These special moons are made with an unexpected cloth-a coarse homespun cotton cloth that had a layer of silk mawata stretched across it. I wondered…
Mawata is made from silk cocoons that are softened with hot water and soda ash before stretching them out on a frame. We also know them here as silk hankies. They can be used to spin silk yarn or are often used as quilt batting by stretching 50-100 cocoons into a thick, yet lightweight, layer of wonderful silk batting!
After asking around, the best answer I could find was that the silk mawata was there to help keep the two cloths together so the exterior and interior fabrics wouldn’t slip around. Another use for silk!
On the shibori side of things, Asiadyer sent me a couple of images of some shibori scraps he came across. They are a great little study in double arashi. Wrapping my mind around the concept, and the cloth around a pole, I made an attempt. I will make some adjustments and have another go at it. The result I got started out ok, but the second wrapping did not achieve the result I was looking for. Even still, some shibori was made!
These things drive me a bit crazy until I figure them out…
And yes, it’s February! We welcome the approaching Spring, warmer weather, and February moons for the circle. I chose and cut the fabric today. One is some fabulous kimono silk woven and dyed on Amami Oshima. Indigo, tannin and mud dyed then painstakingly woven. Even a small scrap is a treasure. The other is the leftover cloth from a dress I made from a repurposed meisen silk kimono a few years ago. Links to my previous posts about dyeing and weaving on Amami oshima here and here.
On one past trip to Japan I met this piece of silk and brought it home with me because it made me wonder.
That was several years ago. And only this past December did I pull it out and make December moons with it for the moon circle. Yes, I am still working on December. Between the holidays, the cold wet windy weather in the outdoor work area, and cutting my hand rather badly which prevented me from any wet work, I’m still finishing last month’s moons.
While making moons again today since we got a break in the weather – the sun came out and shone down upon us. We all went outside to enjoy it! I dug up a little of the madder to see…I’m trying to dry it but it keeps raining!
Working with this silk, I was able to appreciate it all over again. Somewhere along the way, I might’ve mentioned this fabric. But it’s worth showing you again especially after having dyed moons on it. It’s all silk, and quite lightweight. I’m not sure what the technique is that was used with this as the little bits of color seem to be snips of thread that were just sprinkled into the warp as it was woven. You can pull these little threads out and they are only about 2mm. Now that is of course, a very uneducated guess on my part. I’m sure there’s more to it than that but I certainly don’t know what it is.
And a few posts back I showed you some sashiko practice I was doing. During the recent full moon and moon making session the swatches caught my eye…and turned into their own special moons.
So now all the December moons have been sent, I am working on January moons. Many of those who subscribed last year have asked to continue and I have some people who are only half way through their subscriptions. I contemplated how I wanted to continue…
I’m choosing to continue but limiting the number of subscriptions I can comfortably do. This seems like the way to go. I’m also looking forward to the Silk Study Tour to Japan (still 3 spots available!) and meeting new and wonderful moon cloth. This time I will look with intention for moon making which will be interesting. In the past, I just used what I had found somewhat randomly. Now I will look with a new set of eyes, a new vision. After a year of doing this now I have developed a system for creating the cards, the notes, the labels, and assembling it all for mailing. There was some trial and error along the way. I want to take advantage of that knowledge. It takes time to work out the details.
Additionally, I gathered a whole bunch of moons gathering stardust for a shop update. There are some really fun ones in there. some I have have several of and others just one. No two are completely alike of course. I put the sashiko moons in there and a few woven moons too. Have fun!
Heavy rain and wind continue here…the worst of it hitting north of us so far but putting out love and safety energy for all my friends in California experiencing the flooding. Stay safe and stay home! Lots of evacuations today.
Enter friends, into the New Year. The Year of the Rabbit.
