dipping into shirokage

July 10, 2016

Shirogake (white shadow) shibori has been dangling like a carrot before me for some time. The pattern mystified me to be honest. Then a friend went to an out of state exhibit where a kimono in the pattern was on display.   She sent a photo and I was hooked (again).  To bring it about took some time.

wrapped on a pole

wrapped on a pole

After stitching the pattern and pulling it up, all I wanted was to dye it – see those results! In my haste and excitement, I forgot the next step – wrapping it against a rope or pole. Then, I realized what I was doing and stopped. I wrapped it against a pipe and continued on, hoping I hadn’t spoiled the shirokage. If I did, well, I’d try again.

unbinding from the pole

unbinding from the pole

In removing the piece from the pole, there seemed to be some resist. So, something worked.

before releasing the stitches

before releasing the stitches

The proof would be in removing the stitches and it seemed to work. The question was whether or not the pattern could be read.

releasing the pattern

releasing the pattern

It isn’t completely shiro, but the pattern can be read. It works…well enough to at least give an understanding of the technique and theory. This was practice, theory, learning, experiment…it’s all it can be and quite satisfying.  Yes, I would do this again.

the pattern - not completely "shiro" and blue, but it can be read.

the pattern – not completely “shiro” and blue, but it can be read.

Like a lamb or a goat?

March 23, 2016

Earlier this month I would have said “Spring came in like a lamb” and then I had to rethink things a bit – maybe more like a goat. Still, what’s ahead seems promising.

One thing, is a class, just added to my Workshops page – in May – devoted as per usual to shibori & indigo, but also to making a noren.

Some of my winter make time was devoted to the above noren – just one example. In this case I was was inspired by Serizawa, a katazome (paste resist) artist – an homage. I love his work.

The characters, hiragana, say ようこそ(youkoso)/Welcome.  It hangs in my front hallway.

Other promises and welcoming spring things…well, lots of little green sprouts are making their appearance in my small greenhouse.  I’ve also seen a few butterflies in spite of the up and down temps these last few days.  Spring.

looking

February 11, 2016

Is the color deep enough? The photo and sunlight actually make it difficult to tell. Indigo can also be reflective.

Pashmina - wool - was once a mushroom color.

Pashmina – wool – once a mushroom color.

It is a deep indigo and since the excess dyes have finally been washed out, I’m happy to say that this particular dye job is complete. The temps have continued to drop, so even in the sun, the cold and breeze have been biting.

from Sanada Maru

from Sanada Maru

Sanada Maru is the new Taiga Drama (NHK) this year. I usually wait until March to view the subtitled version, but I’ve begun watching the “untitled” one to get an earlier start. I’ve been delighted to find that most of the costuming is in shibori (bring it on, NHK!).

3 Sanada siblings

3 Sanada siblings

It’s a feast for the eyes. Each character seems to have their own signature color and pattern, but not always. It’ll be fun to keep up with this, if only for the costuming.

0058

After unbinding only a few of the bound motifs, the manipulated cloth is still tight.

There is also an expectation to be fulfilled. I promised to dye and unbind a silk handkerchief given to me some time ago. It has finally been dyed and this week I began with slowly working with the threads to unbind it. I am in no hurry.  It is a lesson just in seeing how the threads connect each shibori bound shape with the other and how they are “tied” off with a loop.

tightly bound shapes

tightly bound shapes

If the proper thread or thread end can be found, it simply pulls or unwraps one row at a time. It’s a gem of a process, so why hurry this?

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.


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