Following a path with no real plan. Going day to day. Having ideas and letting them float around until something takes hold. Willing to change direction…
I didn’t want to add this to the last post on the Houston show since it’s a bit of a “Debbie Downer” (apologies to all Debbie’s out there), but I discovered something that I found very disappointing/disturbing (once again) at the show. I walked the wholesale market on Sunday as I had to wait a couple of hours for the Ed office to open.
On the show floor, I saw that Moda is now producing, for February delivery, a line of fabrics called “Boro”. Now those of you regular readers of this blog probably know how I feel about this. We had a similar discussion when they came out with their “Shibori” fabric line. But this one is even MORE disturbing to me. Is that possible? Why yes, yes it is.
Why is it that everything has to be bastardized for profit? You might find my mindset a bit harsh but boro -really?? So now we are going to take the Japanese historical tradition of using scrap cloth to make utilitarian items for daily use and commercialize it to the point of PRINTING scanned images of boro on cotton sheeting for quilters to use in boro-esque quilt projects? Are we really going there? And for quilters– who in general, have more scrap fabrics than any God of your choice!
I am really appalled at this. Do they even understand the history of these fabrics? They wax poetically in their catalog about boro, but there is a certain dissonance I find disturbing. Boro was created out of poverty, a lack of having textiles for everyday needs. A certain need to use all that was at hand- to not waste. Mottainai! Do not waste the resources you have! The ways that people in Japan found to creatively reuse what they did have is remarkable and noteworthy. To take this and create a line of printed “boro” quilt fabrics just really is the height of irreverent insincerity in my opinion. It’s nothing more than the use of a term seen as a trend for profit. It’s actually quite the opposite of boro, which translates to tattered, ragged, torn or scrap fabrics.
We can celebrate boro by using what we already have, by stitching together the fabrics of our lives. We can study the boro fabrics so lovingly stitched by those who truly were stitching to survive cold winters in northern Japan. We can honor their resourcefulness by adopting the spirit of Mottainai in our everyday lives. Let’s do that instead.
Gosh, has it been that long? The first quilt Journey started here. Further photos from the wayback time machine here on Flickr. And it has been a journey that has developed into an Odyssey. Journey was the original mooncloth.
Sometimes it’s funny to go back and read an old post. Notice how some things change and others remain the same. Like how I am still not a quilter. Blogging for over 10 years now and there are so many posts I still enjoy going back and re-reading- as a reminder. Others not so much- but still a good reminder.
In a much more recent post, I showed you how I was binding the edge of the test mooncloth Under One Moon in a little video. A couple of pics of the semi-finished piece:
This was sent off as a gift with a hope of continuing. Some thread and a needle included.
Continuing on with the larger one I’m calling Odyssey, I’m realizing how much I like the feel and drape of this cloth in my hands as I stitch on it. And right now as I head towards Quilt Festival I also realize that about 90%+ of the fabric I see there is not fabric that I would want to hand quilt with. Of course quilting began with the reuse of scraps from clothing and household textiles that lived previous lives and had a softness built into them. Fabrics now are made for machines with tight weaves, bright colors, and slick finishes. This makes them harder to push a needle through by hand. And less desirable to hand quilters. I don’t know how others feel about this but I will be noticing next month at the festival and wondering about it more.
And in workshop news… the upcoming indigo workshop at the Japanese American National Museum is going to be a little different. We will be making some small fermentation vats that folks can take home and continue with. We will also be using the pre-reduced indigo and doing more shibori. Perhaps you want to explore doing some more detailed stitched shibori on larger cloth?
all cloth and thread dyed in the fermentation vat. mostly rescued fabrics. silk and cotton threads.
because we all exist under one moon,
because we all see the moon from our own perspective,
because it is a time traveler, a wave maker, a truth teller, a light giver.
-may its peaceful countenance shine in all the darkest corners
I am dyeing more indigo cloth, more moons, more threads to hold things together. I am stitching indigo mooncloths in the evenings and in-between times.
…is kind of like watching paint dry. Having finished off some orders in this heat I am able to get back to the vat today. Dyeing a bit of this and that as needed. As for the vat- it’s a happy vat at the moment. My little experiment of sewing a big cotton scrim bag to put down into it (keeping any organic materials out of my more open weave cloth as I dye) has been successful. I placed a few round stones in the bottom to keep it anchored below (somewhat). I also found I could move it over to my smaller light vat as well when needed. It is not forming much hana (flower) but has a nice coppery sheen on top and is a deep green and dyeing well.
As a reminder- one needs to continue to stir the vat each day, especially when not using it. This action reintegrates the organic materials and any undissolved indigo in the vat. There are various theories on whether or not you want to get some oxygen into the vat while stirring (especially if the vat is in disuse). My particular theory is that since the bacteria consume oxygen they need at least a little bit ongoing to keep up the good work. That hana you see on your vat is a sign of good fermentation and the result of oxygen bubbling to the top and meeting with the air.
