Journey to Japan: Learning With a Master

If you've been following along then you know that my long-awaited trip to Japan finally took place this year. The trip involved two days of sight-seeing and shopping in Tokyo, followed by a ten-day workshop hosted at Bryan Whitehead's farmhouse in Fujino. To put into perspective how unique and special this opportunity was, you should understand a bit about Bryan.

Bryan lives in a small mountain village just outside Tokyo. He grows his own crop of Indigo every year and processes the leaves into dye using traditional methods. He breeds silk moths, raises the silkworms and reels/ spins the silk from the cocoons. The silk is then dyed with natural dyes and woven on traditional Japanese looms.

Needless to say, learning from him, in his native work space and home, was an opportunity of a lifetime.

An experience like this trip is best put into words with images. I have so many captivating pictures from this journey that I've decided to split them into two "chapters" — our time learning with Bryan and our adventures around Japan. Consider this Part One with Part Two shortly following!

There is so much incredible beauty in Japan's landscape... You could literally just sit and take it all in for hours. This is some of the countryside surrounding Bryan's home in Fujino.

Every morning of the workshop we would gather for a lesson with Bryan. He would show us things like stitching methods, how to wrap things, and would share antique fibers and fabrics with us. Every morning was an adventure in knowledge of Japanese culture and society.

This is one of the beautiful antique fabrics that Bryan shared with us. The detail and intricacy are simply gorgeous.

Below you can see what a cake of Indigo looks like... That is Indigo that has been harvested and processed and made into a cake form. Next to it is one of Bryan's Indigo vats — he has two huge crockery vats, about 30 gallons each. Because we were a large group he added two more made out of garbage cans so we'd all have space to work and learn during the workshop.

Hiro was our chief cook and made incredible meals. Everything was fresh out of the garden or from the market that day. Here he's showing us bamboo shoots that had just been picked that morning. The one in his right hand was just picked, and the one in his left had been peeled.

During our stay we journeyed into Fujino to an Indigo grower and dyer. He showed us his Indigo seedlings, as well as the Indigo he was composting from the previous year. Here you can see the wooden bucket he used with burlap covering the compost and the Indigo in the center. The heat coming from it was incredible!

On the right you can see his Indigo vats, which were sunken into the ground so that they weren't effected by the winter cold as much.

And this is just Bryan foolin' around with Jo as she's dying items in the Indigo 🙂

Below you'll see that after we had dyed our items in the Indigo and everything was oxidized, several people would take them down to the river. Here you'll see Bryan and three ladies from the workshop, they rinsed the Indigo out and then beat the items against the rocks. That removes the excess Indigo, and also pounds it into the fabric.

During one of the workshop days we took two trains to get to a town to visit a stencil dyer. He is a sixth-generation stencil dyer and has been doing this his entire life! He demonstrated how he uses stencils and a rice-resist paste which is put on the cloth, dried, and then put into the Indigo. The result was breathtaking stencil designs on cotton cloth.

We worked with the paste and used our stencils as well as some of his to explore and practice with. You can see Kris below washing the stencils, and how many kinds we had! That was a wonderful day and we got to come home with samples of fabrics.

There was a young woman who came almost every day to help Hiro with our meals. One day she wore a dress that she had made, including most of the fabric it was made out of.

You can see the beautiful design on the back of her dress — she created it herself by doing all of that intricate stitching, then dying it in the Indigo to get that wonderful design. Simply stunning.

This is a piece of fabric that Bryan had... I'm going to reproduce this design this year! It won't be an easy project, but this fabric is beautiful and I can't wait to share my finished product.

And finally, here is our "End of Our Time" photo. We all wore something we had created as you can see. Down in the front are Bryan and Hiro, they were probably ready to see us go home but none of us wanted to leave, we had had so much fun and such a wonderful time there!

This trip was truly one to remember and memorable in so many ways...

Stay tuned for more photos from this incredible trip coming soon.

