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…
Time seems to have taken on a strange floating quality these days. Not really sure where it’s going, or where we are on the timeline. Here we don’t operate on a M-F or a 9-5 schedule anyway, but I hear others asking “what day is it?”. I know it’s Wednesday here because it’s street sweeping, if that helps…
I hope you are reaching out to close friends and family to check in on them and say hello. I know I am. In most cases, they are fine, staying home, and riding this out. But sometimes, they are not. I reached out to my good friend VaVa in Houston to see how she was and how it was going there, only to find out that last week she had a stroke and was in a car accident! She will be in rehab for at least a couple of months to recover and regain her lost functions. Some of you may have met her working in my booth at the Houston show. I was so glad I reached out now. I am so far away and can’t pop in to visit her but will be checking in with her daily. Love to you VaVa!
So do, check in. You just never know!
As the “stay at home” order continues, we can’t go and visit my MIL who we had just moved to a board and care home that is much closer to us. She’s doing OK but not being able to visit her is concerning. Our communication is limited to texting and facebook-she has aphasia as well and can no longer speak. Her iPad is her window to the world and to her family in NZ and Iceland. We go and drop off things she needs each week. We will have a party when this is over and get to see her in person again! I know many of you are separated from family as well. It’s really an easy choice as they are safer in isolation. We will hang in there together!
After the last post and video tutorial I decided I wanted to make the tutorial vids 5-7 minutes long max. Nope! Today’s moonmaker tutorial was even longer, so I broke it up into two vids. Hopefully, I can get them down to the 5-7 minute goal. Today’s tutorial shows a moon using two different techniques- arashi and itajime shibori. I also added a little something else in the second video. This video shows you how to use a “blocking fabric” in itajime. It can be applied to larger board itajime as well. Think about how you might use this technique.
Today is a new moon with all the possibilities of starting anew. It’s a good time to sprout new seeds of intention. Soon, we will be able to look up at the moon together again and watch as it grows full. Meanwhile, take care, reach out, stay healthy.
As a practitioner of shibori dyeing and maker of silk shibori ribbon for over ten years now, I continue to wonder about what I do for a living, and why. It’s a good thing to wonder about consciously in order to keep ahead of things and remain independently viable.
Things I know that have been part of the cloth of a life woven with craft, at least for me are the following:
–I was born to work with my hands and to make things. This has been true since I was a child and cannot be removed from who I am, except perhaps by a lobotomy. I learned at an early age I felt better when being creative and productive making things by hand and later on learned I also did enjoy the marketing of my own work,even though I hated it in the beginning and remember crying in my ’69 VW bug after an unproductive day of sales calls and appointments -I was about 19 at the time. I persisted. Forty years later now, I do it from behind a computer and the rare consumer trade show.
–I seem to have a knack for creating things that others want to buy, and in enough quantity that at times I have had to employ quite a number of others to participate in this unlikely form of employment. I found a certain joy in being able to provide a living for others in addition to myself in handmade craft here in California. It has been an honor really-because of the people I worked with. Eventually (and after over 30 years), the joy of that was diminished by the burden of being an employer and the demise of manufacturing in the US. No problem! I reinvented my life as a solo dyer and continued on my way. Even my shibori ribbon has the privilege of helping support many others as they resell it or make things with it which to resell. Kinda cool.
–I enjoy the interaction with customers from all over the world. I love seeing other creative folks take something I made and add it to their own work in so many ways I never ever conceived. Some of the things they make are quite extraordinary!
-I wonder weekly, what comes next? Who knows? I just know that every day I get up and take the next step. I hope you do too. I enjoy the interaction with readers of this blog and the many who have followed and contributed here for so many years as I wondered, created, and thought out loud about things.
