Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Craft of Zen

This morning was a beautiful one at the zendo. A chilly mist (or soft weather as some of my friends call it) framed the forest, bringing sights and sounds just a little bit closer and more immediate. There was birdsong everywhere. And as there were no workshops scheduled at the Center, all was quiet and very still. As such, I was able to enjoy the sound of the house settling inside and nature amusing itself outside as I sat zazen.

Today's sit was a little different than most in that I was able to sit on a zabuton for the first time. When the zendo first opened for practice in January of this year, we were given a generous donation of zafus; however, as the cost of zabutons-- the cushions placed under zafus to support the knees and legs during practice-- was a bit prohibitive, we settled for sitting on folded-up Mexican-style blankets. While comfortable, they added a "festive" color to the zendo that is not quite traditional:

So I engaged myself in the crafting of home-made zabutons, to mellow-out the color explosion here at the Healing Center! It was a very simple process, and quite inexpensive. You may want to try it for yourself! Here is a step-by-step guide.

While window-shopping for zabutons online, I found an array of zabutons, cotton and hemp, in many colors and sizes ranging from 25" x 30" and even 30" x 30". I chose a cushion-y black fleece material from my local fabric store that came on a bolt 58" wide.
I then cut several 35" pieces from the bolt, and simply folded each section in order to have a 35" x 29" square.

Next, I sewed the 2 sides closed and left the third open, creating a sack ready to stuff! The seam allowance was nearly 1", as you can see from the photo above. This was to allow for the stuffing to come.
Four zab-sacks, waiting for the next step... each sack measured roughly 33" x 29".

In my online search, I saw some zabutons were filled with cotton, and some with buckwheat. In my old practice temple, a few of our mis-matched zabutons were filled with a thin foam. For the Open Palm zabuton, I chose a 1-inch thick foam for filling. This came on a 24" wide roll.
So I cut the roll into several 24 x 31" sections, and set these into each sack.

Finally, I rolled the remaining 2 inches of the open end of the sack, and hand-sewed it closed with a simple whip stitch. In the future, I may replace this with a snap or velcro closure; in the meantime, this stitch is a quick one that can easily be removed, should I need to wash or resize the sack.

Your zabuton in action, and ready for effortless effort!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great idea to make zabutons ! Thanks for the easy directions.