Tsuki no usagi “HOW A RABBIT REACHED THE MOON:
One night, the Man on the Moon came down to earth disguised as a beggar. He chanced upon a Fox, a Monkey, and a Rabbit (usagi) and asked for some food. The Fox brought him fish from a stream, and the Monkey brought fruit from the trees, but the Rabbit could only offer grass. So he told the beggar to build a fire, and when it was built, threw himself onto the flames to offer himself to the Man. Amazed by the Rabbit’s generosity, the beggar transformed back into the Man on the Moon and pulled the Rabbit from the fire. To honor the Rabbit’s kindness, the Man on the Moon carried the Rabbit back to the moon to live with him. Now, if you look at the full moon, you can see the outline of the Rabbit pounding mochi on the moon.”
To all the moon makers, pathfinders, and wonderers… 明けましておめでとう! Akemashiteomedetō! Happy New Year! (December moons are running a bit late but include some stitching inspiration for the New Year of the Rabbit.)
I have some thoughts entering into this New Year 0f 2023. Some of those thoughts include words like C O N T I N U I N G, G E N T L E K I N D N E S S, L O V E, H U M O R & H E A L I N G. These are just words, but words can become thoughts and thoughts can become actions and direction. We are all still here in this C I R C L E of G E N T L E K I N D N E S S, L O V E, H U M O R & H E A L I N G. .
Perhaps you have also had a life adorned by C R A F T. Craft is an embellishment that has adorned my life. It’s been a steady companion throughout. It has offered a respite from difficult times as a child, a relief from everyday anxiety as an adult, and a comfort when a moment of focussed meditation is needed. We can stitch a hole in the fabric of our life that needs healing with a needle, thread, and a little cloth. We can encourage ourselves to head in a positive direction.
In this New Year, I will continue to note (not control) the measure of my days. All days are not measured the same. I continue to hold the circle gathered and to listen.
A new Gathering will begin soon. (ha! just as I wrote this, three black cats entered the yard right outside the window here. Not the gathering I was thinking about, but just the local black cats that seem to want to hang out together! One DOES actually live here!) This one below lives next door and has taken over the dog’s new upstairs bed as her own. A little NY humor…
it’s the Captain…
Next up will be some new offerings for 2023, and more about the 2023 Silk Study Tour to Japan in May! But now to go and finish with the December moons…
There has been rain! It has also been colder lately. All the signs of season have arrived. For us here that means twinkling lights on houses, sprouts emerging everywhere, narcissus starting to bloom out back, and the annual golden falling of a million ginko leaves carpeting the the back corner of the yard. All the rain barrels are full- 300 gallons of water. Here, that is a blessing indeed!
It seems Time has been passing at warp speed. In that passing some things have been worked on. Some things have been endured. For the worked on:
A bag was made for an order. It is a lovely bag for a long time customer who became a friend over time. So was the psychological connection that I insisted on calling her by my sister’s name for YEARS!! That was the comfort and familial level at which we met. We laughed over it so many times. I finally have trained myself to her actual name at great effort. Have you ever had that happen with someone? Unfortunately, when it arrived it had a failing of a piece of the hardware and I recalled it for repair. It has been repaired and resent in time for gift giving. I appreciate her kind patience with all this. But it is the second photo above I want to bring attention to. I knew I wanted to make this a special bag and selected a long saved silk moth/butterfly mon I had found at a temple sale in Japan several years back. I remember the seller being wary of my purchase since the men’s kimono it was on was in such poor condition. She insisted in showing me all the flaws (virtually falling apart in many ways), but I assured her that I completely understood and that the price was fair and it was the mons I was interested in and that I would use it for scrap and hand sewing projects. We completed the transaction happily. It is an unusual piece as it is a medium grey silk with the finest and lightest katazome pattern in the background. I had not seen one like this before. And the butterfly mon was exquisite and detailed. Done with katazome technique and additionally embellished with fine line drawing. I think it’s pretty old… Moving along to the third image above, I posted previously some images of sashiko practice. This piece seemed to call out for something “more”. I added french knots at the center of each star in a satisfying orange brick red thread. Done! And then there has been this bag with an unfinished knitting project from at least ten years ago. I lost track of the pattern and asked my friend Penny to resurrect and reconstruct it. She’s a great regular knitter (as I USED to be), and provided the written pattern for me. I can’t express how satisfying working on this in the here and there has been! It’s been great fun and I have my knitting mojo back! Perfect for my mental plan to spin and dye up some glorious silk knitting yarn. This is some Zara wool we sold when I had a knitting shop (history – haha) and it is a great feeling yarn to knit with- especially on bamboo circular #6 needles. If you are going to knit, make sure you ENJOY the yarn! This is a simple 4 row repeat pattern over a 5 + 2 stitch count and yields a satisfying resulting pattern. I’m almost done now and will be blocking it soon. Oranges… my favorite holiday ingredient. I picked these fresh navels at my son’s house (got to see the grandson and go to the movies with them!) and made candied orange peel last night- a holiday favorite here. I will make the much sought after orange pecan biscotti tomorrow…. after the dishwasher and under sink plumbing is repaired!!! (this OLD house!) And lastly, while making the last ribbon order of the year I indulged in making some pleated red organza and made the floral piece pictured. I really love organza for flower making. I will likely do a zoom workshop for it in February.