This week, I started thinking more about the most recent issues I had with image copyrights and decided to resurrect something I used to make and sell- blank greeting cards. Now, for some of you that go WAY back (even further back than this blog) I had a line of greeting cards with porcelain pins incorporated into them that were sold throughout the US. When I first started doing shibori, at shows I also sold blank greeting cards with images of my shibori work as well as cards with small pieces of shibori attached to them. I have been making them for my own and friends’ personal use over the more recent years. Sometimes I send them out with a personal note in an order or as a thank you for a small kindness afforded to me. Recently, someone asked me if they could purchase some and I wondered…
So, for now, I decided to reintroduce sets of these cards in my webshop. Right now I have two collections- Shiboriscapes and Indigo Moonscapes. In the works are Shibori Flowerscapes. This will perhaps, help even out the financial ups and downs every artisan has in their flow of work and money but also it feels good to know that I will be the beneficiary of my own work as I continue to hound Amazon into removing those sellers on their site that use my images without permission.
Here’s the link to the card sets. It’s nice to have a few blank cards on hand when you find yourself in need to send a thought or a thank you…
Ahhh….time for a blog post. Seems I’ve been blogging in my head for a few months now. But now for real, here. Let’s see how this goes…
As always, gardening is keeping me sane here- a good time for gardening and sanity with elections (finally behind us here until November) and more of the same old BS of copyright issues, Amazon(this time), and Chinese sellers. If you follow me on FB you may have seen some of these pics but I add them here once more.
I think I will call it the Sanity Garden!
Regarding Amazon, I had to spend a bit of time playing Whack-A Mole there by issuing complaints to Amazon regarding a network of Chinese sellers slapping my images on over 40 crap products. Some have been taken down, some strangely remain (how Amazon decides these things is beyond me) and new ones have popped up under new names with slightly reworded descriptions. They all seem to contain the wording “Printed Watermarked Shibori Ribbon” which is hilarious seeing that they stole the watermarked image of mine online and used the metadata info to describe. Yes, folks they are that kind of stupid. Kind folks have added their 2¢ in some of the product reviews. One of the items was a doormat (since removed) which seemed demoralizing in a funny way and another was a brandy flask which I could certainly make of use! Moving on…
The last Indigo and Shibori workshop at the JAMN was wonderful and filled with good, creative and enthusiastic folks. The next Shibori On! workshop at the Japanese American National Museum is August 4-5. It has only 3 spots left so if interested please check in there soon! They do keep a waiting list so, if full, ask to have your name added. Some pics from the last workshop:
Next up at the JANM though is Moth to Cloth Silk Workshop (sign up through the link)–there are still spots open. I have some great video and photos of silk production in Japan as well as a collection of tools and implements to explore and use. We will reel silk cocoons purchased from my friend and sericulturist in Japan, Nobue Higashi san as well as make silk hankies for spinning and dyeing (both of which we will do in the class). Cut flowers made from cocoons will also be made. But the real star of the workshop will be the live silkworms that just hatched two days ago and for those interested and willing, you can take some home to watch them spin and emerge from their cocoons. Here is what they are looking like as of yesterday. At this stage we call them kego and they remind us of hairy ants. I have already found my mulberry sources in the neighborhood and am ready to feed the “tiny masters” as Micheal Cook of Wormspit affectionately calls them.
Moving right along, work slowed up a bit the past couple of months which let me somehow to doing a quick turn-around for a bridal designer in LA whose customer wanted her wedding dress indigo ombre dyed for her one year anniversary. Apparently, the other dyers she had previously used were not available and my name came up. these sort of things are not undertaken lightly as you only have one chance to do it and it must be done right. The dress was all silk and the skirting was 3 layers of different silks. Here is the result:
In addition, I am filling in with my indigo and shibori teachings at a garment felting workshop by Beth Marx in October that will also include some eco-printing (hers, not mine). Apparently there was an issue with the original teacher coming from the EU and I agreed to fill in with the acceptance of the already signed up students (they all agreed!) Class is full with a waiting list. Interesting to me was that Beth also lives in Long Beach and we don’t know each other. I’m such a loner in that regard. It sounds interesting.
