Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Autumn 2013 Spring 2014 Indigo Workshops in Japan

I have had dozens of people travel from overseas to Japan and come stay at the farmhouse and explore the world of Japanese textiles. Some are textile veterans. Some have been super nervous first time travellers to Asia.

Some savvy textile designers themselves, others who want to be textile designers testing the waters of the textile world. Others have had no real interest in textiles but want to do something meaningful in Japan besides look at shrines and temples.

The house is like a large wooden cocoon itself. It is creaky and cozy. There are plenty of spaces to be together and plenty of spaces to be by yourself.  Food tastes good with so much green out the windows.  Sleep is deep even when the rain is pounding off the metal roof. It is packed with looms and textile related stuff. 

I didn't start this blog to use as a business advertisement platform.  I wanted/needed to create a narrative of my work and life and knowledge here in Japan so I could move upwards and grow. This blog is a kind of nourishment supplement to my life.  For the time being, the workshops I run for guests from around the world are also a nourishment source. I'll put this post up every few weeks to advertise for workshop participants for the fall of 2013 and the spring of 2014. I apologize to regular blog readers and beg their indulgence while they pass over this if it does't interest them. 

If you are interested in visiting Japan this autumn or next spring and spending some time here in the mountains near Tokyo exploring Japanese traditional textiles, take a look at the link below. 




Seven Weeks Near the Indigo Vat

Henri has returned to Finland and he has his presentation to his teachers and fellow students on what he accomplished in his seven weeks in Japan today. Helsinki time.

Henri's welcome party at Ukai with Aiko, Anneke and Mini.

I wanted him to get an understanding of how to make and maintain a hydro-sulphate indigo vat, dye with a Japanese fermentation vat, get a few shibori techniques under his belt, cut and use some katazome stencils, do some weaving with indigo-dyed thread on a Japanese loom, (Ridiculously small for a Scandinavian pirate.) make some Japanese bags, reel some cocoons, etc.

Some of his work:

Indigo experiment.

Carefully stitched sashiko on linen he stencil dyed.

His originally drawn and carved stencil on antique linen.

Delicate sample piece of white-shadow shibori on antique linen.

He brought some old linen thread form his grandfather's barn and dyed it indigo with kasuri and wove it on his weaving cards.

Stitched and bound shibori part two.

Rice paste resisting his stencil at the indigo katazome master's studio.

Sketching a stencil before carving.

I also wanted him to absorb a whole lot of Japanese culture. I think he went back with a full mind. I've been in Japan 25 years. That is a long time. A lot of books and experiences and work. I try to pass on as much as I can without being a bloody pain in the ass. 

I replied to someones inquiry on a previous post that if you are interested in coming to Japan for a few months to live in and study these techniques with me please drop a line, give me some background details and I will let you know what I expect, the costs, time I have open and possibilities.  Curiosity and good hygiene are the only real prerequisites.

Henri and Mini harvesting in the tea field. I missed Snoopy running through the rows this year but Henri and Mini filled the Snooperoo four-legged void with their four legs and their leafytails.

Henri,  we miss you and we all wish you the best with your textile future and all events in your life.
Love from Mini, Anneke, Hiro, Shuji, Momo and Geiger, Mukade, myself and everyone.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Striped Pleated Bound Shibori

Henri and Mini continue to make some wonderful work. I show them the technique and they work diligently away and flawlessly dye these pieces. Henri's seven weeks have flown by and we are all saddened thinking that his gracious vikinghood will not be present. He is finishing up last minute projects and longing to see his family and friends back in Finland.
Mini and Henri are big Studio Ghibli fans and they were lucky that Takahata san and crew were here to do a little filming and sound recording and they could have Facebook pictures of the week.

Mini was so elegant in a Meiji period indigo kimono at tea ceremony lesson yesterday. She had watched and mastered and performed with charm.  We are all going to miss her when she goes back to Singapore. I'll photograph and document all the work these two have done in the past months. I wonder what happens to all the indigo dyeing they have worked on? Do they give some away? Does it go in a drawer and pulled out for memories? I imagine they will always remember Momo and Geiger and they flood of guests they have shared the indigo vats with. I suppose a few pieces will be with them for most of their lives as mementos of the time they spent here in Japan when they were young.

And the viking falls out the window taking the group picture yesterday.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Colorado Indigo Mujeres

Jessica lived in Tokyo with her husband a few years back. She moved to Colorado but kept her love of things Japanese. She wanted to share her experiences in Japan with her friends. She contacted me and they all dropped by for five days for the whirlwind of whirlwind indigo courses.
They were very productive. Was it the perfect spring weather or just their easy going natures? I don't know but it was a stress-free memorable time spent together.
Thank you Jessica for bringing your friends, JM, Catherine, Susan and Carol by. And thank you Carol for bringing Opal as well. Here she is hanging out on the lighting upstairs. Diane from Quebec rounded the days off well. I see an indigo vat appearing in Montreal some time soon with Diane at the stir stick.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Mini and the Viking

Mini from Singapore and Henri from Finland are staying at the house for two months to study Japanese textiles. Everyone here is in love with them. They have a month or so left and already I am saddened to know that they will leave. Mini is liquid sunshine and Henri keeps us smiling with stories of huskies, (His family has 70 huskies and sleds.)

This is the first time to have some one stay here for an extended time and studying and  it is great fun. They both are learning the ins and outs of indigo dyeing and Japan and having a great time with the other students and friends coming and going through the house. They are part of life here. It has been so enjoyable that from this summer I will take students who want to come and stay for a few months. If you are interested just write and give me some background and ask me for the details.

Mini is very productive. These four linen scarves are masterpieces. I show her the technique, we talk about design and she is off into the night, stitching and binding and dyeing until all hours. 

Henri asks, "What is wrong with these Japanese? They study for 50 years to make a good cup of tea for the tea ceremony. I did it in two minutes."

The indigo planted by Blandina and friends last spring is now fermented into indigo balls. I finished these up yesterday. It takes a year from seed to indigo balls. This years indigo has been planted and already sprouting.