冬・Fuyu

February 6, 2016

By the calendar, it is still winter, but those of us in the Carolinas, could probably debate that.

冬・ふゆ・fuyu/winter in shibori, on cotton, dyed in indigo.

冬・ふゆ・fuyu/winter

I worked up the above piece over the end of last month. It’s been on my mind for some time. Over a year ago roughly, I made a piece Aki/Fall, similar to this. To have that piece stand alone made no sense, of course, so finally, I’ve added a second one, creating a growing small series.

Fuyu was ready for dyeing in the recent spike in warm weather which actually lasted for only a day. Generally, I’d like winter to behave like it “should” but then, I’m grateful for the mild temps when some dye work is requested. I hoped it would linger for a few more days so that I could complete the dye work (below), but it hasn’t.

Custom dye work - cotton tunics on the February line.

Custom dye work – cotton tunics on the February line.

In this case, the pieces are a light cotton, so they’ve been fairly quick to work up. They’ve taken the dye well and dried quickly on the line. The work has been interrupted by rain and now, cooler temps, but I hope to wrap things up before “the season” moves in again. I will have to work quickly. Mother Nature always dictates.

late greeting…still…

January 26, 2016

Of course, I was going to ‘catch’ this event before the pod burst, as I didn’t want milkweed seeds floating around my house.

0776

               milkweed pod with seeds.

I’d brought in the pot to protect it from the cold and to encourage more growth and development,  also to ‘catch’ some seeds – it worked.

0770

Ice on Mahonia – from the recent ice storm – it melted quickly.

January has had to be a respite and I may just be getting started with the idea. It’s not a bad thing. I’ve been reading, researching, re-thinking my approaches to some aspects of my work, to name a few…. I’ve been enjoying the relative quiet.

So-det.

detail from a noren – hiragana so in shibori & indigo.

Things will continue to be made, as that kind of activity feeds me. It’s the same for workshops – they will continue to be offered. It’s just going to be a different year compared to the recent past. I suspect the focus will be more on making – continuing dialogues with fiber, dye, and threads – of course, indigo and shibori.

2967A

a taste…shibori & indigo on a line.

On that note, as mentioned previously, and listed on my ‘Workshops’ page, there is an upcoming workshop at Pullen Arts Center (Raleigh). The weekly evening classes begin in late February and go through mid-March. I look forward to that opportunity.

And one more thing:
今年もよろしくお願いします・・・
Kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu.
In this (new) year also, I hope for your favor.

新年おめでとうございます。
Shinnen omedetougozaimasu.
Happy New Year!

keeping it simple

December 30, 2015

In the midst of visiting and “working” with my mother this month, there was time for walks and talks with family in the balmy Tampa temps, Christmas lights and nourishing, delicious eats. Needless to say, it provided the same comfort as a warm hearth: cheering, nurturing and enjoyable.

a light show we encountered on one night's stroll...

a light show we encountered on one night’s stroll…

On returning home, it was good to move into my own home preparations, which were fairly simple. I always make cinnamon twist rolls – a reference to my mother’s Christmas baking.

Sweet Trolls2

She often made cinnamon rolls with icing, sometimes on a Sunday. But, it seems consistently, for Christmas morning, she baked them. I recall her starting the dough the day before, setting a large bowl of dough on the oil heater (covered, used it to warm the house back then), and the aroma of rising dough filling the house. To be able to pass this memory on to my family with my own baking is beyond satisfying.

DecPassionVine2
It has been like spring all week – I wonder how long some flowers will last? I can bring the Passion vine indoors before the cold sets in finally. Today, however, we’re experiencing thunderstorms and the blossoms are wilted and soaked.

Daphne2

This Daphne may be blooming early, but over the last few years it has been encased in ice – I’ve missed its exquisite fragrance. Not so this year.

Good-bye Year of the Sheep!

Good-bye Year of the Sheep!

There’s been little time for ‘that’ work or making in spite of the temps and it’s hard not to be doing it. There’s been an abundance of rain and more to come. That adds to the challenge. We’re moving toward cooler temps in the New Year. And the new is around the bend. I wonder what it holds?

