Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

March 3rd

March 3, 2017
Hinamatsuri Dolls

雛祭り Hinamatsuri Dolls

Today is Hinamatsuri, Girls’ Day, Girls’ Festival or Dolls Festival in Japan.  I remember being intrigued with the tall displays of the imperial court when I was a girl.  Some were so elaborate and elegant – yes, I would have loved a collection of my own!

The kanji 「雛・ひな」hina defines as “chick, duckling, squab [fledgling bird] and doll”。「祭り・まつり」Matsuri means “ritual, offer prayers, celebrate, deify, enshrine and worship”.  The origins of this festival trace back to hina-nagashi in the Heian Period.  So there’s more to this than just celebrating girls and dolls – also a little spiritualism and “magic” (perhaps).

The photo is ancient – from my dad’s collection, something “generic” so I’m not sure that he even took it. He must have used it though, to talk about Japanese culture in our trips “back” to the US.  At any rate, it gives me pause to look back and there’s always something new to learn in the process.

March 1st: blustery.

March 1st: blustery.

The month began with those “March winds” – it was blustery and I’ve had some custom work on the line this week. It was uncharacteristically warm – in the 80s – not at all March-like.

The real reason for this entry? I changed the times for the opening for “Filaments”, the upcoming exhibit mentioned in my last blog. I’ve also updated it on the Events page – 6-8 p. instead of 5-7 p.  Hope to see you there!

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wishing you shivers and chills….

October 31, 2016

Ah. I don’t mean to wish you the flu or a similar illness…. Not at all.

But you may need to look behind…
someone or some thing may be following….

Obake netsuke

Obake netsuke

I do, however, send you the shivers with this spooky image of an おばけ・obake/demon woman or ghost. She’s one of many netsuke in the collection of the San Francisco Asian Art Museum where I visited recently.  Needless to say, I was captivated.

a favorite photo from that travel experience (a

a favorite photo from that trip

I’m still pondering that travel experience from last week. It was brief but full of museum explorations with my son who was extremely generous with his time and energy taking me to these places. I’m also fortunate that he also enjoys the same places, so we had a grand time (at the SF MOMA and also the De Young).

reflected in a Shindo

reflected in a Shindo

There were so many highlights, pieces that took my breath away, especially at the  “On the Grid” fibers exhibit at the De Young.  One was this piece by Hiroyuki Shindo (in which my son & I are reflected).  It was one of many surprising and a beyond what-I could-have-imagined experiences that I encountered on this trip.  It was pure fun – refreshing & inspiring.  Also a gift.

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high calorie

October 7, 2016

From last month’s workshop:

from day 1

from day 1

How does one select only one image from an array of so many successes? They can be found on my flickr or instagram sites for a closer look. I think we (and I do include myself in this) thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

I’ve listed dates for my next workshop at Pullen Arts Center on the Workshops page. More details will follow later.

In the meantime, research and experiments continue with yukata continue.

practice

practice piece – for a sleeve

I’ve been practicing Katano shibori over the years, but haven’t been at all satisfied with the results. So far, this is the closest that has given some affirmation. To me, there are so many variables in this technique. It’s not just the stitching, and cloth thickness, but the kind of cloth as well. It has to be practiced, and still…more seems to be required.

Regardless, an opportunity to examine some yukata from the collection of the Gregg Museum of Art and Design came up – Janine offered, so of course, I took her up on it.

yukata with wide tucks

yukata with wide tucks

We photographed, measured, looked at the seams and other finishing details. We looked at several, made for both men and women and compared their differences and similarities. Not one was the same, in spite of the form – lots to think about there.

For “dessert” she pulled out a kimono with it’s inner kimono that had this for a lining:

inner lining

inner lining

High calorie, don’t you think?  I love that red.

And by the way, my U.S. readers, if you aren’t registered to vote…please do so.  And when it’s time (early or on the day), go cast your vote.  If you’re undecided, educate yourselves about the candidates and the issues at hand.  I’m registered and I’m voting.  Definitely.

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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.

