Posts Tagged ‘spring’

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.


in the dirt

April 23, 2015

Lots of scratching in the dirt, digging deep holes, transplanting and planting seeds.

raised beds! finally!

raised beds! finally!

This is just a beginning.

Polygonum tinctorium seedlings

Polygonum tinctorium seedlings

They’ve grown a wee bit since the last entry.

"scum" on the vat's surface

“scum” on the vat’s surface

Keeping my eye on the vat, always as it hasn’t had much activity lately.  The days are warming up though and there’s promise.

potential for blue

April 16, 2015

I won’t mention it (rehtaew eht). I know I’m always talking about it, but I’m so dependent on what “it” does. It can’t be helped.

Woad flower

Woad flower

One of the many blossoms opening this week – woad. It grew from seed (Milkweed seed).   I thought it would never take off last year.  Yet, here is one result after this winter’s ice and snow. This is the best of the bunch, so it looks like chances are good for an abundant seed harvest (I hope).

I see lots of potential here.

I see lots of potential here.

It’s past the time for harvesting the leaves – should have done that last year. My plants were so small. It’s a biennial, giving good leaves one year (for the dye), flowers and seeds the next. I’m learning.

first indigo sprouts of the season

first indigo sprouts of the season

On the other hand, new indigo sprouts – just this week. They’ll need to mature a bit before transplanting into a new bed.

Consider this entry a little sprout – sometimes it’s difficult to articulate the words, in a sensible manner, for all of the life that goes around.  This is a little something, but one of the many that makes the day, the week or the season…well worth the living.

Outdoors – it’s the season

April 9, 2015

It’s probably a good thing I document the days in some fashion. Otherwise, I might forget and think I did nothing.

cotton tunics deeply dipped in that only blue

cotton tunics deeply dipped in that only blue

Actually, the days have been full, with dye work, dipping between the raindrops. Fortunately, it has been more sun than drops, until today. It could be next week before this order is complete.

the fat woad that will oon give me an abundance of seeds

the fat woad that will soon give an abundance of seeds

Dye work leads me into my yard, where I seek out new blooms, sprouts and other related discoveries. The weeds are in abundance, the rabbits are already showing interest in some of my new plants and the familiar nest is back on the same shelf in the garage. So far, no inhabitants, but the nest may still be in progress.

on a shelf in my garage among bottles & boxes of dye supplies - made of pine needles, crape myrtle seeds & old leaves - the birds "fussed" at me the other day while I worked at the vat.  Was I intruding?

on a shelf in my garage among bottles & boxes of dye supplies – made of pine needles, crape myrtle seeds & old leaves – the birds “fussed” at me the other day while I worked at the vat. Was I intruding?

I’m raking leaves and old pine needles, weeding, planning beds, starting seeds and adding a few new perennials for added color and  attracting butterflies – just getting started.

Mixed in is continued planning and preparations for upcoming workshops this spring and summer. Then, there are personal explorations, some are serendipitous, responding to the seasons,  and then others are more involved – questions to be resolved, a theme or story…and this is the season.

生きている・It lives

March 19, 2015

Ai wa ikiteiru.
Indigo lives./Indigo is living.

That idea is expressed in so many places, Japanese, in books on websites…. It derives from the fact that there is living bacteria in the vat. So, the vat could be approached or seen as a living being. If it’s living, it also has a spirit, hence, the need for respect, care and maybe a little awe.

where conversations take place

where conversations take place

Why did I write that? It keeps appearing in my readings. Though, the feeling is there when I’m working with it. I can feel the life and its expression. It was very much that way as I struggled to pull color with it this week. Was it sad or just cold? Had I neglected it or was it hungry? We do have our “moments” and all I can surmise is that we’re in seasonal transition and that must have an affect.

Still, enough color was managed for beginning sample work for upcoming spring and summer workshops. I feel the need to walk through what my students will be making, especially my younger ones. So, that process has begun.



Working with those basic techniques, practicing – it never gets old, and there are always questions about the vat, technique and imagery.

The Workshop pages are also in development as more information is updated. Also, as I’ve created a new site, Oriba Shibori, my old site, Susan Fennell Studio will no longer be in service in a few weeks. I’ve already changed out most of my links.

The new season is nearly here and it’s also full of life – so much to be anticipated.

Argentine sage

Argentine sage – first signs – also a deep blue flower.

in a blink

March 12, 2015

In a blink of an eye it feels like spring has arrived. Daffodils are in bloom and my bluebells won’t be far behind. The warm temperatures and sun have made it possible to complete a dye job that has lingered since last month.

enjoying their shape & color

enjoying their shape & color

Daphne survived the ice and cold temps.

Daphne survived the ice and cold temps.

I enjoy each one that comes along, but it seems there was more variation in the fibers in this particular order. There was a tunic in an airy silk/cotton blend, another feather light silk tunic (with ruffles and ties), and a soft rayon top. They took the dye beautifully and had no trouble achieving the depth of blue that was requested. There were more and they were just as delicious.

silk tunic

silk tunic

Each piece had an unexpected richness, it seems. It simply continues to reaffirm the wonder of the dye, its color and the challenges it presents.

over dyed embroidery on a cotton blouse

over dyed embroidery on a cotton blouse

It was a pleasure to finally mail the box of goods off to my customer this morning. I suppose it marks the end of winter work. Now, on to spring. It calls.

