The Chinese National silk Museum is in a huge and beautiful building.
Here is one of the exhibition spaces. I wonder if our show will be there.
Now I have my business cards made–It is beginning to feel like it is really going to be.
I am going with my very favorite tour guide, Yoshiko Wada, with Slow Fiber Studios. There are two tours with her plus going to the BoND Symposium. The tour before is around the area of Shanghai and the tour after is to the Yi Minority Autonomous Region in Southwest Cina. Yoshiko’s trips are THE BEST. If you’ve folled my blog you know. I think registration is still open. Contact Slow Fiber Studios.
“Colorful World: Overview of Natural Dyes” The First Biennale of Natural Dyes
The advent of synthetic dyes in the 19th century has brought a steep decline in the centuries-old productions of natural dyes around the world. The beginning of the 21st century, however, saw a revival of interest in natural dyes as more people turn to nature for solace and harmonious living. Now, many international communities are advocating the use of natural dyes in modern practices and promoting researches on ancient dyeing techniques. In recognition for these artistic and scientific endeavors, the China National Silk Museum (CNSM) organizes the first biennale of natural dyes, with an aim to embrace the beauty of nature, as well as to explore the ancient wisdom and knowledge embodied in the traditional craft of dyeing.
My mobile is 9 feet tall. We had to rent a photo studio to be able to take pictures for the entry. All the pieces are dyed with natural dyes: indigo, green persimmons (kakishibu) and black walnutes.I dyed lots of different white fabrics to get so many shades of colors.
It was exciting to be in a real photo studio. The Image Flow Photographic Center has this studio is in Mill Valley. There was equipment all over the place and being there made it possible to get these great photos by my photographer, Bob Hemstock.
The bamboo structure on top is constructed like an Alexander Calder mobile. Until we got it permanently balanced and held in place, it got knocked down time and time again whenever anyone touched it to rotate the pieces. To have it change sides and rotate in the air currents we used 7 fishing gear swivles.
A detail with mostly green persimmon dye. The Japanesse word is kakishibu. I got many colors and shades with it. I have quite a stash now of white fabrics that take the dyes differently and I have figured out ways to get mottled looks. The transparent blue fabric peeking out from the back side was dyed in my indigo vat.
This detail shows how I took shiny silk and turned the pieces 90 deagrees so the light caught it in different ways–similar to nap. I liked the way the fabric looked when it wasn’t ironed completely flat. That makes it shimmer more I think. Wish me luck at getting accepted into the international show.
Here I show the iron I used on this singles linen piece I made. I love the sheen on the linen.
Here is the iron stipped in its cradel to show the bottom with the holes for steaming. It has great steam and spray and holds its heat. I place it in the cradle when I shift the cloth. The cord to the cradle is plenty long and retracts easily. It can even steam or spray with the iron held vertically.
The carrying case is surprisingly handy. Sometimes I even carry it to my kitchen counter and iron a small piece on a towel.
I am reminded fondly of the special squeak my mother’s ironing board made.
Below you can see the link to the iron on Amazon.
The fine silk warp at 125 ends per inch stymied me and I walked away and left it on the loom for a year and a half. I thenbegan dyeing. I knew there were enough threads left unbroken to weave so I began weaving with some heavier handspun silk from Bhutan. When I took off the entire warp, This piece is what I found had already been woven–and I loved it. Originally I was weaving a tube but had decided to weave two separate layers–hence this piece was formed! [click photos to enlarge to see detail]
Here is the cloth woven with the silk from Bhutan. I decided just to weave off the warp with it so I could cut it up to dye later with the natural dyes I’ve been playing with.
You may remember the skein from Bhutan from another post. The skein was unusual because there was a cross in it. Even this extremely sticky thread came off the skein perfectly.
Here is my latest peice–5 yards to try the new silk/retted bamboo thread I saw in Handwoven Magazine. I love it. I the twill warp face on one side and weft faced on the other so when I dye it I’ll have two choices of tones of color.
We found this wonderfully intersting paper in an antique textile shope in Tokyo (Morito).
