Have to clear my head and get into the correct frame of mind to write a new post here. Things are shifting as always. I’m trying to find my way through it all with my sanity intact and without losing my mind. This song came to mind…
The weekend arashi shibori workshop was wonderful. They were a great group intent on experiencing the process of pleated silk shibori. None had done discharge work so that was interesting to me since that is what I have done so much of all these years. Many had taken workshops with all the greats out there so it was interesting to me to hear of those experiences as we worked. So many things to learn out there! And each participant came with their own goals and intentions which is always fascinating to me. The outcomes were beautifully varied and while I think everyone had one piece that was not their favorite, those were the pieces that taught the most.
There is one more workshop scheduled for this month (which is full) and I am working on putting together another one for March 28-29-30 (listed here). There was one resounding request at the last workshop- that it be expanded to 3 days in order to allow for another piece to be made after seeing the results from day one. I understand this request and will give it a try at the newly listed workshop. It will also give me time to demonstrate additional ideas for anyone who is taking the workshop over again. As I explained to the group, I really enjoy it when people take a workshop more than once as it allows them to build their skill and knowledge, which is important in order to master anything. This is why I enjoy the workshops at the Japanese American National Museum so much. Participants return over and over again to work on shibori…in fact, some have been coming for years! By the way, the next workshop at JANM is March 14-15. Sign-ups are through the museum.
Of time and changes, we are in the middle of so much right now. Trying to find the path forward, searching for a way. So many conversations, looking for the balanced path. Listening… The universe feels out of balance here and somehow, somehow, we must find a way back. For all of us. For the world.
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.
On the eve of the autumnal equinox, we gathered at JANM to explore plant dyeing. We were fortunate to have a photographer join in as he had a special project in mind and wanted to incorporate some dye techniques. He really captured the community spirit of the class in his photos and we thank him for that!
My personal goal for plant dyeing is to continue to grow and gather materials in my immediate surroundings and have an ongoing range of items using seasonally collected materials. This is a goal borrowed from Yamazaki sensei and family in Japan whom we visit while on the silk study tour. Of course he takes it to a whole new level using his dyes and pigments for his masterful katazome work. We are just beginning our adventures.
Dye materials and mordants locally gathered and grown are regionally specific, each material reflecting the conditions of the soil they are grown in, the seasonal climate challenges, the time of year the materials are harvested, whether they are used fresh or dried for later use. Of course these days one can order a vast array of dye materials sourced worldwide but I want to learn and push to the limits my knowledge of what I have on hand here- coaxing color from each material and applying mordants, ph differences and temperature changes to shift colors. Learning the lightfast properties of each dye material is an additional challenge.
My beginning colors reflect what I have on hand, pomegranate, persimmon, marigold, mint, senna seed pods, madder, and further experimentations with apricot wood ash (we had to cut down the apricot tree and use the wood for outdoor cooking) and kaffir lime juice as an acidifier. We did have a small pot of cochineal at the workshop using the lime juice. I have a kaffir lime tree and really only use the leaves and a bit of zest for cooking. The juice is just too strong so it’s perfect that it can be used in dyeing. I continue with the indigo (but not from here for now).
Writing this post I realize I had a dream last night where I was wandering in a yard somewhere with someone wanting to do natural dyeing from their backyard and I passed by an old rusty metal wind chime hanging on a tree, noting it would make great iron water… dreaming solidifying my thoughts.
I’vee had a couple requests to set up a local silk shibori flower making class, so I did!
There are only 4 spots open so if you are interested, please check the shop listing here.
All materials are included in this small group class.
assorted silk pleated flowers
I was going to post this on FB yesterday as a new event but there was a worldwide FB outage affecting postings,comments etc. Maybe that isn’t a bad thing?
And while I am at it, I will remind you of the upcoming April 6-7 Shibori and Indigo workshop at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles (or as it is sometimes known as- Japangeles). Signups are through the museum at above link.
The rain here has gone away for at least the next couple of weeks and I was able to replace the shade structure over the dye space outside. There is a new squirrel in town (or even possibly Squirrelly Gurl herself as they can live up to 8 years or so). She is so friendly to me and personality wise, much like the OG Squirrelly Gurl. I can’t know for sure but am enjoying her daily visits. Buddy the dog enjoys watching her and feeding time but the new cat-Kuro chan is trying to chase her when she can! SG is too fast for Kuro-thankfully and outsmarts him every time.
risu chan- Onakagasuita!
I did channel a little bit of Ume san last week and made this bag from the piece of sashiko laced boro from the last blog post. Adding it to the shop now.
Cross shoulder bag, made entirely from used/recycled and vintage materials outside of the thread and the shoulder strap. One outside pocket on back side, one inside. Completely lined with vintage kasuri kimono silk.
Front fabric covered button closure with indigo twined wrap-around cording. Outside pocket fits large mobile phone while an ipad can fit inside.