To see where I'll be headed next, you can check out my itinerary here. Want to learn what I was taught in Japan?

Sign up for one of my classes, join me at my studio or invite me to teach for your group!

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Adventures in Japan: 2019 Trip Part II

My long-awaited (and postponed!) trip to Japan took place this year, and it was simply incredible. The trip consisted of a couple of days of exploring Tokyo and a ten-day workshop at Bryan Whitehead's home and farm in Fujino. I recently shared photos and details from this part of my journey, you can see them here.

As I mentioned in my previous post about this trip, there was so much to take in. Japan is a beautiful country and culture, and the best way to share my experiences there are through the photos I took. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words!

Here's our group of 18 just after we'd arrived, ready and eager for the adventures awaiting us. We started off with two days in Tokyo with Bryan as our guide.

Bryan is Canadian, and has lived in Japan for 30 years where he owns his home and farm. He is fully integrated into Japanese society, respected and well-loved in his home town of Fujino.

Right after our arrival Bryan came to my hotel room with one thousand silk worms that were hatching. They needed to be transferred from a small envelope to a dish where they could eat mulberry leaves.

The second picture shows the silkworms after only two days of eating! They always climb up, so we continued to add mulberry leaves so they could keep climbing and eating.

Bryan took us to an antique kimono and fabric store...

It was a small space but we were all crowded in there finding simply fabulous treasures. Aside from antique kimonos and fabrics, there were antique obis, obi ties, fireman jackets, advertising aprons and all kinds of amazing things for us to look at and buy.

As we walked through the city to our next destination I couldn't help but notice the beautiful details around me. Everything, like the drain cover above and the mosaic mural below, has a gorgeous aesthetic to it. Even the most simple things aren't left plain, everything is decorated beautifully.

The second store we arrived at had even more antique kimonos and fabrics. Bryan explained how some of the fabrics were made and what they were used for, like this stencil-dyed fish design. All of those little dots in the fish, simply amazing.

And this stencil-dyed jacket with a leaf design... beautiful!

Here's another example of something simple made simply beautiful... This is one of the manhole covers in Fujino. The covers always depict something about the area they're in, and in Fujino they were all decorated with these elegant flowers.

Following our ten-day workshop with Bryan, we went into Kyoto. We saw several temples and visited the bamboo forest.

On our second day in Kyoto my roommate Connie and I were picked up at our hotel by Pixie and her assistant. Pixie owns the mill in Japan where my fabrics for Moda are produced and lives in Kyoto. She was kind enough to come take us on a day-long adventure!

We started our day off at a hand maker's craft fair, which included this incredible sacred horse. I'm not sure of the entire story, but he/ she was simply beautiful.

We also went to a shop where we could buy items to make jewelry with when we got home, a store that sells Moda fabrics and a wonderful yarn store (I did buy some yarn!).

Our next adventure brought us to a handmade needle store, and this gentleman is one of the needle-makers. I purchased some needles and pin cushions, and all of the needles in his shop were handmade. Incredible!

And what would travel be without amazing food? After a fabulous tempura lunch and trip to a lovely tea room, we had dinner at a wonderful restaurant.

We got to cook our food in the center of the table! You can see the waiter with boxes with all the vegetables that we'd be cooking in the water in the center of the table that is heated to a boil. We had very thin slices of Kobe beef that we cooked in the water and then dipped into a bowl of sauce. Delicious!

Finally, we ended our adventure with this beautiful scenery. This trip lasted about 17 days, and it was truly a journey of a lifetime. I'm left with memories and experiences that I'll carry with me always, and I can't wait to integrate all that I learned into my work in the coming months and years.

To see where I'll be headed next, you can check out my itinerary here. Want to learn what I was taught in Japan?

Sign up for one of my classes, join me at my studio or invite me to teach for your group!

