Sunday, July 3

it's okay: water, fire and the anagama collection

Here's what happened to me in May: I got sick. Not life and death sick, but I couldn't eat for five days sick. And then late on the fifth day, when food seemed like something almost worth considering, I was so wiped out that I did something thoughtless — well actually, stupid (ummm, maybe squint while you read this next part) — and I spilled boiling pasta water on my feet. Gah! I know.

I'm fine now — really — though foot modeling is definitely off my career list. But I ended up spending a few weeks at home. If you are a self-employed person I know your soul is cringing because you know what that means. If you are a self-employed artist, you are double extra cringing. Your eyes may even be watering. We do not spend three weeks at home. It's unheard of.

Here's the thing: it was the best thing that's happened to me in years. You know how people always tell you to walk away from your creative work when you're stuck? I'm really bad at that. I had to be knocked on my ass instead. I felt ill enough that All Things Secret Lentil got flung clear out of my head. I didn't care about it. I almost forgot what it was. That is a luxury I cannot afford under normal circumstances. I live, breathe and sleep Secret Lentil, for better and worse. I go to sleep thinking about responsive newsletter formats and wake up thinking about a way I may be able cut a certain hip angle. In between, I dream about color combinations.

So I ended up on an extended Zen couch retreat. I was able to use the distance I felt to turn and face my work freshly and explore how to newly embrace it. I emerged with an intense desire to return to it in a different way, possessed with a level of grounded clarity that has no room for doubt. What I wanted: to cull some aspects that have been dragging me down energetically, to embrace some new techniques, to draw on some of my old work that still sparks with magic for me, to focus the materials I use and to build a new studio flow that better suits my curiosity and habits and passions. And I thought a lot about beauty, and how I just want to make things that express beauty, in whatever odd or lovely (or raw or ugly!) way that means for me.

That's where this work, the anagama collection, came from. It's just the start of this new thing. An anagama kiln is an ancient style of Japanese wood-fired kiln for ceramics. I only know about them from stalking my cyber-friend Lavinia Hanachiuc. I'm always enamored with her artist brain and her ever-changing body of work. I like to look at ceramic artists in general for inspiration. (Most recent favorite: Janaki Larsen - or find her here on Instagram) Something about the hand-building of their work strikes a resonance with my own process, though I've always thought of them as higher-level risk takers since they put all that effort into making before they risk it all in fire ... until now. Now I'm working almost exclusively in white fabrics then hand-dyeing the completed garment. I'm smitten with handling them during their bisque-like rawness, while I lay the groundwork with line, shape and texture that will be transformed by that final dye-firing step. Enjoy:

(You can click on the first one then scroll through from there if you want.)

desert dress by secret lentil linen lagenlook hand-dyed
anagama collection: the desert dress
detail of desert dress by secret lentil linen lagenlook hand-dyed
detail, the desert dress
secret lentil cotton hand dyed scarf and silk and stone necklaces with skeleton key
hand-dyed cotton scarf, necklaces with silk, stone, vintage bead and skeleton keys
it's okay - linen brooch from secret lentil - hand made and dyed
it's okay: dyed linen brooch featuring hand-carved stamp

secret lentil linen lagenlook plus size long layeirng vest hand dyed
anagama collection: long linen lagenlook layering vest

silk, vintage lucite beads, skeleton key necklace from secret lentil
hand-dyed silk necklace with vintage beads, skeleton key

cropped linen hand dyed linen lagenlook vest from secret lentil
cropped hand-dyed linen layering vest

it's okay: hand and machine stitched linen pin brooch from secret lentil
it's okay: hand and machine stitched linen brooch
earthenware hand dyed linen dress from secret lentil
earthenware dress

detail, earthenware dress
earthenware dress

it's okay: hand and machine stitched linen pin brooch from secret lentil
it's okay: hand and machine stitched linen brooch

hand dyed cotton plus size lagenlook dress from secret lentil
watch that curve: cotton jersey dyed dress
cotton jersey asymmetric lagenlook earthy dress from secretl lentil
cotton jersey dress with sproinky cutaway hem

Plus size earthy lagenlook tunic from secret lentil
cotton jersey tunic with high sculpted collar

linen zipper pouch hand dyed with nerve stamp
hand-dyed linen pouch with hand-carved nerve stamp

desert dress with long linen vest, scarf and necklaces from secret lentil
layering it all up real good

back, plus size lagenlook vest with holes and giant textured pockets
linen vest with holes, back

plus size lagenlook vest with holes and giant textured pockets
linen vest with giant textured pockets and holes

linen lagenlook vest and dress with silk and vintage bead necklace
Silk and vintage bead necklace over linen dress and vest

Plus more. See it all here: anagama collection on