Thursday, March 1, 2012

March pleasure

Welcome to March. I have a small treasure to share with you today.
Takeshi Nishijima (1929-2003) was a professor of art at Kyoto University and a graphic and textile designer who exhibited in numerous one man shows and won the coveted Grand Prize at the Kyoto Art Exhibit. He was associated with Haruo Kuriyama of the Wazome Kogei company, which was probably the publisher of his katazome calendars. Kuriyama was also a friend of Keisuke Serizawa, the best known katazome artist, who produced calendars annually beginning in 1946.
The larger folio calendars of both Serizawa and Nishijima were katazome on paper, like my work on fabric. The smaller calendars were wood block or silkscreened from the same designs. I have three little Nishijima calendars from the 1970s, bought at a small gift shop in Corvallis, plus many Serizawa mini calendars and a few folios bought used. After Serizawa died the calendars continued to be made from his designs. The Nishijima calendars were only made for a few years. I love Nishijima’s imagery and would adore finding a folio someday.
The Kuriyama workshop is the very same one I spent several days in when I was in Japan in 2010, the one remaining katazome textile production workshop in Kyoto. What a privilege for me to have been there. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Singing the blues

I am selling my fabrics once again this year at the East Bay Heritage Quilters show, Voices in Cloth, March 18-19. The show is in mid March and between that deadline and my solo show going up at Latimer Quilt and Textile Center in Tillamook, OR on March 5, I am running myself pretty ragged. I have decided to diversify my offerings this year rather than relying so much on the quilters indigos so there is a lot of extra work involved getting more one-of-a kind pieces and garment silks ready. Not to mention redesigning my 10 x 10 booth space. This week I finally finished the last batch of indigo pieces.

The first ones are long pieces with several repeats, both traditional stencils that would have been used on futon covers 100 years ago. Sure a lot prettier than mattress ticking,

This big stencil made for pillow tops was one I took from a detail on a really virtuosic Japanese stencil. It was smaller in scale than this 18" square, and irregular in shape so one did not have to match all those stripes every time, unusual since almost all other stencils I had seen were rectangular. I took pieces of this design and cut and pasted and redrew until I had something I could use as a square pillow top stencil. It was a lot of work and cutting and stabilizing those long parallel lines before attaching the silk mesh was challenging.  Those of you who have taken my classes know this is not beginners work! I sold a pair of these pillows at the Japanese Garden last summer and it is time to make a couple more.

I rarely purchase stencils but when I was in Japan the last time I could not resist this one. They told me it says congratulations over and over, but I was fascinated by the variety in the characters.

This is another large stencil which I adapted from a traditional pattern. Images for most kimono fabrics are oriented in both directions, because there is no shoulder seam. I took the elements and inverted them in various combinations to compose a stencil which I have used for multicolored shawls and noren and this time for an indigo panel like this one.

There is a famous woodblock print of a bird on a branch by Hiroshige done in blue and white. I decided to see whether I could adapt it to be cut as a stencil. It was a fun project. Nobody knows what the ancient seal script says anymore. The interesting relationship between block printing and katazome is the subject of an upcoming post.

I usually just print the heron alone but decided this time to make a little composition out if it. So now that these pieces are done the vat is going to go to sleep for awhile so I can use that drying area to stretch silk garment lengths. I will post pictures of them as they accumulate.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Out of the deep

Hi all, I am back in the land of the living and more to the point, in the land of the creating, after knee replacement. The final months before the surgery and the recuperation kept me out of the studio but I am on a tear now and eager to resume sharing my art life and knowledge with you all again. I have a Facebook page now and will be posting there as well.

I cut some stencils this week for an interesting big quilt top. Years ago I made stencils of the big shells of fossil ammonites, extinct relatives of octopus and Chambered Nautilus. These shells are truly gorgeous things and the stencils have been useful for a series of quilts I called Strata.

My art quilt group High Fiber Diet is planning a travelling show called Elements, and our pieces are to be based on earth, air, fire and water. I decided to expand on the Strata theme and work through several geological eras, during the period when invertebrates (as opposed to fish) dominated ancient seas. (For those of you who do not know, my first career was in marine biology and I worked on octopus, as well as some of its relatives, and I have always been crazy about the beauty and diversity of invertebrate animals.

So the new stencils depict some really ancient arthropods called trilobites, some clam-like animals called brachiopods and some crinoids and urchins, relatives of starfish, as well as other shelled creatures that might be found as fossils. I have the big quilt top pasted and ready to dye, although it might be awhile before I finish it, as I have other things in the queue ahead of it.

These are the trilobite stencils. Aren’t they interesting?