Monday, September 9, 2019

Cool Idea

I feel more than a little guilty every time an Amazon package comes to our house.  I save them but my carbon footprint build up was beginning to look like Bigfoot.  So I decided to try making a market bag using two or three sewn together.  They were pretty easy to sew. The main problem was fitting them into the throat of my machine once I'd sewn two together.

I used a simple market bag tutorial photo to sew the bottom gussets.  Here's the link to my pin of my Pinterest board Bags, Purses and Totes.

I painted the background orange with poster paint and the designs with craft acrylics.  The handle is canvas webbing.  You can see the Amazon logo a bit through the orange paint but I like that since it informs the person looking at it how it's made.

The darned thing is holding up!  I've used it for the farmer's market, the grocery store and a recent sewing retreat.  The paint is not cracking, the seams are holding and I'm pretty pleased.

I think it's the first of many. I'm going to try patching some fabric on the next version.

 You outta give it a try!!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Late Summer Check In

It's been a wonderful spring and summer with lots of travel while learning new techniques.  

After Japan (see the last post) I went to Tennessee for our annual trek to Shakerag Workshops, with a stopover in Washington DC for some magical art time.  At Shakerag I took a class with Katja Toporski on making molds from found objects.  Something I have wanted to learn for many years.  

Next I traveled to Whidbey Island for a workshop with Pat Pauly on printing fabric with thickened dyes.  

Then it was back up to WhidbeyIsland for a class with Kerr Grabowski on deconstructed silk screening.

My head is swimming with all the new techniques.  I will attempt to give a brief, photo-laden account of my classes.

This is just a teaser photo from a Pat Pauley class.  There will be more later.

In between all of the classes I actually got time to sew.  This jacket is from a designer I like a lot, Pearl Red Moon.  It's called the Zambeezi Jacket.  I used stash fabrics, cut the medium which turned out to be way to big so I cut 4" from the center back and sewed it back up again (that after this photo was taken).  I like the details and think this pattern is good for lots of different fabrics and renditions.

It's somewhat labor intensive since you have to sew each seam wrong sides together and then sew them flat with a contrasting color zigzag.

Love stash projects!

I've been taking an every Friday workshop here in Santa Cruz with Kiki Barrett, the pattern wizard.  She helped me redraft a varsity/bomber jacket pattern to have a swing back.  I tried it first in an inexpensive sweatshirt fabric.  This one will fit my husband...back to the drawing board, which I have already done.  Am figuring out which fabric to use for #2. 

One of the things I changed for #2 is extending the back hem even more than this photo.  I want it to be somewhat dramatic.

I used Dritz snaps but I think I did something wrong cuz they rattle.  I feel like I'm a one woman tambourine band when I put it on!

Next was a go at the Sewing Workshop Cottage Shirt using Marcia Derse fabric. 

I remade a short men's Japanese kimono by cutting off the drapes part of the sleeves and using them for hanging pockets.  I know this type of garment has a specific name but I can't remember it.  Anyone?

I dabbled in more jewelry using scaps.  I am still working on this necklace.  Needs some color.

A group of us went to Washigton DC to visit a friend we met in Ashland at a Design Outside The Lines last year.  Kathy is a longtime Reference Specialist at the Library of Congress.  She was so generous in giving us a tour that you just couldn't get any other way but by knowing someone who has been there for 30+ years.  

We visited the public spaces, Kathy giving us insider history of many architectural features, art and displays.  THEN, she lead us into a private library where she had prepared a 15+ book lecture on books related to textiles.  Our mouths were agape the whole time.  One book dated back to the 1500's.  

Every one she showed was one of her personal favorites and they quickly became ours, too.  She is such an expert in her field that we felt honored to be able to hear what she had to say on these books.

This "book" was actually a fabric covered bento box from Nuno Corp in Tokyo.  We were luck enough to visit their shop in Tokyo while there and purchase textiles and scarves.  I love their aesthetic. 

The box contained several layers of fabric swatches based on the type of textile and techniques used.

We didn't want to leave...needless to say.

And here's Sarah trying to figure out a way to slip the box into her purse.