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My Trip to Japan is Rescheduled to 2019

Good news and bad news. Bad news for some is that my trip to Japan has been rescheduled to May of 2019. Good news for others is my trip to Japan has been rescheduled until 2019. There was just not enough lead time for the 2018 trip so Bryan and I decided to reschedule the trip for

May 13 -24, 2019

(Fly into Tokyo on May 12, 2019)

Registration will begin soon!

Read the newsletter here

Newsletter You can read about Suzanne here Aya Fiber Studio It is going to be tons of fun and super informative. We will all learn a lot from Bryan.
This is just a hint of our work.

This is just a hint of our work.

Please let me know if you are seriously interested in joining us. I can't wait, Debbie  
Posted in Dye, Fabric, Indigo, Japan, Japan, Shibori, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I am going back to Japan and I am taking 10 people with me.

Let me know if you are interested. I just sent out a newsletter with all of the information in detail. You can read it here. Calico Carriage Quilt Designs Scroll down and click on Read our latest Newsletter. The short details are Two days in Tokyo to shop at flea markets and specialty shops. Ten days in Fujino at Textile workshop. Arrive in Tokyo on February 26 –  leave Japan on March 11. Price in today's market is $3,900. IMG_4580 shibori-inspiration-photo IMG_4166 copy This trip is a trip of a lifetime for Indigo/Shibori artists or those who want to learn. Please let me know if you need additional information. Debbie
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And the winner is:

I have lucky winner for my give away.
Shibori gifts

Shibori gifts

If you do not have a quilt shop in your area who carries my fabric,  you can choose an online shop that carries it. Send me the information and I will purchase the gift certificate in your name. Another option is for you to choose a kit from my website valued at $100 to $130 or any combination that equals that amount. Just go to the website and click on kits. Let me know what you choose. The winner is Lynn Wingard! Congratulations Lynn
Posted in blogging, Fabric, Shibori, Shops, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

The End of Another Year

Where oh where does the time go? I can not believe it is the end of 2016. What a good year it was! In January Becky Gough and I went to Creations in Kerrville, Texas to take a Tuffet Class. We had so much fun and I love my Tuffet! img_2991 After taking the Tuffet class I started my year of teaching. I taught nine times in Texas, three times in Georgia, twice in Louisiana, twice in South Carolina, three times in North Carolina, once in Florida, six times in California, once in Kentucky and once in Missouri. While I was teaching for five different guilds in California David and I did a little sight seeing. We went to Sequoia National Park, Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe. ca396b25-e782-4583-8a2d-0336d700d822 img_5347 My two most exciting trips of the year were in April and May. In April David and I went to Japan for two weeks to study Shibori techniques for indigo dyeing. It was the most unbelievable trip of a lifetime. The scenery was truly picturesque. We felt like we were in a fairly land and we learned so much! I plan on going back in the spring of 2018 and I will be taking people with me. Let me know if you want to go! IMG_4119 img_4580The second major adventure was in May when I went to Salt Lake City, Utah to debut my first fabric line for Moda. It was a fabulous market where I made new friends and saw lots of old friends. The shop owners were very receptive to my fabric and I feel so blessed to be with such a fine company. img_4832As I drove to all these bookings for guilds, shops and retreats, I was constantly thinking of the next adventure where I would meet new friends, and I did a lot of sight seeing along the way. I went to Santa Fe, New Mexico. img_5402We went to Grand Canyon National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park. I saw the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean as well as many lakes and rivers. I went through deserts, mountains and prairies. I had great company on several trips. My friend and assistant Becky went with me to Utah and David was with me in California and one time in Florida. We ended the year with both sons here for Christmas and David and I will spend a very quiet new years at home. I am very blessed to love what I do and do what I love. I hope to meet you in my future travels. img_2878I am way behind in my give aways of fabric so I am posting the final 8 winners plus three that have never sent me messages with their addresses. The new winners are: Naomi Stewart, Theresa Sanders, Jane Olley, Jeanne Anderson, Kathy Moore,Barbara Macey, Charlotte Hickman  and Debbie Hedden. Send me your addresses so I can send you a prize.                                                                                                    I need addresses from previous winners: Brenda Morton, Paula Stuplich and Yvonne of yvonnedesigns. My email is: I will be giving away the $100 gift certificate to the shop of your choice that carries my fabric on Sunday. Leave a message here and tell me what local shop or online shop you would want to receive it from to be in the running to win. Remember the shop has to carry my fabrics. Thanks for reading, Debbie    
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Trip to Florida / I was a student

