I’m often asked how I came to start making silk robes.
It all started in the late 1980’s. I was living in a large American city and my sister had a friends’ wedding coming up. My sister and I had been making our own silk underwear, so I thought, “Why not make a silk robe for my friend?”
At that time I was studying to be a Buddhist priest. So I thought I would make a silk robe, using nothing but silk robes for men threads, a needle, and a piece of fabric.
I was living in a very artistic environment at the time. People were very excited about doing textiles. Everyone was making silk garments and drapes. All kinds of techniques were being taught in classes.
But I did not know anything about sewing or how to make a silk robe. I just knew I wanted to do something with silk. I’d seen photographs of Buddhist priests in robes made from silk and knew I had the potential to make silk.
I’d been sewing clothes for my family for years. I knew how to use a sewing machine. So I made a pattern on graph paper. Then I cut out the fabric using the graph paper as a guide. After I had the fabric cut out, I just sat down and sewed, sewing by hand.
I had to learn how to make a silk robe. I had to learn how to make all kinds of silk garments. I was determined to learn everything I could about making silk garments. I wanted to be a silk robes for men artisan, but I didn’t know what that meant. I knew nothing about the history of silk making. I knew nothing about the history of Buddhism.
By the time I finished the silk robe, I thought I understood what a silk artisan was. I didn’t realize it then, but I came to understand the meaning of being a silk artisan later.
I didn’t have a teaching or a master. I just had this urge to learn. I wanted to understand how silk was made.
When I finished the robe, I wanted to show it to my sister. But the wedding was approaching and she and my husband had many things to prepare. So, I took the robe to my friend’s house, for me to try it on.