Tag Archives: komebukuro

Kokoro- the heart of things…

Kokoro means “heart” in Japanese and this past Sunday I participated in the Kokoro Craft Fair at the Japanese American National Museum. The event is staffed by volunteers who organize and run the event to great success in fundraising for the museum’s educational programs and more. They have lots of heart!
I have never been able to participate before since it is too close to the show I usually do in Houston towards the end of October/early November but this year since I am not in Houston, it was a pleasure to be able to do this event.
As is often the case, since it was only a one day affair, I forgot to take photos as I was focused on what I was doing and engaged with customers and attendees. I met many interesting customers & vendors and thought the overall quality of vendor there was very good. Handmade, no imports, and lots of fun Japanese related crafts from what I could see in my quick walk through as people were setting up.
I had a lot of people interested in my classes at JANM (ran out of flyers!) and also in the Silk Study Tour for 2021! Three years ago we had the first Japanese American join us on the tour and this year there were three! It is my distinct pleasure to have more Japanese Americans join us and explore their cultural heritage through the tour.
I have to say a little something about the volunteer staff at JANM. Many are senior Japanese Americans and they do so much for the museum! The JANM is a welcoming place and has always made use of volunteer staff. Sometimes I think that we forget how much seniors have to offer, but not at JANM! Some of them are well into their 70’s and 80’s, maybe 90’s! I hope I have as much vitality as they do when I get there! It was a pleasure to work with them at the event!
Thank you Kokoro volunteers!
I also enjoyed meeting Ann Burroughs the President CEO of the museum for the first time. We had a nice conversation and she even made a purchase of some of my shibori blank cards to use when sending out thank you notes to donors. That was a wonderful thing!

Coming up on October 19-20 at JANM is the second workshop on making a komebukuro (offering bag) incorporating indigo dyeing, boro, shibori, and sashiko. There are only a couple of spots left….
Click for details and signups…

I am busy preparing the material kits and supplies for this class. It’s a bit more work than any of the other workshops so I’m making sure I get a good headstart on it! I am going through all the japanese fabrics from the tour and auditioning the ones I think I want to use for this class. I’ll make another one this week just to settle back into the project.


There are 7 new silk shibori ribbon colors into the shop. All pretty and hard to choose a favorite! One thing I will mention, after making this ribbon for so many years now I surprised even myself by discovering something in the pleating that made a big improvement! Just goes to show you that there is always room for wondering!
You can order them in the shop here.

The tree is loaded with pomegranates and is coming all at once so I am also busy processing them both for dyeing and eating. I’m freezing some of the arils for later and drying and freezing the peels for dyeing. I plan to do some special gold pom dyed pieces soon. This here is the largest one I have ever grown- a blue ribbon winner for sure weighing in at over 2 pounds! Pomegranates are time consuming and delicious!

Kuro in a sleepy moment out in the garden and I couldn’t resist taking a photo. He still decides on when and if he wants petting from us, but with the night temps dropping a bit, he actually came in and slept on the bed for a few hours last night! He’s very independent!
The feral in him I suppose.

I also added another silk shibori flower making class into the mix for November. I had a few people who wanted to do this but missed the last workshop. It is a small group class and you can see the details here. This will be a fun afternoon and a great time to make a few handmade pretties for holiday gift giving.

I’ve been enjoying following Peggy Osterkamp’s weaving blog as she is touring in Japan visiting many textile sites. She went to Amami Oshima as well and saw some of the same things I did. Seeing it again through her weaver’s eye I learned some things that I didn’t get a chance to learn while I was there. The main part of her trip is traveling around Kyushu which is on my list for my next adventure to Japan. In fact, my son is going there for 3 weeks and spending a good chunk of his 3 weeks on Kyushu.
Additionally, John Marshall just sent out a newsletter announcing his new book. I hope I will be able to add it to my workshop library collection of great textile books. It includes over 100 swatch samples and he characterizes it as a “field study guide to Japanese textiles”.

And from my friend Jude who is moving, a look at the place they will now call H O M E. I’ve enjoyed her adventure and will move right along with her.

