To Remember

Something I don’t share very often is my modest collection of batik textiles. They date back to a short span of years between the late eighties, and early nineties. I know this because they belonged to my mother, and that was the timeframe in which she visited Bali and Java. I guess I don’t share these pieces because I’m reluctant to chop them up. That’s pretty much what I’m doing most of the time: I dismantle things, and make new things out of the pieces.

This particular batik fabric was once an oval table cloth. After my mother died, I asked my father to send me her Balinese textiles, and this tablecloth was one of them. Mom liked these things as much as I do, but apparently she was never good at taking care of them. The damage indicated that it was left on the table for a really long time until the table corners ripped through the fabric. I figured this was a good opportunity as any to harvest this fabric, and make something new.

I like long scarves. I’m sure many of you know that by now. Most of the pieces I’ve designed have been in the range of eight to ten feet. Visually, I’m drawn to this aesthetic. I like thinner, finer fabrics with lot’s of area. If I want it thicker, I can wrap it around twice or even three times.

All together there are six pieces in this patchwork, seamed together with running stitches, then triple whip stitched. There was a lot of ironing and measuring involved. You may have noticed that I leave the raw edges. I like them. In time they will fray, but the whip stitching holds things in place. Something else I did was orient the folds of the seams so that verticals sat on one side, and horizontals sat on the other. Again, this was just me celebrating those raw edges. All together, this piece measures 20in (50cm) wide by 108in (274cm) long.

I never saw this table cloth on the kitchen table in our house on Guam. I wasn’t living on the island anymore at that point, I was here in California. But this piece let’s me be there on that hot little island in the Pacific. There were plants everywhere, and a beach down the street, and humidity that would eat your table linens alive.


Take the Time

I think a common misconception about my photography is that I make tutorials. Although these photo essays can be seen that way, that's not really my intention. What I'm doing is sharing my creative process in order to help you develop yours. Explicitly telling you step by step how to make something doesn't really help you do that. And let's face it: creative people don't really need to be told how to do anything. They just need to see that it can be done.

I've had quite a few of these small drawstring bags over the years, but I didn't start really using them until I started knitting. These smaller sizes have come in handy the most since I tend to knit hats. They also come in handy when I need to make room in my backpack. I keep a lightweight jacket in there, and if I need the room, I can stuff it into one of these and clip it somewhere.

The basic design is based on common plastic bags which are banned here in San Jose. The bottom consists of an accordion fold that is sealed together on the sides so that it can open and stand upright. The rigidity of this recycled denim paired with the small size allows this bag to do that whether it is empty or full.

Once again I've used this natural white mercerized cotton recycled from a Fa├žonnable sweater. This is the same thread I split down from a triple strand yarn, and used to make my apron and a tote bag. I've doubled it up to seal the drawstring tunnel, and along the side seams where all the structural strength is needed. The whip stitching was done in single strand to keep the edges as smooth and flush to the fabric as possible. I might add to them later. I like that visual variance between the single and double threading. Maybe that's something I can take into the next recycled denim project.

In the Internet Age, we don't need all that step-by-step. We don't need patterns that tell us what to do. Technical craftsmanship is fully searchable now. There's no reason to get hung up on that. Just focus on what you want to make, and just make it. That journey of figuring things out is part of your individual creative process. Take the time to embrace it.