This year, we are teaching BOTH mandala shibori AND itajime techniques in a three-day course. Mandalas basically being circular patterns which display different magnitudes of symmetry. Itajime shibori is an ancient japanese technique, but I initially approached it for a different reason. For me, the initial attraction was the fact that it is also repeated mandalas, if you look at it that way. And also the fact that Japanese width fabric lends itself so perfectly to such a technique!
Today, I completed this panel which combines both techniques in one work. The central mandala is 6 points in the middle, doubling to 12 points partway thru. Anybody who knows me and my work knows I love and prefer 6 and variables thereof, like 12 and 24. Six is displayed in nature in crystals of ice, and elsewhere, and the 12-point mandala surrounded by six-pointers seen in the itajime pattern (hard to make out clearly with this one, too many colors) is a basic representation of the structure within certain energy flow models. Sacred geometry, baby!
Granted, our first pieces don’t have to go the full nine-yards like this one did. We will learn and practice on both silk and cotton, steadily and repetitively over the three days. You will certainly get the practice needed to retain the technique, so you you can take it with you and make it your own! : ) Everybody should dye mandalas!! It’s too fun!We are still looking for more students, so if you think you are interested, get in touch! : )
There’s the link below.
Check it out! This was surprising, took me a bit to figure out what we were looking at. I was really dumb-founded at first. For some reason, I was thinking deer (lots of deer pellets in the mountains all around my house recently – that’s a new development, new to the past few years)…..but then I would think, “no way deer could construct such an intricate thing”…..
So, I was walking up the slope with a friend the other day, observing stuff and havin’ fun, and we stumbled on this. A concave depression created of similar size branches, some soft bark, no doubt, a bed. A monkey bed!! Really well made, i was blown away by the mental process this entailed….really blown away….made the point that monkeys are really not far, or should I say we haven’t gone all as far as we seem to feel we have come, away from the animal monkey state……was kind of mind-blowing.
What was also kind of funny was the fact that this monkey bed was surprisingly close to our own house, and even to the space where we ,as a family , sleep. Because we sleep on the 2nd floor, and this nest was just up on the slope from our house, in reality, fifty meters or so, and sort of at the same elevated level. Really sort of made it hit home in a different way. Not only are the monkeys sort of like us, eerily similar, but they are even sleeping in the same area!! Kind of like it’s the quiet area where all we animals gather to sleep. Helps one feel like maybe they are a bit more “beastly” than we would like to imagine…….
Hahahaha!!! Crazy monkeys……I wonder if they are there tonight, in th rain. I’m sure this nest helps them to stay elevated just enuf off the ground to stay a bit warm. I can imagine them all huddled and sleeping en mass…..
Went up there again with my sons to show them. Here’s a goofy monkey I caught in the nest……
Uh….adddy?…can I get out now?
OK, here it is. I’ve found it. It’s the difference. The difference between Japan and the rest of the world…..at least the world that I came from…..the US. This is it. The difference. Distilled out. In it’s pure form…….
This is an article I cut from thje paper on january 20. (OK, a while ago…..). It portrays the 3rd year JrHS students of a local school dstrict taking thir desk and chair down to the river for a washing. These are the desk and chair which they themselves have used for three years, basically their homeroom desk. They are washing it and in doing so trying to show the desk their appreciation, their gratefulness. They are graduating this year, and so it’s a sort of Thank you/goodbye thing……
Can you even imagine this in the states? Or anything similar? Somehow, I can’t………
Although I am sure there are plenty of good kids there, who would respond to this type of thing……..and see the point……not consider it an exercise in futility, nor think it old-fashioned………
Sometimes, we come across diamond in the rough……this time, I think I may have hit it again!
I go to antique shops, fairs….I’m incorridgeable!
Well, this is a set of pieces that I found at one said antique shop which I frequent, in Mino, the city next to ours, known for it’s old town and paper industry. The walls of the cafe section of the shop are lined with these printing blocks, and they were always intriguing.
Upon inquiring about them quite a ways back, I found that they were from an old napkin business in Gifu City, an hour downriver of here. And that there were more to be had! Gifu is a textile and paper area, so this made sense. This dealer had bought the whole lot, numbering in the hundreds. The company was printing personalized napkins for restaurants in Europe, and some of the plates had wholes to insert and change names. You can see one such plate which i got below.
The plates were carved in the Meiji and Taisho eras and are well over 100 years old. One or two which still had the restaurant names left in had places from Spain inserted. Since the plates were used for printing, they all had printing inks left on them; some blue, some pink,evry color represented! But it just seems to make them more interesting, more bizarre and other-worldly.
Each of these plates is remarkable on many levels, considering design, overall sculptural qualities and historical providence. Really something we may never have the chance to own again! (that’s right! You TOO could own one…squeeky wheel!) Please look at better photos of some of th plates at my Facebook page.
Really, diamond in the rough….seed for wondering…..the beginning of a new episode in the life of an old object…..
Was talking in the car the other day with my wife’s mom, and we were talking skiing. And Grandma told us about skiing when she was little, and that they had skis made of bamboo. I envisioned someone skiing on slices of thick, green bamboo, maybe the slices splayed out a bit to make them flatter…..I wasn’t sure, but imagined that skiing on bamboo skis must have been slick and fast!
