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Nomad Girls, 2008, 24 x 35  ©Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo

Nomad Girls, 2008, 24" x 35" ©Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo

I’m traveling again, but this time no planes are required. Actually, it’s my blog that’s doing the migrating. My blog and my website are moving in together. And they’re even starting to look alike… like the proverbial dog and its owner! (You’ll understand the “greener pastures” in this post’s title when you get there…)

Check out our new home at silkthangka.com/blog . Make yourself comfortable and say hello. I like to know when my guests arrive 😉

And don’t forget to update your bookmarks and subscription settings. I hope to be seeing more of you as I finish up this techie stuff and get back to writing about life, love, textiles, and Tibetan art.

What a beautiful morning! Clear sky. Sunshine. Quiet streets because everyone has left the city for the long May 1 weekend. A whole day in front of me to stitch. And, then… an unexpected gift!

The very creative Dee Wilcox, whom I recently met through Twitter, has awarded me a Kreativ Blogger award! I feel tremendously honored. And to keep the creative energy circulating, here are eight of my own favorite creative bloggers: kreative_award

I hope you enjoy exploring these blogs as much as I do.

Have an inspiring Saturday!

So Many Ideas

The Blog Triage course that Alyson Stanfield and Cynthia Morris are running is spectacular — inspiring, motivating, and, well, a bit overwhelming too!

These two women have put together a rich assortment of ideas to get and keep us writing. They clearly did their homework. And now they’re keeping up with us every day — giving feedback, encouragement, and coaching. Awesome!

This week’s exercise was to generate (and organize) a variety of ideas for blog posts, keeping our readers and our purpose firmly in mind.

So far, I’ve come up with a few categories and a random smattering of other intriguing things. Let me know what you think.

Here are my categories (and a picture of the little boy in my 2006 Pool of Light piece. He looks like he’s cooking up some ideas too!):

Pool of Light, detail. Tibetan silk appliqué by Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo

Pool of Light, detail. Tibetan silk appliqué 19x30" © Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo

How To’s

  • how to hang a thangka
  • how to roll up a thangka
  • how to arrange the drape
  • how to clean a thangka (or as a conservator recently told me, “in a word, ‘don’t'”)
  • how to wrap a horsehair cord with silk thread
  • how to twist thread (ever examined a piece of string?)
  • how to photograph textile art (I’ve got more learning than teaching to do on this one, so I may ask your help!)

FAQs (the questions people ask me at screenings and exhibitions)

  • Where do you get the patience? (This one’s done!)
  • Where to get horsehair (along with stories of my adventures on the way to figuring it out)
  • How’s your eyesight?
  • Who are your customers?
  • How did you get in to your apprenticeship? Was it hard to get access, to be allowed in as an outsider?
  • Are spiritual practices an integral part of the work , mantras, visualization,…
  • Why I like to make thangkas on commission
  • How does commissioning a thangka work?
  • How do I choose which image to make
  • … and many more…


  • Tibetan art websites and blogs
  • Sites that link Art and Buddhism (or art and religion)
  • The blogs of our Blog Triage group
  • Blogs and websites that inspire me and might inspire you too
  • Tibetan art galleries and collections

Reviews & Reports

  • of Museums I visit
  • of Textile art exhibitions
  • of relevant books I read
  • of Buddhist and Tibetan-culture-related events

Interviews or Profiles (yikes! these will take some work, but could be great fun)

  • of other thangka artists
  • of other textile artists, especially those who are working in a traditional form
  • of other western artists working in a foreign cultural tradition

Random (and incomplete) smattering of other intriguing thoughts

  • Quirky observations of the expat life
  • Explanations of the parts of a thangka, how they’re constructed, the brocade mount, etc.
  • Articles and blog posts that inspired me or solved a problem
  • Relevant office supplies, software, and gadgets I’ve found helpful (like this great little online stopwatch for managing task time)
  • Balancing the solitary nature of art making (which appeals to the introverted part of me) with the need for social contact (to energize and awaken the extroverted part of me)
  • Explanations or translations of Tibetan art lingo, Buddhist lingo, thangka lingo
  • Physical objects I find or see which inspire me
  • Tibetan art scholarship news, events, writing, discoveries
  • Thangkas I’ve seen or am studying or find on the web
  • Continuing experiments with a variety of textile art techniques
  • Inspirations of various sorts, wherever they may turn up (and they’re everywhere!)

If you’re a regular reader of my blog — or even if you’ve just stopped by and like what you see — tell me some things you’d like to read about here. I’ll see what I can do.

I’d also love for you to help me fill in some details on the ideas I’ve outlined above. That way you can help me be more interesting to you. Sounds like a good thing for both of us!

It’s been raining for three days in Milan. As usual, everyone’s fed up…

Rainy Milan

Rainy Milan

This seems to be the “normal” response to rain everywhere — for all but farmers with parched crops.

