Okay . . . another week has gone by without a new post. I am really trying not to say "I'm overwhelmed," and instead say, "I'm managing everything in my wonderful life with ease and joy," but I'm still in a quandary over which activities and commitments to release and which to keep. This blog, as much as I love it and want to make much MORE of it, not less, is on the bubble, as those Hollywood types say.
Back at the ranch, a lot happened this week. Days ago, I bookmarked this great interview at All The Rage with Deborah Landis, the new holder of the David C. Copley chair for the study of costume design at UCLA. She has very interesting things to say about the difference between costume design and fashion design, and the presence of narrative and stories in what we wear. Landis's chair is being endowed with a $6 million grant to develop costume design studies at the university.
Tangential but interesting, at the time that I read it: Landis designed Michael Jackson's iconic red Thriller jacket. A week ago I would have written, "remember that jacket?" and now, of course, we've all been reminded of it.
So the week was an interesting example of how the media oversaturate us at times like this (you could almost hear them say, great, we don't have to do any hard analysis to unanswerable questions about things like Iran and health care reform for at least three days). Still, this blog is about art, craft, cloth and culture, and all of these are referenced in Jackson's story. This, by fashion writer Guy Trebay, is a fascinating look at his ability to create an image and the ways that image intersected with pop culture.
Elsewhere -- for those who think about selling or monetizing a sewing or craft business, Kathleen Fasanella of Fashion Incubator has a very interesting series of posts on this, including definitions of handmade and manufactured as they apply to a commercial enterprise. There are telling comments as well; some people actually daring to call attention to the poor quality of some of the "handmade nation/DIY" frenzy. Yay.
Finally, links for the artists and lovers of Japanese textiles,. First, and I think Jude has mentioned this as well, Sri Threads has an amazing series on botanical dyer Sometsukasa Yoshioka. Stephen is up to Post #9, on the color red. These are a must-read if you love color and the Japanese aesthetic. Most people probably think of indigo when word-associating color and Japan, but there's much more to it -- a masterful legacy of natural dyeing and fluency in the language of color. This is from Post #8, on the color pink:
Here’s the thing: in Heian Japan, there were four seasons, then there were 24 sub-seasons, then there were 72 sub-sub seasons, so every five days the courtly lady needed to change her costume so she embodied the natural changes around her!
I also discovered The Ardent Thread, a new-to-me blog by an expert on Japanese textiles, surface design and stitching techniques. Author Carol also sells vintage Japanese fabrics at KimonoMomo.com (sales are made through an Etsy shop). Here's one of her vintage fabric packages:
As for me, I'm working on some machine sewing, still painting my Persian floral designs, and still working on handstitching a big shisha/beads/stitching piece, which does have some vintage kimono fabric in it, shown below. This is proving to be a very slow cloth - but it's always good to have some handstitching available -- for example, for times when you're mesmerized by CNN's wall-to-wall coverage of a celebrity death, and thinking about the time you turned on the TV and saw that electrifying moonwalk for the first time, and all the years that have gone by since then.
Here's more of the piece, which has grown and taken on a life of its own that I no longer seem to be in control of (much like my own life; let's conclude that control is overrated):