May 17, 2013
I diverted just a bit from the rabbit quilt last week to work on a small Mothers Day gift for my mom. I’d meant to work on a piece with the image of my great-grandmother for longer than I’d like to admit. Sometimes it takes years….
I thought I didn’t know what I was going to do with the image, when in fact, I really did. I’ve probably known that for some time too, just hadn’t pulled all of the pieces together.
While the central piece is a transfer image, the rest of the fabrics are hand dyed. The top layer is linen in kakishibu and so is the cotton thread I used to quilt it together. The back layer (flannel in the middle) is tea dyed muslin.
It’s simple, but a helpful exercise in furthering my understanding of quilting, – more to it than meets the eye. I know how I could have better approached the indigo rabbit piece and will have to make some “adjustments.” In spite of that though, it’s turning out the way I’d hoped.
At any rate those “lessons” aren’t in either of these pieces, but they’ll be useful later. It didn’t take long to complete this piece and mailed it in time for “the” day and I just learned today that she likes it.
May 10, 2013
I need to research that little phrase. It keeps “visiting” from time to time. It works well though in a lot of different contexts: the garden and then the textile work.
This hasn’t progressed as quickly as I’d hoped this week, but I’m finding little things that need to be done…little considerations that I hope will make a difference.
I’m also learning simply by trial and error why things need to be done in a particular way (some things, not all). Sometimes a book can’t tell you, you just have to experience it, make the “mistakes” and then work with it. That’s the deal anyway.
It’s very satisfying work though and love working with the layers, needle and thread and feeling the textures as I work. It’s a loving challenge.
I think that’s the deal here. I love the color, the imagery, the patterns, the feel of the linen under my fingers. I also love the challenge of the work – threading the needle, pushing it through the layers of the quilt, then pulling the thread (hand dyed thread, by the way) and seeing the form it creates. It has to work.
May 3, 2013
The rain has been generous this week and I think there’s more around the corner. Although, at the moment the sun is out (first time I’ve seen it all week).
The first (Safflower) of the sprouts I planted last week emerged and I hope the rest will be along soon. They’re look hearty and plentiful. I may want to transplant some of them later (or start another bunch somewhere else). At any rate, I’m happy to see them.
It has taken far too long to get to this point – just growing them. The flower, the dye and colors they produce have long had an appeal. I’ve seen shows on NHK about the process, and one of Miyazaki’s anime (Omoide Poro Poro) shows a little of the flower harvesting. So, we’ll see what summer brings regarding that aspect of the garden.
The temps have also been unusually cool, for this time of year (at least it seems) or it’s our blackberry winter. Although, it may be a bit early for that. However that is, the cool and gloom have been ideal for staying indoors and making further progress on this quilted piece.
It took a couple of days just to complete the moon and I’m still not sure I don’t need to add a few more stitches somewhere else. I’m working back and forth between the top most layer and the background layer at the moment, just letting them tell me what the approach should be. This morning I added the han (name stamp & logo) and waiting for it to dry before moving on.
It’ll be back to stitching this afternoon unless the sunshine and garden call. I’ve got plenty more safflower seeds. I can plant some and share the rest with the birds.
April 29, 2013
Last week my days were split between the garden and work on a small quilted piece for the wall. I’m expanding my very small dyer’s garden and hoping to gain some needed experience in quilting.
I opened up space for more indigo, a bit of woad, safflower, madder and some milkweed and planted the seeds. It’s pure experiment, for the experience and fun of being able to do it. Finding space where the sun gives enough of what is needed is a challenge in my fairly shaded yard. I have found a few forgiving spots though and hope to find a few more in the coming days.
Quilting is a different approach for me. I have always loved quilts, but have never really explored the craft. However in working with some of my pieces I’ve been thinking for some time that I needed to approach some things differently. A characteristic of cloth is that it stretches, and my hope in trying this avenue, at least on this piece there might be less of that or at least the treatment would offer more stability or possibilities. It’s another exploration. I have to try it.
I found in consulting with some of my expert quilting friends yesterday that I needed to make some adjustments on this rabbit piece, and today, decided that if it was going to be done “properly” I needed to take it apart and redo (which I did). A note here – “properly” doesn’t necessarily mean traditionally, but a form that will give the piece the strength and stability it needs (it also needs to read well). At this point, I think it’s ready for quilting, at least I think I can begin the process. It’s another challenge in the weeks ahead.
April 21, 2013
Iwabashiru tarumi no ue no sawaraabi no
moeizuru haru ni narinikeru kamo
By the edge of the stream tumbling down the rocky cascade,
the bracken begins to put forth young sprouts.
The spring is here at last!
- – Prince Shiki (Manyoshu)
Garden watching – sprout watching – suddenly in last week’s warm weather. This weekend we’ve regressed to earlier spring temps. Still, seeing the green is so much to look forward to.
Some inspiration also comes from NHK’s “Nihongo de Asobo” (Let’s play with Japanese language) – a children’s show introducing the classics. It’s inventive, playful and approachable for this learner. I often referred to it in my earlier teaching days. My students also seemed to enjoy it.
April 18, 2013
My “dye studio” receives many visitors especially when it warms up. Sometimes there are nesting birds, lizards, a chipmunk or two, but mostly it’s a variety of insects. In general, I prefer they stay away, but it’s the way it is.
Today it was this and I can’t be sure if “he” was a honeybee or yellow jacket. If he was the latter, I would have expected a little more aggressive behavior. It has been my usual experience and I’ve had more than one unpleasant encounter over the years.
This one was curious. He explored and lingered over my measuring spoons then moved on to this spot next to a pot. He stayed there quite still for some time and I came and went, working in the dye vat nearby. He didn’t budge.
Eventually, after allowing me to take a few shots, he finally disappeared – relief! I still am not sure though, whether he was a bee or yellow jacket.
April 14, 2013
Yesterday felt more like a Sunday than what it was (a Saturday). It may have had to do with having spent the latter half of the day at the Japan Center. I think it had to do with stopping – slowing down – breathing – and taking time to focus on the surroundings – conversations and the watercolors on exhibit indoors. it was a refreshing afternoon.
The pine pollen has arrived with the warm weather, but so far it hasn’t been a discouragement from yard work. The garden beckons these days – there’s much to be done there. I did manage to plant a few seeds (we’ll see what happens), pull weeds and that kind of thing.
Warm weather also means time to rev up the organic vat. It seems to be coming along.
There are also projects/pieces in the making. It takes time and patience, but finally the warm weather.
I’ve got a few experiments in mind, things I’ve been thinking about since fall at least or even last summer. So once the studio is in order (it truly will happen) I can begin to approach those ideas and I can’t wait!
April 10, 2013
All these blues….and shibori to boot. It’s what makes the pattern and the statement.
Shibori & Indigo – Pattern Observer
It’s about pattern – Surface Design and so much more.
April 10, 2013
Thank goodness for this, even though the days of its bloom are always short-lived. It seems this year to have defied that a bit. It has survived cool weather and at least a couple of rainy days. The blossoms are still with us although, the petals (hana bira・花びら) are now falling (like snowflakes…) and the green leaves are emerging.
For the brief period of its bloom, regardless that it happens every year, I’m captivated. I fall under its spell and all I want to do is look skywards, stand under the pink clouds, breathe in the delicate fragrance and simply look.
April 2, 2013
Sometimes the instructions say “Rinse until clear” or do they? Maybe it’s just rinse…I’m not sure, but I would rinse until clear. Rinse until it isn’t murky, thick or cloudy with color. That’s it - today’s little tidbit (Sakura are calling…).