Thursday, December 22, 2011

For Presence, For Peace and Joy

Awaken to the mystery of being here
and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.

Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.

Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.

Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to
follow its path.

Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.

May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.

May anxiety never linger about you.

May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.

Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.

Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the
heart of wonder. -- John O'Donohue, For Presence

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Art from Necessity

The above collage is the beginning of my Enso series. Enso represents the Japanese circle, and my search for completeness. There are also aspects of the placement of handmade papers (like setting stones in a Japanese garden) and Boro. My interpretation of Boro in my work involves hand-painted rice papers placed in a quilt-like fashion using my sense of balance, contrast and unity.

Recently, the Japanese Gardens in Portland Oregon hosted a show of Boro. They called the show MOTTAINAI which means 'waste nothing' in Japan. Many years ago, the very poorest people in Japan saved every scrap of cloth, thread, paper and patched or quilted 2nd hand cotton garments from city dwellers who traded for rice or vegetables. Two of the biggest collectors of Boro in the world sent samples of their Boro collection to the Portland exhibit.

One of the biggest collectors of Boro in the world has a gallery and showroom/shop in Kyoto on Teramachi Street. Her name is Kei Kawasaki and you can find her website here.

These very poor Japanese people in pre-industrial Japan would patch together bits of cloth out of necessity. Every small patch was like treasure to them.

the hands know,
the materials too,
quite apart from your imaginings,
less is more than your intentions -
following the pattern that emerges,
the story as it tells.
--- Jane Whitely

The other collector of Boro is Stephen Szczepanek, who also participated in the Portland exhibit.
This is his showroom in Brooklyn, NY. You can find his blog here. His website is called Sri and he is very well known in the Boro and Japanese Textile world.

In his showroom above, a workcoat called boro noragi, is patched with pieces of cloth as small as a postage stamp.

Here you can see an example of the intricate stitching used in Boro patching.

The Japanese people created these quilted clothing out of necessity. Of course they did not know that someday their old, patched and quilted items would become treasured and exhibited in galleries, showrooms and museum exhibits.

Above is some indigo dye... I read that the Japanese used indigo... especially firemen and their work jackets... because indigo fabric will not burn.

And finally, Sibella Court has a new book: NOMAD, A global approach to interior style. I have received my copy and it is wonderful with a beautiful chapter on Japan. The book is available at and

There is nothing like returning
to a place that remains unchanged
to find ways in which
you yourself have altered.
--- Nelson Mandela

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Flea Market Madness

In Kyoto, the Kobo-san market fair is held on the 21st of each month on the grounds of the To-ji temple and pagoda. This temple was established in 794 by imperial decree to protect the city.
Many of the temple buildings were destroyed by fire during the 15th century but has been rebuilt in the 1600's.

The temple flea markets are gigantic... booth after booth of antiques, textiles, collectibles, scrolls, pottery and books.

The Tenjin-san Market is held on the 25th of each month on the grounds of the Kitano Tenman-Gu shrine. The shrine was established in 947 and rebuilt in 1607.

Above are a few flea market finds for my home.

Above are flea market finds for my greenhouse, waiting for spring.

Some finds for the garden and greenhouse. That piece of bamboo is called Turtleback bamboo.

I found some tea cups with dots, and a small basket with cloth top with tea cup and tea tools, used as a bag to travel with.

Above are some wooden stamps, old envelopes, some old brushes, and a wonderful hand carved wooden bowl.

Above are some of the old kimono fabrics I found, with some threads and yarn, an old pilgrimage belt with old seals, and some Otafuku faces for my collection. Otafuku dolls and faces are of a mythic figure in Japanese folklore. She turns up on textiles, pottery, dishes, folkart, painting and sculpture. She is every woman, generous, the essence of goodwill.

Here are some of the indigo Boro fabrics I found with string and yarn.

I found some old scrolls, old books, and brushes.

Here is a small sample of the old envelopes and papers I found.

I came home with some old Japanese maps, rice papers, and a wonderful packet of old stamps.

I found some wonderful scarves, necklaces and hand carved wooden buttons and cloth buttons.
Do you see the hand carved wooden rabbit pin?

And you wait. You wait for the one thing
that will change your life,
make it more than it is---
something wonderful, exceptional,
stone awakening, depths opening to you.
--- Rainer Maria Rilke, Remembering

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Home from Japan

I am home from my big trip to Japan. I want to thank everyone who left a comment on my last blog post... wishing me a good safe trip. I had a wonderful time. In Japan, we spent our first 2 nights in Osaka at a ryokan... a traditional Japanese Inn... this one is Carpe Diem. Our room below had tatami mats on the floors, where we slept on padded mats. The only furniture in the room was a low table. The wood/paper doors slid open and closed. We arrived late at night...

and in the morning this is the view we woke up to... our room was surrounded by the most beautiful Japanese gardens... the weather was sunny and warm...

there were stone bridges...

which I sat on...

the pine trees were large and twisty and bonsai-like

There were stone lanterns everywhere...

there were rocks and paths and water basins...

From Osaka, we took a train for a day trip to the town of Nara. Most of Nara's sights, including temples, shrines and their famous 1200 deer... are concentrated in Nara Park. According to legend, the god of Kasuga Taisha came riding a white deer in the old days, so the deer enjoy protected status as envoys of the god.

The deer are very tame and because people can buy deer "cookies" to feed them, the deer hang around the temples and the food venders.. hoping to be fed the special treats.

Nara Park is home to several large temples. Below is Nigatsu-do, which had very large lanterns hanging.
Kasuga Taisha is a shrine that is worth visiting because it has hundreds and hundreds of stone lanterns... lining the path toward the temple.

So we spent our first day in Nara Park... surrounded by deer, stone lanterns... shrines and temples. It was the perfect wonderful beginning of my returning pilgrimage to Japan.

"The deep parts of my life pour onward,
as if the river shores were opening out.
It seems that things are more like me now...
--- Rainer Maria Rilke

I think that one's art is a growth inside one.
I do not think one can explain growth.
It is silent and subtle.
One does not keep digging up a plant
to see how it grows.
--- Emily Carr