September 12, 2014
I would be remiss if I didn’t post this:
We are less than a week away and I’ve been mentioning this, but a post devoted to it was needed. The above image is linked to the site for more information. You can also find the same on my “Events” page. We (Threads group) are thrilled to pieces about this, also honored and deeply touched as it also celebrates Cheryl Harrison who was a part of our group. Hope you can join us!
September 11, 2014
In spite of the heat, humidity and rain, autumn is revealing itself and I’m thinking ahead to that season – just thinking. I don’t want to rush anything as there is so much to savor in this between time.
For one, the “kaki” are ripening, coming into color, softening to eat and sometimes they drop on the ground before they can be picked. I’ve been looking forward to this time and finally…the fruit is mildly sweet, so far.
Between the summer workshops, there has also been “paced” progress on a wedding gift for a good friend of my son. He and his bride requested table linens, The stitching is complete and finally the dyeing aspect has begun. I’m pleased and also surprised with these early results. There’s always a new aspect to this craft.
This ストール (sutōru), stole (above) will soon be making its way to West Jefferson – a fund raiser I believe. It’s an ample sized Crepe de Chine wrap or shawl that has been needing completion for some time. Yesterday, the sun came out just long enough for it to dry.
Preparations are also in progress for a workshop at Pullen Arts Center. The theme centers on autumn and a selection of traditional Japanese motifs. It begins in October and runs through a part of November (see “Upcoming Workshops” page).
My portion in next week’s exhibit at Meredith College has been delivered. The opening reception is next Thursday – details are on this blog’s Events page. As a member of Threads, I welcome you. We are looking forward to it.
September 4, 2014
As my writings seem to be settling into a Thursday to Thursday pattern, the week begins on Friday. Rather than a week ending, it’s a beginning. This week began with the opening reception of Matsuri/祭り at the NC Japan Center, where Yoshiko Sumikawa’s gentle but joyful watercolors illustrate aspects of the diverse matsuri (festivals) that take place in Japan throughout the seasons.
Typically, though, they are summertime high energy events full of color, music, dancing, food and fireworks. They’re also a reflection of tradition – something I am always attracted to.
low hanging “kaki’ – tempting the deer?
The rest of the week? It feels like we’re in the dog days and I’ve been looking at what is surviving in these days of high heat and humidity.
the Argentine Sage is abundant
The delivery date for the upcoming Threads exhibit (see the Events page) is coming soon, so focus has continued to be on the stitch.
the thread goes where & how it wants
Still enjoying it and the textures it creates.
Some threaded guidelines are disappearing as I complete the above. It’s nearly complete – a few more rows – perhaps today. I look forward to seeing it in the gallery.
August 28, 2014
In my last entry, I mentioned an upcoming group exhibition. More information is included on my “Events” page. The opening reception is on September the 18th and of course, the public is welcome (and I am looking forward to this).
As a result, most of my time over the last week has been spent completing a few last pieces and preparing all of them for set up in the gallery. I’m continuing stitch work on two pieces, one is the ensō which I mentioned earlier, and another is a much smaller quilted piece.
It contains the kanji 寿(Kotobuki) with shibori wrapped around the character strokes and its form is slowly emerging. I’m enjoying the work – one stitch at a time.
But, yesterday I changed the week’s work routine to dye a few scarves. The weather was almost autumnal (except for the mosquitoes), low humidity and a breeze, good for drying things. There are always questions about fibers, how they respond to the dye, the techniques, how they read, and then again the dye and its response. The results are always unexpected and give me new things to consider. It’s never backtracking, simply practice.
And they are back!
August 21, 2014
Last week I breathed North Carolina mountain air, wore a sweater at night to ward off the chill and watched large moths and fireflies (or were they fairies?) flit about in the early evening from the second floor porch of the inn where I was staying.
I was in West Jefferson and visiting the Florence Thomas Art School where we (Janine LeBlanc & I) taught two workshops. One was three full days of explorations in shibori and “dipping” in the indigo dye vat. The second was a 3 hour introductory session on Saturday.
Both experiences were rewarding and needless to say, a delight. We enjoyed their new location on main street, in Ray’s Hardware. The front display windows were a fun venue for showing off student dye pieces. We did our best to attract the passersby.
We also stayed at the Meadowsweet Gardens Inn, a bed and breakfast with gardens to capture the imagination – certainly mine. I kept thinking of Beatrix Potter while walking through vine covered arches and exploring the perennials. Breakfasts were also a huge plus (fresh biscuits and zucchini bread…), sustaining for the day ahead.
As I’d been missing the butterflies in my home garden, it was reassuring to see an abundance of them exploring Debbie’s Phlox. On my return home, I did see a swallowtail sail through my front yard.
With the completion of these last two workshops, summer teaching is complete. I’m looking forward to an exhibit coming up next month with my Threads group at Meredith College. A workshop at Pullen Arts Center begins in October as well.
August 7, 2014
Rodin garden – a welcome
Did someone say “Welcome to my world?” Maybe… a “dip” in that incredibly refreshing environment was needed – a place that took me to another place, even if it was for a moment. I suspect that’s why it’s there.
The lush bamboo greens, darting blue dragonflies (and a butterfly) hovering above the pink and salmon blooms, floating on a deep blue black reflecting pool brought some relief from the morning’s heat and humidity.