Plus the Silk Study Tour to Japan is in high gear. Everyone is getting ready for this great adventure. I’m receiving the bio pages for the booklet I make to hand out to our hosts so they can learn more about us. It’s always interesting to them! We still have 2 spots open for anyone wanting to make last minute plans to join our textile adventure. Link here.
In the absence of the Amuse Boro Museum (which closes this month) we are making plans to visit the Mingei Folk Museum instead. It just so happens that they are having a special exhibit of the work of Motohiko Katano, known for his adventurous and creative shibori patterns. I have never seen his work in person so I am quite excited about this. My first visit to this museum was with vintage textile dealer Carola Pfau’s husband Makoto (now passed), who also treated me that day to several of his favorite temple sales. Boy did we have a good time! Great memories…
We will also be visiting the Ichiku Kubota Museum as well as the Kyoto Shibori Museum so participants will have the opportunity to study some of the best shibori in the world!
Time to go and dye the rest of the indigo thread for this weekend’s workshop!
I had heard rumblings about this here and there but no one could provide any first hand knowledge of the info. Over the weekend I emailed the museum itself to inquire as the Silk Study Tour had planned a half day trip there this May to see this wonderful collection (as we have done many times in the past). This morning I received an email from them to let me know that this is, in fact true. They have since placed an announcement on their website in English.
I can’t express how wonderful this visit has always been to me. I have been at least 6 times over 8 years and each time I come away with something new to wonder about. I had to really convince Hirata san that this was an important place for us to visit with our tour group and every time we went (it was always an “optional” visit), those who did go were moved by the exhibit and its meaning, its place in folk textiles, and how the collection developed. After celebrating its 10th year anniversary, sadly, the museum will close March 31,2019. We will miss our visit there this year but there is some good news! The Amuse Museum will be looking for a new location somewhere in Japan to re-open sometime in 2020. There may be a traveling exhibit somewhere, sometime, as well.
In the past, I have posted many photos and blog posts about my visits there. Here is a slideshow I created in 2015 or so. I was getting together photos to do a new one and realized I had already done this!
I also found this which is even better:
So we say a fond farewell to the Amuse Museum until, like a silk caterpillar pupating in its cocoon, it reemerges into a whole new life!
It’s been very rainy here this week and promises to continue here through Thursday. This means I will focus on indoor work and there is plenty of it. I am finishing up the selection of fabrics for this weekend’s workshop. All are vintage and varied. I also finished up the second bag sample and took a couple of quick photos.and here are the little vintage textile packs for the boro side of the bags- they will indigo dye their own base fabric as well as the rest of the fabrics for the bag.
I hope to convey some simple concepts through this workshop. That beauty can be created with simple materials, perseverance, and the need or desire to caretake those around you.
I was also reminded to revisit one of my favorite books, “Rural Japan, Radiance of the Ordinary” by Linda Butler. (You can find a copy here or maybe in your library) I’ve had it for many years and often pick it up to look at the photos. This time I reread the text and was rewarded with the following Japanese proverb:
“Mu kara yuu o umu” or translated, “Out of nothingness, something is born”.
It reminded me of the boro textiles at the Amuse. Thank you Amuse Museum for the pleasure of visiting and learning about sashiko and boro! We are richer for the experience.
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.
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…
kumo binding with arashi shibori
ready for the vat
first time student was patient and deliberate-guntai shibori
arashi indigo moon
Kaiju vs. Heroes exhibit at the JANM
first “breakfast club” get together
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.
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.
I have been wanting to get to this post all week but, well…you know. Life, work, local politics, heatwave, gardening…need I go on?
Hope this finds you well and safe from heat, fire, flooding, typhoons, drought and in relative good health! Earth is challenging many!
First off, the update email for the Silk Study Tour to Japan has been sent to those who are signed up to go next year (May 2019). If you are signed up and didn’t receive it let me know. If you are interested in one of the remaining spots here is a link to the basic info and itinerary.
I previously covered my classes at the upcoming Houston International Quilt Festival and online registration is now ongoing. Visit my website for the pertinent details and links.
We just concluded the most recent workshop at the Japanese American National Museum which was really wonderful. They just keep getting better and better! Returning students are really taking on more challenging designs and experimenting. New students jump right in and are encouraged by the returning students. We are now picking a couple of new dates to end the year. Will add to the website and announce as soon as they are finalized.
As I added the link to the JANM I just saw the upcoming exhibit :Kaiju vs Heroes: Mark Nagata’s Journey through the World of Japanese Toys September 15, 2018 – March 24, 2019. This will be right up my alley since I grew up there from 1965-72! Yokohama tomodachi-let’s go! Natsukashii ne…
Anyway, back to the silk moths. The silk moths emerged, mated, laid their eggs and quietly died. The eggs dried, turned grey and are stored in the fridge for now. Here is a little video I put together about this stage. Even the local cat Toby helps out!
Did you know that from hatching to cocooning a silkworm increases in size by a factor of 10,000?
