Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

other scenes

August 7, 2014
Rodin garden

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

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

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.

in summer’s heat already

June 19, 2014

Working in the heat is a foregone conclusion. It’s what I look forward to after winter’s chill. Indigo prefers the warmer environment and I enjoy working outdoors. Generally it’s quiet, there’s birdsong and insect cry. There’s also the light.


When the cloth pieces are in natural light I get a better sense of color and its value. It’s about color here, definitely, but it’s also the depth of it. I’ve added more indigo this week, but I’m wondering if it’s enough. I’ll give the vat a rest and a refresh for a few days and add a few more layers. At some point this has to stop. It’ll be an arbitrary decision.


This week’s piece is still in progress, but it’s nearing the end. It’ll acquire the needed color at this weekend’s workshop. It’s an exercise, practice in technique, experimentation, something I’ve wanted to try for a while. While working on it last night though, I wondered about taking the idea in different directions. This was after my encounter with Shonibare’s work, the new installation on the museum grounds.


Yesterday’s stroll in the heat was well worth the effort. I’ve been considering connections between pieces in our museum collection and the workshop – are there any and if so, which ones?.   To answer that, yes, there are a few that relate in regard to indigo. This is something else however, and I wonder how this weekend’s participants will respond? I look forward to a discussion.

*about Yinka Shonibare and this piece:
“None of us have isolated identities anymore, and that’s a factor of globalization ultimately. I suppose I’m a direct product of that. The fabrics I use look like they could be just African, because they are used a lot there. But what you see on the surface is not really what you always get. The fabric has a complicated history in its trade routes: it was originally designed as an Indonesian fabric, produced by the Dutch, and the British sold it into the African market. It’s a perfect metaphor for multilayered identities.”



sunny with thunder

June 13, 2014

Actually, it finally manifests in a soaking storm. Even though, it has been possible to put a few things in the vat and on the line. Today was not the case though.

As my son is home for a brief visit, we headed to the museum to see Estampas de la raza /Prints for the People. This was my second visit and could be back for more as there is so much to be considered from a cultural and historical perspective, just for starters.

My son mentioned Artemio Rodriguez, so I paid attention to his work this time around and later looked through a book containing nothing but his prints – strong and thought provoking.  We also viewed Raúl Colón’s enchanting illustrations which also presented some of the same ideas, similar perspectives, but a different approach.

linen in indigo

linen in indigo

Through the week, though, the focus has been on dyeing the above piece of linen that will serve as a canvas for a piece I think of as an “ensō.”  The dominant motif is circular.  It’s of Gunma silk that has had the sericin removed. At this point it needs to be stretched over the linen.

detail view - not so deep, but it's a reflective dyestuff

detail view – not so deep, but it’s a reflective dyestuff

Reaching that depth of hue has really been the “chase” this week. The above photo shows it much lighter than it really is. Still, the process may be continuing into next week.

手で・te de ・by hand

手で・te de ・by hand

May’s first event, Herbfest, sparked an older idea I return to from time to time – exploring aspects of my “other” language.

Coming up next week, I’ll be spending an evening with Twisted Threads presenting a discussion and encounter with indigo (and shibori).  Then over the weekend, time will be spent in a studio at the NC Museum of Art presenting a 2 day workshop on the same topic.

the 寿・kotobuki piece

May 29, 2014

Last week was a kind of week off, at least from making. Some time went into the yard and garden .

Argentine Sage

Argentine Sage

This one attracts the hummgingbirds and I think it goes without saying why it grows in my garden.

Earlier, I showed a piece in progress and deliberated over whether it should be dyed in my home studio or in class. Since it was a reference to the Fukusa in the Gregg’s current exhibit, it simply made sense to dye it in class.

Fukusa (Gregg)

Fukusa (Gregg)



Shown above is the fukusa and my reference to it – in its current state. Currently, I’m considering the next step in its development. As one can see, I used mokume to shape the kanji 「寿」・kotobuki・long life, as opposed to using the kanoko pattern (realistically an impossibility). It didn’t turn out as expected, but it can be read and that may be adequate for this context and the next.

It took exactly one week from start to this point (Sunday to Sunday). That included drawing an image template and transferring it to the cloth, stitching (the mokume pattern) which took most of the week, and finally dyeing it on the second day of the workshop. For the present, it will “cure” until it’s ready for completion.

So, as the narrator of my current ドラマ (dorama) says 「ごきげんよう!  Gokigenyō!」Go well (in good spirits)! Adieu!

in the making for Herbfest

April 24, 2014

There are so many different ways to express the concept of handcrafts or the handmade in Japanese. In trying to find the most appealing and easy (to the western ear) to say (and remember?) while staying in context was a bit of a challenge. I still can’t be sure that 手技・shugi, the “umbrella” name I chose for Dana’s and my small business venture at Herbfest is the appropriate one, but it does convey the meaning well enough.

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手技・しゅぎ・Shugi defines as craft or the handcrafts as the kanji 手・て・te means ‘hand’ and 技・ぎ/わざ・gi/waza refers to skill, art or technique. I thought using “日本の。。。/Japanese” in the title would only be redundant (and also long), but some might wonder. I’ve been thinking that some kind of signage might be appropriate. I’m still giving that some thought.


Dana Watson (From My Wandering Mind & Tanabata Wishes) is bringing her Temari (literally hand balls), intricately patterned, thread wrapped balls. You can ask Dana about their history and the stories involved in the making of each one.


