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.
It’s been a whole moon since that last post- a record of sorts here. One that I don’t plan repeating often in the future. Life happens though and one never knows. In this past month there have been some significant events- a death in the family and a marriage too! Balancing the sad with the happy, blurring the past and the future.
Plus we both had the flu which also complicated things. Hence, no posting here. Just living.
Spring here is glorious this year thanks to the rainfall received. So much blooming! A simple walk around the backyard is proof that Nature is pleased (at least for now, politics be damned!).
I’m finally back in the studio daily this week and working on orders again. As if to remind myself of the whimsy that can occur while dyeing, I over-discharged 80 yards of pink shibori ribbon the other day. I was working on the final color for a large order that included the colorway Pink Storm and when it went into the discharge bath it discharged deep and immediately! I tried to correct on the second pole but *poof*…color disappeared immediately. This pink is very easily discharged (a medium pink using mainly polar red) but the discharge bath was too hot and strong for a controlled discharge. SO, I took the 80 yards and dyed some new and fun colors with it. Now, I am back with a new batch of ribbon all base dyed and pole wrapped for some careful discharging today. Here’s some photos of what went on, and what I was trying to achieve.
The fun part is that now I have some yardage of really pretty colors to play with and sell. I’ll be taking some photos today and putting some of it in the shop. I’m also trying to get together a small selection of ribbon to take with me to Japan in May to sample some of my customers while I am there. Yes, Japan. The Silk Study Tour to Japan is coming up soon! May 16th to be exact. I’m really looking forward to it. Each tour is filled with unique experiences created by the harmonic blending of people and places. We will learn so much, see many extraordinary things, and make new friends and connections for today and tomorrow.
It is my great pleasure to facilitate this tour and watch many people experience Japan for the first time- much of it through the eyes of the silkworm! This year’s tour is full with many interesting people, most who are visiting Japan for their first time. Exciting times ahead! Hirata san and I have added Kyoto to this years experience and our faithful charter bus company will soon be whisking us from place to place while we enjoy some beautiful scenery from the comfort of the bus and its large panoramic windows. In addition we will walk, ride trains and eat lots of great food! Get ready to follow along as I update from Japan along our silk road.
Indigo dyeing has been taking a back seat for the moment- the fermentation vat is back to misbehaving and with all the disruption around here lately I have not been able to concentrate on it. One thing though, I will be spending several days with my indigo sensei Fumiko Satou in Japan after the tour is over. I have lots of new questions and hope to be of help to her (as studio helpmate) as she prepares for an upcoming event. I am really looking forward to this.
The next couple of weeks is devoted to clearing out some of the orders, making a little stock, and getting taxes done. Then, final preparations for Japan will be in full swing. That, and a day trip to see the beautiful wildflowers in bloom here in California-where we are thankful to continue the quest for clean air, water and energy (again, politics be damned!).
Love to all… may your path lead you to places unknown. Keep wondering, always wondering…
Sometimes I wonder.
As of late, in the curious world we are living in, I feel more and more that I am an outsider. More than just an outsider ( I have always been that) but as I have talked about before, the sort of species that is on the endangered list. Something that is becoming extinct. As someone who for SOME reason believed I could become anything I wanted to to be (and I became an independent artisan) I feel that choice is in rapid decline in our world. Maybe it is just me-I admit, I do have a weird perspective. I mean really, how many people do you personally know who has been able to make a living making things by hand and selling them for their entire adult life (40+ years so far)? Any? I’m not saying this to amaze or impress you. Trust me, it’s not everyone’s gig- THAT is for sure. But the fact that it was even possible and at some points in history (all over the world) quite common, is interesting. The fact that it is in extreme decline is regrettable to me. I really don’t think that it is something that most people think about at all.
I think about it all the time.
Why does this concern me? I ask myself this question and it is not an easy answer. I believe that a certain amount of distance from the norm is good for society in general. It can provide an example, a path to follow, or even inspiration. It provides a balance of sorts. This kind of distance and independence allows for different thinking, different perspective and different choices. Not to mention the benefits to many of working with your hands, of creating daily, of experimenting and problem solving, and for many-better mental and physical health.