先生/Sensei

December 29, 2015

先生・せんせい/sensei – the word means teacher, but the deeper meaning is “one who comes before”. Wiki says “a person born before another”. [先] sen defines as “previous” and [生] sei as “life”.  It’s a term mostly given to professionals, the ones we learn from and that opens up a wide world. Our parents could be included.

Lately, I’ve been preoccupied with my mother, where she is in life and aspects of her care. Fortunately, I can share these concerns with my siblings. Also fortunate, is the fact, that, so far, with much discussion, we’ve been able to agree on these things. In this process, over the years and particularly the last few months, there has been much research, discussion, relying on the skills and experience of family in the healthcare profession – much learning. I’m the student in these matters.

It has taken much listening – especially to my mother who wants to advocate for herself and to maintain her independence. Listening to her wants and needs, respecting them, as well as helping her to advocate for her health and safety has sometimes been a delicate balancing act. At this point in time, some decisions have had to be made for her and that’s where it has become delicate – sensitive.

So, December, in many respects, has been a month of reflection. It’s been much more actually, as my siblings and I ponder and address further stages of mother’s aging and needed care. While it’s life and universal, each person is unique and she is our mother.

My sister's and my first homes school room - my parents' bedroom - mom's the "sensei".

My sister’s and my first homes school room – my parents’ bedroom – mom’s the “sensei”.

In early childhood, she was my teacher – she taught me to read, write and sew among many other necessary life skills. Now, she’s teaching me about aging, at least some aspects of it.

like practicing the piano

December 3, 2015

Sometimes it’s play – no particular intent, just a quick response to the cloth – in shibori and dyed in the vat.

hankies

hankies

They were created for an event and were an omiyage – a favor or rememberance. So, to be honest, there was some ‘intent’ but the pieces were unplanned.

OribaShibori_0297A

hankies

That’s the point, kind of like scribbling to loosen up the hand, only it’s my brain or my eyes that need it. It only makes sense to work with the traditional and go on from there. Sometimes I’ll see something that jogs the memory or evokes a feeling.

Itajime

Itajime

Here’s the same pattern in a larger context. It isn’t the same, but there were more folds to work with this time around, also more accidental wrinkles. They add to the pattern.

Itajime

Itajime

Another bit of play referencing those same clothesline pieces. The concern is always the dye, its hue, depth of hue and simply how it interacts with the fibers. It seems to be a constant learning and re-learning no matter how simple the piece – like practicing the piano.

all things counter

November 26, 2015

0349

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things–
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced–fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise Him.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

bluer than blue?

November 19, 2015

As in any other medium, there seems no limit to the imagery one can create in working in shibori.  That’s one of the things I love about it.  The challenge lies in its engineering aspects. The image below is student work, but it wasn’t child’s play, it was work.

DL-Sailboat
I was fortunate to witness some of the aspects of the making of this piece – and yes, part of it may have been play – certainly experimental. It was a dip at a time, letting it oxidize, assessing it and repeating the process until the dye was deep enough or that it covered the desired areas. I love the playful aspects of the piece. It also takes me to a long ago place, a certain lake and some memorable sailing.

From time to time, especially when I’m in the middle of a workshop, often, a particular proverb comes to mind. I encountered it my early years of teaching as well as explorations in indigo. It has become a favorite:

「青は藍より出でて藍より青し」
「あおは あいより でて あい より あお し」
Ao wa ai yori dete ai yori ao shi.

The translation has to do with blue being stronger/better/beyond the blue in the indigo plant (at least it’s a reference to an original color source) or something of that ilk. At any rate, it refers to the student being better than the teacher – quite often the case and certainly in my experience many times. So, I wonder if this has more to do with becoming better – growing past the teacher, which is what is wanted in the end. That may be the message in the proverb and to the teacher as well.

silly, fun, but open doors to possibility….

