoto…

I’m finally getting a bit of time to do another post or two while I’m still here in the Tokyo area (I’m now in Amamioshima)! I really am struggling with all the information and photos I have collected-trying to get it put together into some order that makes sense without just rambling on and on…
Not to mention that Hirata sends me folders of photos each day on dropbox to share with participants and some were mistakenly deleted and I had to sort through that and figure out what was missing and get them re-uploaded. Easy to do if you are not used to dropbox. Need to get a new system for that. Anyway,here goes…

The last day of our time in Tokyo we headed to Kamakura where Hirata is always eager to share the sights and sounds of his hometown. Everyone got a taste of riding the train and learned to use their Suica cards to enter and exit the stations and I’m glad to say that this time we didn’t lose anyone (it has happened-but the lost is always found in Japan)! They saw the first of their temple and shrines- Engaku-ji, Tsurugaoka Hachimangū and the Daibutsu (the Great Buddha) as well. Schoolchildren and tourists crowded Komachi-dori (the main shopping street) and at a point we broke up into smaller groups with the promise to either meet up for the return train trip to Ginza or to adventure it on their own. Hirata’s wife Rumiko and good friend Megumi welcomed us to their home to rest and have cold tea to those who needed a break from the heat and the walking.
Photos from Kamakura…



The next day we checked out of the Ginza hotel and our charter bus whisked us away towards Kyoto for a four night stay via Kawaguchiko and one night there. The Star Pegasus was complete with wifi, USB charging, and a bathroom! Not to mention the best bus drivers ever-they had some crazy skills!



but first… a visit with Fumiko Sato to see her studio, have a demonstration of indigo dyeing and opportunity to view and buy some of her work, as well as enjoy a bento lunch of macrobiotic vegetarian sushi that was almost too beautiful to eat!

it’s always hard for me to say goodbye to Sato-san-I want to stay, work and spend time with her. Unfortunately, this time I won’t be able to return as I usually do.

Afterwards, we headed to the Ichiku Kubota Museum to see the work of this imaginative shibori dyer who took tsujigahana dyeing to a whole new level. It’s always a pleasure to take people here since it’s such a mind-blowing experience. Unfortunately, the gift shop here no longer carries any books or postcards depicting his work. When we asked why the answer was “copyrights” without any further explanation. Also no photos this time. I’m glad for the ones I do have. The bead collection is wildly diminished and not on view as it was before. ¥500 additional gets you into the cafe where there are a few cases but we opted out of that in order to get to our hotel and relax in the onsen. Perhaps they sold off the collection to raise funds. Not sure what is going on there. Still, a beautiful museum and ever changing collection of his work.

After a full day we retired to the beautiful Kakuna Hotel for a one night stay. Views over the lake towards Mt. Fuji (which only peeked out from behind the clouds here and there as we visited the rooftop onsen) and a beautiful dinner put the day over the top and we slept with dreams of indigo, tsujigahana and beautiful Japan swirling in our heads.

The next morning it was off to Kyoto for 4 nights which deserves it’s own post (or two)!

Let’s see if I can get the next post started (Kyoto)tonight- today in Amamioshima it was very warm and humid but the day was filled with dorozome- (mud dyeing) which also will be it’s own post down the road. But just to tease a little bit…

Amami Oshima

continuing tradition…

Wednesday’s post was long enough so I didn’t add specific information about the side trip I’m taking after the Silk Study Tour to Japan ends. Prompted by one of the tour participants who is researching the mud dyeing traditions of various cultures and locales, I was inspired to go and see this for myself and add to my Japanese textile knowledge. I will spend 4 days there learning and exploring the textiles of Amami Oshima.
Amami Oshima (oshima means island in Japanese) is the northernmost island in the Okinawan archipelago.

it is part of the Ryuku Islands

While the Ryuku Islands (and Okinawa) are well known for their Indigo dyeing and beautiful weavings using tropical plant fibers, Amami Oshima is known for its tradition of plant and mud dyeing on silk, often supplemented with indigo. Its beautiful and intricate weavings using the previously bound and dyed warp and weft threads are called Oshima Tsumugi.
This link has a good description of the process and terms.
Japan seems like it is filled with endless opportunities to learn and discover so many textile traditions and this is one I have not previously explored.
Interestingly, I realize I have already collected a small sampling of these textiles! I’ve seen them here and there in Japan and picked some up when the price was not too steep just to study and enjoy them. A sampling:

A recent video shows more of the process and the issues facing the economics behind weaving this very time consuming textile.
There is also a lot of indigo dyeing that occurs in the Ryukyu Islands perhaps in part due to its tropical and mild climate as well as the weaving of choice bast fibers, especially on Okinawa. I expect I will also see some of that on Amami Oshima as well.
I also read where they produce a special type of sake there using sugar cane…will have to try it!

So the fabric collections I will be putting together for you includes one selection that will be collected only from Amami Oshima and I wanted to explain a little bit more about what that was all about. You can see the various collections that can be ordered here in the shop.

I look forward to sharing my Amami Oshima adventures here on the blog in early June.

apparently, i sent the wrong message…

Now that I can get into a somewhat comfortable position to type on the keyboard, I thought I’d do a blog post and catch up with what is going on around here. I always start by going back and reading my last post.

Apparently, I sent the wrong message. I definitely did not send a message that said, “let’s make everything MORE difficult than it already is”! But alas, that is what ended up happening last week as I stepped over the low dog barrier keeping Bella and Buddy out of the vegetable patch. My foot caught the top of it and I went down hard on my left shoulder, feet in the air behind me!  A day long event at the UCare ended in an xray confirming that I had fractured my left humerus. Even though it was April Fools Day, it wasn’t humorous at all. Thankfully though, it wasn’t worse, like tearing something that required surgery. Got lucky there.  But this is really a major inconvenience and I will need to do something to carry me through until I can return to do my usual studio work.  Fortunately, no cast but wearing a sling. Yikes! This is the sort of thing that always instills a fair amount of fear in me. The inability to work! For any of you that are working artists/craftspeople whose only income comes from what we create, you probably know what I’m talking about here.  But this is the life I chose and so far it has been pretty dependable.  Don’t we all wish we could redo certain moments like this?

I did however make it to last weekend’s shibori and indigo workshop with the help of many since I can’t drive, let alone lift anything that requires two arms. Trevor drove and helped set up and load the car, students helped clean up and pack things back up for Phil to load into the car and drive me home. One of the students even picked me up on Sunday and took me to LA (thanks Cheryl!). We took it slow and the students were so helpful- I couldn’t be more fortunate on that account. Much gratitude and blessings to all the helpers in the world!
The workshop was full with both new and returning shibori practitioners.  It’s really great to see those who have continued really exploring the possibilities and coming up with their own techniques as well as challenging themselves to replicate some of the samples and books I bring.

working away…

So at the moment, I am focusing on being careful, doing the small movements that physical therapy has outlined for me and wondering about this coming month.  I will focus on some small works to put into the shop and see what else I can do that is within the realm of the permitted…

In the meantime, plans continue marching along for the Silk Study Tour to Japan (Dr says I will be good to go by then-mid May) and towards that end I have been working on a couple of items for the shop you might be interested in.

During my upcoming trip to Japan leading the Silk Study Tour this May, I will collect an assortment of wonderful vintage Japanese textiles to package up into collections for you to re-create into something wonderful or simply to study! These collections will all be unique, inspiring and varied. I always learn so much by looking at and re-using cloth with a past.

Some of the best wonderful bits and pieces are found in the odd corners, the small resell shop, the back corner of seamstress shop, or the temple sale. Many shop owners are thrilled when you come with a little knowledge of the fabrics and are often willing to teach you more as you share that knowledge and ask more questions. Each package will include some annotations and thoughts on the fabrics. Over the years, I have become better at recognizing the fabrics that have an interesting technique, are more rare, or have interesting stories to tell. There is always so much to comb through but only certain things stand out to me.  Often these are pieces that I might not completely understand but that from looking at so many textiles over the years, I just know there is something special about them. Many become study pieces and I have learned so much!

