July 23, 2015

It’s (蒸し暑い・むしあつい)mushiatsui – steamy hot or lets say, muggy. It’s been like that the last few days. Today, though is a thunderstorm type day. It’s keeping me away from the vats and clothesline. I’m also adjusting to not teaching and trying to refocus on past projects. It takes a while.

catching a breeze

catching a breeze

In the meantime, I’m “feeding” the vat with activity, just to keep the spirits happy.

 old embroidered silk scarf

old embroidered silk scarf

Anything will do, as long as there’s cloth in the dye.

playing with pattern

playing with a summer pattern

I’m also keeping an eye on my small indigo plots – not the lush garden I’d dreamed of. The first harvest will be small.


maybe more sunshine with the second growing

It may be too much shade, or the heat (dubious)…I’m puzzled. At least there are some results, not displeasing, but definitely wanting. Next year, a different spot.


She passed through yesterday late afternoon, and again after a downpour this morning.

Other plants, despite nurturing are still struggling and failing due to mildew and similar things. Yet, others are thriving and attracting bees and hummingbirds. I’m holding hope for butterflies, but they have been skimpy in my garden.

PS.  Having said that, later in the early evening, a yellow and black swallowtail sailed by on its way to a neighbor’s garden just across the street.

one more week

July 16, 2015

A refreshing break at Bon Matsuri (Obon Festival). It defines summer in

Bon odori (dancing) & picnicking at the fest.

Bon odori (dancing) & picnicking at the fest.

some respects. I love the music, dancing, Taiko drums and naturally, food. It’s a huge event and a lot of preparation by the folks at the Japan Center.

On Monday, classes resumed at Artspace and again, I worked with the same age group (6th – 10th graders), keeping things loose – open to discovery or experimentation – at least that was the approach.

good making

good making

I think they outdid themselves. Today, they worked on some last pieces, including a silk scarf. We’ll wrap it up tomorrow.



It’s always fun to see how the students respond to cloth and this dye in this particular context.  They’ve been given some instruction, but generally, they’ve been free to take the fabric and tools in any direction they want.  There are always surprises.

they did it!

July 10, 2015

Yes, they did!
I love all of their results.
It was asking a lot to have them put pattern on cloth, dye it, then stitch these bags.
They also received a silk scarf which they also manipulated and dyed. It was quite a week.


July 9, 2015

I confess, this 90+ degrees heat makes me feel quietly ornery. There’s a stubbornness and reluctance stirring – there’s a refusal to want to do anything. Is it just the heat? I can’t decide. In spite of it, though, I’ve been at Artspace this week.

beginning with stitch samples

beginning with stitch samples

I have no right to feel this way. The incoming results from my students are a delight. It may have taken a few slow dips in the color to convince them.

folded, bound or clamped pieces

folded, bound or clamped pieces

Their work gets better everyday and they seem now, under its spell.

working on the sampler

working on the sampler

Seeing them so engaged is quite rewarding and affirming.

patient work on the “sankaku bukuro” – triangle bag

It gives me pause, in spite of that reluctance.


June 29, 2015

Just a little fyi:  I’ve updated the workshops page for both July and August.  July is devoted to kids – youth (the future!) and August is for the adults.


We’ll cool off up in the mountains in West Jefferson for a couple of days.  It will be delightful.


a short jaunt

June 28, 2015

A short jaunt to New Bern, North Carolina’s first capitol, was enlightening. I could have stayed longer but we had a little further to go. Still, we had a chance to examine some of the old gravestones around Christ Episcopal Church and what I thought were stained glass windows.


in the churchyard

Viewing the windows from the outside was a draw, of course.  I wasn’t leaving that town without seeing them in full color.


So, I did go inside and learned that they were not stained glass, but hand painted.  The guide said “museum quality”.

Then, we drove on to Beaufort, where we caught a ferry to Shackleford Banks where the wild ponies roam.