November 12, 2015

The sun’s out after more rain, and the weather is so fine – mild, breezy (a front’s moving in) – a perfect autumn day. A late monarch even paused on one of my milkweed blossoms – too brief to photo, but long enough to note the variations in their reds and oranges.

milkweed pods - slow progress, but progress nevertheless

milkweed pods – slow progress, but progress nevertheless

This week brought to completion my workshop on creating texture. I will miss this class and their quiet explorations. They simply continued to reinforce why I teach – their questing, discovering considering, thinking – they challenge.  In the days that follow each class, I also ponder and wonder.

student work - exploration in texture & landscape

student work – exploration in texture & landscape

We don’t always find the answers, but the journey is…quite the thing. So, even though classes were over a 5 week period, it feels like we were just getting started and it is a slow process.

0240B

lamb – why do I enjoy the piece so much?

Imagery was fun, fanciful, sometimes silly…but definitely open doors to possibility. I think we all had fun with it. So, I’m really looking forward to more exploring coming in late February (listed on the “Upcoming Workshops” page).

this time of year

November 5, 2015

How is it that “nature” decided it was time for the indigo harvest? Yesterday, in my routine garden walk-through, I found no blossoms at all, save for a few leftover scraps. Both beds had been pretty thoroughly cleaned out. Was it deer? It had to have been – tasty greens, I suppose, but they weren’t greens. I had no idea they were so discriminating. Only the tops where blooms (and seeds) grew were removed. Dessert perhaps?

The blossoms are no longer....

The green remains

I’ve felt fairly immune from these visitors and really had no idea they were coming in so close to my little flower beds. Next year, I’ll approach things differently and with them in mind.

crape myrtle, mulberry for starters, also sweet gum....

crape myrtle, mulberry for starters, also sweet gum….

There’s an abundance and a variety of leaves in my small yard. I’ve added trees and shrubs as well, but mostly, I know that my presence is an imposition on the surrounding nature. My attempts to tame and remove whatever wild sprouts up is basically futile.

detail from

detail from “Elements”

Even though, I seek to tame it, I love the colors, blossoms produced and the fauna it attracts. And if you’re a reader, you’re aware that I also enjoy documenting it. From time to time, it makes its way into my making (above detail).

small impressions

small impressions

Lately, though, after attending the Waitzkin workshop and seeing various blogs and imagery elsewhere, I thought while the leaves were “ripening” on my lawn, I should gather some and see what could be done with them.

faint outlines of sweet gum?

faint outlines of sweet gum?

While I didn’t succeed, I didn’t entirely fail.  I see the potential. For one, I didn’t mordant the cotton (that may have been one aspect of it’s not working). There may have been other elements that played a part as well. I did wrap my leaf bundles securely around cherry tree sticks and boiled them for roughly an hour. That resulted in a pleasant aromatic “tea”. They soaked in it for a couple of days and then were unwrapped.

It was a first “just jump in and do it” – never mind the prep – stab at eco-printing. I realize there’s lots to learn in the process, and using what’s in my backyard has tremendous appeal, especially this time of year.

engaging with nature

October 29, 2015

Observations continue in the autumn garden and also a lot of wondering. I wonder…how long these blooms can last? How long will the weather hold or will it stay warm enough for them to develop their seedpods?

butterfly weed – the process has finally begun

I started them from seed and it has been slow growing this year. If needed, I may have to put them in a sunny window somewhere.

in the studio

I did attend the paper making workshop last weekend. There was much to take in and learned much more about fibers and Waitzkin’s approach. She provided a thorough introduction to the topic as well as a glimpse into her studio life. She was funny, energetic and generous.

simple beginnings

beginning simply

After the first day I was exhausted and returned for only part of the second day. Needless to say, I’m grateful for the time and tremendous effort she brought to all of us.

indigo

indigo

We had 2 days of rain again this week, giving the indigo some sustenance, I hope. I’m planning on a November harvest.

texture study - week 3

texture study – week 3

Explorations continue and my students brought samples of older and new work this week for consideration and discussion. The topic was texture in fauna and I feel like I barely had a glimpse of their results – next time….

Heron sketch

heron sketch

The heron has been a subject in my photos for more than a few years now.  There are several that nest in a nearby lake, so they are definitely part of my focus when I walk there.  My intent has been to one day “do something” in shibori involving one or several of them.  So this was a first attempt. It didn’t take long to realize that there is much to learn about it – its form, and then again, how to portray it through texture.  Again, it was a reminder – it’s always practice – and it’s a humbling craft.


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