The Samoe

I am playing catch up with posting things from back in June in Japan.  Life gets busy....

While at the International Moku Hanga Conference in Kyoto, several of us noted that the Japanese printers and carvers where wearing a really nice "smock" while they worked.  Because I was staying longer after the conference I decided to see if I could find one for myself and another printmaker who wanted one.

I looked in several shops but I didn't even know what it was called so had a hard time locating one. 
Takiyuki and Tomoko
When I got to Higashiomi I was very fortunate to stay with 2 artists, Tomoko and Takiyuki, in their family home for 3 days.  They were gracious enough to take me to many sights in the area including Hikone Castle, Shigaraki, and several waterfalls.
I asked Tomoko if she might know of a shop where I could find one of these smocks.  "Oh!  You want a samoe."  She took a long time thinking about it and then said I need to go see the seamstress. I would not find one of good quality in a shop. She proceeded to make a phone call and set up an appointment.
We set out thru the narrow streets and alleys until we came to the home of the seamstress. 
Let me just insert here that I had noticed thru my time in Japan that I was not just taller than most women but I was an Amazon!  I've never been, let's say, petite.  Here I was huge! 
I was still surprised when the first words out of the seamstress's mouth when she saw me were, "So BIG!!!"
You can see by the pictures that I towered over her!  I had to bend down just so she could take measurements and hold the tape measure for her at my neck!  There was a whole conversation going on that I didn't understand but got that she was not used to sewing for someone of my size.  A lot of laughter between us all!  Now I understood why I wouldn't find one of "good quality" in a shop.  She knew I'd never find one that fit me!

My height wasn't the only issue.  The other problem was that the other printmaker who wanted a samoe was a man. More laughter when trying to explain that one!
Tomoko told her that she would select fabric for me and deliver it to her.  And so, weeks after I was home, I heard from Tomoko that she had picked out fabric and our samoe's was being made.  Not long after that a package arrived in the mail and here was my very own samoe, made to order and perfectly fit just for me! 
Made with Japanese indigo I wear it with a grateful heart when I am printing and remember the fun of going to this very brave seamstress's home with Tomoko!

Wearing my new samoe to work!

Artist in Residence - Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park

Welcome to Dan's Cabin
 I have just returned from 2 weeks at Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park in Michigan's beautiful Upper Peninsula where I was the final Artist in Residence of the year.  My husband and I spent the time hiking every day.  My focus was on the old growth & virgin forests and the park's many, many waterfalls.  As part of my residency I gave a program explaining moku hanga and showed examples of prints and my tools.  I also have to, within a year, give a piece of art inspired by my residence to the Friends of the Porkies.
Dan's Cabin

 This is the AiRP home during their residency.  GORGEOUS!  The cabin was a work of love and respect for Dan Urbanski. ( Artist in Residence information page )The art and craft that went in to every piece of the cabin is astonishing.  We were honored to be there.  The little building is, yup, an outhouse.  Composting outhouse to be exact.  That was quite an interesting experience too!
The cabin is a little over 1/4 mile from the trail head and everything, including water, had to be carried up the hill to the cabin.  There was no electricity, no wifi, no cell phone reception.  It was great!  Although bear activity was high, we were not fortunate enough to see one.  Or that could be seen as a good thing, too, I guess!

Lake of the Clouds
 This was the late afternoon view from the Escarpment Trail at Lake of the Clouds. 

Lake Superior Trail campsite
 We were given a backcountry pass for 3 nights and we decided to hike out to the Lake Superior Trail and set up camp between the Little and Big Carp Rivers.  From there we went another couple miles to Shining Cloud Falls and back before settling down for the night.  With perfect weather and our food safely stashed up the bear pole, we slept very soundly.

Presque Isle river
 A view of the Presque Isle river as it flows out to Lake Superior.

Trap Falls
 We spent one day hiking Government Peak Trail to Trap Falls.  It was an oasis!  We found it a perfect place to stop for lunch.

West Vista view on the Overlook Trail
After spending the morning hiking the Union Spring Trail (5 miles) we refueled and after lunch attempted Overlook Trail.  At "only" 2 miles we thought it would be a piece of cake.  That piece of cake took us nearly 5 hours.  Out in these mountains you can't figure how long it will take by miles.  It was quite an accomplishment for this (early) mid life couple but we did it!

The beauty I found in the Porkies was more than I could every have imagined. Michigan never disappoints me.  I cannot wait to see what prints come out of this! work!