I just took a wonderful trip to Florida where I was a student enjoying the learning process. I have a wonderful friend named Suzanne Conners who owns Aya Fiber Studio in Stuart, Florida. Her studio is located at the Fish House Art Center and looks out over the beautiful Florida waterfront. This was our view for the week. img_6363-1 The class I was taking was about combining indigo, eco-dye and rust. Now how much better could it get? The teacher was Pia Best-Reininghaus from Germany. The first thing we learned was how Pia mixes her indigo vat. Then she demonstrated how she dips and allows for oxidation. Her techniques were very different from some I have been taught. Then it was our turn and we dyed our fabrics and garments in the indigo and proceeded to lay out our plants for the eco-dyeing. img_6373


img_6383 img_6384 We made our bundles of fabric, plants and rusty pipes. Then the steaming began. The plant based fibers were steamed for 5 hours before we could open and reveal our "masterpieces". img_6398img_6369 img_6409 img_6404 img_6398 img_6370 img_6445 img_6436 Oh my goodness the big reveals were so exciting! Who would think eight women could be so thrilled with rust stained fabrics. It was so much fun. I made some great new friends and enjoyed the relaxation time. On the second night we went on a cruise around Port Salerno. The weather was perfect as we were enjoying the sights along with a little wine and cheese. They even have boats for the police. img_6454 The time flew by and before I knew it, I had to get on the plane and come home. This was one of my new friends-Alexandra. She is Suzanne and Steve's kitty. I called her a little alien because she made a noise like someone from space instead of a meow. She is adorable! img_6366 I can't wait to wear my new shirt and scarves. I also have fabric dyed and ready to sew a shirt and vest. As usual I just need some more time. Now I have to apologize again because I have not had my give away of Shibori items in three weeks. Things have been crazy around here due to family illnesses and other things. All is good now or at least getting better. So here are three winners to make up for the three weeks. Please message me your mailing information so I can send you a charm pack of my Shibori fabrics.

Brenda Morton

Paula Stuplich

Yvonne of yvonnewdesign

Read my 9/13/2016 post for all the details on my give away.

Leave a comment to get your name in the pot for the next prize.

Share this post to get your name in the pot.

Posted in blogging, day to day, Dye, Fabric, Indigo, Shibori, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

I am ready for late November

I have always tried to stay quiet about politics and religion. I feel both of these are very personal and I do not want to get into it with my "friends" because most of the time I feel very isolated in my thoughts and views. I am still not going to talk politics. I will talk a little about religion because my heart is aching! I live in a small town with some feeling of isolation even when I am in a large group of people. The thing I love the most about my current career choice is my ability to travel and meet new people. I love Facebook and Instagram because it puts me in contact with lots of people. I am beginning to be appauled at the comments and postings of some of my online friends from both sides of the fence. I am in total disbelief at what some are posting in the name of Christianity. I am almost to the point of leaving Facebook until this election is over but I would miss some wonderful posts by some amazing people. For example I loved being included in Pam Holland's post about a new grandchild. I like knowing that people I care about are safe in the aftermath of hurricanes and flooding. I like seeing Lissa Alexander's posts of old photos of her family. I don't want to miss any of these things. I have friends on Facebook and in real life who are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and even some who are not sure what they believe. I have friends who are straight and gay. I have friends who are of all nationalities and ethnicity. I don't judge anyone on who they worship, who they love or what color their skin is or how much money they have. I just want to look up to people who are true to their beliefs and treat others with love and respect. There is a Christian hymn that is called "They'll Know We Are Christians" and I love the words. It is based on a verse from the Bible, John 13:35. The lyrics contain these words: We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord We will work with each other, we will work side by side We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand By our love, by our love  And they'll know we are "Christians" by our love, by our love The last verse could read: "And they will know they are loved by our love." In these turbulent times I pray that we can all just live by some variation of these words no matter what your religious belief or political party. Just be kind to one another and love each other as you want to be loved. On a lighter note, I am way late in announcing my winner of the week from last Friday. The winner of a Junior Layer Cake is Lynn Wingard. shibori-giveaways Lynn message me your address so we can get it in the mail.
Posted in blogging, day to day, quilting,travel,blogging,, Uncategorized | Tagged | 6 Comments