Here they are today, June 12, 2018. Toby is wondering what this is all about. It’s his first experience with the silkworms.
Workshop link here.
Ahhh….time for a blog post. Seems I’ve been blogging in my head for a few months now. But now for real, here. Let’s see how this goes…
As always, gardening is keeping me sane here- a good time for gardening and sanity with elections (finally behind us here until November) and more of the same old BS of copyright issues, Amazon(this time), and Chinese sellers. If you follow me on FB you may have seen some of these pics but I add them here once more.
I think I will call it the Sanity Garden!
Regarding Amazon, I had to spend a bit of time playing Whack-A Mole there by issuing complaints to Amazon regarding a network of Chinese sellers slapping my images on over 40 crap products. Some have been taken down, some strangely remain (how Amazon decides these things is beyond me) and new ones have popped up under new names with slightly reworded descriptions. They all seem to contain the wording “Printed Watermarked Shibori Ribbon” which is hilarious seeing that they stole the watermarked image of mine online and used the metadata info to describe. Yes, folks they are that kind of stupid. Kind folks have added their 2¢ in some of the product reviews. One of the items was a doormat (since removed) which seemed demoralizing in a funny way and another was a brandy flask which I could certainly make of use! Moving on…
The last Indigo and Shibori workshop at the JAMN was wonderful and filled with good, creative and enthusiastic folks. The next Shibori On! workshop at the Japanese American National Museum is August 4-5. It has only 3 spots left so if interested please check in there soon! They do keep a waiting list so, if full, ask to have your name added. Some pics from the last workshop:
Next up at the JANM though is Moth to Cloth Silk Workshop (sign up through the link)–there are still spots open. I have some great video and photos of silk production in Japan as well as a collection of tools and implements to explore and use. We will reel silk cocoons purchased from my friend and sericulturist in Japan, Nobue Higashi san as well as make silk hankies for spinning and dyeing (both of which we will do in the class). Cut flowers made from cocoons will also be made. But the real star of the workshop will be the live silkworms that just hatched two days ago and for those interested and willing, you can take some home to watch them spin and emerge from their cocoons. Here is what they are looking like as of yesterday. At this stage we call them kego and they remind us of hairy ants. I have already found my mulberry sources in the neighborhood and am ready to feed the “tiny masters” as Micheal Cook of Wormspit affectionately calls them.
Moving right along, work slowed up a bit the past couple of months which let me somehow to doing a quick turn-around for a bridal designer in LA whose customer wanted her wedding dress indigo ombre dyed for her one year anniversary. Apparently, the other dyers she had previously used were not available and my name came up. these sort of things are not undertaken lightly as you only have one chance to do it and it must be done right. The dress was all silk and the skirting was 3 layers of different silks. Here is the result:
In addition, I am filling in with my indigo and shibori teachings at a garment felting workshop by Beth Marx in October that will also include some eco-printing (hers, not mine). Apparently there was an issue with the original teacher coming from the EU and I agreed to fill in with the acceptance of the already signed up students (they all agreed!) Class is full with a waiting list. Interesting to me was that Beth also lives in Long Beach and we don’t know each other. I’m such a loner in that regard. It sounds interesting.
I added some new shibori ribbon colors to the shop- my favorite is the colorway called CopperPlate. I had beaders who like rich colored metals in their beadwork in mind when I made it. I also added some shibori pieces I call “A Little Fancy”. Check it out!
Let’s not make it so long between visits next time shall we?
Thought I’d do a little (or maybe not so little) post on whats been going on behind the scenes here lately. Lot’s of various things- like workshops, studio work, a little flu (all gone now!), RAIN!, and working on the Silk Study Tour to Japan for 2019.
The flu came and went -thankfully, not too bad. Hoping the same for you out there! So many have had it in one form or another.
We did get rain this month-so big YAY on that! Rain barrels full and the garden is refreshed. Snowpack increasing…
There are a number of milkweed plants out back with caterpillars on them but one in particular has about 15 large caterpillars about ready to form crysalis’. I never get tired of watching them.
All the other critters here are well…
And finally, I sent out the information packs, itinerary, and registration forms for the upcoming Silk Study Tour to Japan 2019 last week to those early birds who had signed up via the Constant Contact newsletter. Already 1/3 of the spots are filled. If you need info, you can access the newsletter here. Here are some highlights from last year:
Amuse Boro Museum
Glennis and Fumiko
Very large loom
on the bus
kimono and textile shop
silkworm cocooning trays
antique silk reelers
Nubue san demonstrates
4th instar silkworms
at the temple sale
shibori panel-folk tales
new age shibori
shibori museum sample
early morning sunrise Fujisan
Kubota Museum gate
another lucky Fujisan view
Goodby from Satou san
inside the indigo studio
Lunch with Fumiko san
Kamakura Daibutsu view
Next post I will list upcoming workshops both at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles and my November workshops at the Houston Quilt Festival.