The collections will be limited and will be broken into the following selections:

Shibori, Kasuri, & Indigo Collection (20)
Amami Oshima Collecion (10)
Wonderer’s Collection (10)
Dyer’s Collection (10)

Please visit the shop here to see the detailed descriptions and pricing for each collection.  Since I return in Mid June, I will have these shipped out to you by June 30th.  Expect some fun, additional (non-cloth) surprises that will be slipped into your package for coming along on the adventure!  Your purchases will really make this month so much easier…
Plus, I will be uploading to the blog my findings along the way…the adventure begins May 14!

And… the new era name was announced in Japan-Reiwa.

intermission

a placeholder of sorts while I decide what to make from it
a pause, to breath, to notice the ebb and flow of the tides
to hear my own heartbeat.
there is some indigo dyeing in the studio this week
and of course some moons.

a few of my favorite scraps

and here is a little something to wonder about-

“You’re only given a little spark of madness.  You mustn’t lose it.”
~Robin Williams

mata-ne!

Communicating practice

A new year. I hope it finds you well!

Recently, I’ve been busy doing organizational work for the upcoming Silk Study Tour to Japan.  I don’t think I mentioned it here, but if you are on the Shiborigirl newsletter email list you read that after being almost full, the tour lost a few folks upon my return from the Houston show. Life throws you a curve and we adjust. Those who had to change their plans will be missed but vow to join us on a future adventure (2021). They will follow along online and be travelers in spirit.  I put out a new newsletter and we regained most of what we lost in terms of participants.  There are still a couple of spots open with a few folks still considering joining us.

If you are interested, here is the link  with all the information.  If you have questions, just email me.  Tour departs May 14, 2019. It’s gonna be another good one!

I have been also been preparing for the new workshop at the Japanese American National Museum.  This one is filled with a waiting list but if you want to read the description, you can go here. (I expect we will do it again.)  I also proposed a version of this class (due to limitations of time and facility) at this years Quilt festival in Houston.  We will see if the class is chosen for that venue.  I am really passionate about educating folks on understanding the difference between a fabric company putting out a line of “boro printed” fabrics and really knowing the history of such textiles.  I figured that by making things with all recycled fabrics is a start.  Spreading the word. It’s one thing to talk about it here on the blog and quite another to put fabric, thread and needle in the hands of someone for the purpose of education and perhaps a little thought of mottainai.  In any case, here are some pics of what I’ve been up to…(click thumbnails to enlarge)

It’s been an education to make these pieces and like anything else, a practice. I still need to put the cording on the bag but have it all dyed.   After finishing the bag, I was inspired to do a larger piece since the scraps I prepared for the class were so enticing. I tore a piece of linen off one of the old linen pieces I bought in Houston and dyed it dark indigo blue. I marked the horizontal stitching lines onto it and arranged the scraps.  Then I spent about 13 hours just stitching. It all felt good in my hands as I rocked the needle back and forth. I really learned and appreciated not just the cloth and the thread, but the use of the sashiko adjustable ring thimble with plate. It takes some practice and over the many hours of stitching, I grew to love the ingenuity of it.  Have you tried one? I do love a good thimble and have several varieties but had not spent a significant enough amount of time with this type. I plan to get even better with more practice.

That’s the thing isn’t it? Practice. As I worked on this long piece, a communication between myself, the materials and tools set in. It’s a simple running stitch-nothing fancy. But as the needle pierced each scrap my hand felt the resistance, the thickness, the density of the weave. Do we even notice this these days?  Many of the scraps were from cloth hand woven long ago, most softened by age and use. Most fabric today is made with machine sewing in mind.  The hand of it made stiff with printing inks and chemical finishing. It’s not friendly for sewing by hand. The tight weave of many modern quilting fabrics facilitates the printing of crisp patterns but resists the piercing of the hand rocked needle. I can really lose myself in the old cloth, wondering about it’s cloth story as I sew.

There is a lot to wonder about.

 

 

Here…

So much lately, I feel at a loss for words when approaching the blog. My inner self is exploring why. I continue in the studio, trying to find my way yet feeling a bit lost. But I am Here.

But this IS the way, the path, and I am looking to find it again. Everything up to this point has been a vehicle that brought me to this place. It’s always that unsettled and uncomfortable place that leads me on, leads me forward…to Here. I am not a stranger to this feeling. When one is self employed (for over 40 years now!) one recognizes this feeling. Part of it is the unknowing of what comes next, or how to continue. But we do continue.

