Posts Tagged ‘silk’

a peek

May 25, 2011

Dusty Rose Silk

I finally handed it back today – she loved it – makes my day!

I will still post a picture or two of her wearing it, but that isn’t for a while yet. That’s the part I really like – seeing it worn – in context.

fait accompli

May 4, 2011

fait accompli

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

It is indeed, finally, a fait accompli! It cannot be undone or reversed (so says Webster’s). I’ve been working on the idea since February, always holding a visual idea of it in mind. It really couldn’t be done until conditions were right – familiarity with technique, the dye and its interaction with the fabric involved, and then the weather.

The weather has also been a factor. A warm, sunny, not too hot, preferably spring like with not too many distracting insects was wanted. Yesterday was it. I also knew that it would be turning cooler with rain today. So, the sooner the better….

The morning was spent setting up: laying out tools, tubs, buckets, spoons, brushes, timer, camera and dye, and the dress was put in water for pre-soaking. A pulley was rigged up in hopes of holding it over the dye vat (that was the theory and a good one I’m sure), and then finally it was immersed into the vat where the dye was slowly added while timing it in sequence.

In spite of a springy clothesline (this is where the pulley didn’t work), the sought for dusty rose ombre was managed and that was a huge relief. The dress was rinsed, later washed and draped over the clothesline for the rest of the day. So, the work is basically complete. There are some finishing details to attend to and again; I’d like clear weather for good light.

Perhaps, also in the future, we can see the dress in its full context.  That’s a few months away, but not so far off and I’ll look forward to it.


June 27, 2010

silk scarves

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

花火・Hanabi or fireworks is what came to mind when I saw the resulting red. My son also made a similar remark. These things come to mind in this steamy heat. It is 祭り・matsuri (festival) season. I didn’t have that imagery in mind originally, but it works in several contexts I think and I’ll bear it in mind later this summer.

Actually, I was exploring my ability to produce a readable image on silk through stitch. I had attempted a something similar earlier and was frustrated and disappointed with the results. So, again, this time, it was an experiment and I knew it might fail (for so many reasons). I also wanted to work with other colors along with indigo. So, it turned into a closer look at working with silk as well as color and dye theory. The results gave me much more information than I expected and so many things to ponder. So, probably more “studies” are in the offing.

October workshop

October 23, 2009


Originally uploaded by SOFennell

Stunning is one of many words I might use to describe the environment I’ve been in the last couple of days. There are many others and I don’t know which one describes it best. Needless to say, it was, culturally, a different environment from ones I’ve encountered before. It was delicious to say the least.

Classes in this particular situation, at this time, were small and that makes a difference in any teaching situation. As a result, I was much more at ease and informal in my approach.

I was there to introduce them to indigo dyeing, shibori and as an extra added “bonus, ” silk. If I could have toted silkworms, I would have, but I did bring along images, silk cocoons and a few hankies.

It seemed the students were very receptive to these short workshops and enjoyed the results from their brief exercises. We began with silk handkerchiefs as a warm up to the process, then moved on to the challenge of working with a larger scarf. In some cases, they were very “gymnastic” with their approach, but the results were bold and exciting (which is probably why I like working with students).

Workshop Prep

October 20, 2009


Originally uploaded by SOFennell

The last couple of days have been filled with organizing, planning and packing up what I need for only 2 days, but six mini-workshops for 9th graders in a nearby high school.

It’s my first series in this school year, and like being able to start out with my favorite subject matter, aizome shibori. I also enjoy the age group, so it should be an enjoyable experience.

They’ll be introduced to the indigo dye vat working with silk scarves and handkerchiefs. This also gives me an opportunity to introduce the topic of silk production and I’m looking forward to that.

Indigo day

September 11, 2009


Originally uploaded by SOFennell

My horoscope this morning indicated that summer isn’t over yet, not by a long shot. I didn’t need to “consult” that aspect of the paper to figure that out. We’d planned this day some time ago, so I hoped for good weather and it did work in our favor. The cicadas were not so strong, but their lament still hung in the air.

We focused as usual on the indigo and what kinds of patterns we could create on the silk by dyeing and then over dyeing, sometimes several times over. I was amazed to see the subtleties and the depth of hue.

We took a light lunch break: salad and bread with a fruity drink topped with a sprig of mint. Then we went back to work. The day passed quickly but I think the results were quite satisfying.

Taking a day like this reinforces (for me) the necessity of not getting too deeply entrenched in my usual production efforts (ie. prepping for schools). I’m finding that a few hours with friends keeps things fresh and engaging. I also gain inspiration and innovative approaches to my daily activity.