She took us through the old library index card room.  Sharon and Sarah shared my awe at the site.

All of the cards were hand printed.  Just look at this, were we lucky or what!?

We flew from DC to Nashville and on too Shakerag.  These are some of the objects I made using molds I created.

And here is Katja's work.  Just stunning.

Katja wearing the crazy necklace I made using cashmere, painted canvas and objects I had cast.  She was a good sport and an amazing teacher.

OK, stay with me here, I'm almost through the summer!  Then it was Whidbey Island to the Pacific Northwest Art School and a workshop with the very talented Pat Pauly.  I learned an incredible amount from Pat.  I will say that she is somewhat "honest" with her criticisms so she is not the teacher for the faint of heart.  You gotta be tough to take a class with her.  But it's so worth it!  And she is a very giving teacher.  Plus she's funny!

This technique uses thickened dyes.  It is mainly for quilters but I can certainly incorporate this into my clothing somehow.

One of the things I worked on were vintage linen napkins that I've picked up at garage sales and flea markets for a song because they are stained and nobody wants to iron anymore!  They worked well, we're using them often.

We were lucky to have a visit with the talented Marcia Derse who designs fabric.  15 of us descended on her.  She is a dear heart and so inspiring.  I've used many of her fabrics in my sewing.

I was home for 10 days and went back up to Whidbey for another workshop with the wonderful Kerr Grabowski.  This time it was deconstructed silk screening using the same thickened dyes we used in Pat's class.  Very different results and so fun.

Kerr is a great teacher, I recommend a class with her, in fact I will take another some day.  Here she is modeling a Turkish towel I screened for a beach coverup.

Some of my work from Kerr's class.

More work.

And then last weekend Sharon and I hit the garage to do our own dyeing using thickened dyes.  I wanted to tone down some of the bright pieces I'd made in Pat's class and make them work together.  Per her directions, to rework your "dogs" just paint over them.  

This time I decided to use several different blacks and by creating a screen that blocked out everything but polka dots I managed to get several pieces of cloth that I think will work better together.

I also printed two pieces of recycled clothing.  This is part of a white tshirt in progress.  I will do more of this!

And Sharon used my polka dot screen in her own way.  Love this tobacco color with the black.

Pieces drying.

And although I'm hesitant to tell you just how crazy I am I'll say that Sharon and I stopped printing long enough to attend a 2 hour indigo dyeing session with a local teacher who provides a vat for use. 

I'm finished with workshops...until just after Labor Day when I go up to Tahoe for a Mary Boalt workshop at Artistic Alchemy. 

The summer is just starting here on the Central Coast of California.  This will be some of our best weather all year until late fall.  So I'll be doing more dyeing.

Thanks for hanging in there with my long posting dry spells, interspersed with even longer posts.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Late Spring Check-in

It's been a fun year so far.  I'm turning 70 (yahoo as far as I'm concerned!) so I decided what I wanted was more travel and more classes/retreats/time with sewing buds.  You might say, if you know me, really Gayle you already do all of that.  Yes, that's true but this year so many opportunities have come along I felt the privilege of saying yes to all of them.

I will fill you in on everything soon but first I want to tell you about the highlight.  A month in Japan with two wonderful friends...who also sew.  

The trip was conjured up last year at Shakerag Workshops while standing in line to get lunch.  Two women in front of us had been to an indigo workshop on a farm outside Tokyo the previous year and were raving about the experience.  They mentioned that the class they would love to take there was a two week hantan making class.

My friend and I looked at each other and said, "Two weeks?!"  No way.  But, not three days later we were signing up.  And what a lucky thing we did!  This experience was one we'll never a very good way.  

Bryan Whitehead is the founder of Japanese Textile Workshops in the mountain village of Fujino, about an hour and a half outside Tokyo.  There is so much I could tell you about him, his knowledge, experience and the class but I'd have to write a book.  I'm just going to highlight my favorite bits and hopefully you'll get a taste.  Here he is on our first day whirling us around Nippori, the Tokyo fabric district, with armloads of Japanese denim.

