Tag Archives: natural dyeing

making the most of what you have and a vintage nobori!

When I write a post I never fill in the post title until the end, even if in my mind I have one roaming around my head.  You never know what path a post might take. Speaking of paths… I’m putting my pathfinding and wondering skills to use in upcoming city elections. I feel that I would be disregarding reality if I didn’t volunteer to help. Most of my contribution will be in helping to spread the word on social media.

Please look up and around your communities and city halls and make sure that people have a voice. Make sure that money, ambition , and politics are not sending down taproots that crowd out the voice of the city’s residents. It’s a volunteer thing and there will be a balance that needs to be struck so that work and bills get taken care of as well. More on that later…

It’s been hot here. Watering the edibles in the yard mainly. Into second rounds of crops since our summer is so long here.

I noticed some things around the yard that might be good for the dyepot or other meanderings so I collected them up.  Will be testing them out on some old silk lining fabrics.
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I started this post a few days ago and am only now getting back to it.  The red dragonfly pictured above has been hanging out in the garden for at least a week now!  I guess they are somewhat territorial.  I also ate my first cactus fruit today.  It was delicious- juicy, mildly sweet with a flowery flavor. Really amazing when you eat them right off the cactus with the warmth of the sun still holding on to the fruit.

I should back up a bit here and post a small gallery of photos of my amazing cereus cactus. It is a Queen of the Night (actual name used by about 4 different varieties of cereus night bloomers) and aptly named. I’ve been sharing these on my FB page for the last couple of weeks.
Some nights have given us over 100 blooms, others 80, 70, 50.  I would say that we will have had around 1000 blooms this year when it is all over. I spend much time outside at night gazing up.

******** feel free to skip the politics down to the ****************
City politics in Long Beach have really changed over the years. Most of city council and the mayor are on personal political trajectories fueled by big money, developers, unions, PACs, and officeholder accounts (no real news here-how is your city government doing?).

The most current & egregious effort they have made is to place a measure on the upcoming ballot to change the city charter and afford themselves an extension of term limits (from 2 to 3 terms). And all by telling voters this is a strengthening of term limit laws! They claim they are doing away with a loophole where one can mount a write in campaign in the primary election when in fact regardless of whether it is two terms, three terms or ten terms the California Election code allows this write in effort. I’ll spare you most of the gory details but when hundreds of residents showed up in the middle of the day during the week for the final hearing where council voted to place this on the ballot (all but two who spoke were against and those two were LB govt. employees!) . They voted unanimously 9-0 in favor to place it on the ballot.  They will spend about $700,000 of our tax $ on this self serving effort.  They no longer listen to the people.
This has resulted in outrage to the point that many of the city’s resident/neighborhood advocacy groups are supporting a newly formed peoples PAC- the Long Beach Reform Coalition. This has meant many hours of meetings, emails, & phone calls in order to write the ballot measures’ opposing arguments and rebuttal statements. We were even sued by the city yesterday in LA Superior court with less than 24 hour notice for something that could have been handled in the local city clerk’s office -a correction and rewording of a couple of the statements! Writing ballot measure arguments and rebuttals is not for sissies!  I learned a lot! The city is bullying the residents. This PAC is needed in order to pool resources and help finance opposition to such things as well as help new council candidates fund their campaigns against the overwhelming money of the entrenched incumbents.
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I have spent far more time than I can afford to on this. It is cutting into my studio work time. In order to compensate a bit for this (and be able to pay my bills next month!) I am listing a few of my favorite acquired textiles from Japan.  Some of these I have used as samples for students to view in my workshops or as show pieces in my booth in Houston.  I treasure them all but it is time to pass them along to others.

First off, I will show you this wonderful tsutsugaki  nobori I purchased in a small shop in Mashiko-the home and pottery studio of famed Shoji Hamada.
I honestly did not know what I was going to do with this piece at the time but had recently been given a beautiful book by a Japanese designer that inspired me and used all sorts of vintage Japanese textiles in her clothing designs.
This nobori is likely from 40’s- 50’s (Showa) and is very brightly painted. It is very large and was probably used in Boys Day festivals. I thought I might even fly it here for special occasions but it is so long and theft is an issue. I’d love to see someone put it to good use!
It is 21.5 ” x 204″. The cloth is hemp- it is more rugged than cotton and smartly so for its intended use. Not too tightly woven and slubs in the weave suggest it may be a home woven cloth. All stitching on it is by hand. As a purposeful vintage textile it is imperfect, but the imperfections are not objectionable (a few stains and unintended brush marks -no holes or tears). The image painted on the nobori is of samurai riding their horses- a familiar boys day banner theme. Let’s look at it!

highly stylized faces of both the samurai and the horses and dramatic costumes with pine tree against a blue sky

These two photos are one half of the piece. The painting is detailed on both sides as they were meant to be seen from both. Below, the simpler portion which has the crests.
The hangers on the side are hand sewn on and could be removed without damage to the main cloth itself.

Tsutsugaki is a paste resist technique used to draw on the design outlines and the colors and detail features are hand painted. The crest portion is probably done using a cut stencil like katazome with the black being screened on (i’m guessing on this).
some detail shots:

So now for some photos from the book I was gifted…

vintage nobori as a over jacket- duster length

sleeves use the crests

Aren’t those great?  So now I post the nobori in the shop. I will add the other items, hopefully tomorrow and do a shorter post (much shorter) on where I found them and their history.