There are workshops afoot, continued planning and preparation for the upcoming seasons. There is much to look forward to. I find though, that those spaces between events are equally important – one needs time for stillness, quiet, making it possible for exploration, invention…or maybe just dipping.

花の宴・Hana no En

April 18, 2014

A phrase that keeps coming to mind, from my usual resource (for haiku and similar), is 「春高楼の花の宴」・はるこうろうの はなの えん・haru kourou no hana no en. In researching its meaning, reference to a song appeared repeatedly and finally found that it is the first line to Kōjō no Tsuki – “Moon over the Ruined Castle”. It seems to allude to Cherry blossom viewing parties (in the castle tower?) and the abundance or “feast of flowers” – something like that.


blooms at the NC Japan Center


In any event, the phrase hana no en (feast of flowers) seems appropriate to our current season and nature’s abundant response to this past winter. That sense spilled over onto the last weekend’s events – Slow Art Day and the current exhibit at the NC Japan Center.


Wild North Carolina Wisteria

Junko Yamada - Harie

Junko Yamada – Harie

Slow Art Day must have taken everyone outdoors (the weather was superb!) as numbers of visitors to the Gregg was “meager”, but still the quality of the visits and experience made it worth the effort and time – engaging conversations and good food! Later I moved on to the Japan Center and Junko Yamada’s Harie.

Her collages are a unique approach to working with paper (extremely meticulous). She lends a deeply personal perspective as she explores hidden treasures in what seem to be “old Japan” as well as speaking of home, the environment and the ephemeral.

Summer Garden

Summer Garden

My personal favorite was her latest, Summer Garden. It feels so familiar.

the spell

April 3, 2014
Sakura & Bee/桜と蜂

Sakura & Bee/桜と蜂

Mother Nature cast her spell this week. I think the show has peaked for this blossom, but I’ve relished every moment. I’ve been under the tree everyday, looking at it from different vantage points and taking pictures. I do this every year.

Mid-afternoons, the bumblebees do their work, so the tree has been thick with their humming and activity. It’s 花見 (hana mi/flower viewing) for all of us.

celebrating small

celebrating small

The moment within the season needed marking in some small way and I also needed to make a stitch sample – testing the cloth and my stitches.

Pattern work


The sun finally came out, warming things up, making it possible to work outdoors – some dye work, some yard work. I’m thinking of possibilities not just in the cloth but also the garden.  The days aren’t quite long enough in this season.

seasonal considerations

March 27, 2014


The buds survived…obviously and are opening slowly. I’m savoring every minute of their bloom time.

Tsubaki springpattern1

Before their blooming though, there were (and still are) Tsubaki (椿) – camellia. I happened to catch a program on the topic on NHK  recently.   The discussion was not just about the different varieties and patterns on the flower, but the context in form (used in making desserts) and textile patterns.  It gave me pause to reflect on the patterns used in shibori and what manifests. This one (above) may not reflect that particular flower, but as I worked at the vat this week, the pattern emerged and saw some connections.

Vat time was brief this week due to cooler temps and rain again, so I focused instead on preparing cloth for an upcoming demo at Artspace (First Friday in April) – it’s listed on my Workshops page. If, by chance you happen to be in the area, don’t hesitate to come by.

At the same time, I’m working on a few seasonal items for the Herbfest in Cary (May).   It’s a day long event – outdoors and sunshine (we hope!).  More details about this can be found on my Events page.

Springpatterns2A spatterns3B pattrns4A

Warmer weather and sunshine are just around the corner, I know it – so much to look forward to. While I enjoy the indoor prep, I also look forward to further explorations in the dye studio (which will take me out into the garden), upcoming events (where I hope we will encounter) and workshops upcoming (again, hope to see you there!).

a new day, a new season

March 20, 2014
Sakura bud & ice

Sakura bud & ice

Will this bud survive the ice? I’ll have to wait to see. Someone recently said that winter doesn’t seem to want to let go. Perhaps not, The damp cold seeped into the house and it rained ice pellets for a good deal of the day. The grip might be a bit unusual for this area, but I have no complaints. It will heat up soon enough, so I’ve enjoyed the respite (sort of) – time away from the yard to focus on craft.

Flower arranging basket

Flower arranging basket

Exactly a week ago, I revisited the Gregg’s exhibit of Utagawa Kunisada’s prints and other pieces in their collection related to Japan. It’s an eclectic assortment of “bits and pieces” with those prints – pottery, a kimono, a flower arranging basket (stained with kakishibu?), ikat samples in indigo, an itajime board and other items under consideration (for discussion) for a couple of upcoming events a little later into spring.

1st day of spring

1st day of spring

Today, finally the sun. The rain and ice have moved on (for the moment), so things had to stop – to celebrate this first day of the new season. It seems appropriate.

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