no, it's really the outside that matters

there's a simple joy to wrapping a present. not with the tradition box and a bow, but something special and unique to each gift; i think it's as important as what you're giving.

i like to reuse tissue paper, i seem to always get it when buying clothes. to add decoration, strips of material that i trimmed off a project work very well, as does the washi tape that comes from japan. sometimes i will use pretty papers or origami paper sheets and cut out images or shapes.

one year i used square images of flowers which i cut up from a postcard mailer to write the to and from on. it's interesting to find creative ways of recycling images and "scraps" to make someone a pretty package.


a comfortable journey

as i look at the calendar and see the date draw nearer to the day i travel to japan, it brings to mind the length of time of one of my flights; the longest one. and i wonder how on earth i shall survive traveling in a cramped airplane for 14 hours let alone the entire 34 hours it will take to get there from here. but then i say to myself, "is this not better than that one road trip that lasted 50 hrs with only stops at mcdonald's and short naps at the rest area to go on?". and then i realize, it will be okay.

but it would definitely be easier if i had a few comforts. such as a neck pillow, ear plugs, and a wonderfully soft eye mask. made with love of course. using some nani iro double gauze cotton, some satin, a funky elastic, and a self made pattern drawn up on tracing paper, this eye mask was an easy project.

what necessities do you bring with you on a long trip?


getting the color right

have you seen the japanese pattern book drape drape by hisako sato yet? it's incredible. the garments are very flattering to curves, grecian in their draping, and look so comfy for the upcoming heat wave. it's a little unusual to see this type of sensibility from a japanese pattern book; from what i've seen boxy and um a little (dumpy) on curvy figures being more typical.

there are so many patterns i want to dive into and make. but i've managed to restrain myself and give #6 a try. so, a trip to the fabric store being necessary as i very rarely have over a yard of anything. i thought perhaps a solid, a large print, or a one color print would look nice. i first thought of using this really amazing faux-shibori grey silk, but it would need to be lined. and it would wrinkle as soon as i sat down in my car. egh. so then i thought perhaps a nice jersey, but what color? i went home and browsed around the internet for awhile. i came across a couple of yards of a mint blue cotton jersey. perfect.

or so i thought, until it arrived. it was more like an aquamarine ice blue. but that's okay, i can fix it. i would just need to overdye it with a yellow color to get the vespa mint blue green i was after. i also thought of perhaps bleaching it to lighten the intensity. so i snipped a bit of the selvedge, prewashed it, and cut it into 10 squares. i made three stained as is in a black tea bath (4 cups water per yard, 1 tea bag for each cup) for 5, 10 and 15 minutes, and six pieces paired up to be used in a bleach bath for three minutes (1:2, 1:3, 1:4 ratio bleach to water), then take three of each ratio and stain them in tea for 10 minutes. here's a photo of my results (from top to bottom; original, 5 min tea stained, 10 min tea stained, 15 min tea stained, bleached and tea stained, bleached in 1:2 ration, 1:3 ratio, 1:4 ratio):

the bleached bits had interesting little spots from the glue, so there's something to experiment with in the future, but not good for this project. there wasn't much difference in shade between the 5 minute tea stain and the 15 minute tea stain. but it was the perfect color. so i crossed my fingers, prewashed 2 yards, brewed up some tea, dumped the fabric in and let it soak for 10 minutes, and washed it again. it's drying now in the shower. it's more like a seafoam green then the previous ice blue, so pretty. hopefully i can get the pattern traced and cut out along with the fabric tomorrow. i don't think this will be a very slow project, so hopefully by next week i'll have a new pretty dress!


stretching one's area

last saturday the guild meeting was focused around the textile artist, barbara james, whose speciality is in surface design through dyeing and printing. it was interesting to play around with the different ways of creating texture on cloth. i'm kicking myself for getting rid of my screenprinting frame from when i took a printmaking class in college. i really want to play around more.

my first dyeing attempt went well. this photo is of my second piece of fabric. i decided it would make a lovely tea towel; so i hemmed the edges. i'm not quite sure of the first one i worked on, as the design is agreeable but the colors are very loud and not quite to my taste. i may take a photo of it anyway, though.

we used the procion mx dyes which got me thinking again about getting into dyeing. it would be a good focus as i eventually would like to create my own cloth; weaving, dyeing, and printing. i think that where i will go from here is to experiment with natural dyes and the screen printing process. the procion dyes were easy enough to use and clean up, but i'd rather be truer to my own feelings about my impact on the environment. plus, i like how natural dyes age, it's really very wabi-sabi.