Moving Time along…
Inspired by the french knots that seemed to be appearing everywhere I looked, I played around with french knots and the moon. It was a happy collaboration. First the sashiko piece, then a gal I have been following on twitter ( Katrin Vates) for some time that does the most intense french knot embroidery I have seen- mainly trees, and then Jude of course recently did some wonderful and simple moons pieces with french knots! My contribution to end the year of the moon circle is to show you some possibilities with the year of moons. It’s winter, Solstice is two days away, and snow is a possibility! Maybe not here in Southern California, but we can dream…
And in conclusion, the report came back “margins clear” again this time. And I urge you also to take good care of your health, and your bones…
When I haven’t posted in a while, I hardly know where to start! I looked back just now and see that it’s been nearly TWO MONTHS since the last post. I think that must be a record! Not to worry… just been busy.
Several things have been going on. First, I organized the itinerary, info and newsletter for the Silk Study Tour To Japan for 2023. I sent out a few waves of email newsletters and right away filled 10 of the 16 spots. If you wanted to look over the details, here is a link to the details. Contact me if you have any questions!
Next, the first post Covid workshop at the Japanese American National Museum was completed last weekend. It was wonderful to be back and see so many familiar faces and new friends as well. I didn’t even take any photos- just a couple of quick video clips. Just a little glimpse… I live streamed the clips on FB and didn’t save them… but available here if you want to view them on FB.
Today is November 8– (I probably won’t even complete this post to my satisfaction until tomorrow) but I hope you went out and voted! Here in Long Beach there are several wonderful true grassroots volunteer groups out there working hard at getting some great candidates elected against a very powerful and monied political machine. There is corruption. I don’t know how we’ll do, but we are hopeful. It’s taken a considerable amount of time and energy and decreased my ability to do the work I do here. I’m looking forward to more mental peace post election! UPDATE>>> It’s now Wednesday and after a late night election watch party nearby, we all went home fairly accepting defeat to the machine and the overwhelming amount of $$ poured into machine candidate campaigns (by the scandalous LA Federation of Labor no less), only to be revived around midnight (once we all got home) with an update that put our candidate within 99 votes of a win…less than one % point! We may not have the final outcome until Friday, so we remain hopeful.
The exhibit reminds us too, that silk had a part to play in the establishment of the first Japanese colony in North America in 1869- by samurai families fleeing civil war in Japan.
Sutra and Bible is a fascinating look at the history of faith in the Japanese community and into their camp experience. A discovery of sutra stones brought to light the role that religion played in the lives of Japanese migrants in the US. The sutra stones themselves are beautiful and inscribed with portions of Buddhist sutra.
I also viewed in person the Ireicho- a sacred book listing over 125,000 names of people of Japanese ancestry who were incarcerated in the camps.
A quick note about October moons… I am late in finishing the last portion of them so if you are waiting, do not despair! I’m finishing them off today and getting them out tomorrow! Then on to November!