Then, about a week later, while I was putting something up into one of our storage areas, I made an amusing discovery. I have such a pair of skis!!
I love old wooden tools and devices, and I have picked up numerous things over the years here. Often there are interesting and intriguing pieces which I am not even sure what they are! Well, sitting in an old rice hamper with lots of other long, thin tools was this pair of old skis! I had until now suspected that they were some type of snowshoe……but now I know!!
….a wooden board with thin strips of bamboo nailed on underneath, leather straps to hold them in place……..!!!
These originally came from the house we are living in b4 it was moved here, over in Fukui Prefecture, a snowy area.
I have another pair of skis, also. Don’t even exactly remember wherer these ones came from, thy’ve been in my storage for aeons it seems…..
Again, proof that everything is relative……..
Happy skiing , y’all!!
Fabric is incredible. Never ceases to amaze me, teach me, tell me stories.
One of today’s revelation began with this hemp, purple kasuri (ikat) hemp from a very old kimono.
I have been pulling a lot of stuff out recently in a never ending attempt to pare down, get rid of some of the stuff I have accumulatd over the years. There is a lot of fabric. I was photographing and measuring this piece, etc etc , to eventually get it up on Etsy when I noticed something very interesting.
I have had lots of these machine-woven kasuri-like fabrics. Kasuri, also known as ikat in Indonesia, is a painstaking process of dyeing the threads b4hand so as to affect patterns and motifs in the woven fabric. Just found out on wikipedia that kasuri (Japanese-style ikat) is weft ikat. The weft is resist dyed first to create the pattern (in other versions, the warp is resist dyed).
Well, i assumed that this was more of the same, fake ikat. But then I got to looking closer. At first, I noticed by looking at the “coins” in the pattern, and the chords, that the pattern was minutely different in each coin or chord. When they are printed or woven using programs, every minute detail in the repeating pattern is identical. These ones were highly variable.
Then I got to looking at the selvidge, the edges of the fabric. Completely uneven, as you can see in the photo below. And then my inkling started coming to light. No, it couldn’t be….Looked closely at the weaving in the fabric. Not exactly delicate, almost deliberate….Is that a tie-off? Looks like where the string broke and they added a new string in there…..has the fatness of two strings just for a bit there….nubby hemp….but a stable, seasoned hand, for sure…no lack of skill….
But, I got to thinking about where the fabric came from, the old inn, a place which I salvaged in the spring. And remembered how all the fabrics which came out of there were of the utmost quality. (this lady had TASTE and these people had YEN!) And my inkling grew to a feeling!
This is handloomed~! This is homespun!! This is incredible!!
I look at the fabric and think, there’s no WAY I could ever pull something like this off! It must have driven the weaver plumb batty! And there is a whole kimonos worth, altogether over 10 meters. I sat and thought. Imagine weaving a whole bolt of this stuff!!
There’s no way. If I were to weave the bolt and had to put a price on it, the thing would be about $100,000! There’s no way a “modern person” (in their right mind) would even consider…yes, I know, some folks still do weave….but it’s hard to imagine, to putr a face to it and imagine someone doing this as a menas to make a kimono, let alone as a means to make money.
Have we changed that much in the 100 or so years since this fabric was woven? I’m afraid that we really have……and it could be dismaying…..but I’m sure we’re not completely beyond repair. I am quite sure of that!
At first, the objects seem quite mundane, quite one-dimensional. Fabric. So what? How much fabric do we have in the world? It’s become too commonplace, somewhat trite almost. So easy to disregard, like it’s a given part of the landscape.
But look a little deeper and things seem to expand, grow dimensionally, in stature and in import. What was once a point is now a plane, next a cosmos! Did something come from nothing?! Or was it the change in viewpoint, change of perspective, change in merely the attitude of the observer,which seems to have changed the very object itself?
Can see both uneven edges and the sort of “approximate” placement of the rows of color for the pattern.
There’s a link to ths fabric being sold on Etsy!! Go get it b4 someone does first!
Tie-dye is random by nature, right? But I am Mr. Anal, trying to show that it CAN be controlled. Mr. Control Freak. I WILL make happen what I want!!
Today, i was cleaning up some old partially-dyed/abandoned peices and i ran across this pair of half-length Thai fisherman’s pants, which were dyed a mottled green with areas of white left in. The green was quite light, and I thought it looked like it could be altered with some bleach and made lighter, thereby facilitating over-dyeing. So, being the lazy dude i am, I turned on the washer, threw her in and sprinkled some “kitchen bleach” over it. turned it over and sprinkled more. I was expecting the bleach to disperse in the water and bleach this baby out a bit more all-around.
And there’s the irony. I put a ton of effort and planning into each peice. This one wasn’t even supposed to be being dyed!! It was being prepared to dye, one step b4! And i get results that I love and probably couldn’t duplicate if I tried, total random success…..makes me wonder if I should stop all that planning and conceptualizing and just whing it like this everytime!! hahahahaha You never know…..