Making Zen + Zen Stitching: What's in a name?

collaborations making zen slow living stitching tutorials May 15, 2024
A photo of six wooden spools of thread in different colours as well as a brass thimble and a sewing needle, with superimposed text that reads

Zen: we know it to mean a state of relaxation, and the word loosely translates to "meditation." Although it has become known as a word for peaceful and calm, Zen is also a branch of Japanese Buddhism that emphasizes the value of meditation and intuition. This may make you wonder... what does any of that have to do with stitching and textile arts, and why have I incorporated it into the name of both Zen Stitching and Making Zen?

The answer is that I am passionate about art in many forms - ceramics, paper making, printmaking - but especially about textile arts. I've had opportunities to travel the world studying and practicing art, including an exchange with the Kyoto Seika University in Japan. Whilst I was there, I was completely enamored with the culture, and I began learning more about things like Zen Buddhism, sashiko and boro, wabi-sabi, and so much more. Today, I continue my artistic studies with Japanese teachers, and apply Zen Buddhist philosophies to my everyday lifestyle.

A favourite photo from my time in Japan!

I’m also passionate about living a meaningful life, which has led me toward a slower life - one that doesn’t induce anxiety when I look at the calendar, that allows me to rest when I need it, and that nurtures my creative spirit. Part of this, for me, includes time to think through my thoughts and ideas as a sort of meditation, and I’ve discovered that using my hands to stitch at the same time makes it easier to take that precious time to sit with myself.

And I’m not the only one who feels that way! Stitching is a form of active meditation that can be achieved through using our hands. It has the same attributes as traditional mediation and is more readily accessible for many because of the simple act of concentrating on something in our hands, as opposed to something lofty and difficult to attain as seeking ‘the no-mind.'

Ultimately, it was a combination of these things that led me to include the word “Zen” into my business, and then again for the retreat we hold twice per year. My goal with Zen Stitching and Making Zen is to help people slow down and find peace of mind in art, with a focus on the meditative aspects of the craft as well as its history. I get so much joy from teaching people about the history of the ancient Japanese art of Sashiko and sharing my love of learning with them!

As you can see, Zen Stitching and Making Zen are not just names - they encapsulate and describe the life I lead. Zen Stitching brings peace to those who practice it, and I wish to spread peace and kindness throughout the world through the act of mending and creating. If that sounds like fun to you, I invite you to join me and 19 other wonderful artists at the Making Zen Online Retreat - you can sign up for free here!

Hi, I'm Kate!

I am a strong believer in starting where you are and using what you have, wherever and whatever that may be.

Everyone should get to experience the joy of connecting to others through learning, experimenting, and creating.

Creativity doesn’t have to be expensive or wasteful. Whether we’re using natural materials, reusing materials, or shopping our own stashes first, creating mindfully goes beyond being present in the moment - it extends to being mindful of our environment and the other communities around us, too.