We had a great rainstorm yesterday and all my rain barrels are filled! there is plenty of catching up to do outside. I’m picking and sharing persimmons with the birds and squirrels again this year- plenty for all as usual. The behemoth cactus is STILL blooming! Not quite sure what to make of that. It’s been blooming since July I think which is a very long time-most ever as far as I can remember. Cactus and Dia de los Muertos, cactus fruit, and my daily friend in the studio.
I recently had some scrap silk left over from having bias ribbon made for my silk shibori ribbon. It was enough that I wanted to see what could be done with it so I had the converter do some flat bias tube (unfilled cording). I always want to use as much as possible without throwing any away of course. I found out that the previous company I was using to do the biasing was throwing out the end cuts! Once I found that out I started having them save them for me for odd projects but they were very irregular. These days, I am a little smarter. I work with the converter to minimize any waste so we can plan ahead to make something with the end cuts. Below, I am playing around with some ideas for the trims I will start having made- which I will be dyeing. I started out with an autumn colorway.
So far I have just finished the one piece. It’s in the shop as a made up brooch /necklace combo. When I get more of this made in different colorways, I’m thinking I’ll do some kits and workshops with it. It’s always fun to experiment with new things!
At the same time, I’m working on the September moons for the circle. This month I’m focusing on plant dyed moons. Using the feathery cassia seed pods and the fermentation vat on some vintage silk taffeta and cotton lawn, two very different moons are the result using the exact same dyes.
Also on the dye table are the materials for the kits for the upcoming Mermaid Adornment workshop. If you didn’t get a chance to check that out see here.
And my new daily visitor keeps me company in the studio…another squirelley girl but younger and smaller than my original friend!
Seems like it’s been a few weeks since I started to work on getting this workshop up online. We have a saying around here- I’m sure you are familiar with it. Everything takes a lot of time! But anyway… it’s done.
I re-posted a photo of this piece on my FB feed from a memory suggestion there and got a lot of responses and requests for a kit or an online workshop. I had made these quite a few years back and sold a few at my Houston show when I was doing that . So I thought I would accommodate but first had to recreate it.
In order to set up something for a workshop there is a lot of “behind the scenes” work. It’s one thing to make something to sell individually and another quite different thing to make and create a workshop for something. Online or in person, I need to be very familiar with the making of it. So making a new sample, calculating time and materials, adding options (beads or no beads), gathering the kit supplies, picking color choices (so many possibilities!), getting everything loaded up online etc etc….
This time I decided to try Squarespace’s email marketing option since I have a lot of people who have subscribed to me over time. Usually, I would go to my Constant Contact account and do it from there but after posting the shop item, there it was… just a click and $14 a month away. It was simple and we’ll see how it does. So just warning you, some of you here may be getting that in your email.
I posted 6 different color possibilities- hopefully one that suits everyone. If you have a special request, let me know and I’ll see if I can accommodate. You can see all the details in the listing here- Silk Shibori Mermaid Adornment. These are fun to make and not super time consuming. Of course beading adds some time and effort but not difficult- just straight stringing.
We are still in the midst of the heatwave here-upper 90’s and low 100’s near the coast with minimal night cooling until last night so that was a bit of relief. Still getting power alerts on electricity use but guess WHAT?? It’s supposed to rain on Saturday! I’m glad of course but….it’s the day of the shibori ribbon studio workshop! We will forge ahead- better wet than too hot I say…. I hope it pours!
And since I began writing this post, we get word of the passing of Queen Elizabeth at 96 years of age. At times here on the blog we remark on the passage of time. But 70 years a monarch in this modern era is really pretty amazing. No matter your thoughts on monarchies in general, or this one specifically, Queen Elizabeth has been there as Queen of England our entire lives. I wasn’t ever a passionate royalty follower or fan, but you couldn’t avoid news of her over the decades. From this great distance she seemed to be strong, steadily graceful and willingly responsible. Beloved by many, willing to accept her role and also to accept change as needed. She sacrificed much to live so richly as well as publicly. May peace be her eternal resting place.
Why is it I can’t get to writing blog posts the way I used to?