I added some new shibori ribbon colors to the shop- my favorite is the colorway called CopperPlate. I had beaders who like rich colored metals in their beadwork in mind when I made it. I also added some shibori pieces I call “A Little Fancy”. Check it out!
Let’s not make it so long between visits next time shall we?
Thought I’d do a little (or maybe not so little) post on whats been going on behind the scenes here lately. Lot’s of various things- like workshops, studio work, a little flu (all gone now!), RAIN!, and working on the Silk Study Tour to Japan for 2019.
I received the Newsletter from the Fresno FiberArts Guild where I gave a workshop recently. What a great guild-very energized and involved in the community. It was wonderful to see the many resources and skills available within the membership. Plus, they were a delightful group to work with!
In the studio, ribbon making continues…
The flu came and went -thankfully, not too bad. Hoping the same for you out there! So many have had it in one form or another.
We did get rain this month-so big YAY on that! Rain barrels full and the garden is refreshed. Snowpack increasing…
There are a number of milkweed plants out back with caterpillars on them but one in particular has about 15 large caterpillars about ready to form crysalis’. I never get tired of watching them.
All the other critters here are well…
And finally, I sent out the information packs, itinerary, and registration forms for the upcoming Silk Study Tour to Japan 2019 last week to those early birds who had signed up via the Constant Contact newsletter. Already 1/3 of the spots are filled. If you need info, you can access the newsletter here. Here are some highlights from last year:
Next post I will list upcoming workshops both at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles and my November workshops at the Houston Quilt Festival.
Hope you are well and wondering daily!
I remember when I was 13 and this song came out. I believed it. So did many others I’m guessing. We lived in Japan and we heard it on Armed Forces Radio like all the top hits. The Vietnam War was ongoing and not to be ended for several more years. We got a lot of the war news in the daily Stars and Stripes.
I heard it again the other day and I still loved the emotion behind it. But it made me sad to hear it in our present time. In 1970 it made me feel happy and hopeful! At 13 I was not very aware of race, racism, or of the disparity life was dealing out to non-whites in the US. We were growing up in another country and when listening to the radio I often did not know (or wonder about) the race of the groups we heard until I stumbled on an album cover at the PX and when that happened it was exciting. I had my own reasons for wanting to believe the words of this song and it wasn’t until years later when we had returned to the US that it started occurring to me that this song was written about something I had no reason to understand based on my own experience at that time. Thankfully, that has changed. But maddeningly, for many, that day has still not come to pass. We simply cannot continue down this path. It is such a waste of our collective potential.
I was reading as I always do, jude’s blog, about saying what we are thinking. I tend to keep most of it to myself, at least here. But I am always thinking as I work and it becomes intertwined in everything I do and everything I make. It can’t NOT be that way.
So, this is what I was thinking about this morning as I prepared some silk for an upcoming workshop at the JANM. You can read more about the workshop in the previous post.
As for the silks, these are mostly collected from the last trip to Japan. Found in dark shop corners, as they are all leftover from unassembled kimono and were un-dyed which makes them perfectly suited for dyeing mandala but generally overlooked by other customers there. Fabric kits this time include habutai, jacquards, chirimen, organza and some satin organza (new to me and difficult to work with -so far).
I actually had to go out and buy a backup sewing machine for this workshop-picked up a low end brother machine-something in case my regular machine takes a dive during the workshop and allows us to have two machines going. In the past I just had the one and hoped for the best! In Houston when I do this workshop we have rooms full of machines and everyone can sew their own. This workshop requires a sewing machine.
Encouraged by jude’s blog post this morning, I dug out a video I made a month or so ago that I never used. It’s a few “loose thoughts” stitched together in video form. This one’s for you jude!
As for other goings on here, my shibori ribbon likes to travel the world and has been to so many more places than I have! Recently to Russia, Italy, Poland, and the UK. So that continues.
