Saturday, January 21, 2017

"Celebration of the Arts" show at the First United Methodist Church

Fabric collage #1 by Jennifer Gould
I've finished two pieces of fabric collage that I'll put in for jurying at the "Celebration of the Arts" at the First United Methodist Church's annual spiritual art exhibit.  Get the pdf of the entry form and info at  This is a wonderful show in the middle of winter and the reception is so well attended even if the weather is really bad (and it usually is).

I haven't worked out the right titles for each piece yet but the first one went together so quickly but the stitching was tortuous.  I wanted to do a lot more free-motion machine embroidery but, because it had been a while since I had done free-motion, I forgot what kind of stabilizer to use (this one has two layers of craft felt which was too soft and squishy for the machine).  If using machine stitching, I should have backed the entire piece with something like Timtex or Peltex, a very stiff backing through which machine stitching as well as hand stitching will work.  So I did a lot more hand stitching on both pieces.  I ended up loving both the way they turned out.  And I do love hand stitching.  The whip stitch that I often use reminds me so much of mending that I often incorporate that in the title.

Fabric collage #2 by Jennifer Gould
Each piece incorporates my hand printed fabric which means: textile painted, dyed, discharged, rubbings, monoprints from large plain surfaced stamps or plexiglass plates, stencil work, deconstructed screen printing, flour paste resists, indigo-dyed, shibori; and done on very diverse fabrics such as rayon, knits (every kind of knit you can think of from sheers, mesh, sweatshirt, jersey, acrylic/synthetic and more), cheesecloth, synthetic and natural sheers (organza, chiffon, metallics), and of course, quilt cottons and plain cotton (although I rarely start out with white fabric).

My second piece had the same problems with machine stitching as the first.  It made me do a lot more hand stitching but also a lot more thinking about the stitched marks I was making--- so that was a good thing!

Mailed Art: Delivery System exhibit through Feb. 24

"Evidence of Tea Drinking Obsession"
I was so excited about this exhibit and open invitation from the Holland Area Arts Council (150 E. 8th St., Holland MI).  All the pieces were mailed at a Post Office and arrived and hung on the wall at HAAC as is.  Nothing was opened.

The first piece (not mine...) to arrive was a cell phone in a plastic package from the Post Office with the label "WE CARE" and a statement about how the Post Office takes great care to make sure everything gets delivered without damage.  The cell phone, of course, was sent just as is with the arts council's address and postage.  It won first prize.  Anyway, you have to see this show to appreciate everything.

"Tweet Tweet"

My goal was to create pieces that were not the typical flat and rectangular shape that you always see in mailed pieces.  So my first attempt was one that I'd been thinking about for a long time, "Evidence of a Tea Drinking Obsession," made from my green tea package bags.  It arrived with arms and everything in tact.  The Post Office people behind the counter laughed!"

My second piece was a bird that I'd made a couple of years ago and definitely not rectangular.  The picture is before I went to the PO with it because more postage was added to the tail and under the wings.  (More postage was added to "Evidence" also.

And the postage had to be stamps, and the stamps had to be commemorative that had to go along with the theme of the piece.  So, the "Evidence" piece had Chinese New Year stamps from 2016, the "Tweet" piece had the current winter bird stamps, and the last piece "Earth to Jennifer" had Planet stamps.
"Earth to Jennifer"

So the last piece, "Earth to Jennifer," is three felted balls.  The biggest one and the top one have tapestry landscapes woven into the felt on each side.  They hang on monofilament with a "flag" at the top (like it's planted into the soil of the top one) with the HAAC address on one side and the title on the other:

Earth to Jennifer.
Earth to Jennifer.
Come in please!

Unfortunately, the Post Office somewhere a long the way, decided it was lost from something else and put it into a big envelope with a clear front and a red stamped message, "Found Loose in the Mail."

The Feb. 24 end-of-show reception will be a time when I can buy back my "Earth to Jennifer" piece.  I want to see it hanging free again.

I had a fantastic time doing all these and sending them.  The PO people were totally willing to go a long with it, and HAAC is looking forward to doing this show each year!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Workshops at MoonTree Studios

Discharge: The Magic of Taking the Color Out
The catalogs just arrived from MoonTree Studios, a Catholic artists' retreat center in Donaldson, Indiana (near Plymouth IN), and I'm truly excited since I have four workshops being offered:

  • Discharge: The Magic of Taking the Color Out
  • Contemporary Embroidery: From Surface Design to the Stitched Mark
    Contemporary Embroidery: From Surface Design
    to the Stitched Mark
  • Dyeing for Blue: Indigo with Shibori Techniques
    Dyeing for Blue: Indigo with
    Shibori Techniques
  • Designing Dolls: Developing Your Own Textile Figure
    Designing Dolls: Developing Your Own Unique
    Textile Figures
You can look at all the workshops offered (mine are offered in May, June and August) at or request a catalog.  Hope to have you in one of the workshops  We will have so much fun!