It has hundreds of “skins” from the nests of tiny bugs. The Japanese call them bag worms or Minomushi.
They are beautiful in of themselves but to see them sewn into a long obi is mind boggling.
Here is a detail. Can you see some of the tiny stitches?
This is a fragment of an obi that was given to me years and years ago. I always thought it was from silk cocoons but could never figure out how. Now I see that it is also made of Minomushi.
A detail of the obi fragment.
Here’s the jacket–Cathy Cerny and I are sharing it. I have the summer when I go to Japan and Cathy has the fall when her exhibition opens in the fall. After that we’ll dicide how the sharing will go. Neither one of us could bear to part with it.
Here’s a map of where I’ll be for the 11th International Shibori Symposium. I’ll begin around June 23rd or so. Bye for now!
In my last post I showed some work that has inspired me and this time I’ll show some of my own work that resulted. [click photos to enlarge]
I have used horse hair in quite a few of my pieces, especially in my sheer pieces I called veils. Here are 5 I made to hang separately or as a whole.
Here are two details.
Another detail that shows a cow’s tail I wove in.
These photos are of a table runner in linen where I flattened the warp threads using a rolling pin on a bread board.
The detail gives an idea how silky and shiny it looks in the warp face areas.
When I was living in New York in 1983 I began volunteering in the Textile Department at the Cooper Hewitt Museum (now part of the Smithsonian). Milton Sonday was the curator and a wonderful mentor for me. He introduced me to Ethel Stein and I visited her home and studio one day. She taught me the secret for using the warping paddle and was friendly and generous with her time .
She had just finished building her drawloom after figuring out the mechanics to make it work. She began with a countermarch loom and converted it to the drawloom after studying damask fabrics at the Cooper Hewitt with Milton.
thel-Stein-Moon-Wall-2008-The-Art-Institute-of-Chicago-Gift-of-Ethel-Stein-c-Ethel-Stein – click to enlarge
Her woven work is beautiful and especially so given that she didn’t have a computer or computer generated drawloom at that time.
I was thrilled to find this video of her working and think you’ll love it. I hope to have a video of me working to play at my memorial some day! Other weavers might consider doing the same thing.
I had accumulated a large pile of fabrics I collected for collages and it was growing uncontrollably. I decided to organize them by value. That was too foreboding at first so I sorted them by color (hue) then I took each pile and took out the light ones for the box of light-values.
Next I pulled out the darkest value ones for the dark box. That made it easier to fill the medium box.
The fourth box was for larger pieces of cloth.
What fun. But I sure had a backache after all that working with piles on the floor.
In Japan, one always gives a gift when visiting someone. When we visited an artisan or maker, we always gave our more “important” gifts.
Our guide took us to visit Kubota-san in Kyoto, a stencil dyer. We had a lovely time visiting after seeing his studio where they were printing a kimono-length piece of cloth. When I gave him a silk handkerchief I dyed after folding it an interesting way and then doing arashi-shibori (pole dyeing) in my indigo vat. He was pleased and immediately put it into his pocket! I had been worried that it wasn’t useful, just a unique piece of silk!
This is the way Japanese often wrap things. I realized I had a little collection and displayed them in the window of our gift shop. I use them often when carrying things. The big one is really useful for carrying things to a pot luck. I also am using it now while carrying my work back and forth from the studio. I think I bought them when I just liked the cloth. Often the cloth is two-faced—that is, woven with two different colors or patterns on a single piece of cloth. Most are crepe—they stretch so nicely to tie.
They are easy to tie this way. You just set the object diagonally on the cloth and tie the opposite corners in a knot. The knotted ends form the handle for carrying. I have seen several books with different ways to wrap things with a furoshiki—even a wine bottle!
My first one is the big one given to me when we visited a stencil dyer long ago—in 1967. I’ve never found that dyer on all the trips I’ve made after that.
At a flea market I found the tiny ones—couldn’t bargain the seller down! One we bought at a sale in a department store. I’d seen one for a hundred dollars in a special natural dye shop. At the sale I got it for a “song” after pawing my way through a pile of furoshikis along with other women looking for bargains.