We arrived at the farmhouse late the first night.  Rounding the corner and walking up the steep driveway I saw the glow of the house in the distance.  It literally drew me to it.  I was mesmerized from the moment I saw it, radiating with warmth and spirit.

It's going to be very hard to pick out just a few photos of this experience.  Every element of the home is handmade by Bryan or one of his artisan friends.  

Hiro, his business partner, does so many things to make the home and experience incredible not the least of which is that every single room (and I'm talking hallways and bathrooms!) has a gorgeous flower arrangement.  The one above was outside our sleeping room.  You can't tell from the photo but it was about 6' long X 5' high.  Simply incredible.

Hiro also made all of our meals.  Every one was better than the last, they were all so delicious and gorgeous, yet super healthy.  We ate from large earthenware bowls his friends have made, each one different.

And for every meal there was something that had been pickled.  I LOVE PICKLED ANYTHING!  So I was in heaven.  These are pickled (very) young ginger shoots.  Oh....

One of our lovely classmates, Melissa from Pennsylvania is setting the table for dinner.  There were 7 of us in the class those two weeks.  A perfect number for the space and allowed for time to really get to know everyone.

The farmhouse has four floors.  The second floor is a workroom.  Here you see Bryan's collection of new and vintage hantans.  OK, I guess it's time to tell you what a hantan is.  Here's what Wikipedia has to say about them.  
Hanten (袢纏; also半纏,半天, or袢天), a short winter coat, is an item of traditional Japanese clothing. ... The shape of the hanten bears a resemblance to the haori and is worn by both men and women. The facing and lining are padded with thick layer of wadded cotton for warmth. The collar is usually made of black sateen.

All of that is true but also true is that they are traditionally worn by workers.  They are not always padded, our's were not.  And our collars were not made of black sateen.  Our's were made entirely by hand, no machine stitching.  I made two.  My first was of denim for my husband and my second was a lighter fabric for myself.

Our main workroom; here with Michelle.  This class was hard work.  It encompassed learning about hantan and other traditional Japanese garments, designing the ones we would make, learning the ancient Japanese textile traditions of painting, stenciling and indigo dyeing and applying each to our own garments.  We generally worked from 9-9 each day with breaks for meals, bathing in the wooden  hot tub, cocktail hour and generally squeezing in fun whenever we could.

I know that several in the class could tell you the Japanese names of each technique and so much more than I can.  This, for me, was a time to absorb the beauty and let many details fall away.  I didn't even take notes, and that's something for me.  It was really a dream state for me.  Something I crave as I get older.  Less about how to and more about just experiencing things visually and emotionally.

And you can see why.  Everywhere my eyes rested gave me a sense of inner peace and joy.  This was the hallway outside our sleeping room.

And this was our view!

Here's Bryan is stirring the indigo dye pot.  Mesmerizing.

In addition to everything else he did for us and in the house, Hiro could also create one of a kind garments.  Every one wowed me.

It was an exceptionally cold spring so we each got a "turtle" to sleep with.  They are large metal canteen-like things that are covered in Bryan's handmade felted sweater scraps.  Those things were lifesavers!

Cloth just out of the indigo dye pot oxidizing in the air, ready for another dip.

Here is my second jacket, just finished with the design work and ready to start sewing.

The expert hands of Kieko, a master kimono maker.  She came in several days to teach us the traditional way of sewing our jackets.  

One of the hard things for me was learning how to read a Japanese yardstick!  No numbers, using metric...oy...

Here Keiko is using a kote, a heated tool that marks several layers of fabric at once.

And there were animals, how good can it get?!  Here is White Boots, son of Julie (who was never around long enough to take many pics).  They were very good mousers...I'll leave it at that.

Morning walks with a chance to get a glimpse of Mt. Fuji.  Something that is not all that common.  

Gardens and laundry along our walk.

Our chopstick holders.

Keiko and me upon completion.  Whew!

The last day in Tokyo we stumbled on Vivienne Westwood's shop.  Cool door handles.

There will be other posts about Japan.  We visited Kyoto and Tokyo with LOTS of fabric and clothes shopping.  More soon!  I'm off to Shakerag Workshops.