Part of it is because I let too much time pass between them and then I get to feeling overwhelmed by all that I want to communicate in a post so I put it off. But today’s the day! Another part of it is that so many other things are demanding my time and mental space at the moment. Have you ever written ballot arguments for measures appearing in an upcoming election? Walked for a candidate? Worked on social media to get a good candidate out there? Involved yourself organizing and researching issues for a community and candidate? It’s a lot of mental space. Paying attention to your local politics is important since many want to move up in the ranks and we can’t afford to have unethical people running our cities-regardless of party. City governments need to remain nonpartisan!
Ongoing here is is a series of Power Alerts- meaning residents are asked to reduce electricity use during our current heatwave. Heat always saps my energy and usually my work happens outside-in the heat. We close the nights cool air in the house and pull the shades during the day to preserve coolness. We rarely use the AC this way but there are times when it gets to the upper 90’s that I succumb to the need-keeping the thermostat at 80. It’s also not cheap! I’m doing more inside work today and for the next three days. Additionally- we are getting ready for a 2 week ban on outdoor watering. There is a major pipeline repair that will be underway on a pipe that supplies water to a large part of Southern California. Hopefully the weather will cool down and give us a little help but that’s a big if. Deep watering my critical trees, filling my rain barrels to water only the the most sensitive plants over the next two weeks. I’ve pulled all the veggie garden and won’t plant again until late fall due to all this. Hoping for cooler weather and a little rain this fall. Fire alert is HIGH!
I am thankful we have water at all…Jackson Mississippi. I am thankful to be closer to the coast…inland temps in the 100’s-110- only cooling to 90 at night! I am thankful not to be in a high fire danger zone. Currently Castaic area is burning. I am thankful we have electricity and are only asked to cut back. (Conserve for the greater good!) I’m thankful my 35 year old Volvo passed smog yesterday so it can be registered! Sad though that my beloved mechanic is calling it quits this week. He was a 240 enthusiast and specialist. He was devoted to keeping these cars on the road in good condition. So far this 35 year old car has retired two great Volvo mechanics!
In shibori news… I’ve sent off a shibori ribbon order to Michelle at Fundametals which she will have listed soon in her shop. I finally got FedEx to settle a claim on a lost order to France after it disappeared in mid June. Jeeze. An ordeal- but finally over. August moons were all sent- a little later in the month than usual and they were HOT! Hope you all liked them. I only managed to screw up a few by double shipping some due to a label printing error but that’s better than someone not getting theirs. Better to overship than undership! I hate it when people are unhappy with me. I always work to make it right for them.
Also, playing around with some hotaru (dragonfly) stencils and various stitching…
September moons will involve natural dyes- seems appropriate being a harvest month. I’ve collected quite a bit of the feathery senna seed pods and due to the heat, my fermentation indigo vat is really kicking! I will be combining those two this month. One silk and one cotton. I’m working it out now. The iron vat needs a little attention but will get to that in good time.
We are inching closer to taking deposits for the 2023 Silk Study Tour. Japan is starting to relax their restrictions a LITTLE. Thinking is that by next May we will be able to resume. Dates for the tour are 5/11-5/26 2023. Keep your fingers crossed. In the meantime, enjoy this end of summer post by Meiji Showa Old Photos of Japan about musical insects!
I didn’t mention it last post because I was still too sad about it but crazy cat Moose was taken back and moved by his “real” owners. He had been part of the daily scene here for a year, sleeping in our bed at night and by my side or harassing my own cats here by day. He was a royal PITA but we loved him and took care of him. He didn’t want to live with his owners. He was a fighter and a misfit. I hope he is OK.
We miss him every day but I do have to say that OUR cats and the neighbor cats DO NOT! They have resumed their places as top cats and I can’t blame them. Pictured here is the Captain, next door cat that spends most of the day here but goes home at night. He is Kuro chan’s buddy who has resumed sleeping in the shade on the surfboards where moose use to dominate. They look alike and the easiest way to tell them apart is by Kuro’s ragged ear and Captain’s saucer eyes
A fruitful month here in the garden yielded a delicious cantaloupe, some grapes from a neighbor, and a bunch of pomegranates I still have to get out there and pick so I can juice them. Later, when it cools off. Lemons are done for now but limes getting ripe. I just went outside for a minute and the high predicted heat has not materialized- at least so far for today it hasn’t hit 90 yet.
