About me

Cindy Powers, Kyoto embroidererSo 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. kannon-samaI also spent five years learning the intricacies of Japanese scroll mounting. bamboo scroll 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.

22 thoughts on “About me

  1. becky rhodes

    Love your blog Cindy. The 2007 American embroidery conference was the first of that one that I had attended as well. I am fascinated by BLOGS these days so I’ve added yours to my favorite list. Great pictues. Have to compliment you for moving to Japan. Sure is a beautiful country – from your pictures.
    Take care.

  2. Sharona Aguilar

    Hi Cindy, Just finished reading your blog. Thank you for sharing. I really enjoyed reading everything I started Machine embroidery about 5 months ago and that is all I do now. I love it. I have a BabyLock Ellageo,. I work mostly on Judaica designs, making different things. I want to get a bunch going, and then my daughter-in-law will make a web site for me, or is it blogs now. Drop me a line when you get a chance. Take care and be well Sharona

  3. Kazuko Horiuchi Suzuki

    Dear Cindy:
    Thank you for providing me the opportunity to go through your home page. I was very surprise to learn about your great interest and dedication to learn about the japanese culture. Moreover, your capability to blend your cultural background with this rich and unique culture is amazing. Your hard life is now flourishing toward a new road for building a new chapter in your artistic ability hidden from years. The best for successful years to come. Yours. Kazuko

  4. Ina Archer

    Hello Cindy,
    Just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed looking around your site. Was so interesting reading your blog. Loved how you ended up going to Japan. Am looking forward to seeing you once again in Atlanta at the 2009 AEC. Wishing you the best. Ina (The Ticket Lady)

  5. Glendyn Hoplight-Powers

    Hi Aunt Cindy!

    Mom told me about your blog. XD This is Glendyn. Hi! And I don’t know what else to say, so bye!

  6. Rosanne

    I found your blog from Twitter and I must say it is beautiful! I admire your courage to go ahead and enjoy life. Moving to another country is going to an extreme. Your work is amazing. Thanks for finding me on Twitter, so I could find you.
    Happy New Year and may it be a successful one for you.

    Rosanne @Fab Fibers

  7. Carol Frederick

    Hi Cindy,

    Very interesting! Happened upon your site to find out about a piece of Japanese fabric I have. I am blown away by the beauty of the pieces exhibited on your site. I have an AA in interior design but have not done much work in the field. I keep wanting to work with some fabric myself to come up with a lovely craft that would also sell. Thanks for the blog – lovely!

    Carol

  8. Maya Hara

    Hi Cindy,

    Catherine told me that you wrote about the Shinnenkai. I enjoyed your article. It was great to be able to see everyone via your page! I wish I were there too but am glad that everyone had a great time.

    Thanks for the great write up!

    Maya

  9. Gina Reddin

    My bachelors degree is in Interior Design so I have a great interest in all textiles and architecture. I lived in Japan for 2 years but that was before college and before I was into embroidery and love for textiles and architecture. I hope to return to Japan some day but who knows what the future holds. I would love to show my husband Japan. I’m sure it has changed so much since ’88-’90. I still treasure my obi and kimono. I sure picked up some treasures from gomi piles when I lived there. There were 2 items that I had in storage and couldn’t find when I moved back that I sure wish I still had….an antique cigar box and an antique regulator clock.

    your blog sure does bring back memories of Japan and a much simpler time in my life.

  10. Ann

    Hi Cindy,
    I found your blog through an email link and have found it just so fascinating. I couldn’t stop reading as the minitues turned to almost an hour. I’ve put you on my “Blogs I Follow” list and look forward to catching up with your intelligent comentary, beautiful images and news about life in Kyoto – somewhere I really want go some time in my life. Thank you.
    Ann.

  11. Ian

    Hey Aunt Cindy,

    i kinda washed your card in my jean shorts so i had to look you up on google, And guess what, I found you!

  12. Jane O'Riordan

    I was so excited to find a ‘Japanese person’ on Twitter. My sister has moved to Nagoya and treated me to a 2 week holiday in May. I had a blast. Japan is amazing. I can’t wait to go back. I loved reading your blog. Clever lady
    Jane

  13. sharon

    It sounds like you have found paradise. Does kyoto have workshops that welcome foreigners for workshops?? not just tasters but for a couple of weeks etc. I would really appreciate knowing. cheers

  14. admin Post author

    Oh, absolutely yes. I’ve always been welcomed at every workshop I’ve taken. Some have been brief and some have been on-going for months and even years. Sometimes the sensei spoke English, but often not and then we communicated through gestures and pantomime when our abilities to speak the other person’s language failed. But that always just added to the fun.

  15. Michelle

    Hello Cindy, I am very happy that you took a leap of faith, life is full of surprizes! You seem to care about what you do from your heart. I have been to Kyoto and bought an antique kimono. I thought Japan was a special country and enjoyed every moment there. Everything seemed so beautiful and so clean. It was a bit expensive though. I wish you the best of luck in all your beautiful arts. Have you learned to speak Japanese ? Well take care and keep the adventure in you, it keeps us young. Your blog is great! Michelle

  16. Megan

    Hi Aunt Cindy,

    I love your blog! I don’t have your email anymore and I don’t think Ian does either :( I so want to visit Japan in the near future!! Do you skype? We can talk that way, too!

    Miss you,
    Megan

  17. Penny Wright

    Hi,
    I’ve recently found your wonderful blog. It’s most appreciated.
    Thanks so much.
    Best regards,
    Penny Wright
    Fujisawa, Kanagawa

  18. Jeanne Nott

    Hi Cindy! I graduated with you back in 67 and just saw your blog. What an interesting life you have! I moved to Colorado back in the 70′s and never returned to Vineland (except to visit family). My two sisters still live in NJ and my brother resides in Philly. My mom used to say that I was the only one “to get away.”
    Best wishes!

  19. Renee Leach

    You are such an inspiration. I just found your blog. I love going through it.

  20. Fred

    Hi Cindy..

    I know you through Liz Samit. I’ll be in Japan on the 10th of this month. I’m really surprised and pleased at all you’ve done! Amazing success. Wow … to make such a big change is huge. I’ve retired and I’m about to start nine months of travel. Who knows … maybe I’ll be an ex-pat too…. Africa, Thailand, Indonesia? Who knows. It would be great to say hello while I’m there. (I’ll only be in Japan for a week.)

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