Tag Archives: zakuri

Remembering Carola…

First of all, I want to say a little something here about my friend who passed away last week from breast cancer. Some of you who attend the Houston Quilt Festival or Roundtop/Marbuger know her. I’ve mentioned her here on various occasions as hers was always my favorite booth at the Houston Quilt Festival. Not only was she brilliant, she was a lover of good cloth, cloth with a history. Carola Pfau and I became friends over ten years ago after meeting at the show. Her booth, Textile Treasures, was always just that- a treasure trove of interesting and instructive textiles she had collected from around the world, most predominately from Japan and Germany. Over the years we bonded over that cloth, shared vendor frustrations and joys (we shared many of the same wonderful customers at the show), helped each other out, and had more than a few delicious after show dinners.
I have lots of stories I could tell about my times with Carola but the best thing I can share about her is her will to live, to live life her way, and to leave this earthly realm a better place for her having been here. She spent the last number of years enjoying traveling in her RV with her beloved cats making new friends, visiting old ones, and sharing her adventures and tribulations with all of us online. Her recent favorite saying was FUCK CANCER! I will miss her…
A couple of stories… One year I eyed a particularly nice piece of hand spun and handwoven european linen in her booth and just knew it was worthy of some indigo dyeing. I bought the piece, $100 for a 2 yard cut (special vendor discount applied) and returned from the show with it. It was about 20″ wide, had lots of character, texture, and potential. I was actually a bit intimidated by it. I didn’t want to ruin it! I hung it on the back of a door near my flower making table and just looked at it for a year. Finally, I made the attempt. I sketched out a plan and set up to dye the piece. I opted for simplicity, applying some itajime techniques I learned from Satoh san. Satisfied with the result, it must have been two shows after making the purchase, I took it back to the Houston show, hung it on the edge of the booth, and put a price on it. Carola wandered by the booth and admired it and asked the price. I asked if she remembered this cloth. She laughed when she realized I had bought it from her. She ended up taking it back to her booth. We had a good laugh about that. I was so pleased she liked it enough to buy it back (vendor discount applied).
Carola had spent a lot of time and had lived in Japan with her husband Makoto. One year, when I was going to Japan, she insisted I stay in her room at their apartment in Tokyo. She was in Austin but Makoto was fine with it she said. It was a great visit. Makoto loved to haunt the temple sales and flea markets which was exactly what I wanted to do. We spent a couple of days having the best time shopping for textiles, some for me and others for Carola that I knew would sell at the shows Carola was doing at the time. It was that trip that I found the used zakuri (silk reeling device) that I brought back with me (more on the zakuri later in the post). Makoto had a nice collection of porcelain sake cups he was adding to. He also took me to see the Mingei Museum for the first time. (old blog post on this here)
Treasured memories AND textiles!
Right around the time I met her, I remember her telling about her attempt to get her license renewed at the DMV. She sent me this link. It is classic Carola! I went back and watched it. It also reminded me of how she took no prisoners with the medical and insurance companies during her fight to get the healthcare she needed and wanted after her breast cancer diagnosis. She visited me in her travel van early on in order to get access to cannabis edibles that were available here in CA but not in TX. They helped her sleep when difficult treatments and medications did not.
Her sister wrote a blog post in memoriam to Carola.
Ahhh Carola…you will be missed, remembered dearly and hilariously!
Sayonara Carola- mata ne!

Continuing along about the zakuri I purchased in Japan, I recently received a note from my favorite shibori expert Karren Brito. She was interested in procuring a zakuri that she could pass along to friends in Oaxacca that are raising silkworms there. Since workshops here are not happening for a while, I thought that that the zakuri I purchased in Japan with Makoto would be doing more service there than here. I have the other one I am using and I loved the idea of sending it to Karren and the silk workers down there. She tells me that they have been raising silkworms in Mexico for 500 years! I did not know this. She also tells me that in order to get silkworm eggs from the government for commercial rearing, you must have 200 mulberry trees. Interesting! Boxed up and sent via DHL, the zakuri is now stuck in customs in Mexico City…we await clearance. Apparently, being made of wood, there is a concern. Wish us luck!

In silkworm news here, the “tiny masters” have entered the 3rd instar (stage). It’s much easier to clean the trays now they are larger. I have a couple of neighborhood kids raising 20 each. It’s a good project for kids. Two are elementary schoolers and the other is a HS student. I sent them all several interesting links to study. They asked me if they could let them emerge, mate, and lay eggs. Yes!

As for the numbers…we reached 100 deaths this past weekend and are now up to 108 as of today. I need to rip more strips of indigo fabric… 😦

It’s been hot here lately-mid to upper 90’s even here at the beach. Thankfully, today started a cooling trend. The garden is coming along nicely-lots of vegetables!

Milo the cat has resumed coming downstairs! He hasn’t been downstairs in years! Maybe it’s the silkworms…
This is actual speed video. The others I have posted were time lapsed. Here they look like they are living in slo-mo.

