Archive for the ‘Indigo’ Category

Pondering the “Views” or landscape

January 21, 2018

My entry, now in Japan, collecting light with ojiisan for companionship.

I’m not going to try to second guess what Ricketts and and folks in Tokushima had in mind when they conjured up this project.  To have only been thinking about indigo and bringing in an international aspect was and is a statement, just on that simple or basic level. It speaks.

What comes to my mind first, is the word けしき/keshiki. One definition is “scenery, view or landscape”. One person involved in the cloth dyeing process used ‘scenery’, Ricketts said ‘view’ and I like ‘landscape’. That speaks to me. A recent video is here. You, dear reader, can decide for yourself.

Another thing is that there were 9 (possibly 10?) countries represented with 450 participants, each person given a square of indigo (or handkerchief) cloth. Each piece collected the rays of the sun from their personal parts of the world for roughly 5 months. Then, they were returned to Japan and now on display for roughly a week.

The universal color, dyestuff was indigo – one color absorbing the sunbeams from 10 different countries – collected, to make a whole “‘scape”, landscape or view. 450 people represented from 10 different countries, represented by 450 pieces of cloth bathed in sunlight, reflecting one universal hue with no borders between them. They are all unified by sunlight and color. Each individual, each county or province, state, country…all side by side just “breathing” quietly in blue.

That’s what speaks to me. I wonder what else comes to mind.



In a new year…

January 9, 2018

Last year…well, it was memorable in so many respects, it’s an understatement.  I’m simply grateful for the events, many forms of engagement, friends, family and the many others who in many ways kept me thinking, working and engaged with living. It was an overwhelming year in many respects, but I’m still grateful for the challenges.

Indigo Threads

There was some fun in it, and work. I’m looking forward to more of that “blue” engagement.

I don’t know quite what the year will bring, which is a good thing. I like a little mystery. I do know that I plan to be a student at some point instead of a teacher (more upcoming). I’m looking forward to learning some different perspectives on the topic.

For the moment, I’m offering an exploration in “nui” or stitched shibori at Sertoma Arts Center (Raleigh, NC) in March. There’s more detailed information on the Workshops page. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Wishing you serenity in this New Year.



What happened to summer?

October 10, 2017

I have to ask. It seems to have dissolved in the vat of indigo. A project emerged this spring. No, several projects “appeared” and grew. At least the one did.

Cameron Village Banner

And, it was my own doing.  “We” couldn’t have done the idea or the space (where it was to display) justice, if the project had not ‘grown’.

F.e.B. shirts

There was also custom work – shirts arrived from people I had worked with previously.  So, extra clotheslines were strung to accommodate them as well as the banners.

detail of custom dyed tunic

July brought a workshop on creating Noren – “split” curtains.

noren making, drying outdoors

I don’t think we actually sewed any together, but there was plenty of dye work and of course, that was the point.

At the end of August all of these projects were brought to a close with the installation of the banners at Cameron Village Library. I’ll simply have to write more about that later, but they are currently on display through the month’s end.

Indigo Threads

Currently, I just want to draw you, dear reader, to 2 upcoming workshop opportunities this month and next – they are listed on my workshops page. “Aki” is coming up quickly and “Arashi” follows almost on its heels in early November.

Thank you for your patience and for reading!

It’s still spring….

April 20, 2017


At the moment, I don’t know where or how to begin.  It would be an understatement though no matter how I described how this season has gone (so far) and what’s to be anticipated in the near future.  There is so much to look forward to.

To step back, a little, I have finally completed the yukata that was a huge preoccupation since last summer.  I’m happy and honored that it’s part of an exhibit, “Filaments of the Imagination”, at the Durham Arts Council.  And there are so many delightful treasures to explore in this exhibit.  If you happen to be in the area, please drop by and see it.  “We” (my Threads group) are exhibiting through May 11 (we are disassembling on the 12th).

Upcoming, (see the Workshops page & link), one month from now, is a 2 day workshop in shibori and indigo dyeing at the NC museum of art.  Needless to say, I’m looking forward to teaching this in a new studio situation.  So, join us.  We’ll have fun!

Yes, the sun does still come out, my siblings and I share stories and laugh.  There is sadness, we miss her.  It was complex.  But she gave and taught us much.  We have yet to celebrate her life as a family and that is also upcoming in late spring.

Mom never saw my yukata, but I did describe it to her and we talked about the imagery.  It was one of my last conversations with her.  The imagery is a mix, but universal, as it talks about summer universally, but some aspects of summer that I experience (always) and loved from my years in Japan, North Carolina and visiting my sister’s home in Wisconsin (up on Lake Superior).

I’m amazed it’s still spring and there’s more and more coming.  I haven’t even mentioned the garden – so much work to do and now we have an abundance of fearless rabbits, it seems.  Things are ongoing.


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!


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 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.



A catch

September 9, 2016

Early this afternoon, a special and long awaited “guest” arrived in the garden:

today's catch

today’s catch

This may be the sole reason why I plant milkweed and other assorted flowers and herbs. I love all of the life they attract, the finches, hummingbirds, other butterflies and of course, bees. The monarch, though, feels like something much more, and it appeared this afternoon, flitting about, never resting. So, this was pure serendipity.


arashi on the first body piece

In the meantime, dye work continues on a current focus – the yukata. I may have mentioned earlier, that this third one may take more time.

It also came to mind that in none of my write ups regarding the upcoming workshop (at Pullen Arts Center, Raleigh – please see the Workshop page) did I mention to bring a bag lunch. I’ve altered that, but wanted to make a note of it.




the August studio

August 29, 2016

This month’s focus has been the yukata (summer kimono). After completing a small mock up,  these last two weeks have been about a full-size piece. It isn’t finished, but close enough for the moment.


full length – front & back of one side

The first week was spent dyeing all seven pieces to the garment: 2 front and backs, 2 sleeves, 2 overlaps and the collar. Each piece was manipulated uniquely and then dyed.


Beginning to look like “something”

At this point, all seven pieces are attached, but it is long and unwieldy. It’s bulky (because of the cloth type), wider, still than it really should be…still, I rather like the way things came together with the hand stitching. Yet, in the near future, I may take it apart to make some adjustments.  There’s much more to this garment than anticipated.


nearly there

And as we are now looking into September, I invite you to consider the weekend shibori workshop (Upcoming Workshops page) coming in the latter part of the month. It can be as intense and serious as you want, but I think fun is a necessary ingredient. It’s about indigo, it’s possibilities and beauty, as well as shibori.


simply summer

August 15, 2016

There’s an abundance of sound in my yard these mornings. As the temperatures rise though, it seems to quiet.

Summer sounds

It’s a familiar sound and defines the month of August for me.  I look forward to it every year, but this year the whining seems to be thicker.  Are there more of them?  Is it the heat?  No idea.

mock-up nearly complete

mock-up nearly complete

The mock-up yukata worked up much faster than anticipated.   I was surprised how quickly, considering the entire process was by hand (even the stitching).

The cloth came from a friend’s basement – she was clearing out.  As it was meant as practice…it isn’t full size, only 3 feet in length.  I’m not sure much of it is in correct proportion, but it gave me a chance to learn about overlaps and attaching the collar.

In spite of the fabric unknowns, it took the dye far better than anticipated.  Each piece was manipulated exactly the same way, but the dye responded differently with each one, so it may lack a ‘fine consistency’ but I like the differences.

A second yukata is underway, this time it’s full size, so it will take longer to sew.  I’m looking forward to seeing pattern results once the cloth has been through its manipulations.









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.

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