Monday, November 21, 2016

New Hanko Name Stamp from Japan

Kanji drawings of my name that might
become my name stamp (hanko).
On my Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016, Part Four, post I talked about the name stamp that Tanaka-san was going to make for me.

Tanaka-san changed the first character (first square at top right) which was kami (God) to za (sitting) as in zazen for Zen meditation (which, admittedly, I don't do) in the top right of the second square.  The final actual stamp has zen as in Zen Buddhism.  He didn't ask me about using this so I have to go with what he decided as he is the artist.  I do understand how difficult and, probably impossible, it is to come up with the character for the first syllable of my name as there is no good presentation of the Ji-e (long e) sound.

I received my new hanko name stamp in the mail on Saturday.  (Amazingly, it arrived without my street address; just my name, town, state and zipcode.  My friends at the Post Office really know me and where I live!)

I was ureshii (ecstatically happy) to say the least.  It's a thing of beauty as Tanaka-san carved it out of stone (what kind?  I'll have to ask) and the stamp part is covered with a lovely fabric "box."  He also carved his signature onto the side of the stone stamp.

It's too large to fit into my Ito Bashofu hanko case, so I'm putting it into something larger.  In Japan, people carry their hanko around with them in order to sign official documents.  Since mine is just for use on my artwork, I don't need the small convenient size of a little change purse.

The white paper with the sample stamp and the Chinese characters (kanji) came on top of the stone stamp to illustrate what the stamp and signature would look like when used.

As I mentioned above, the first character is zen and the character below it is ni (meaning thoughtfulness or benevolence), the next character at the top left is fu (fabric--- oh, so me!), and the last one is a for linen.  The last two, I think, really represent me.
Note Tanaka-san's carved "initials" on the side.
Sample of my hanko stamp at top with the character (kanji)
represented in script below it.  Tanaka Kazuomi san's
hanko and signature (Kazuomi) at bottom left.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Remembering: Images that remind me of where I've been

One of the 53 Stations of the Tokaido Road series by Utagawa Hiroshige
In Tokyo's Asakusa, at the Amuse Museum, they had a wonderful exhibit of Ukiyoe prints which I took images of as I walked down the stairs from the documentary film on the most famous of the artists.

Hiroshige (his first name) is famous for his 53 Stations of the Tokaido Road which illustrate scenes of the Tokaido Road (Eastern Sea Road) from Edo (now Tokyo) to Kyoto in all the four seasons.

Another of the Tokaido Road in winter, by Utagawa Hiroshige
It would be wonderful to take that Tokaido Road trip some day!

If you do a Google search on "53 stations of the Tokaido Road prints", you'll get the Wikipedia site which has a photograph taken in 1865 by a woman, Felice Beato, of one portion of the road.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Postcard from Japan: Follow-Up from America

Seiyu Department Store, my mother-in-law's local
store for everything including groceries (in basement), is
owned by Walmart.
This is a follow-up now that I'm back home in Michigan and I remember a number of things I didn't include or mention.

One of them, that I realized actually when I was last at Seiyu buying sushi for dinner the night before I left to go home, is that Seiyu Department Store is now owned by Walmart.  Yes!  There was a computer monitor at a cash register that was shut down in another lane with just the Walmart logo on the screen.  My friend, Forde Sakuoka, had mentioned that to me soon after I arrived and I'd forgotten to mention it--- it hadn't sunk in yet.  It is a small, small world.

I finally looked up the Sogetsu school of ikebana, Japanese flower arranging.  Here are a couple of links that will help with the explanation:

I have a feeling that I have seen Sogetsu ikebana flower arrangements before, probably on my last trip in 2005, at the Hotel Metropolitan.  They are huge and dramatic.  If I can find an image of the hotel lobby from my last trip, I'll add it in to this post.  If you google search on "sogetsu ikebana flower arrangements" you find images that show endless images.  Some are small, but there are immensely huge ones that are used in hotel lobbies.

Jomon period pot with rope design used to store nuts
or cook meat or fish.
On my Tuesday, Oct. 25, Part Two post, I showed images of the Toro Village Learning Center in Shizuoka which recreates a Yayoi village:  its houses, buildings, and rice paddies.  I had learned about the Yayoi culture in my Waseda Univeristy Kosaibu class on the Art History of Japan.  I hadn't yet understood the difference between Yayoi culture and Jomon, and even the Haniwa figurines and where they fit in.  After doing a little research on line once back home, Jomon era came first (13000 BC to about 300 BC; hunters, gatherers, fishermen), then Yayoi (300 BC to 300 AD with the rice growing culture brought in from China and Korea; also iron and metal working), and then Kofun (300 - 538 AD) which brought together the southern part of the main island of Japan into one country with the emperor living in the Nara area.  (The Haniwa figurines, unglazed pottery figures, were produced during the Kofun period.)