The silkie moths & their eggs

July 2, 2009

Laying eggs 1

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

I have to hand it to the Chinese, Japanese and other cultures who have it all figured out, so that it’s a neater and more manageable process. I’d like to improve on it but that will take some time. In the meantime, things are really, finally coming to a close for the season.

Most of the eggs have been laid and it seems as though most of them have also been fertilized (they are the dark ones). They were a light yellow then went to a blue. Some are still in that transitional state. So, I’m finally collecting them for refrigeration and starting to clean up the mess. I hope to have it all tidied up over the weekend, as I’m traveling to Florida for a family visit in the very near future.

A silkworm haiku by Issa:

mura naka ni kigen toraruru kaiko kana

the whole village
pays them court…


June 12, 2009


Originally uploaded by SOFennell

At this point, I’ve come full circle (or cycle) from the time I started this little venture last spring. Beth gave me some of her cocoons at the school year’s end and I brought them home to await the next and last aspect of this cycle.

At this point, I have 30 cocoons and expect to have 50 or maybe a few less (depends on the outcome). It’ll be roughly 2 weeks before hatching, so there’s still more of a wait before I’m back to the beginning (with even more eggs – yikes!).

So, the questions still remains: what to do with the cocoon? That’s something I have yet to experience and isn’t that the point of all this?


June 8, 2009


Originally uploaded by SOFennell

This was taken as it was still being spun. At this stage the cocoon was thin enough to see the “worm” still working. Today, it’s thicker but still a soft yellow. I’d hoped to see the others follow suite, but they are taking their time.

In the meantime, I watch them periodically and make sure they still get fed several times a day. My routine has also slowed these last few days.

I’ve virtually cleaned out my side of the classroom, although I’ll return one more day to do some last bit of cleaning, taking end of year inventory and packing up the old textbooks. There’s also the end of year faculty reception and graduation yet to attend. These final events will occur a little later in the week. I’m also making changes at home in my “studio” area as well.

Since I did all of my language lesson planning at home, most of my resources were here, so they are slowly being displaced by my art resources. So, basically, I’ve been cleaning and reorganizing over these last few days. It’s a slow process and I’m not in any hurry.

I also enjoy stopping periodically (with a cup of tea) to catch up on a little “J” TV like Tenchijin, Furusato or my daily asa dora (15 min. soap), Tsubasa.

U. S. Sericulture

December 26, 2008
Piece dyeing of silk.

Piece dyeing of silk.

This is an excerpt from an article on sericulture that included a brief history of its attempts in the U.S.:

“Sericulture has also been attempted in the United States, but these endeavors have been sporadic and largely unsuccessful. Sericulture was carried on to some extent by the early colonists of Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia, and was introduced into New England about 1660. In 1831, a manual on sericulture was published by J.H. Cobb, copies of which were purchased by the Congress of the United States for distribution by members. Following publication of this book, there was a determined effort to establish silk culture on a firm basis in the United States. This interest in silk culture soon led to what was known as the “Mormus multicaulis craze.” Anticipating a most profitable investment, if not speedy riches, thousands of individuals purchased mulberry plants of the M. multicaulis species and planted large areas of valuable land. The investments far exceeded possible returns, and heavy frosts destroyed plantations of trees. In the course of a few years, many failures and great disappointments caused so complete a revulsion of feeling that silk culture was practically abandoned all through the States. However, because confederate cotton was unavailable during and shortly after the Civil War, the Union States were forced to seek a new source of fiber. Thus in 1869, Professor L. Trouvelot, an American naturalist, brought eggs of the gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar (L.), from France to Massachusetts. Trouvelot had hoped to produce a commercial source of silk by developing a hardy race of silk-producing insects, crossing the gypsy moth with the silkworm moth, in order to control wilt disease (or flancheria) then causing severe problems in some silkworm industries. However, during the course of his experiments, some of the eggs were lost and some of the caterpillars escaped from his home. Although this accident was made public at the time it did not receive much attention even though the gypsy moth was immediately recognized as a pest. Since its introduction into the Boston area over a century ago, the gypsy moth has greatly expanded its range and become one of North America’s most serious forest pests, defoliating large areas of canopy every year.

In spite of these earlier failures at sericulture in the United States, several more attempts at sericulture were made in California from the 1860’s through the early 1900’s. California sericulturists even advocated the commercial rearing of the native ceanothus silk moth, Hyalophara euryalus (Boisduval), as a possible source of silk until Felix Gillet in 1879 showed that the cocoons could not be reeled satisfactorily. Although some silk was produced in California during this time, most sericulture attempts failed and sericulture never became permanently established in the state.”

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