Thursday, 12 January 2017

Where is the Japanese Textile Workshop Farmhouse?


To answer the question asked a thousand times....

Here is this old house on sunny June day with the gang all in their own world at the indigo and preparing work for the indigo:



And here are some Google Earth Grabs with Narita Airport on one side of Tokyo and the house on the other side. You can see why there are monkeys and boars running around the village when you see that  we are right on the edge of the wild.  In old times the village made charcoal to supply the old city of Tokyo, Edo.

(click for larger images.)







I am supposed to be leaving for a few months in Russia a few days from now. Unfortunately, one of my doggies, Geiger is not doing that well and I'll stay home and make sure he is comfortable. He has good days and bad days. Recently a string of good days and he enjoys his walks. His nose is going and he picks up rocks and starts to chew on them thinking they are monkey poo.   Yuck.

My house sitters, Renita and Suzi have flown all the way to Japan from Australia...across the madness of Tokyo to this small village to look after the fort while I go away and they end up stuck with me here.

Wasting no time we started to fix up the sorry state of my back strap looms in various states of existence  and get four complete healthy looms up and running.



Here they are using the warping wheel to set a warp length and put the cross in the threads. (Silk dyed indigo.)  We will weave a very fine saki ori rag weave from old silk kimono linings.



And the next step of sleighing the reed.



And the next step of making thread heddles...one by one.



The cold wind is here from Siberia so I do get to enjoy some Russian winter after all.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Old and New and Reused.

Ogata san showed up at the front door on January 2nd with a new hand-made red hat and bib for the little stone Jizo sculpture in the forlorn winter garden in front of the front door.

One year and the 2016 bib and hat were mossy and faded.







Barbara san.....I finished weaving up the double sided indigo wool runner for the inside step up into the house. It works well with the Picasso harlequin rug on the landing. Thank you! (Should have vacuumed before I took the picture but the morning light was brief and good with all the bamboo cut off the mountain!)



I have a few meters left of warp and am now unravelling one of Hiro's old moth-eaten sweaters to use for weft yarn for the next runner down by the open bathroom. Recycling... 


Saturday, 31 December 2016

100 Day Indigo Leaf Fermentation and the Friends who Drop by to Mix the Compost.

It amazes me that the fermenting indigo leaves reach 50 degrees plus centigrade in only a few hours after mixing the leaves. 30 days of the 100 day fermentation have passed. The ammonia indigo smell is intoxicatingly beautiful.  (Momo & Geiger don't agree.) Every few days we fluff up the leaves and the temperature plummets and after covering the leaves with the straw mats it starts to ferment again.











Shunji was here from Amsterdam. One year has passed since he moved there. It was great to catch up.

It takes time to twist all the fringes on a full sized blanket. Once I finished them I put the blanket in a hot bath and washed it for an hour by hand. It filled/fulled out beautifully. The indigo stopped rubbing off and now I can play warm jedi for the rest of the winter.



Shunji wanted to visit Mixer and Jun and he found a gorgeous up-cycled Jedi sweater. The recycling Force is building!



Mixer hand-stitched/sashikoed the multi-functional band around my neck. It took her a week. Jeeeeeeesh....Thank you Mixer. It will be an honour to wear it a dozen different ways and think of/thank you each time.

She loves the red sashiko thread..."We have blood flowing through us just like these stitches."







I didn't manage to put up a Christmas tree this year but did put up the Japanese pine branches at the front door today to welcome the new year. Three hours left of 2016.  Wishing everyone finds peace and helps create some in our crazy world in 2017.







Sunday, 25 December 2016

A Year at Japanese Textile Workshops








Two old dogs fast asleep on two big cozy chairs.

Momo and Geiger both dreaming.

Two cats fast asleep on two cozy chairs.

Whiteboots and Julie both dreaming.

The kerosene heaters are on and the rooms are Christmas toasty.

Momo is dreaming of a long walk in the mountains and chasing a few monkeys.

