Thursday, 17 May 2018

Time is contagious.

I held four workshops at the farmhouse so far this spring. I have a few week break to harvest tea and catch my breath.

The first three workshops were the regular introduction to indigo use in Japanese textiles. Wonderful easy-going friendly participants. It actually snowed one day in the first workshop. We had a few participants from the southern hemisphere who were really excited to see snow for the first time.

The last workshop was a two-week hanten jacket making course. All eight members were back for the second time or more. It was just wonderful to have a group of eight intelligent talented women at the house.  Special thanks to you Molly, Melissa, Camilla, Harriet, Jacky, Jo, Alex and Sophie. Looking through the pictures this afternoon I was overwhelmed with the hundreds of moments you captured. The house and gardens. The food. The cats and Momo. The indigo dyeing. The construction of the jackets. The immense immense amount of creative effort. Just brilliant. Thank you all. Thank you.

We were all exhausted by the end of two weeks. Sorry.

The mountains and trees transformed day by day.

Busy days. It takes effort to take time to appreciate the transformations around the house. What a show. It is beyond words.

On a sad note...

Many of you have spent time at the magical Noguchi stencil studio with me in Hachioji. 
Mrs Noguchi has been a friend for twenty years. It seems like time stands still in that place. Her friendly no nonsense sturdiness. She was there one day as always greeting and lending a hand, hospitalised the next day. I went to visit her and she looked perfectly fine. We laughed and joked and  teased each other as we have for twenty years.  She went a few days later. Pancreatic cancer.

Her husband and children and grandchildren are in shock. I took the hanten making course there last week and there was a sombreness that hurt our eyes in the hash afternoon light. There was a wistfulness as the day wore on. It was a tough day with everyone working on different jacket projects. I think the husband and son were relieved to have some structure again. No time yet to grieve. Still in shock. We will miss you Fumiko Noguchi.

Some pictures from the hanten making course. Thank you all for the cluster photos. My apologies for not crediting each picture. 

I am so proud of the work produced by you all.

Your storage cubbies waiting for you.

What are we going to make? That first attempt to get it across.

Thank you for helping plant some indigo, safflower and cotton. It is all up now.

I love you all behaving so inconspicuously like the Japanese on the train...

That hot morning at the antique market.

We bought so much stuff we had to box it up and send it by special delivery back to the house.

Our lovely Yazaki san with endless patience. 

And those beautiful jackets came together almost magically.

Each of these individual pictures deserves a story. The days of spring just overwhelm us with beauty and all these flowers and people have such special stories to tell. 

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Lotus & Death & Textiles

At my friends funeral last week a large purple shroud with lotus patterns was held up and its significance explained to the mourners before being placed over his body and before we all gathered around and filled the coffin with flowers before the actual cremation.

Another aspect of Japanese textiles I hadn't given much thought to. Buddhist-influenced funeral related textiles.

Speaking of lotus & death.

Every other year the lotus pots outside the front door need to be turned upside down and the stinky muddy roots untangled and trimmed and replanted. The dirt requires bonemeal and fish fertilizer to grow healthy leaves and flowers.

The love dog of my life, Snoopy, died years back. I had her cremated at a local Zen temple. Just like humans in Japan, her bones are places in a white urn and in a silk lined box. It sounds morbid but I take out a few Snoopy bones and crush them and mix them in the lotus clay every time I re-pot them.

So Snoopy can come back and visit in flower form every summer.

Just as I was sprinkling some Snoopy powder in the pot my friend arrived and she started to shriek!

She thought we were sprinkling my recently deceased neighbor in the pot. 

I quickly let her know it was Snoopy and not Kiyotaka. We had a good laugh.

I remember a lotus stencil I had drawn and was cutting years back. I left it on the floor and Snoopy walked over it and snagged the delicate paper and put holes in it.

It was my stupidity for leaving it on the floor. 

I kept the stencil as it was and used it a few times. I plan to recut it one day.

I used those lotus and their magnificent leaves growing outside the house as motifs for stencils for years. It may be time to use them again this summer when they bloom. 

Lotus flowers grow on the end of long stems like this.

Water lilies bloom near the surface of the water like this:

Lotus season seems far away with a full day of spring snow today. The pets just collapsed near the stove and dreamed of the door back into the spring they were enjoying just days ago.