And, finally, I was putting together various test scraps from the fermentation vat for a base when I heard about Carola. It prompted me to dig into some of the linen I still had from her, cut a strip and dye a moon. This is now morphing into something else entirely.

silk cocoonery florals

When inspiration hits you just have to go with it.  No matter what else seems to be on the agenda for the day ~save life or death.  Such was the case these past couple of days as I experimented with my fresh cocoons and new (old) zakuri.

I learned a few things:

First- the zakuri works just fine-  the operator needs some practice!  Secondly, I may want to use more cocoons for reeling my silk.  I used 6 and while beautiful, it was quite fine and I had trouble re-reeling.  Michael from Wormspit and Karen from  Entwinements both chimed in over on facebook to give a few tips.  I’ll improve next time surely!

Also, never one to waste silk-especially that which I raised here, I ended up cutting the reeled silk off the zakuri and making use of it for some silk cocoon flowers.  Now those who have known me for some time really do know that most anything you put into my hands has the possibility of turning onto flowers.  Some kind of genetic thing is all I can figure.  The cocoons didn’t stand a chance.  Actually, I had done a few  test flowers with the shibori ribbon using cut cocoons as centers a while back. Never did photograph them as they sold at some show before I got around to it.

strawflower like…

magnolia-esque

dandelion

Can’t wait to make more but other things need to get done first. Put these in the shop for now…

wow! back from Japan and catching up-

zakuri

zakuri gears

zakuri maker mark- from Omiya

What a time I had!  So much to tell and so busy with things to catch up on.  Not to mention the Mandala Workshop which is posting and uploading as I write this.  Back and forth on two blogs- multitasking…

OK- a few high points just to get things started:

I was very lucky and found an Edo period zakuri. (Edo was the shogun period when Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa family, 1603 to 1868.)   This is a silk reeling machine all handmade out of wood-even the gearing!.  There were literally thousands of them made in the later part of this period for the purpose of encouraging the cottage silk reeling industry in Japan-according to Michel Cook of Wormspit. Mine is in quite excellent condition and was found in a flea market at a very fair price.  I have to mention that before I arrived in Japan my intention was to find one of these.  I didn’t know if I would succeed- I didn’t even know what they were called!  But I had seen them in museum displays on earlier Silk Study trips to Japan.  Seeing as I am collecting a fair amount of my own hand raised cocoons I really wanted to have one- for practical purposes-reeling my own silk.

My friend Makoto likes to visit flea markets on the weekends looking for various things and so the day after I arrived in Kokubunji, we went to the first of 4 markets I was to visit during my remaining stay.  At the very first one, at the very front of the market, there it was!  I was kind of astonished.  I thought, maybe I better walk around a bit and see if there are any more to compare it with.  It was front and center in the small space of an older fellow who also had some other nice and quite interesting items (but no textiles).  I decided to wander the rest of the market first wondering if I would find another.  I did find a few small boro pieces and saw some other very nice textiles quite out of my budget but no more reeling machines.  I went back to the fellow and asked if there was a rocker arm which seemed to be missing. To my surprise- he dug around and came up with it! We bargained a wee bit but since it was such a fair price I accepted his first offer of  サビスです(a sort of complimentary service of a price reduction).  Makoto also found a very nice porcelain piece for his collection and a good indigo kimono with hand loomed cottons and a bit of boro.

Fortunately as well, I bought it because I did not see another one of any sort at any of the remaining markets or temple sales I ended up visiting.  I suppose it had been waiting for me.  Since I had traveled lightly to Japan I was able to find a box and boxed it up as my second bagage to return home at no extra cost. It arrived in fine shape and there are 1000 silk worms finishing up their cocooning  in egg cartons on the bench next to the piano…(i’ve decided that the silkworms prefer piano to drums, which are in the other room-always improvising around here…)

 

i like the music book on the piano- improvise. kind of a mantra around here…

Speaking of silkworms- “cat momma” Delia and sons did a great job of watching over the silkworm farm in my absence and upon returning they are all mostly spinning-some done and a few last ones just getting into it.  I am hoping to try a little fresh reeling with some of them…Thank you Delia!

So here’s a little video from today-

 In other news, mom survived my absence. My sister checked in with her while I was away. Only (??) 2 other mobiles burned down in the park in the past 10 days- no one was hurt apparently.  They last one she reported to me tonight that they ate pizza while watching the firemen respond-there are a few other hoarders in the ‘hood but rumor is that they were “cooking incidents”. Also, her longtime cat Mr. Orange died while I was gone. He was showing some signs of something before I left so we set the mobile vet up to go for a visit-  he had a “mass” and had to be put down. Yay for mobile vet services- a great help! After that sadness, someone presented her with two small kittens. Oh dear! Will keep on top of this one. She also managed to screw up her banking so have implemented strict restrictions on that after sorting things out. So, for the moment, peace has been restored!

Tomorrow, the garden will be surveyed and dealt with.