I can only continue to be, to exist as I am. All this outside the norms- whatever those are. It seems that that is really the best I can do at this point. I am very fortunate to have a roof over my head. Some sort of forethought allowed for that at least. If I were to do this today, it would look very different I am sure (if I was able to do it at all). That is the point of this post in the end, I guess. It seems as if this choice is becoming so unavailable, so rare-a choice I once took for granted without even knowing what an extravagance it really was. I didn’t know because I just did it. One day at a time, every day-until it was my normal.
The rising cost of living in general seems to necessitate rushing to a job-the sort of job that can pay the bills and leaves little time for much else. Once one has money coming in, there are the expectations of society, others and even ones self. A car- a payment, a house-a payment, taxes-payments, health-payments, family-$, etc.. It is a cycle that once one arrives at, is very hard to disengage from. Only if one can become very creative, frugal, and perhaps fortunate, can you craft a situation that allows distance from the norm. I see people all around me longing to disengage from the desk chair, the screens, the keyboards, the commutes. Yet the lifestyle that has been created makes it difficult to do so. The actions needed to disengage are overwhelmed by the changes needed to make this happen. One is thought of as irresponsible (if not just plain crazy) for not fully engaging in this cycle.
All I can say at this point is find a way. Just find a way.
I love Soetsu Yanagi‘s thoughts…
This exhibit is still up at he Mingei Museum in San Diego until Oct. 2nd. I’ve seen it three times now and loved it all three times.
thankful today for the bounty i receive-not forgetting that which nature provides me right out my back door.
and the other trees and veggies i’ve planted are looking good as well. it’s encouraging.
there is nothing like a garden to keep me firmly planted on solid ground.
Well, here it is March already. I spent several days buried in paperwork, tying up the loose ends of 2008, finished and filed my taxes and submitted the FAFSA aps- always a good thing to put behind you. You know what I’m talking about if you are not independently wealthy and have kids in college.
I continue on here with one foot in front of the other while life for my dad is closing in and he is turning inward more and more.
There has thankfully been a steady stream of sisters there since I returned and they and my mom along with hospice care have been keeping him comfortable, humored, and in good company in these final days. My sister told me today that he had been making odd hand motions these past two days and they finally decided he was trying to tie imaginary knots. They gave him some string to work with and that seemed to satisfy for a bit. He also communicated a dream he had last night about being in an airport traveling but that he hadn’t yet arrived-wasn’t sure where he was going. And as I went about my day today I kept returning to these thoughts. I see him, his mind busy, his hands trying to tie up life’s loose ends as he makes his way home. It’s a comfort of sorts.
adj. rough·er, rough·est
1. Having a surface marked by irregularities, protuberances, or ridges; not smooth.
2. Coarse or shaggy to the touch
3.a. Difficult to travel over or through
b. Characterized by violent motion; turbulent: rough waters.
c. Difficult to endure or live through
d. Unpleasant or difficult
Well, that’s what he called it when we talked. An understatement to say the least. I’ll be taking a bit of a break here to spend some time with him over the next week. For starters.
I haven’t posted much info yet on my next show which begins on January 15 (through the 18th) in Ontario CA at the Road to California show. This is taking the wind out of my sails at the moment.
I am teaching a Friday night class (go here to register online) that runs from 7-10 PM. We will have all three hours for making various silk shibori ribbon flowers and wired jewelry. The class kit (fee $40) includes 3 yards of the ribbon ($45 value) plus a variety of other supplies we will be using. The class itself is $35- not bad for three hours and is limited to 20. I’m not sure how many spots are still open (will post as soon as I hear back from them) but this was a late addition to the class listings which are mainly sold out.
I have also committed to a new Joggles class for the Winter schedule due to be released today. I will be teaching a wired shibori ribbon jewelry class. The last Joggles class which just finished up (forums are still open if you were part of it) and was a lot of fun. I added a new video on making the shibori ribbon leaf which helped a couple of the students who were having difficulty with the written instructions. As they say, a picture is worth 1000 words. Part of the challenge of teaching is finding what works for each student, whether online or in person. That’s why it is important to get feedback in the forums in an online class. I would never know that a student is struggling unless they are willing to post to the forum. Someone else in the class jumped in to give encouragement and support as well and by posting the video we got her through her “rough patch”. (Were it so easy with my dad.)
For me, a big part of teaching others to engage their creativity and learn a process is discovering each student’s mode of learning. This is more difficult online of course and also difficult in a short 3 hour workshop. But I still enjoy the challenge. 2009 promises to be full of challenges and I hope you’ll be there with me.