I figure at this point it will be easier to do a blog post than respond to folks individually regarding the goings on here the past couple of weeks.
Turned out that in a follow-up xray for the pneumonia that plagued me from Yosemite through Houston something odd was spotted on one of my ribs that required a follow up CT. This revealed that yes, indeed, something odd was growing on one of the ribs. Chances were a tumor and being unable to needle biopsy it, removal was the best course of action. So a couple of nights in the hospital between Christmas and NY. All went well and final results should be back this week. Even though the surgeon doesn’t seem like a betting sort of fellow he actually told me that “99% chance” is that it is benign. I’m holding out that NY bottle of champagne for that final confirmation.
A couple of things. It hurts! They did some sort of surgical nerve block thingy which permanently cuts a section of nerves to reduce pain. Thankful for that! I guess without it I might just drive someone crazy (r). I don’t react well to strong painkillers (nausea) so have some codine with tylenol that takes the edge off. Everyday brings a change. Today being better than yesterday! I will be fine. Eventually. I am up and around. I have a couple of friends going through much much tougher crap than this and I know I am incredibly fortunate. I salute their strength and persistence!
We also had a fun day at the ER on Christmas as Amma (Icelandic for Grandma) fell and broke her ankle, cracked her head and ribs. This was a couple days before my hospital visit. She is all OK -light break, head staple (out now) and ribs painful but improving. Main issue is she can’t go home. She lives in a 2nd floor apartment so she is here for the next 6 weeks for sure.
Boy, when things change, they change!! The boys have cycled in and out to help but Phil is here full time to do the heavy lifting. I am indeed lucky as he is patient and a good caretaker-sometimes bossy but i’m told i’m difficult (imagine that!). So for those asking about their orders, things are a little slower than usual. But still moving along. After all, hospital bills must be paid along with the usual bunch.
So, moving on…
The dogs and cats have never been so happy to have so many lounging around! Bella likes nursery rhymes with kittens in clothes- a gift from meagan from my childhood kitten fetish-revisiting…
and there has been time for me to enjoy Donna’s book-
I even pulled out one of my favorite collected pieces to look at-I don’t think I’v shared it here (at least not in many many years). this is the inside of a silk velvet cape. special kasuri silk weaving with supplemental metallic threads. it’s a marvelous thing. every now and then i just pull it out to gape at its glory and finger its textures.
Then one day I played with more of the gridded fusible that Carmen Geddes sampled me. I used it for a beaded ribbon embroidery piece I’m still working on but wondered how it might work to tame the ribbon into a more traditional use. Maggie was always after me to do something like this. Carmen was kind enough to also send me her booklet which featured a photo on the back of her and her 9 sisters. I realized why her business is called TenSisters. Quite the sweet photo! Wow, imagine ten sisters! In grabbing that link I just read that there were also 7 brothers!! Oh my! I’m looking forward to meeting her this coming year at Houston where she will be applying her skills to silk in the Silk Experience classroom.
silver gold- for some reason I had never done this combo until one of the Italian designers requested it. I can see how they will enjoy working with this colorway in their jewelry
and because I always enjoy the ghost colors that come up in the discharge process of certain base colors. they are those colors that appear halfway up the pleat and don’t get drowned out by the overdye. not all colors have this aspect.
and one more…gore-tex! in place of that pesky rib I now have some medical Gore-Tex patching me together. kinda cool stuff. inert in the body -like silk. I have really integrated textiles into my life!
Then, the afternoon of my surgery I was resting in my room and received a wonderful new years note from Wendy with a child’s thank you for some of my pieces that are used in her therapy work. She told of coming to know the color blue even though she can’t see it and the way she maps life through the textiles. Who is healing who here?
I have lots of ideas in my head. They need transference to my hands. This week I was able to accomplish a couple of these. Ideas are really nothing until action is visited upon them. Firstly, this-
Silk shibori gauze tubing. In the testing stages and time will be needed to ramp it up into production mode. More endless possibilities. I will be selling this by the yard on a retail only level in the new year-limited colors to begin with. More on this to follow. Maybe no one will love it like I do but this is the sort of thing that feeds my soul. I conquered the ribbon. I need a new and more challenging conquest. I found a couple pendants that matched this colorway…
Sorry for the crappy photo-taken on the fly. But more wondering about silk shibori ribbon bead embroidery. This is interesting on a few levels. Firstly, because it is from scraps that customers don’t want. I love that. When customers started complaining that the ends of their ribbon rolls were ugly, I started cutting them off and saving them for myself. I thought they were the most interesting part of the roll. Go figure. That’s been the story of my life. So here I have a huge box of “ends” that I don’t even put into scrap bags. Mine, all mine!! Now when I make a roll of ribbon I try to make the “ugliest” ends possible! It suits me.
