Archive for the ‘Writers’ Category

of a particular season

November 26, 2014


“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.” Henry David Thoreau

“Give me juicy autumnal fruit, ripe and red from the orchard.” Walt Whitman [he might be thinking of apples, Kaki also fit.]

“On a bare branch a crow is perched – autumn evening” Matsuo Bashō


a touch of blue

June 2, 2013


It’s been a quiet but ideal week for the indigo vat and dyer.  The day and evening temps have been just right with some gentle breezes. The focus has mostly been on a custom order for one who loves not just the color blue, but more specifically indigo – definitely a customer to my liking.

Early in the week though, I dropped by the museum to pick up a ticket to the book club .  Under discussion is Emma Donoghue’s Room.  We will, in some way, make a connection to one of our current exhibitions:  Dwelling:  Interiors by Page H. Laughlin and Pamela Pecchio. 


Both artists examine the home or “domestic interiors” but with different lenses – Pecchio through photography and Laughlin through paint.  I’d like to step into some of the images and explore their environments, others seem so familiar and there are probably a few that I’m not so sure about.  That’s fine too.  They’ve given me something to consider within my own walls.

Outside of these things. I also spent some time playing, practicing and considering the complexities and wonders of itajime shibori.  It’s never as straightforward as it looks,  The classic patterns present like a puzzle or kaleidoscope. The “solutions” seem always just out of reach…written in that magical language (日本語).  Sometimes I find a hint and it’s enough to go on, but sometimes it’s a mystery.

2940A A few phrases tickling the  brain this week:

藍の濃度 – あいの のどう・ai no nodou – concentration of the indigo (vat)

藍の浸透 – あいの しんどう・ai no shindou – it’s saturation (on the cloth)

Possibly an old and familiar word “たたむ” also means to fold (probably cloth).

 At least, this is my understanding of the message.

handmade books at Pullen Arts

January 18, 2013

handmade books

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

Last night a friend and I ‘braved’ the rain and wind (and anticipated snow) to attend a reception at Pullen Arts Center. Work by Kathy Steinsberger and Jennifer Lee Mahaffey were on exhibit.

I think each book offered a different world to explore – visually as well as in content. Both Kathy and Jennifer took time to explain their pieces and show different ones to us – much appreciated and a heartwarming experience.

I got home just as the storm picked up – first sleet, then finally the snow. We only received a slushy dusting of sorts that led to some icing this morning. Now the sun is out.

Introduction to A Perfect Red

August 2, 2012

grinding chochineal
Originally uploaded by SOFennell

It was a discussion of Amy Butler Greenfield’s book, A Perfect Red, at the NCMA where this all too brief first experience took place. I’ve been intrigued for some time, so this was a perfect way to begin, by reading the book on the topic (cochineal), then a short but sweet hands-on.

We had a lively discussion over a light summer meal, then went on to the actual experience of the color and dye.  We looked at natural dye samples, then samples of wool with various results using different mordants.  Finally we experienced grinding it and then with dye that had already been prepared, we dipped a few textile samples.  It was delicious!


April 13, 2012

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

I wish there had been a few moments when I could have documented (just a little) the main exhibits at the Block. The paintings and photographs are well worth lingering over. Anyone viewing them will be rewarded, I think.

I was there, obviously, for the book exhibit in the glass case (2nd floor). Janine’s display is elegant, needless to say. That’s what she does.

Ian Finley, our 2012 Piedmont poet laureate was also there to give his first reading of the year. It was a substantial introduction to his work – which means he uses words so well and made me want to explore Thomas Hardy again.

When you are going good

September 16, 2009


Originally uploaded by SOFennell

I never come back to a blank page. I always finish about half way through. To be confronted with a blank page is not very nice. But Hemingway, a great American writer, taught me the finest trick when you are doing a long book which is, he simply said in his own words ‘When you are going good, stop writing.’ And that means if everything’s going well and you know exactly where the end of the chapters going to go
and you know just what the people are going to do, you don’t go on writing and writing
until you come to the end of it because when you do then you say, well, where am I going to go next? And you get up and you walk away and you don’t want to come back because you don’t know where you want to go. But if you stop when you are going good, as Hemming way said, when you are going good, stop! And you know what you are going to say next, but you make yourself stop, put your pencil down, and everything, and you walk away. And you can’t wait to get back because you know what you want to say next and that’s lovely and you have to try and do that. Every time, everyday all the way through the year. If you stop when you are stuck, then you are in trouble.

Roald Dahl

I’m not stuck, but I have found that referencing this idea very helpful in keeping the momentum going.

Sei Shonagon/清少納言

July 21, 2008

Hotaru (fireflies) are still around even into the late evening, although they are not so abundant. I am still captive to their little lantern lights.

Sei Shonagon in her Pillow Book, (Makura no Shoushi /枕草子) mentions them in her description of summer:


Natsu wa yoru, tsuki no koro wa sara nari, yami monaho hotaru tobichiga hitaru, ame nado no furusahe o kashi.

In summer the nights. Not only when the moon shines, but on dark nights too, as the fireflies flit to and fro, and even when it rains, how beautiful it is!  (translation by Ivan Morris)

Some of the words in this reading are:

(夏) なつ・ natsu – summer, () よる・yoru – night, (月) つき・tsuki – moon, (蛍) ほたる・hotaru – fireflies and (雨)あめ・ame – rain

I’m finding in my research that there are variations in the text (even in Japanese!), but the main idea is still there.


April 29, 2008

だいみょうを  Daimyoo o The daimyo

馬から おろす Uma kara orosu dismounts from his horse

さくら かな! Sakura kana! It’s Cherry blossoms!

Another haiku, but it reminds me so much of the silly folktale (mukashibanashi) called Hanasakajiji, the old man who made the flowers bloom. Who stops to admire the sakura and gets ash all over himself? There were some sad, sad elements to this story and my students thought it was ridiculous and unfair. It wasn’t what they were expecting. Not all stories have romantic happy endings. And I think their reactions are funny.

Wabi Sabi

April 22, 2008

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

One of my classroom topics last week and this was Wabi Sabi, that intimate moment when you encounter nature, a piece of art or an ordinary object you may see on a daily basis that gives you a sense of transience. It’s more than that. Leonard Koren discusses it in depth in his book on the topic. To put it in a nutshell, as I did today, it’s “the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.”…”things modest and humble” and “things unconventional.”

We went from this idea into a short look at haiku and then quickly before the bell rang you know what I assigned for homework. But before all of that happened, we also looked at a couple of haiku, one from Basho and the other a Buson. The one that I found particularly appropriate for the day was the one by Buson:

春雨や Harusame ya

物語り行く Monogatari yuku

蓑と 傘 Mino to kasa

I think there are various ways to translate this one.

Spring rain

talking and walking (or telling stories and talking) go

raincoat & umbrella (which refer to a man dressed in an old straw raincoat and woman with an umbrella)

It’s been an off and on rainy day today and the images just seemed to suit.


March 30, 2008


見るところ 花に あらずと云ふことなし、
思ふところ月にあらずと 云ふことなし

Miru tokoro hana ni arazu to iu koto nashi,
omou tokoro tsuki ni arazu to iu koto nashi

There is nothing you can see that is not a flower;
There is nothing you can think that is not the moon.


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