We didn’t see them this trip, but the fresh air, soft sand and other natural aspects of the island were refreshing.  Another return trip for sure.

Home again – working on my son’s curtains and preparing for 2 weeks of youth camp at Artspace.I will make a point of finding time for my personal explorations. Definitely. It’s still June, after all – my month.

suddenly summer

June 18, 2015

It is seriously summer, already. The heat and humidity have apparently settled in. It has also suddenly become my mindset. Bubble thought: “Let it go…relax…play..”


water of forgetfulness?

Yes, I will. Thank you very much.


It’s work, but I love my work.

So, indigo and I will probably take a playful attitude.  It goes without saying, summer loves indigo and indigo loves summer.

morning's work

morning’s work

Mornings have been the best with the birds and chipmunks for company – sometimes a cicada or two. The color on the line is cooling and my eyes drink it in.

his lordship's curtains

his lordship’s curtains

My son asked for an over dye on curtains he brought home a few months ago.  At this point, it’s whatever works – it’s playtime. As long as there is pattern and indigo.

“feeding” the vat

A small something from the vat – a small gift to it and it gives back. I don’t usually do it on a daily basis, but beginning the day in that vein has appeal. And it’s summertime.

old frog perhaps….

June 12, 2015

古池や 蛙飛こむ 水のおと
ふるいけや かわず とびこむ みずの おと
Furuike ya kawazu tobikomu mizu no oto
Old pond, frog hops in, sound of the water.



In this instance: Seemingly old pond, reluctantly, frog hops in, understated splash. I think there’s more to Basho than meets the eye.

not silk

not silk

It feels like slow progress this week, but I’m sure that hasn’t been the case.  It’s probably been more about what doesn’t work as opposed to what does – as in “Oh, so that’s polyester, not silk” and “So that’s how that works…but it’s not what I’m after.” It’s still discovery.



Still playing (June is my month!), but preparations have also begun for 2 upcoming workshops at Artspace. I’ll be working with 7th – 10th graders and they will immerse themselves in the blue.

last summer's class

last summer’s class

At the J.C. Raulston Arboretum yesterday afternoon, I was rewarded with an actual view of a few butterflies. One was a bright orange monarch – unfortunately, no photos.

bees thrive at the arboretum

bees thrive at the arboretum

I haven’t seen any butterflies as yet in my yard and I’ve been a bit concerned. It was a relief to see the Monarch.  So I’m inspired to return when the mornings are not quite so hot. I’d love to see some of the same blooms in the morning light.


June 5, 2015

I’ve long needed to pull out a box of crayons and just scribble.


I’ve needed to play and yesterday was it. Although, that’s been the goal for this month especially. If I can make it last, then so much the better.


Sometimes, I’m an obsessive planner. It’s probably a hangover from teaching in earlier years. In some ways, it has been a good thing, as it taught discipline and nourished my love of research.


But, I also know the value of “throwing it all out the window” and running out to play – another way to learn.  We know that.


Yesterday, I returned to some materials and ideas that have been running around in my head for more than a year –  long overdue and pure fun.

bloom time

May 28, 2015
Peonies & False Indigo

Peonies & False Indigo

Springtime gifts from friends – given to inspire – “Grow some peonies! More blue for you garden [the cutting came with some seedlings]!”

Student work:  Arashi in reds, fuchsia…

Colors certainly bloomed in last week’s workshop. They were defined and described through various shibori techniques – pretty free form.

One morning's inspiration - student work

Student work:  One morning’s inspiration for all of us

My students put their hearts into it. It may not have been restful (achy backs, tired feet…), but there was exploration, engagement and enthusiasm. I think we all came away with some answers but also questions. That may be the point.

thriving, so far

thriving, so far

At home, my indigo bed is thriving. We pruned to let in more sunlight and hope this will make things even better. It isn’t an ideal space. As per usual, it’s always experimentation.

I’m looking forward to June – time for personal explorations and watching my gardens grow.


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