Secondly, Katrina and I have been busy finalizing our Silk Experience calendar for the Houston Quilt Festival 2016. It’s now finished and checked off the list. One of the new teachers has a lightweight gridded single sided fusible product that I ordered a sample of. I have other ideas for it but in the meantime, it occurred to me to try it for my shibori ribbon brooch/pendant sample for the class I submitted to Quilts Inc. for next year. It works great for quickly stabilizing a pleated design with the ribbon. Just arrange and pin the ribbon to the stabilizer and hit with some steam from the back side quickly – easily holding the ribbon in place prior to beading. This can also be done with sections of the ribbon that I see art quilters using. Just a simple thing really, but useful.
And some of what is heading to Italy…soon
In indigo shibori news, Buddy loves his linen pillows. Silly dog.
On this hot and muggy Sunday I finish up a large order of the shibori ribbon and wonder. Often when I wonder about what I am doing I take to the vat and gain some perspective. Besides, I have a couple of workshops ahead of me here-3 that involve indigo and need some wondering and planning time.
Starting off with some moons on old tattered asa (hemp) from Japan got me thinking about what ties us all together on this little planet we named Earth – as well as what tears us apart.
I figure I need to order 30 yards of cotton scrim for my workshop in Houston October 26- done and
crossed off the list. The rest of the fabrics to be used are remnants and scraps I have been collecting of some very lovely old and reused fabrics brought back from Japan. We will dye them in indigo and apply different techniques- shibori mostly, as well as use our imagination before stitching them to the indigo dyed scrim. Kits will also include swatches of vintage kasuri, katazome, and shibori. I will have several very nice vintage boro textiles on display for students to study as well as a selection of books and photos from my recent visit to the Amuse Boro Museum in Asakusa, Japan.
Pressing on, I make my sample by my own hand, I cut the fabrics, collect the swatches. As I dye the new sample I think about the room that I will be teaching in, the number of students, the problems that will be encountered by restrictions of such a setting and must be solved before anyone walks through the door to make things go smoothly and find success for all who gather that day in that room. I aim for a version of perfection knowing full well that there will be less than that achieved but aiming high is where I like to begin. I am already looking forward to teaching this class and its myriad lessons.
My class is called Indigo dyed and Boro Stitched and can be signed up for by going to the Quilts Inc. site for the Houston International Quilt Festival. The class is # 117 on Monday Oct. 26, 2015 in the online catalog.
I am teaching two other classes there as well- Shibori Mandala Magic on Silk (class #217) and Splendid Silk Shibori Poinsettias (class # 611).
The Mandala class is an outcome of working with Richard Carbin and combines the folding techniques I learned from him with a completely different method of resisting and applying the dyes.
Richard’s presence will be felt in the vintage silk fabrics we will use which were collected by and purchased from him.
The Silk Shibori Poinsettia class is a fun Friday evening class- a good sit down and relax class at the end of a busy week. Many lovely pieces are sure to be made as gifts for friends and family on this night.
I tried to upload an image of a great little boro piece I brought back from Japan but WP is being fussy right now so it will have to wait until later. Until then, I’ll add a couple of photos of something I made the other day just to satisfy a need I had-a small bag that snaps open by pinching the sides and holds all I need. I used some obishin between the cloth layers.
It’s raining again now- hardly can believe it! It has been such a gift. I have somewhere I’m supposed to be so until later-
Today, I made Art. A real rarity for me. Usually, I just make stuff people like.
Usually I say I am Art’s Apprentice and Color’s Mistress. But today I feel like I am Art’s Accomplice and Color’s Whore.
I call my piece :
“Pandora’s Box” (in a Wide Mouth Jar)
silk, glass, metal
My piece has all the ambiguity necessary for Art. All the social and political interpretive meaning Art has come to be known for these days.