Another pot (almost 2 feet tall) from Jomon period.
The Amuse Museum had a very good exhibit of Jomon pottery.  (The lighting in one of the rooms was colored and didn't display the pottery well.  Also, I didn't take images of all of the explanatory signs but I think even the second large pot shown is Jomon.)   In the Jomon period, straw rope was considered sacred and was used often on their pottery to create texture and designs.  I believe that the pottery and all the pieces of clothing shown were also from Tanaka Chuzaburo's collection as were the Boro fabrics.

A traditional Japanese back strap loom.
Also there was a traditional loom that sat on the floor.  It was a back strap loom with a branch arched above the loom and connected to the warp beam in front.  The other end of the branch would have a rope loop the weaver's right foot would go through that loop in order to change sheds.  Japanese weaving on these looms was only two shafts/harnesses (plain weave).  When the alternate shed was needed, the weaver would pull back on their right foot and the shed would be changed and opened.  I actually wove on a loom like this during the spring of 1972 at the Yuukitsumugi Weaving Factory in Tochigi Prefecture, except that it was raised up off the floor about 1-1/2'.

I hope you can read the sign describing the meaning of "mottainai"---  that's a waste or it's too good to waste.  When it comes to fabric especially (even food), it explains a lot about Japanese culture.  (If you click on the picture and Zoom In, you should be able to read the commentary.)

The Yayoi culture, which followed Jomon, is well documented at the Toro Village Learning Center in Shizuoka.  At the International Christian University's art museum, there is also excellent documentation of the Jomon and Yayoi cultures that I remember.  As the ICU dug the foundations for its new buildings on campus, pottery and living sites were discovered and an archeology department developed.  I wasn't able to take any pictures of the pottery and signs as photographs weren't allowed.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Postcard from Japan: On the way home, Wed., November 9, 2016

A piece I saw in an exhibit at the
Narita, Terminal 2, Int'l
Departures area of the 90th
Anniversary exhibit of the Ikebana
Sogetsu group from Chiba Prefecture.
I woke up at 4am concerned that I wouldn't get everything into my suitcase and that I had too much carry-on bags to be able to handle it all.  I was right about the carry-on --- I lugged that through airplane terminals, planes, and more...  The flight was shorter by 4 hours or so but still difficult for me.  I think on the Japan-to-US flight I should have taken some melatonin as was suggested some where on the internet.  Maybe next time.

Close-up of the above piece.  The paper
pieces reminded me of quilling paper but
I'm not sure what it was.
The International Departures floor is huge, resembling at least one football field in size or more.  I decided that once checked in and my suitcase checked and off to the plane, I would walk.  So I walked around the perimeter and around and around this huge flat open area for as long as I could before it got close to the time I should head for my gate.

I happened upon an exhibit of the Ikebana Sogetsu group from Chiba Prefecture (in which Narita Airport is located; to the east of Tokyo).
Ikebana is the traditional art of flower arranging.  I'm not yet sure what Sogetsu refers to (the 2nd character is month, getsu) but every piece used the rows upon rows of long pointed folded papers to form designs.
I apologize for the odd photographs but all the pieces were covered with glass and the reflections made clear images impossible.
Unfortunately, only the light colored pieces came out the best as the dark ones showed only reflections of lights and me.

I watched three movies on the plane (there were about 15-20 to choose from!):  The BFG (Disney animated story about an English orphan girl in London who is abducted by a giant one night but comes upon giants 10 times his size; and meeting the Queen), The Hunt for the Wilder People (Sam Neill in New Zealand and a young Maori boy who live out in the wild rather than let the authorities return the youth to the foster system), and The Legend of Tarzan (no explanation needed except that Alexander Skarsgard who plays Tarzan is an  excellent actor--- and a hunk).

I wasn't sleeping but exhausted so I started another and another movie and finally slept for an hour, I think.  Just not long enough.

The lights of Chicago and Lake Michigan below and the moon above.  
I had to go through customs at Chicago.  Exhausted, trying to stay awake, and hauling my carry-on (laptop, 2 cameras, books, and more) in both hands plus purse on my shoulder, I made it to G11 gate (G went all the way to #99) and onto the plane.  Once in the air and sitting by the window, I realized that it was night time and Chicago lay below with yellow/orange lights brilliantly lighting up the sky with the moon above.  A black Lake Michigan lay off the left.  Finally I realized I should take a picture of my last moments before leaving that brilliance of the big city.

My friend, Julia Voake, met me at the airport.  It was so wonderful to see her!  And wonderful to get home, see my cats (took them a while to come out but once I fed them and petted them and whispered to them, they remembered me), and sleep in my own bed.  Thanks for tuning in for this long Postcard from Japan!