Many years ago I took a class in damask and learned about satins and I focused on warp face and weft face and color. I don’t know why I thought I needed 11 yards, but I made the warp that long. I would say it was about 15” wide. The warp was blue and grey out of 20/2 pearl cotton. The threading was 2 blocks and then I played with how colors mixed and looked next to each other. I still have a large stash of a lot of colors and shades of sewing thread which I used for wefts.
Since I was playing, sometimes the “right side” was on top and sometimes the “wrong side”. Of course there was no repeat!
When I showed it to my students one day Antione Alexander said he could make a coat out of it. The next week he had a muslin and the next week the completed coat! WOW! Later I had a seamstress put in interfacing and a lining. I wore it to the symphony a few weeks ago and have gotten nice compliments every time I wear it. I really feel I lucked out! I think he did a great job.
I took a workshop with Yoshiko Wada’s Slow Fiber Studios in Berkeley, California recently. We learned to fold cloth in origami-like ways and then we did arashi shibori (pole wrapping shibori) with the cloth and got these lovely simple patterns. The teacher was Chris Palmer and his book is called Shadow folds: Surprisingly Easy-to-Make Geometric Designs in Fabric by Jeffrey Rutzky and Chris K. Palmer. I folded and dyed 11” silk squares I got already hemmed from Dharma Trading Company. This was my first attempt at arashi shibori and I used my own indigo vat. I am proud of the results for such a novice. They can be used singly or as a group as pieces for the wall or gifts. I took small pieces I’ve dyed and made little collage compositions and mounted them on squares of dark indigo linen I got in India a few years ago. We went to see the Matisse and Diebenkorn show yesterday and I decided to call these pieces “My Little Diebenkorns”! They can be used singly or in a group, too. I have put similar pieces in CD cases to present them! They also could be little coasters or gifts.
I had really nice responses to my previous post which showed details of my new collage wall hangings with my dyed fabrics. Now you can see what they are like in reality. There are seven–all 11″ wide and 36″ long. Now if you want to see details again, you can go back to the first post. Click on these thumbnails to see them full size then click again to see the detail.
I’ve been making hangings using my dyed fabrics. Indigo for blues, turmeric, saffron, and henna for yellows, green persimmons (kakishibu), for pinks and browns. There are 7 hangings. I’m showing one for reference and then detail photos. I loved putting the pieces together.
Each composition is made up of fabrics that were in the same dye pot. The differences in the tones are due to the different fabrics I put into the pot. I love these subtle “colors”. The yellows were from woad plants. The browns were from green persimmons over dyed with indigo. I especially find myself liking things that have almost no color at all. One of these is from oak galls. I can’t remember all the specifics but I like to put dyed fabrics in a bath of iron water to “sadden” the color.
I’m weaving 125 fine threads per inch so I can weave another ruffle (see my gallery) which I will shibori dye with indigo. Then the ruffle will disappear and appear in the dyed and un-dyed areas. [click any photo to enlarge]
I’m trying to weave with finer-than-ever silk threads. I should have starched them first but didn’t because I didn’t realize it would be necessary. That would have made the threads stronger. There are 125 threads per inch and I made more threading errors than I’ve ever made in my life. I have spent hours correcting these almost invisible threads and have lost a few and a few have broken –there are 16 threads to date that are hanging off the back of my loom and I expect I’ll have more as I weave along. Here is a close up of the weaving and one broken thread pinned in. (I’ve been mending the threads with sewing thread so I can see them.) I used this stand which I’d used when I was weaving velvet to rig up a way to keep all the threads from tangling. Knowing that the only thread that can’t tangle is one under tension this is what I did. I took the threads as they came from the warp beam and made a cross to keep them in order.
Here is a close-up of the cross I made to keep the threads in order. To further keep them in order they went through this grid.
Here is how I tensioned the threads. These are fish net shuttles I used when weaving velvet.