*Added bonus*- it’s pretty and colorful. Yay!
Opportunities come to us everyday to help someone in need. Often (usually) it is someone very close to you or in your immediate geographic area. Often it is in a small but meaningful way that elevates their mood, makes their day easier, or eases some small pain or suffering.
Some days there are bigger opportunities, bigger needs, more distant suffering to be eased. Though we are are distant, our small offerings can become larger if pooled together and placed into caring hands.
I hold out in my hand to you, an opportunity to send some of your kindness and compassion to distant Nepal- to be a drop in the stream that feeds into a river and pours over a waterfall of help to those who have lost so much in recent days there due to the massive earthquake this past Saturday.
Here is how it will work. I have looked around and chosen Karuna-Shechen as a collection point for all the beautiful drops of water you may send. I think most of you have the capacity to use Paypal and they have a paypal link there for donation. All donations on their site will go to the Nepal earthquake relief fund for the next 30 days. For the next seven (7) days here, I will send you a yard or the silk shibori ribbon as a thank you for any donation to them of $20 or more. All you need to do is forward me the email receipt you get after making your donation. It has your mailing address on it which I will use to mail your thank-you ribbon. I will collect all the emails and send everything out at the end of the seven days- and let you know the result. Whatever it is, it will be something.
Perhaps you will make something beautiful with it as I know so many or you do. Perhaps you will sell that something and donate a portion to Nepal. Perhaps the person who buys it does the same thing and is reminded every time it is worn that we all are one. Maybe you have some beads from Nepal in your stash to incorporate into the piece. Perhaps a beautiful waterfall of lovely drops and silk shibori ribbons can soothe some needs in a faraway place.
My friend Maura from Mustard Seeds Kolkata wrote this lovely mantra yesterday:
“May compassionate hearts be open to all beings who have been so affected by this 2015 earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal. May they be safe and free from harm.”
(send the emails to me at shiborigirl (at) shiborigirlstudios.com )
As I sit here tonight writing this, the silk is steaming out in the studio and I go out every 30 minutes to change out the poles. In between, I check the chicken roasting in the oven, think about doing that final sales tax return due in a few days, answer emails, and listen to the bees. Out back the guys are recording the weekly groove. I’ve taken to doing my weekly blog post when that happens. A schedule of sorts.
Listen to the bees? Yes, the bees are back. Actually they never really left but now they have become problematic again since I need to do the landscaping out front and they gave my helper a sting yesterday. Turns out he is somewhat allergic so last night we foamed up and screened off all their entrances and exits. And today they are just downright mad.
Oops, timer just went off so time to change out the poles. Be(e!) right back!
OK. Where was I? Where I sit at my computer is right above where the bees have fashioned their hive underneath the house and I can actually hear them through the electric outlet…buzzing up a storm! Yes, I have had the beekeepers out and it was decided that they are just too smart for us (thankfully) and the hive is completely inaccessible for removal, so that is that. They’ve had a good run here (8 years off and on) and have minded their own business for the most part. So, enough about the bees.
The dogs have been groomed as of yesterday and I was reminded via mail today that the whole pack of them including the cat need their rabies vaccines updated or I will face all kinds of fines and such. So another thing on my “to do” list beckons. Apparently, I can send my child to school unvaccinated but there is no “belief exemption” for dogs and cats. Milo TOLD me he really, really, does not believe in the rabies vaccine. He heard it gives him an odor that mice can detect from 50 yards. I said, “Sorry, no go-it’s off to the low cost vaccine clinic with you!”
I promised a sort of SOTU address of sorts in this post, so here goes. Fact is that I am fairly overwhelmed with ribbon orders. I’m sorry you are having to wait but that’s just the way it is at the moment. There are no shortcuts to take here in regards to making it and besides, that would be somewhat contrary to the point of it all wouldn’t it? I have my own way of prioritizing the orders too. I try to honor the FIFO scenario but I can and do make exceptions. I believe in honoring the most longstanding and regular customers whenever possible as well as those who are going out on the road with the shibori ribbon incurring show fees and travel costs- I know what that entails and I do appreciate you meeting up with the customer face to face. Small folk and designers also get an extra point and larger entities who only sell online may have to wait a bit more. Agree or disagree, that’s just the way I do it.