This week’s winner and an opportunity to learn.

These are just some of the items students have made in my Shibori Indigo and Ice Dyeing for Beginners classes. Scroll down to see the info on my next class! And the winner of my blog contest for the week.




img_3332-1 img_3333-1 img_3335-1 img_3341-1 img_3342-1 img_3343 img_3344 img_3345-1

I will be teaching both of these classes at Art Retreat On the Prairie in Round Top, Texas on November 5 & 6,2016.

That is only a few short weeks away but there are openings in the class. Barb and Erin of Vivi Magoo Presents put on great retreat opportunities at wonderful venues. The Retreat on the Prairie is held in Historic Round Top, Texas. The fall weather should be wonderful.

Art Retreat on the Prairie

This may be one of my last times to teach the Ice Dye for a while so if you are intrigued please join me. The Shibori and Indigo class is a wonderful, fun and exciting class. My students around the country are loving it, especially since my fabric line "Shibori" with Moda fabrics has debuted.

I will also be in Houston at Quilt Festival!!!                     

I will be in the Open Studios area on the show floor between Aisles 100 and 200 and Main. I will be doing two Shibori demos. Thursday November 3 from 2:00 until 4:00 and Friday November 4 from 12:00 until 2:00

I am also going to be in the Compass Centre Booth 524-525 on Wednesday evening November 2 (preview night for International Quilt Festival) signing patterns and Melissa will have kits of my patterns for sale!

Contact me if you have any questions!

Ok for this week's winner of one designer roll of Shibori fabric:

Margaret Murphy Please send me your shipping information.

Leave a comment and share this blog for a chance to win some of my Shibori by Debbie Maddy for Moda fabric.

Here are the rules:

Leave a comment on this post = one entry

Post a picture of you and a shop employee beside my fabric line in a quilt shop = 2 entries Be sure to include the name and town of the quilt shop.

Share this blog post on Instagram or Facebook and tag me = 1 entry

Post a picture on Instagram or Facebook of an item other than a full quilt you have made with the fabric = 2 entries (Be sure to tag me and Moda Fabrics in the post)

Post a picture on Instagram or Facebook of a full quilt, lap or larger made with the fabric = 5 entries (be sure to tag me and Moda Fabrics in the post)

Shop owners when you receive the line of fabric, show a picture of the fabric and tag me on Facebook or Instagram and I will send you a set of the 5 patterns that feature the line free of charge.

I will post a winner on my blog each Friday. You must check the blog each Friday to see if you are a winner. I will need your shipping information.

Remember: Always tag me and Moda Fabrics in the posts so I can see it and add your name to the list.

Good luck to all who play the game.

Posted in blogging, Debbie's Accolades, Debbie's Lectures and Workshops, Dye, Fabric, Indigo, Moda, quilting, Quilting and Fabric Shops, quilting,travel,blogging,, Shibori, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Winner for this week

The winner in the Shibori give away this week is Jeanne Kuchelmeister.
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