I’m actually feeling sick to my stomach this morning, a state of anxiety overwhelms. Who are these politicians who cravenly use their donors dollars for personal gain while demeaning others and darkening lives? Do they vote for the greater good, or for their own monied interests?  I’d like to just walk away from it all but feel the pull to do SOMETHING. So I do a little, locally. That’s where I live. Here.

I’m hoping that when I get this post finally done, I will feel a little better. I have started so many posts over the last couple of months only to walk away from them unfinished, later returning to find myself unable to complete my thoughts.  But that’s where I am…right Here.

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This past weekend found me at the Japanese American National Museum, leading the shibori and indigo workshop. As always, it is such a warm and inviting environment with great people creatively working together, sharing, caring, and telling stories. I am so fortunate to have many continuing students always mixing in with new comers. For two days we learn and teach each other. We even started a Sunday morning “Breakfast Club” meeting prior to the start of day two of the workshop. (Great idea prompted by Komo-one of the museums biggest advocates who drives from San Jose for the workshops and brings mochi from Kogetsu-do!). I love when Keiko comes with her enthusiasm for shibori and the stories of her many family members who were interred in the  concentration camps during the war-I learn so much from these women! Then there’s Cheryl, who is signed up for her second adventure on the Silk Study Tour to Japan and takes advantage of the trip to visit relatives there that she had not seen for many years and who are growing older all the time. I could go on and on but suffice to say, when I hear two of the newcomers tell me at the end of the workshop “this weekend has been the most fun I’ve had in years!”, my work is done and I go home fulfilled.  So thank you all!  Here are a few photos…

The new exhibit at the JANM is Kaiju vs. Heroes-a wonderful collection of Japanese toys from Mark Nagata who had an equally wonderful story to tell about his collection and how it inspired his life as an artist and illustrator.

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I have one more workshop to give before the end of the month- I may have mentioned it before, I can’t remember. It was full but Beth Marx, who organized it just emailed me that there was one cancellation- so if you are interested you can email her Here. I am filling in for the other instructor who wasn’t able to make it.

So now I prepare for my classes and booth at the Houston International Quilt Festival. I’m hoping to be ready enough. Sometimes, enough just has to be ok.

And, the pomegranates are ready! It’s fall. Or as we call it Here, our endless summer.

for eating and dyeing

Today’s textile- an antique komebukuro

Back in June 2012, I posted about this wonderful komebukuro.  Here I copy the relevant part of the post in order to list this in the shop.

This particular one appears to be quite old and with many areas repaired.  It employs various homespun cotton and hemp fabrics and the rope is handmade from hemp or other bast fibers. It is also quite large- the bottom measures 11″x11″ and each of the 4 sides about 15″(H) x 12″ .  One side (the inside?) is more interesting than the outside-you can better see the patchwork. I would guess this one to be from the Meiji era (1868-1912). I appropriately found it at a temple sale. 

This piece has been displayed at many of my workshops:

inside full view-1

more inside detail

edge detail and rope

bag bottom inside

outside view 2

another outside view

If cloth could speak!  One can only imagine the past life of this bag, but from all the mending and variety of scraps used in its making, one can guess that it was made in the Japanese spirit of “mottainai” which conveys regret over wasting something useful. Poor families saved all cloth, which was then made and remade into useful objects many times over. I love this piece as a reminder of that notion- that we can be more thoughtful and find ways to make what we have last longer, and remain purposeful.
These types of “rice bags” were used for errands, carrying rice and perhaps other daily necessities, and sometimes to take offerings to local temples.

This one I came across at a Tokyo area temple sale in 2012, before I knew much about boro and Japanese folk textiles.  I had yet to find and visit the Amuse Boro Museum in Asakusa. When I saw it it just spoke to me and I have admired it first hand since then. When I first brought it home it was quite dirty and I did give it light vacuuming,  a gentle soak and hand wash to clear the fabric of the accumulated dirt. It seemed to appreciate it. I usually display it with more patched side out. Added to the shop here.