I’ll end this post with a couple of thoughts that passed my way today which resonated with me. The first one was during an interview with Presidential candidate Andrew Yang- “take a dream and turn it into something.” He also remarked that women are never truly idle. How true!
And the other is the last line of a poem that Michelle posted on her FB page today “Everywhere I look, my thoughts run wild.” (‘2011’ by Fanny Howe)

Let’s keep wondering and dreaming and let our thoughts grow wild.

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.

 

collected folk fabrics-indigo, kasuri, hemp and more

backside-silk floats across two flowers

I wanted t0 do a little post on some of the fabrics I brought back with me from Japan.  The first one is a bit of a curiosity to me which is why I bought it at one of the temple sales I wandered through. I’m sure this technique has a name and a history but since I had never seen it ( or noticed it) before, I was quite unaware of it.  At first I was drawn to it because of the indigo, next by the hemp, and also by the subtle pattern woven into it. Then I noticed that it was also embroidered with silk here and there.  Not only that, but what I saw as embroidery seems to actually have been added into the design as it was being woven.  There are large floats across the back too.  What is this called?  Is it common?  I like so many things about this fabric.  I like the uncommon pairing of the course hemp and the lustrous silk.  Perhaps John Marshall might know- or a weaver passing through…

asa (hemp) weaving indigo

The light flowers, stems, and leaves first appear as if they could be katazome, but no.  The back side shows the motif as darker than the ground.  A form of kasuri?  Or just a kind of double weave floating the lighter weft over the darker warp threads. I just don’t know.  Again, a question for a weaver to answer.  And then with the silk.  a soft handspun yarn lightly dyed -perhaps with madder.  Three pieces  of this I dug out of a pile of things under a table, appear to be an old obi.

Then there was this-

cotton or linen warp, silk weft kasuri

~this was found at the same flea market where I found the zakuri. the seller had several fine textiles.  Makoto bought one especially nice boro kimono for his wife.  This was in his scrap box (where I shop!) and I loved the color and the two way kasuri pattern.  The warp is a fine black cotton and the weft a lovely orange slightly slubby fine silk.  A great combo.  He had several pieces and I bought only two and had regrets by the time I got home for not buying it all.  To our surprise, the next day we saw him again at a different temple sale and I asked if he had brought it with him and he dug it out of a box and I bought the rest.  So 5 pieces in all-a kimono that was taken apart for cleaning and never put back together.  I love that about kimono.  The making of them does not require cutting into the fabric except for length and in the end you can dismantle the piece and use it all over again.  What plain and common sense!

kasuri detail

Walking back to the train one day I came upon a small street where a few vendors had thrown down some tarps with kimono and fabric piled onto them.  I picked up a couple of things-

The one on the left (partially shown) is a shibori noren. Likely made or at least tied in China. The other one seemed more possibly Japanese. I liked what I saw in it.

Two kasuri jackets or possibly summer weight yogi (for sleeping) – both in great condition.  All hand sewn.  Each use different cotton kasuri fabrics.  A couple of small seam repairs and I may put one of them in the shop.  It’s quite small.  But the fabric is wonderful.

I’ve saved the best for last-

komebukuro-sack for offering rice at the temple for special religious ceremonies

~this particular one appears to be quite old and with many boro patches.  It employs various homespun cotton fabrics and the rope appears to be handmade from hemp fibers. Also quite large-12 x 20″ at least.  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.  A few more pics of it:

inside full view-1

more inside detail

edge detail and rope

bag bottom inside

outside view 2

another outside view

And today, while silk was steaming on poles, I dyed up the mandalas I exampled in the online workshop-

indigo mandala with itajime on cotton organza

that’s all I can manage right now-whoops, except for this:

itajime indigo on hemp- table mat and coasters

Took this for a test drive and liked it-fabric is some hemp I found along with the komebukuro and I’ve backed the coasters with a little hand stitched kasuri. They’re reversible. Moons of course. I keep wondering why we can’t have hemp in this country…it’s just such a practical enduring fabric.

whoops- almost forgot the silk-some kimono lining silk rescued and indigo dyed-

kimono lining silk indigo dyed

There is a shop update in the near future.