The garden is producing tomatoes! Kind of crazy for January but I took a chance on equally crazy weather and voila-tomatoes! Also there are lettuces, swiss chard, carrots, onions, beets and broccoli for now. It’s also citrus time here still and whether I am sharing my own or enjoying the bounty from others we have our quota of vitamin C covered daily here. I hope you are as fortunate.
Even longer than I remembered, the moon has figured into my work. I was reminded by this photograph. As I recall, I was sitting outside the local community pool, likely babysitting. I did a lot of that in HS. I used most of the $ to buy art supplies, fabric to sew clothes, and parts to upgrade my 10 speed. I’m not sure why my pieces were hanging on the fence here. Maybe some sort of “show”? The piece on the left was my first try at batik. The one on the right was a hooked wool rug from a design I did on paper. Even back then I was fiddling with color and fiber. I was in the 10th grade, so about 16 years young.
My sister just digitized a trove of old photos (almost 800). There are some classics there. I pulled a few more to post on FB for the Yokohama Girls. (I’ll tag you there once I get them posted.)
And a special thanks to our dad Cale, who was a photographer his whole life. His collection of slides was immense, many since discarded unfortunately. I wish I had them now- especially the 1000’s from Japan in the 60’s. Would be fascinating to see some of them now.
And into the New Year we continue to travel. I plan on making a giant pot of Pho tomorrow to start the year off.
Travel well my friends. Continue to be courageous, kind, and creative into 2018.
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.
I was reminded of this song (by Joseph Brackett in 1848) when I was on Facebook this morning and Maura posted some photos of Christmas making at a mental hospital in Calcutta, India. They were making holiday cheer from colored paper- the paper chains being my personal favorite. They were sharing some sweet treats and gifts thanks in part to Mustard Seeds Kolkata. The photos immediately gave rise to the first line of that song. (Judy Collins has a nice version of it here.)
I post this today as we turn the corner on the shortest day of the year to see the days grow longer. Thankfully, for there is much to be done ahead of us. Simplicity might just be one of the answers don’t you think? In that simplicity perhaps we can become freer, turning, turning and in the end, delight in the coming ’round right.
I think Joseph Bracket was onto something here. Of course we are all familiar with the Aaron Copland version of this in Appalachian Spring. Another favorite. And speaking of Spring….
It seems a good day to plant another kind of seed. A sweet friend gifted me some of her native California milkweed seeds. (thanks Colleen!). Meanwhile, outside in the garden I think the last monarchs are finishing their meals and heading for their transformations.
A seed is like an idea- it needs planting and nourishing, sunlight, warmth, and sometimes protection. I will never forget my visit to Luther Burbank’s historical home in Santa Rosa. I posted about it here in December of 2012 and have gone back to this post many times. Take special note of his “seed vault”.
As we move into the coming year, I think there will be some need for “seed protectors” in our communities. I wonder what you want to protect? A few things come to my mind…
Life, health, and human dignity are a few of the things that come immediately to my mind. This will take a community of protectors.
On a personal level, I want to protect wonder, compassion, beauty, love and peace.
I will find these things in small corners. They will be found in the piercing of a needle through cloth with hand dyed thread. I will find them in the tip of a brush where it meets with paper. I will always find them in the small and large details of Nature where ever I am. I will find them in the people I surround myself with, the actions I take, the words I hear, write and speak.
I will find wonder, compassion, beauty, love and peace -and protect it.
Yes, I will.
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.
I’m raising some silkworms again. As a reminder. Of why. And how. And who I am.
I’m raising them from seed (eggs) and purchased 3 types- white, green, and pink cocoons. Previously, I have only raised white and yellow cocoons.
I have been wanting to do another (smaller than last time-1000) batch and now have 200 or so of each of the above. It seemed the perfect time as I was recently asked to step in to do a “career day” in a South LA Elementary school that was lacking parents who could come and do presentations. SO, Trevor, Phil and I will all go and do our thing next Tuesday. I wonder if parents really want their kids to be musicians, dyers or sericulturists…
At least we will be entertaining and make them wonder.
Here is the beginning-