People have asked me why I am buying something on a trip and what am I going to do with it? My answer has been (to myself) “to have it”. I got inspired to really put away my textiles honorably when I visited a friend I met on the Philippines trip. Here is the result.
Japanese fragments & piece from an obi made of cocoons. Old blouse from Philippines, white wool piece with henna from Morocco, old tape loom. (I had the bars put up when I moved in 6 years ago.)
Textiles on shelves and in drawers in sideboard.
Blouse from Philippines, belt from Morocco, under kimono from Japan, narrow pieces from Japan, ikat hanging by me.
Drawers in tansu with scarves. Other places for my pj’s, etc.
Scarves in drawers of tansu chest. I need discipline to put them away after wearing them.
Japanese things. Ceremonial kimono with fireflies design, obi made with fan reed, tea pot with fish lever to adjust height. Art piece by Adela Akers.
Case with earrings and hair pieces from the Philippines. combs from India, Collage by Milton Sonday, textile art by Adela Akers. Japanese sake bottle and vase.
Peggy Osterkamp’s Knitted Yarn People – click to enlarge
I stayed up late Christmas Eve to make these yarn figures–had one more to do Christmas morning. They were so much fun and I’m glad I can keep the doll clothes for myself for awhile. I stuffed them with little bean bags I made out of old socks. The stuffing came from old pillows –one with grains of rice and the other, rice hulls. I had a mess to clean up when one or another tipped over in the making.
Knitted Doll Sculptures > Peggy Osterkamp – [click to enlarge]
I intended these doll clothes I have knitted over the year or so to be Christmas presents. When they turned into art sculptures I knew they needed to be in a group and that meant as of two days before Christmas all of a sudden I didn’t have my gifts anymore! I had planned to make one of the dresses into a paper weight for one gift but when it became a sculpture and I was out of that present. Another dress was a gift, too. I was out two at the last minute. I won’t say how I resolved my dilemma but the next post will show my little people standing upright in a group.
Here are photos of my show that is up now until December 4th at the Belvedere-Tiburon Library. It’s a lovely venue–really feels almost like an art gallery with the exception that if there is a meeting or activity in the room, no one can see the show.The opening reception was a big success. I made a list of the times the show is available to view for the month. If anyone wants to see the list of times, I can email it to them.
We are going to hang my new work in the gallery in the Belvedere-Tiburon Library today. The opening reception is tomorrow from 6-8 pm in beautiful Tiburon, California. Please stop by and see it. It will be on until December 4, 2015.
Now I have all my pieces for my solo show in November done! We hung the Boro today on my wall –the first time it’s been hanging on the board with Velcro I made. Before it was always pinned up on my studio wall. It’s hanging well, thank goodness. The safety pins that hold the three layers together take the light nicely, I think. The blues are all fabrics I dyed in indigo. The brown pieces are from a thick, stiff textile sack used in making sake. I got it in Japan and loved the tannin effect of it.
Now, all that’s left to do for the show is the pricing, inventory lists, contact list and sending out the invitations. I love them–you’ll see it in a post nearer to the opening of the show.
I dyed several pieces I’d woven out of the sheer silk threads that collapse and was thrilled with the results. There are a few more but since they are a dark indigo, they don’t show up as well as in person. I’d woven the pieces in various ways to encourage or control the collapse areas. However, that was a few years ago. When I put them in the indigo dye vat, they all were flat. What wonderful surprises I got.
The reason I call them caskets is the mounting I’ve done. One of them shows the piece in a frame—the frame is made of very thick foam core board for the depth and covered with a frame of mat board with beveled edges on the window. The pieces themselves are stitched to a backing piece of mat board. Then I put a sheet of Mylar over the top and held it in place with a few stitches in the corners. Thus the pieces are protected and encased but in a simple way. They could be framed more properly later. I plan to show them this way in my show at the Tiburon Library for the month of November.
Note: I had a professional framer cut the foam core frames and the top mats. I stitched the pieces themselves to the mat board on the backs and cut and stitched on the Mylar myself.
If you click on the images to enlarge them you can really see the loops and textures better.