I plan to keep my palette limited for this fest (indigo & white). I’ll bring scarves and other sundries in shibori. I’m looking forward to it and hope for a classic North Carolina spring day.


花の宴・Hana no En

April 18, 2014

A phrase that keeps coming to mind, from my usual resource (for haiku and similar), is 「春高楼の花の宴」・はるこうろうの はなの えん・haru kourou no hana no en. In researching its meaning, reference to a song appeared repeatedly and finally found that it is the first line to Kōjō no Tsuki – “Moon over the Ruined Castle”. It seems to allude to Cherry blossom viewing parties (in the castle tower?) and the abundance or “feast of flowers” – something like that.


blooms at the NC Japan Center


In any event, the phrase hana no en (feast of flowers) seems appropriate to our current season and nature’s abundant response to this past winter. That sense spilled over onto the last weekend’s events – Slow Art Day and the current exhibit at the NC Japan Center.


Wild North Carolina Wisteria

Junko Yamada - Harie

Junko Yamada – Harie

Slow Art Day must have taken everyone outdoors (the weather was superb!) as numbers of visitors to the Gregg was “meager”, but still the quality of the visits and experience made it worth the effort and time – engaging conversations and good food! Later I moved on to the Japan Center and Junko Yamada’s Harie.

Her collages are a unique approach to working with paper (extremely meticulous). She lends a deeply personal perspective as she explores hidden treasures in what seem to be “old Japan” as well as speaking of home, the environment and the ephemeral.

Summer Garden

Summer Garden

My personal favorite was her latest, Summer Garden. It feels so familiar.

will we need another table?

April 10, 2014


Some bits and pieces from First Friday at Artspace – results from last weekend. It was an enjoyable evening; there was a good crowd moving through the building and those of us participating in the evening’s demo room had plenty of visitors.

photo-12 oxidation andit'sblue1

Rain moved in the earlier part of the week, but the sun (and the pine pollen) finally made appearance making possible some beginning work on a custom order.

Slow Art Day has been another topic all week and I think it’s in place – we’re ready. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to spending some time at the exhibit (coming up Saturday) and lunch at the Irregardless.  Hmm. Looks like we might need to add another table from the looks of things…. However it all comes to play, 花見・はなみ・Hana Mi (flower viewing season) comes to mind. It should be fine day for it. Please click the turtle or see my “Events” page for more specifics.


It’s February

February 13, 2014

Silk “Fukasa” in Kanoko shibori – Gregg collection

Last month, I checked the Farmer’s Almanac and it suggested that we would have more “weather events” this month than last and I really questioned it.  Last week we were moving into the “balmy” it seemed, making it possible to attend the opening of the Gregg’s Remnant’s of the Floating World installed at NCSU’s Chancellor’s Residence (their future site).  There’s much to see in this exhibit, couldn’t take it all in, in the one evening, so I will return at some point.

A few days later, I received a small and precious gift through a friend – a fine example of kumo shibori (spider

unbound shibori on silk

unbound shibori on silk

web pattern) bound up, in preparation for dyeing.  That was the supposed next step, but I find that I can’t bring myself to do it.  I simply love the piece as is.  It doesn’t need the color or completion. There is so much to be learned from studying those small, fine, bound up forms.

Then yesterday, “that” anticipated  weather event finally arrived. It brought both snow and ice and we expect a little more today. It has brought some inconvenience, but that’s winter, that’s nature. It will also melt (par for the south).



January 23, 2014
Timbered Hill/Light Snow - Maud Gatewood - NCMA collection

Timbered Hill/Light Snow – Maud Gatewood – NCMA collection

A visit to the museum and a chance meeting with a landscape I don’t recall seeing before – it fit right in with the anticipation of snow due in the evening. In the end, it only amounted to a light dusting in my area – disappointing.


Detail of Kimono from the collection of the Gregg Museum

I like winter. I wished for more of those little flakes despite the inconvenience.- something to do with the effect it has on the landscape. It changes it, turns it into something new – ‘transformative’ – Kathy used the word last week. I keep pondering the word.

Silk study-detail

Silk study-detail

We had one mild day early in the week, so I was moved to “reboot” the vat to keep on with my studies in silk – form and that ‘that’ blue. The small results have given me some affirmation to keep exploring. Even a very small piece sends a message.”try it larger…see what happens.” Definitely.


Something’s brewing at the Gregg…what could it be?

I’ve also recently made a few additions to the Events & Workshop pages – there are a few added workshops and events (a few blurry lines there). Please take a peek. I’ll add more details as time goes on, but for the moment….じゃね!

not a car person

December 7, 2013

Blue PorscheI truly am not a car person, but the color works.  Come to think of it, there is something about that form, the shape….No, I am not a car person.

However, I did get a small glimpse into ‘that’ world or culture recently.  I read The Lost Spyder (C. S. Michael) for the museum book club and that also meant that I should probably follow up and see the exhibit.  I might actually see a Spyder or something similar.  So, I did just that over Thanksgiving weekend with my son.

Spyder 550 Prototype

Spyder 550 Prototype

Yes, of course it was fun – absolutely!  The book was also the same and then the discussion at the book group – lively, entertaining, but lots to be considered within the topic.

There’s much more there than meets the eye.  People are also passionate about the car.  I get it.  I really do – but, you know the deal.


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