I am anxious to get on with it while I am in the mood but the thread I am dying to use is still wet. I am working on a show piece for Houston (as in “show”, I mean a piece for the wall of my booth) and it seemed to me that I needed to set it aside and work on a smaller, simpler piece to solve some puzzles and answer some questions I was running into on the larger one. I also depend on wondering here to catch a few thoughts.
Let’s just get clear on one thing. I am not a quilter. This may not even be a quilt. It is something.
So that being stated, I have lots to wonder about as I go down the path with this one. I will say that if you define a quilt as:
“layers of cloth held together with threads drawn through with a needle”
-then this is (a version of) a quilt. But maybe it is something else. Maybe it is a dyers cloth (run through with a needle)? Ahh…to define something. To categorize. To make it black or white. How can it be one thing and still be another? Two things at the same time? Or none at all. Maybe it is its own thing. That might ring true sometimes. Maybe for today. For now, it is a beginning. It is blue. Many blues. And it has moons. Many moons.
I think the thread may be dry now.
It’s over and I’m home. A long 10 days of constant action and responsibilities. Classes, setup, teardown, travel and the lugging of more stuff than I want to remember. Until next year!
A few highlights included classes that went smoothly, a great booth setup, and seeing so many customers and students from throughout the years. Also had some crazy weather and flooding! Note to self: pack boots next year! (I did pack umbrellas and a raincoat!)
I got to meet Deb McClintock of the blog NATURAL DYEING IN THE TEXAS HILL COUNTRY. I have enjoyed her adventures in natural dyeing for some time now. She also grows and dyes with indigo, madder and pomegranate (among other things). Thanks for taking the time to stop by Deb! Got to visit with Judith Montano a bit- she is so busy teaching every year at Festival she hardly gets down to the show floor. I have admired her book Elegant Stitches for many years- have a copy of the original edition from way back and love how her work has transitioned from crazy quilting into the lovely landscapes she does now. Had a little time with Brooke from Hannah Silks- we go way back. So far back that neither one of us can any longer remember how long ago! Was saddened to hear that her mom Hannah had passed away- she was the Hannah behind the silk.
It was a pleasure to see and meet up with folks who appreciate the techniques and materials behind the textiles. I really enjoy the vintage dealers most I think (Carola Pfau of Textile Treasures, June Colburn, Carol Saber and others). Their knowledge of the textiles they sell is priceless. These textiles teach us so much. What do the textiles of today teach us? I wonder. A customer came to talk to me about what she had seen at the show. She felt that the prizewinning quilts were lacking something. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it at first. They were detailed, precise, painstakingly designed, impressive in scale, pleasing to look at…yet, something was missing. Our conversation turned to the missing element- the fact that so much of the quilting done these days and especially for big quilt prizes is technology and consumer driven. Ever more sophisticated machines, tools and fabrics dominate. In some of these pieces it causes them to feel sterile, almost as if they weren’t make by hand. But yet they are. Such precision in cutting, stitching, and profusion of color and design made available by the limitless palette of modern fabrics takes away something I think. Comparing the vintage quilts in the show with their newer cousins one causes one to wonder about all this. I know I am speaking blasphemy when I say this. One can wonder can’t one?
Today the show boxes arrived and were unpacked and I will send out emails to catch up a bit. I needed a few days to recover (I forgot to mention the visit to the Urgent Doc in Houston did I?) and regain my balance, literally. Perhaps some leftover items will appear in the shop by the end of next week…
There’s an upcoming workshop at the JANM to prepare for (sold out) and orders to start on in addition to a few custom orders placed at the show. Time to get busy…
People at the show were already excited about the 2017 Silk Study Tour to Japan and wanted to write me checks but I am not ready for that just yet. Hirata San and I are working out the new itinerary already and will have it up by January 30. This time we will do 12 nights and include Kyoto! What fun. To be informed of these details please sign yourself up for my Constant Contact newsletter in the sidebar and make sure to check Silk Study Tour as an area of interest.
And in Freer news… I have added the Silk Shibori Ribbon Poinsettia Brooch PDF which includes links to the two videos on how to make this holiday piece. I have also added a PDF to the simple shibori fringed flower. This is easily made with small scraps you may have around. Please enjoy.
Here are a few shots from the show- big thanks to Donna and Virginia for helping me get through it all- you both were integral to the whole. Also thanks to Katrina Walker and the whole Silk Experience team of teachers and Quilts Ed staff for doing a great job at Quilt Festival. It was very much appreciated.
Hello. That’s a good place to start. Yes, I’m back. Here. Houston almost seems like a dream! A wonderful show and ever so busy for me on all accounts. My sincere thanks to everyone who came, who sent in pieces for the silk exhibit, and who took my workshop. We did have a great time!
