Sunday, 29 May 2011

Naoko's Shibori

Recently students have been producing some wonderful shibori pieces. I did so much shibori ten years ago that I simply burned out not realizing that for students it is new and exciting territory. Here Naoko and her five wonderful Kai kens (with Madam Snoopy) patiently untie some Katano shibori.

And here she produced a wonderful hinode shibori variation.

Woodgrain with background pattern Shibori recipe.

Here are three photos and it is quite easy to figure out how the pattern is created. Wet the cloth before pulling and tying the threads. Pull some tight leave others loose. One centimeter between the lines. Use disappearing aobana pen to draw the lines. You can make a more refined pattern, I've been out of the Shibori loop for a while. Dye and oxydize it 15 times with indigo in good condition.

Uninvited guests

....about 5000 of them. Camped out in my living room and always hungry. (With Snoopy the Silkworm Guard Queen on duty.)

This year is my 15th anniversary of silkworm raising and it seemed reasonable to take a year off as a reward for 15 years of hard work. There are a few thousand unreeled cocoons in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator from last year serving as a stock for reeling demonstrations. There are many kg of silk thread produced from home grown silk cocoons upstairs waiting to be dyed and woven.

Although the mulberry field is in prime condition and it would be a waste not to feed it to something I truly wanted to take a break and use the extra month to work.

Last autumn I purposely did not breed any moths for eggs this spring just in case my parental instinct kicked in as the fresh mulberry leaves open and drink up a light spring rain. Break time. The house construction is not finished. The shop eats up weekends. Too many projects on hold and radiating some guilt kryptonite as I walk through the house and garden. "Finish me...don't forget me... " 2011 was to be the year of no silkworms. Finish up projects and take it slow. No luck.

A month back, Matchan a painter friend showed up at the shop...."What should I do!!!! The eggs hatched and I am too busy to look after them!!!! Help!!"

I had given Matchan a dozen silkworms last year to raise and use as models for a painting. He had let the moths naturally mate and ended up with about 5000 eggs on some newspaper. In his warm painting studio they had hatched.

You can see his cute illustration of this year's silkworm's parents on the object wall in the kitchen.

It is unseasonably cool this year and the only room I can efficiently heat is the living room. They woke up yesterday from their final sleep and are devouring mulberry as fast as I can cut it. There is a typhoon on us now and cutting mulberry in the wind and rain.....wonderful.

Thinking back on all these years at all the adventures (and misadventures) with the whole silk producing processes. It really should get written it down. Something as mundane as silkworms has filled a good part of life's memories with images and emotions. Silver-blue-chilly-dewed early mornings, sweltering hot midnights or a New Year holidays spent in solitude pruning back bare branches in a desolate dry mulberry field.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Love Shibori

A 21 year old guy originally from Siberia was coming and staying at my place regularly pre-tsunami/meltdown. Sergei. He studied Permaculture in Australia and wanted some practical farming experience. He asked if I had some work around my house needed done in exchange for bed and food. (An angel appeared I thought. ) He came out and cut bamboo on the mountain behind my place dramatically opening up some sky space for me. The bamboo looks great so I never thought of cutting it and failed to notice how it had grown in the past 20 years.
He quickly became interested in the indigo vat and all the wonderful things my students were making. He is in love with his Japanese girlfriend Chiaki. Sure enough Cupid had him madly making shibori presents for her. (The power of love....) Here is his first attempt and it turned out beautiful. I always pick up antique Swiss and Austrian Linen at antique markets when I am in Europe. It dyes beautifully. When going to so much work to make something I figure the cloth should be very good from the start.

Was he glowing with happiness from the indigo work or the happiness of making something for his love?

Like many non-Japanese who live here he left suddenly with the reactor meltdown happening only a few hundred km away. Smart move as new trickles out about the severity of the damage. I hope he returns to Japan with Chiaki when it is safer.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

blog gears about to start...

I was up in Miyagi prefecture shoveling tsunami gunk and muck for a while.

I am back at home busy with Spring. My indigo seedlings will need transplanted to the field next week. I have 3000 baby silkworms who need constant feeding and care.

My tea harvest starts next week. The carpentry work upstairs has almost ground to a halt while weeding and cutting grass at the mulberry field and cleaning up the garden and yard are priorities. I put in a few new glass windows today so that I don't get too far away from the renovations.

My students are all working away at indigo and weaving projects. My precious Mac G5 needed a new hard drive and internal disk player. She was down for a month and now back up and ready to cooperate with getting my blog gears engaged.

Thank you to all who sent their kind words of encouragement since the tsunami and nuclear accident. They were much appreciated.