This week has mostly been devoted to prepping for upcoming workshops in West Jefferson (next week) and tending to some planning for next year. It has felt a bit non-stop, so the museum visit was a welcome break.
Ships in a Stormy Sea off a Coast – Ludholf Backhuysen – circa 1700-1705 (NCMA collection)
A new source of inspiration was the museum library, so made a point of exploring the stacks, then moved on to the galleries where I explored 16th and 17th century painting by the Dutch. That was inspired by a recent book club read, Nathaniel’s Nutmeg by Giles Milton – sometimes challenging because of the vivid and brutally honest descriptions about events, personalities and their actions in the development of those early trade routes, particularly the Dutch & English East India Companies. I learned a good deal, it’s well-written, but more than my imagination needed at times. It doesn’t need saying that all too often history is glossed over or romanticized. This was not romantic.
an iron trunk also in the NCMA collection
I’m reading a lot of history these days, following different paths, but it seems to be where the indigo is taking me, on different journeys – herbs, spices, dyes…they have their stories.
Next week, as I mentioned earlier, Janine LeBlanc and I will be presenting indigo and shibori in the Blue Ridge Mountains for a few days. I’m looking forward to a different landscape – a different scene.
July 31, 2014
For the last 7 years, a small part of my summer has consisted of offering workshops for youth at Artspace. It feels like ‘if it isn’t Artspace, it isn’t summer’ – something like that. This year has been no different, except that the students were a little older (between middle and high school) and all girls. It’s been a delight – a quiet delight which I hope means they were just focused.
The goal was simply to introduce students to indigo, its “oblique personality” and to the beauty and intrigue of creating pattern in blue and white.
I’ve enjoyed seeing their progress as they experiment with the different processes. Rather than give them a specific product to complete, it has been more of an encounter and exploration.
Arashi plus – variations around the technique
I approached it this way simply because they are more “advanced” in age and able to handle the challenges. There have probably been some downsides to this, but on the other hand I’m learning about the realities of teaching an ancient craft to these “high-tech” learners. In this situation I’m also a student.
July 24, 2014
Something’s been missing in my summer “garden scape” – the glimmer of a swallowtail’s wing. I’ve been looking for them, inviting them with specific plants, expecting them, sure I was just missing their fleeting appearances. I’ve seen hummingbirds and heard the cicadas, but, no butterflies. The day I planted the butterfly weed, a small one paused briefly, but otherwise nothing. It’s been strange not to see any at all. Last week’s article in the paper (and other resources) explained it.
Earlier in the week: daily rain kept activity indoors preparing for next week’s class at Artspace – cutting fabric into workable pieces and pressing out the wrinkles. That aspect is mostly complete and I think I’m nearly ready for the week. There hasn’t been time to make or work further on other pieces.
However, a few months ago I was asked to work up a piece… kanji in shibori on indigo. That is also nearly finished – just the casings at the top and bottom. The characters, 尺八 (shakuhachi) are about the bamboo reed instrument.
It also brings to mind a memory – the komuso who occasionally stopped by our house in Kagoshima. They stood outside our gate or stepped just inside the yard, playing their haunting melodies and soliciting for the local temple. They never spoke, just appeared mysteriously, played and left without a word. Did anyone give them a few coins? That’s the part that’s missing.
July 17, 2014
This month, more than the others, so far, seems to be the peak month for “projects”. At least it feels like the month for completing some of the more significant ones for events ahead.
Christine best described here some aspects of one I’ve been participating in since spring. I mentioned it earlier, and as far as I know, my part is finally complete and turned in (last weekend). I can only say that I’m grateful for the experience, the ability to participate and learn from it – gifts from Cheryl. I also look forward to seeing it in its final form.
As I mentioned in my last entry, I was (and still am) working to complete a series of large banners. They’ve been my focus over this week and I’m working on the last one today. The size (roughly 55” x 144” (4 yds.) is definitely outside of my usual and there were some challenges.
Those challenges are also why I take on projects like this. I ask myself a lot of “why” and “how” questions – nothing like tickling the brain. Also, this month and next are matsuri (festival) months – these are the colors and patterns that speak of summer – found in yukata – worn at matsuri. It’s the season for this kind of work.
Then, there are the results, seeing them on my clothesline, being carried on the wind like a kite – if there’s a good wind. There was, this week, with thunderstorms on the edge, threatening.
July 10, 2014
Over the holiday, visits to both the farmer’s market and art museum were refreshing. Hurricane Arthur’s rain bands surprisingly downed a few trees in the area, but later also brought lower temps and less humidity for a few days – a suggestion of autumn in summer’s heat.
Sunflowers at the market
always the heron
This week and beyond though, the focus is on completing ‘that’ piece that I think of as ensō. It needed stretching over a surface and fastened securely.
The linen I dyed earlier has finally been stretched over a frame and layers of batting and cotton. The silk, the final layer, is in process of being stitched to that canvas. I don’t want to rush this. That’s been most of this week’s work – most.
However, a few other things are in process as well – a series of banners. I ‘jumped’ into this first one probably more quickly than I should have. I followed my usual process, but there were some unexpected aspects that cropped up. It couldn’t be resolved in this piece, but did manage to work around it with some satisfaction. My dad used to say “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”