Naturally, Shibori Girl

I’ve been working at this for some time now.

The collecting of the cloth, the growing of the dye stuffs, the wondering about it all. Going at it a little bit at a time as I can, seasonally and intentionally.

Finally, I have enough to make a small offering.

These four collections of color herein contain a certain sense of place. This place is here in my yard. The pomegranate, the persimmon (kakishibu), and the madder (a new and exciting venture). The added indigo is from my nearly 5 year old natural fermentation vat. (I did not grow indigo this year due to drought conditions but look forward to once again if we get some decent rain.)

Each packet contains fabrics (mostly silks) collected in Japan. Even the cottons are mostly from kimono linings. All are perfectly imperfect and have their own sense of time and place about them. Each packet contains a moon- a reminder that we are united and some silk thread with which to stitch these thoughts together.

I instruct you to look, really look at these fabrics as you open the packet. The hand of the weaver is visible in many. The needle marks from unstitching and the loose threads tell tales. I tore many of the lengths selvedge to selvedge- in an effort to get you to notice the edges.

Only 4 each of the 4 collections. For now, in the shop.

Enjoy~

India Flint workshop in Los Angeles

India Flint wanders to Los Angeles

Yes, it is true! India Flint will be in Los Angeles to give a 3 day workshop (July 30,31,& Aug 1) at the studio and shop of Claudia Grau in Los Angeles.  I don’t know Claudia, but she contacted me to let me know there are still a few spaces left and wondered if I knew anyone who might want to join the workshop.  India’s west coast trip has her in the Santa Barbara area giving a workshop there as well but that one sold out rather quickly and hence the LA area workshop was quickly conceived.  There really is not much time to ponder it as registration will close on Friday (this Friday!).  I hope to attend as well although I will be just finishing up the Long Beach International Quilt Festival and the Houston Silk Exhibit planning team will be in town to meet so time is pretty booked.

India Flint Workshop in Los Angeles

For those of you who might not be familiar with India and her work, she is the author on two two books, Eco Color and Second Skin, both books on sustainable dyeing using local windfall to color cloth. She wanders and wonders wherever the trade winds take her, sharing her knowledge, experience, and methods with dyers worldwide. It is a rare chance to be able to have her in Southern California.

Speaking of books, I recently received a copy of a book called Shibori Recreated produced in Australia which features the work of 20 shibori artists, dyers, and makers worldwide.  I was asked to participate in this project and found myself in the company of some others whose work I admire greatly- Hiroshi Murase, Yvonne Wakabayashi, and India Flint to name a few.  I was also pleased to be introduced to the work of Sally Campbell and Barbara Rogers (among others), two shibori-ists whom I had not been previously aware.  The choice of covers for the book (front and back), leave a little to be desired as they don’t convey the topic of shibori very effectively in my opinion.  But I was interested in the content.  Each artist was asked the same set of questions about their own work, shibori in general-past and present, and the future of shibori in terms of technology and this modern world, among other things.  It was interesting to read the artists answers, in their own words, from such a broad and diverse set of folks whose work all focuses on shibori.  I found there were several consistent themes running through the answers of many and thoroughly enjoyed reading through them.    The only other caveat I would add is that the font style and size that was chosen makes for extremely difficult reading.  An odd choice for a book that you want people to read and is actually worth reading.  I think it might be a case of getting carried away with design and form over function.  But all in all, I enjoyed it.

Back to the workshop- if you are anywhere in SoCal and want to wonder and wander a bit with India Flint, give Claudia a call, an email or click to the link to join in– I hope to be there to join you!

Silk Study Tour to Japan 2013

Just a quick post today to give you the link for the 2013 Silk Study Tour to Japan.

If you are interested in seeing a few photos from previous tours, you can visit a Silk Study tour flickr set where I have posted a small number of the many photos I have collected over the years. This next year will be the 3rd biennial tour. We will learn more, visit new locations and this year we have arranged to have a day long workshop in the studio of a natural dyer whose family has been dyeing for several generations.  When we were there this past May he showed us the most magnificent indigo dyed silk! It was dyed with fresh leaf indigo and I was stunned at the beautiful color he achieved. He tells us he only dyes seasonally and locally, meaning he collects dyestuff from surrounding areas and only when they are in season. This is not a new idea to him although it is an idea that is currently getting more attention these days.

fresh leaf indigo dyed raw silk

Of course there will be so many things to discover and learn, friends and memories to make and keep.  Inspiration to last a lifetime.

This month will be keeping me busy teaching a couple of classes at HGA’s Convergence followed by the International Quilt Festival here in Long Beach.  The Houston Quilt Festival catalogs have gone out and you can start signing up by mail now.  I think you will be able to start signing up online in a couple of weeks. For now, you can order the catalog by mail here.

I’m even more excited about Houston this year as I will be teaching two classes that are firsts for me there- an all day indigo silk dyeing class and also a silk mawata making class.  I am also part of a team organizing a special silk exhibit on the convention’s exhibit area.  A lot going on…but now must get back to making.

Mata-ne!