So what should I say about me? I had some early art training in watercolor painting, but learning to sew predates all other artistic adventures. My grandmother, who had been a dressmaker in the Edwardian era, used to make the most amazing ribbon roses and lace embellishments while I played with the scraps that remained as she clipped and snipped the forms for her projects. After high school, I went to Parsons School of Design in NYC and later ran a business selling hand painted T-shirts in the early 70’s, but entrepreneurship soon took a back seat to the demands of child-rearing. And through some long years of single-motherhood, it was sewing that helped me pinch a penny till a dollar holler’d (as my father used to say…).
Then it was my teen-age son that got me moving to Japan. Back in the early 90s, his dream was to study manga drawing at an art school in Tokyo and all the research we did made it sure look like fun. Complaining to a friend that my own life was looking pretty bland in comparison, she replied, “Well, he’s young. He gets to have fun!” oooh! Did that hit a nerve? Pretty soon I was muttering, “I’m not too old to have fun. I’m not. I’m not. I’m NOT!”
So I’ve been here eighteen years now and yes, life in Japan makes everything fun. I moved to Kyoto, the heart of Japan’s traditional textile industry and have had a field day studying a variety of kimono-dyeing techniques. I also spent five years learning the intricacies of Japanese scroll mounting. Although I’ve mostly exhibited here in Japan, I’m pleased to say my scrolls have found their way into homes in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Canada as well as Japan. I’ve won a few awards, appeared repeatedly on Japanese television and even made it into Fiberarts magazine.
Loving the addition of surface texture, I took a distance-learning course in hand embroidery from the British Embroiderer’s Guild. Now, these are people who take their embroidery seriously! It was through their tutelage that I developed an appreciation of archeological textiles, which re-trenched my focus on Japan’s great textile traditions, so many of which are now in danger of disappearing.
But as much as I love the peaceful rhythms of hand stitching, modern life just doesn’t seem to permit the time, which encouraged me to try free-motion machine embroidery. Oh, how I loved the magic of seeing my designs take form beneath the bouncing needle. And then I bought a big and beautiful Brother ULT and attended the American Embroidery Conference in Marietta, Georgia. What a whole new world opened up for me there!! Now I’m busily trying to see what can I achieve with computerized embroidery. Can I replicate the world of Asian textile patterns I love so much? That’s my current point of exploration.