I, on the other hand, LOVE rain. Really. I’m even sad when it ends. And one of only two defects I see when I think of  moving back to southern California is that it doesn’t rain enough there! (The other is the absence of a public health care system…)

Look out the window. If it’s raining or drizzly, notice the trees.

Greens become so much more saturated in the cloud-filtered light. The infinite shades of green are so much more clearly differentiated. Ah, and the colors of wet stones — who knew there were so many?

During a pause, when brilliant blue sky peeks through dark gray clouds with fluffy white piled above, a magical, glowing light illuminates the wet hills (or buildings in Milan’s case) in the distance… At those moments, my heart opens and aches at the beauty.

I know, I’m weird. I was virtually the only person who enjoyed the Dharamsala monsoon. As most friends escaped to drier places, I reveled in the daily rainfall, the wet stones, the luscious greens, the sky’s shades of gray, and the everchanging play of light. I even put up with the allergies I developed to mildew.

Dharamsala Market. Girls caught in monsoon rains. by Elizeu & Rommey on Picasa

Dharamsala Market. Girls caught in monsoon rains. by Elizeu & Rommey on Picasa

Rainy days are pensive. (I used to say, “melancholy,” but I think I just liked the word.) They turn us inward into the rich, damp soil of our hearts and imaginations. They’re great days for artwork, for handwork… and for sitting by a fire if you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace. For now, I’ll just dream of that one.

It took me years to understand that most people don’t appreciate rain the way I do. And that some truly suffer on gray days. Once I realized, I wondered if maybe I should tone down my enjoyment — out of sympathy, compassion…

But what good would that do for anyone? My misery isn’t likely to lift their spirits. Quite the opposite!

My pleasure — if expressed sensitively — may even brighten someone else’s otherwise dreary mood. SO I’m sticking with my joy and hoping that a little bit of it rubs off on you.

Happy rainy day!

Okay, I’m ready to try again.

My intention is to start a series of posts addressing the questions people ask me about my work.  Some of you may recall that my patience was tested the other day when I wrote my first post in this series — about patience! This time I’m writing offline and saving every few minutes. I’m determined not to repeat the experience!

When people look at my artwork, and particularly after they view the film about my process, they invariably comment on patience. Either they exclaim, “I could never do what you do! I don’t have the patience!” Or they admiringly ask, “Where do you get such amazing patience? It must be your Buddhst practice.”

I suppose it’s natural that they have this reaction, looking at the intricacy of the images which take months to complete…

Not seeing the stitches and thinking they’re smaller than they really are…

When they hear that I wrap horsehair with silk thread — by hand! — they are convinced I must have supernatural levels of tolerance.

The truth is very different.

I’ve thought about this a lot — mostly because it surprised me to be thought patient.

People who know me… well, let’s just say that they generally have a different impression. I would love to be an infinitely patient person, but I often struggle with my impatience, my resistance to how things are (almost always different from how I think they should be). I often don’t take well to being inconvenienced, I’m sorry to say. And as for my Buddhist practice… well, it’s rather undisciplined.

But with my work…  I simply enjoy my work.

Realizing this, I reflected on when patience really comes into play. It has nothing to do with small stitches or long work hours or months to completion. It has to do with resistance… or dislike.  Annoyance or intolerance. We don’t need to be patient with what we like — or with what we don’t even notice, for that matter!

I enjoy the process of creating a silk thangka. I revel in the fabrics, I care for each stitch. Sure, I get impatient when the thread tangles and frustrated when I have to re-do a piece. Just as anyone does when they break a glass or burn some toast.

But generally, I’m happy when I’m working. I like seeing the image come together, even in its slow details. I love when the thread wraps smoothly around the horsehair (more about horsehair in my next post in this series). There’s not much I’d rather be doing. So there’s really no call for patience.

What do you do that seems to require patience but is actually transparently pleasurable to you?

WFMU’s Beware of the Blog brought this to my attention:

The Newark Museum is celebrating their 100th birthday (from yesterday through Sunday, April 26) with 100 straight hours of free admission and loads of activities. There’s a schedule on their website.

To quote WFMU,

The Newark Museum is a gem that sometimes gets lost in the shadow of New York’s mega museums.  They have one of the largest collections of Tibetan art outside of Tibet, and since the 1930’s have had a gorgeous consecrated Tibetan Buddhist altar, most recently renovated in the 1990’s by a monk who worked on it for months, offering visitors the chance to observe his daily progress.

I have to concur. Besides having one of the best Tibetan collections around, it’s one of the only collections to include silk appliqué thangkas! They have a large 15th century Medicine Buddha silk thangka from Gyantse on display, along with a video of its restoration in 2002. There’s also a photo series of an unveiling of the giant Drepung thangka in 1999, by Nancy Jo Johnson. An unusual fabric thangka of Tsongkhapa in the Museum’s collection is not currently displayed.

I recently visited the Museum for the second time and highly recommend going if you have the chance. Friendly staff too!