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.

things autumnal

September 24, 2015

There has been that subtle change in the light for some time now and it has felt autumnal in that the humidity has dropped. The leaves on my cherry tree are turning yellow and falling as are others.

indigo tends to be reflective, so the cloth was actually darker

indigo tends to be reflective, so the cloth was actually darker

Nighttime temps are also falling, but they’ll be up and down until later in the month. However, it’s going to affect the vat – something I need to bear in mind. Today, though, reduction and color is satisfying.

tiny flowers reminiscent of sakura

tiny flowers reminiscent of sakura

The indigo has begun to bloom. It’s late, but we will have Indian summer – the growing season isn’t over by a long shot.

silk/rayon piece in indigo

silk/rayon piece in indigo

I’m in the process of unbinding this scarf or piece – it took months to stitch, so is there any hurry in unwrapping it?

a peek at the pattern - can you see it?

a peek at the pattern – can you see it?

It was simply an exploration in pattern, very nearly ended up red and not indigo. Indigo was the easier way to go at this point.

texture study

texture study

In preparing for my upcoming workshop, I’ve been exploring those different aspects of texture in different contexts. Each context holds a world of possibility – that means not just the aspect of the exploration, but maybe even stories.

Higanbana

Higanbana

Another sure sign of autumn – it always blooms around the equinox, sometimes on the day.   Today we had full bloom.  I begin looking for shoots mid-September and then watch the bloom process – so rewarding. The Japanese call it Higanbana.

so it’s raining

August 6, 2015

Rain has finally moved in to give a little respite from the heat and dry spell. I’ll take the break. I’ve spent most of my days working on something including a custom order which may be nearly complete.

a tunic

a tunic

It has helped to keep things going in the dye studio. Otherwise, I might not venture out, much. It’s also a piece that has helped keep the vat going – ah – and me outdoors, listening to the cicadas and watching for the occasional butterfly.

pureed leaves

pureed leaves

Last time I posted I mentioned “playing” with freshly harvested leaves.
The only conclusion I came to is that I needed more leaves. I had a very small harvest, hence a smattering of the color.

dyeing

dyeing

But, I did walk through Rowland Ricketts’ approach and would do it again, providing my harvest was larger. However that is, the results were sweet and gave another perspective – in palest blue – not my usual.

Chirimen & habotai silk

Chirimen & habotai silk

The scarf is Chirimen or crepe. It was cream and I thought to change it to a robin’s egg blue. It is truly an extremely pale aqua. One day, I may take it further.

It would be remiss not to make some mention of the significance of the day: August 6th – 70th Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. I saw Abe give an address last night on NHK. The language was so formal I couldn’t understand it, but I really didn’t need to.

And I can’t find words – sometimes I’m not sure what or how to articulate whatever there is that needs to be said or not. I have a strong connection with that country. It was my childhood home. In that case, feelings run deep. That home culture gave me many things, among them  a love of a certain color. I’m working with it – exploring it. I don’t know what else to do at the moment. It was a gift.

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.

planned?

planned?

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.

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.

Basho

“kawazu…tobikomu”

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.

Violet

Violet

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.

a short jaunt

December 11, 2014

Last weekend, a short jaunt to Charleston put me in “indigo country”. When I’m there, the draw is history and of course, anything that might speak of indigo and its past.

found this on a morning walk

found this on a morning walk

the old slave mart museum

the old slave mart museum

Time was limited and I didn’t have a set agenda, so anything that turned up was serendipity. Also, in many respects, if indigo was the focus (it wasn’t), historic, downtown Charleston would not have been the place.  Still there were some little treasures to be discovered.

owned by Eliza Lucas Pinkney

owned by Eliza Lucas Pinkney

not historical, but authentic - serendipity

not historical, but authentic – serendipity

One of my most satisfying experiences, though, was visiting the Joseph Manigault house. Our guide was gracious and extremely informative about its former inhabitants, architecture and its significance through the last couple of centuries.

family entrance

family entrance

unusual rounded aspects on either side of the house

unusual rounded aspects on either side of the house

I was surprised to hear that at one point that it came close to being razed for a gas station. Fortunately, it was rescued and has been able to serve other and better purposes.

leading up to the 3rd floor

leading up to the 3rd floor

4297A

wreath of cotton

Now, home again and with “things to do” with holidays approaching. The “studio” beckons – the idea of a little focused quiet would do just fine.

ginko & spanish moss

ginko & spanish moss


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