Again with the timer…back in a sec…
OK- back again. Chicken is smelling good, fed the dogs, made a salad, wine now in hand. So back to the SOTU. Making the ribbon has become my “day job” -a good thing since it supports the household and keeps things flowing here. I don’t want to minimize it or take shortcuts with it because something gets lost in that. It needs to be beautiful, and that takes time. I don’t want to farm it out which takes the specialness from it. Each inch IS an adventure– in the making of it and the using of it. I have seen that over and over and respect that. A good roll of the shibori ribbon reveals that sincerity, that intent. It matters who is involved in the making of it and why. So I continue making and sending it- for the enjoyment and wonderment of the end user. In my “spare time” I stir the indigo vat and dip a little here and there. I have my personal projects on the side for now.
Last weekend was the shibori workshop at the Japanese American National Museum. It was wonderful as usual. Great folks, each coming together to gather some new information and practice. It was really nice to see many familiar faces mixed in with the new ones. I really enjoyed hearing the snippets of conversation between participants getting to know each other a little bit. By the end of the second day they were exchanging info and planning to get together outside the class and visit each other. I like that too. With 20 people in the class I was a little envious I couldn’t get to know more about each one of them- I was so busy! But it felt good that everyone enjoyed themselves so much! One thing I wanted to stress about the workshop is that we were mostly dyeing old kimono fabric. Many of the samples I had around the room were vintage pieces. I wanted to remind them of the beauty of aging. That is also a very Japanese concept especially when it comes to craft. Things of beauty DO age. That beauty is lasting, evolving. A good thing to remember.
Ahhh… the last timer has sounded…now to finish up and set the fans.
Back again. Dinner served and cleaned up. Guys back outside recording. The rest of the night is mine!
This is getting to be a long post- hang in there!! I am doing some organizing and work on the Silk Study Tour to Japan as well. (So many things to do!!) It is getting exciting. We still have some spots open so please contact me if you *think* you might like to come along. Yes, I know it is a bit of pocket change. I don’t take that lightly, but believe me travel is always rewarding- and life is short. Looks like it will be a smaller group this year which in itself is nice for participants and easier on me. Financially, we will squeeze by. I never know if we will do this again. Can we ever know the future? The dollar is good against the yen right now so we are fortunate. I remember back in 2011 when the earthquake in Japan on March 11 resulted in the tidal wave that wiped out the coastal areas in Miyako in Tōhoku’s Iwate Prefecture as well as created a level 7 meltdown at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. That night it so happened I was online with friends in Japan and was informed about the strong earthquake. As the evening proceeded, video of the tsunami in progress appeared. Devastating and hard to comprehend. In the following weeks we were not sure we would continue the tour but kept an open mind. As it turned out we went on May 14, 2011. We were practically the only foreigners touring in Japan at that time. The Japanese were somewhat in a state of shock still but very glad we were there as so many (most) tourists had cancelled plans- the economy suffered. I cannot express how grateful and hospitable they were towards us. We were not in any danger as we did not venture into areas of concern but of course there was much media coverage of possible dangers. Two years later we went again and brought forth a whole new group of “silkies” ( those interested in sericulture and silk). Now, 4 years later we plan to go again. We will learn and see many things. Some of the artisans we visit are aging rapidly. We may never see them again. We visited with a very interesting natural dyer in 2009 that had passed away in his late 80’s by the time we visited again in 2011. His specialty was natural dyes and their UV resistance. Fascinating! Time is of the essence sometimes…
In finishing up the lengthy post here I will end on the Adventures of Squirrelly Gurl. As it happened, it seems she became a Squirrelly Mom on the day of the last post- National Squirrel Appreciation Day! Go figure. Leave it to her to make a big deal out of it. I hadn’t seen her that day and wondered. The next day she came out and visited me quite late in the day and was very frantic- wanted her food and wanted it NOW! Then she was off. I thought it odd but accepted. The next day the same. I got suspicious as she seemed a bit more svelte than usual. Sure enough, we have been hearing babies up in the palm tree when she leaves them to take a break and come down for food and a stretch. They make a loud screech, almost like a bird. So today they are one week old! We won’t see them for months yet- when they are almost ready to leave the high rise nest!