Geiger is dreaming that his tired old wobbly legs are fit and strong and can effortlessly get him up to one of his chairs again.

Whiteboots is dreaming of being in bed with us, snuggled under the blankets getting cuddled all through the night.

Julie is dreaming of today. She was in the house and getting brushed. Last year this time she was  an outdoor cat sleeping in the barn.

Hiro is snoozing....he's dreaming of how warm he will be in Brazil next week.


All is quiet. It is cold and clear outside. Stars are twinkling. The outside bath is hot and waiting for me to finish this last blog of the year.

The year is coming to an end.

My god do I pack a lot in....

Keeping this huge old farmhouse and gardens and tea/indigo/mulberry fields, thousands of silkworms and assorted pets and friends, staff and students in healthy form.  ( Groan....cry....laugh..smile....)

Managing the logistics and responsibilities for having dozens of students flying in from all over the world to stay here at the house and study Japanese textiles.   ( Groan....cry....laugh..smile....)

Studying how to dye and sew the Japanese festival jackets better, improve my looms, spinning and weaving, studying Japanese book binding, taking Russian language classes, learn a few new songs on the guitar, carpentry work around the house. Lots of cotton knit production for t-shirts....(groan cry, laugh smile.)


Travelling to Sri Lanka, Canada, Finland, Russia, Georgia, Latvia....(no groan, no cry, big laugh, huge smile.)


Looking at the old emotion mandala I pull out of iPhoto and throw my self at to see where the splatters sit.







If it weren't for the f%#^%ing American Cheezy-elect there wouldn't be much in the rage/anger/annoyance/loathing/disgust/terror/fear/apprehension sections.


I can place the four-legged chair dwellers with relative ease....

optimism, serenity, love, acceptance, a little submission except Whiteboots.

Pictures from 2016. It was an excellent year. There is no 'gratitude/gratefulness' section on the emotion wheel......

Lovely Geiger my Fukushima refugee dog had to have his spleen removed because of a tumour. He is better now. He is old and weak though.
                                  













Lovely Julie the feral cat becomes a semi-house cat.


Ilkka from Finland comes and stays for a few months and brightens the house with his intelligence and diligence.


Just enough snow at the house.




What happened to that ponytail???


Travelling around Japan to see more old textiles.


Indigo dyeing with Tsutomu  the local architect legend who was hospitalized with meningitis days after this picture was taken. We almost lost him....but he is back on his feet and even playing tennis again!


Indigo dyeing with my Russian friends in Sri Lanka.


Hiro's magic in Sri Lanka.


Making indigo balls.


And the ten-day workshops began with this special group...


Perhaps the saddest part of the year...my beloved Sugimoto san..so healthy and digging bamboo shoots. He has been hospitalized for half a year now. Sorrow in the village while he is away. But he is there with the new face of the village my diligent new staff, Ishii san.


The first official Japanese jacket making crew! Much love to you all!


The beloved salad patch outside the kitchen window.


Out treasure, 98 year old Ogata san busy cooking for us as usual.


Tea harvest.


Fresh green indigo workshop with the locals.


Putting workshop members to work planting indigo.


Julie had kittens!


Workshops and indigo.







A one day trip to Canada for my old friend Ingrid's wedding. That is Colin her twin brother not the groom. We were all bad kids way back.


Kittens everywhere.


The garden was beautiful all year.




Kitten lunch under the loom.


Silkworms and cocoons.





















Five weeks in Russia with Anna.




Silk Road valley in Georgia.


Silk Museum in Georgia.


Autumn Workshops.


Indigo knits.


Indigo harvest.


And Christmas Eve....making wood shovels to turn the fermenting indigo leaves.


Thank you friends. Thank you. See you in Japan again. On top of the indigo workshop and the hanten workshop I am putting together a Japanese book binding and paper making workshop to give you another reason to come back.

Warmest wishes for 2017,

Bryan & Hiro and friends.