And then there are the ginko nuts…ginnan in Japanese. Probably the most I have ever seen & way more than I can use with not many takers. If you are local and want some, let me know! They are currently in the “stinky phase”. The heat is baking the outside smelly part and hastening the process. Once the outside has sloughed off I will collect and process what I can. Google eating ginko nuts for ideas…. There are plenty for the squirrels to stash away for the “winter” here. They too, are waiting out the stinky phase.
And then the night blooming cactus. It has produced many evenings of 100+ blooms. The bees were in heaven and now with fruits ripening high up the purple finches are having plenty of sweet, juicy, seedy eats.
I’m finishing up details on upcoming workshops so look for that next post. It won’t be so long…
I decided to add to my indigo vat swatch card by swatching each of the three vats (chem , fermentation, and ferrous) at the end of the daylong indigo shibori workshop.
The vats all got a good workout by the six participants.
The chem vat degraded the most. It will need a complete tuneup! The fermentation vat held fairly steady but will need some rest and perhaps some bran. The blue is a bit lighter and noticeably grayer.
The ferrous iron vat held up the best with less loss of color. I might actually prefer it’s current state more than it’s original state. Seems like a nicer range of blues.
All three dips (on both occasions) were one minute.
In addition, the following day’s stitching workshop was a lot of fun. Getting people inspired to learn something new and create something beautiful is always satisfying.
One of the stitching samples I showed included a strip woven cloth with an indigo moon. Several participants wondered how it was done so I did a quick demo. They couldn’t wrap their mind around it in the beginning but then the “aha!” moment arrived. I always love that.
I’m wondering about how much work it might be to do a woven moon for the moon circle. If I do, it might be a one moon month…
I’m spending my time this week organizing for the upcoming workshops and pulling together teaching samples. There are many and I’m displaying them around the work space.
Also, finishing up a couple of things as inspiration for what one can do with the pieces that will be worked on during the dye and stitch sessions. Here is a bag I just finished with one of them. The exterior is all vintage and the interior lining is recycled. It’s really fun to give cloth a new life and make it into something “new” and useful. Another in the series of “Carry the Moon” bags I have made over time.
I’ve got a few things to clear off the decks today (Saturday) -like a couple shibori ribbon scrap bag orders, the last stragglers of the July moon circle cards, and some computer email communications. If you are reading this and are in any of the August in-studio workshops, you would have received the last details on attending the workshops and have been asked to reply and confirm. About half of you have-THANK YOU! The others have been emailed twice so far with no reply. I will do so once more and cross my fingers! Other than that, I will take time and try to search you out via social media and send you messages there. This all takes time that I really do need for other things… help a girl out and reply to your email confirmations! Thx…
“Other things” include tracking down a FedEx return from France that has been “on the way” for 30 days now! This order seems to have a curse on it. If you recall, I had sadly and mistakenly sent the wrong colors to a customer in France. We resolved the issue by my remaking the correct order and reshipping it while at the same time issuing a return label to have the wrong order returned to me. Package never returned after being picked up by FedEx at the customers location (and this only after several calls to fedex to go get the package). Fedex is now looking for it after weeks of me calling to check on it. Fedex shipping internationally is no joke either ($$$) so not only am I out the ribbon, I have spent hundreds in shipping to get it back. Yikes! It is going to take more time to resolve this and likely not in my favor. I will persist! Never before had a problem like this with FedEx. We shall see…
BUT- in today’s mail, I received these two beautiful embroidered silk moths from an artist in the Ukraine. So delicate and beautiful! I’m working on a piece that involves silk in all its permutations and these will be a lovely addition to it. I came across them through one of my Japanese sericulture contacts on Twitter.
Plus, I will be back to the Japanese American National Museum in early November with a workshop. stay tuned for details!