Let’s start with a little slideshow of the silk exhibit…
Having never curated and organized an exhibit before I was pretty much winging it but in my mind’s eye I had an idea of what I wanted to communicate to viewers of the exhibit. It was also interesting to work with the exhibit staff at Quilts Inc. and see their process for receiving materials, setting up, breaking down, and returning items for the exhibit at large. Many thanks especially to Ginny and her crew who were assigned to this exhibit (they confessed that when the various exhibits were assigned they drew the short straw! in the end it wasn’t as bad as they thought-just different than the basic quilt exhibit). Thanks Ginny and crew! I got to learn a lot through organizing this exhibit.
a couple of shots of the booth-
Unfortunately, when I returned I got the flu- put me a few steps back and then it was off to see my son Trevor’s senior recital-wow!
-and then back home where I am still catching up on emails and orders. Also many proposals and fees for next years events are due any day now. Yikes!
Oh, and another great indigo workshop at the Japanese American National Museum last weekend-
Glenna came with her own wonderings-about temari. She played and devised a way to indigo dye the base for a temari. Quite inventive. I can see the possibilities now! If you are looking for a new craft to spend some serious time at check out the possibilities of making temari! I even want to try my hand at it-at least once just to gain a basic understanding. She gave me a lovely sample of her work as a gift-I love it!
The gift of home grown cotton was actually from the Houston workshop-got it mixed into the wrong set- but it is beautiful and has seeds that I have separated out- I want to grow a couple of plants just for fun.
The indigo is all cut and each participant at the JANM workshop received a seed packet in their materials kit. Perhaps some indigo will be grown in spring! As for the rest, some was bagged for gifts, and the rest of the seed was collected for next years crop. However, it looks like there may already be some dropped seed sprouting out back already! We’ll see…
More to tell, but must end it here for now- have a wonderful holiday full of thanks and giving, of friends and family.
(my son was at the grocery store one day and texted me this random photo…he’s often thinking of (how to tease) me- funny photo-also an example of how quilting is sold via magazines in the grocery store-magazines are just weird to me these days anyway)
since i am working backwards here- there was something i forgot to mention in the last post which i wanted to make sure to tell you. one day during the show a woman came into the booth holding up a $50 bill in front of me. there were several others in the booth and i was quite busy attending to them all. this woman proceeded to tell me she had come by to give me this $50 because a couple of years ago she had charged something with me and there had been a problem and the amount had never been collected. she had hoped to come last year but couldn’t and had felt so badly about it she wanted to make sure she came to me first off. she gave me the bill and sped off leaving us all to marvel at her actions. certainly there had been a circumstance that needed rectifying (i had long given up on it-the cost of doing business and moving forward) but still it just was a lovely gesture and a testament to the quality of people who attend the quilt show. just wanted to say…thanks for exemplifying that -whoever you were!
prior to the show opening i taught two classes in Houston. i flew in early to help Maggie set up the Silk Experience classroom. it was really such a luxury to come in early to set up and have my own key to the teaching room so i could set up not only the room for all the teachers who would be teaching that week, but also so that i could set up for my own (first) all day shibori dye class at my own pace without being rushed. truly a luxury. after setting up the room as a whole with Maggie (of Silk Things ) i took a few photos of the displays we put up.
we had a display panel for each of the teachers who would be teaching. this serves not only to decorate our room but to educate all who enter for the week of classes about the other teachers and classes that are offered. they can then see what classes and teachers they might want to sign up for in the future. Judith Baker Montano also had a beautiful display and taught for us there but her display wasn’t set up when i took the photos and in all the goings on i neglected to go back and get a photo of it- just plain forgot-darn! she has a new book out which is just beautiful. it was great to see all the silk teachers again this year!
and just to let you know- i got absolutely zero pics during the all day workshop- was just too involved and busy- guess ya had to be there, sorry. maybe someone else did and will post them. but everyone had a good time and i even made a small indigo vat for everyone to take a dip in-most had never experienced indigo (used the pre-reduced indigo crystals and while they worked for our purposes the vat was fairly short lived and needed reviving part way through-there were 26 students though).
another thing of particular interest to shoppers in my booth was my Square Up device that allows for real time swiped credit card transactions via my iPhone. i’ve waited patiently since May for it’s arrival and received it just before the show. i discovered a few flaws but overcame most quickly. an unexpected delay in accessing my funds is still plaguing me but i get what they are doing and should have read the fine print first. this too will resolve itself with time.
Just a quickie post to give you a link to the Quilt Festival @ Home site where you can see all the sights and sounds of the Long Beach Quilt Festival in case you weren’t there! There are photos of the special exhibits, the show floor, as well as the new Vidcasts. Check it out!
There were over 18,000 attendees at this show.