Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Shots from the Ginza

The Ginza is the most popular up-scale shopping district in Tokyo. Here is the shot late afternoon Sunday.

And a little later in the evening.

Go Apple!!

Go Apple!!!!
as an Apple fan since the late 80's, I was delighted to see how popular the IPhone is here. And, of course the stores are super busy. Here we are in the Ginza shopping district, on a Sunday afternoon. 

Design on the Street in Tokyo

Check out the design of the cross walks in the Shinjuku area of downtown Tokyo. I'm sitting in a restaurant overlooking the streets of one of the busiest areas of Tokyo. 
Here is the view. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Shibori Technique #2

Technique Two: Fold, Clamp, and Dye
The second workshop I took at the Kyoto Shibori Museum involved techniques of folding, clamping, and dyeing. Again, this is a resist-type of dyeing. The folding of the fabric allows for a repeat pattern to emerge in the final piece. Clamping wooden shapes onto the folded cloth prevents the dye from penetrating the areas underneath the wood. One needs to use wood  pieces(as opposed to plastic, etc.
Samples of Fold, Clamp, and Dye
), as the wood will expand a little when wet, which makes it press even tighter to the cloth.

We began the workshop by looking at samples of finished scarves. Ryo-san pointed out that the shape on the label of each sample indicated the wooden shape used, and it was obvious to see the two colors of dye that would become the base.

Two methods of folding were introduced: a back and forth linear fan-fold, and a triangular type of fan-fold. It is important to have as much surface area of the fabric exposed for dyeing, and this is why a fan-fold (or accordion fold) is used.
Beginning to fold the scarf
Once the scarf is folded, you then choose the shapes you want to employ and clamp them down tightly onto the cloth. You need two of each shape, and you sandwich the cloth between the pieces of wood.

Clamps and Wood Shapes
Sandwiching the folded silk between two wood shapes
Another view of clamping
Once all is clamped in place, it is off to the dye bath for the first color. We soaked the fabric in cold water first and then moved it to the hot dye bath. Once we had the depth of color we wanted, then we rinsed the fabric (while still clamped), and then back at the work station, carefully removed the clamps. Without unfolding the cloth, we then sandwiched and clamped down a second set of wooden shapes. I could see that the more one does this, the easier it is to understand what shapes will produce what repeat.

Prepping for the second set of dyeing

Back to the dye room, for the second color. In my case, I used blue in the first dyeing session. I then applied orange in the second dyeing, with the result of creating purple when over-dyeing occurred. Here is a list of how colors would occur on the scarf.
  • Blue – from the first dyeing in non-clamped areas.
  • Orange – from the second dyeing in areas that were clamped the first time, but not the second.
  • Purple – in areas where overdyeing of blue over orange occurred.
  • White – in areas which were clamped by shapes of wood, both times, and thus received no dye.

After the second dye bath, but before the grand unfolding
My finished piece
Again, there was this marvelous moment, when you unveiled the finished result.  Ryo-san held one end of the folded (but now unclamped) cloth, and I held the other end. We counted to three and unfolded the piece.  Magic!!

I can see that the more one works with this, the more you can foresee what you will get with different Shibori techniques. So, I intend to practice this more when I get back home, and document my steps and therefore my understanding. I’m hooked!!


127 Shikiamicho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8261, Kyoto Prefecture
+81 75-221-4252


Saturday, September 19, 2015

A great surprise... Silk in the River

If you had asked me, what would you like to see in Japan (related to textiles), I would have told you... I would like to see fabrics in the rivers, which was part of the steps of fabric production in historic times.

So, imagine my delight yesterday, when we were walking along a river path, going towards the Philosopher's Walk, when we came across the scene you see below.

I believe fabrics being placed in the river was part of the festivities going on in town.
Below is a poster (in Japanese) which is probably giving the historical significance. Sorry for the reflection... you can see my image covering up the photos somewhat.. didn't catch that.

Posted Information on the Silk Process (sorry about my reflection in the shot)

Street Fashion in Kyoto

This weekend marks the beginning of several days of holidays here in Japan. There are lots of festivities going on. Yesterday we walked to the Heien Temple and here are a few shots of what we saw along the way.

These vary from what I would call 'costume' to general fashion.

By the way, the I-phone is very alive and well here in Japan. I think young people use it as much or more than Americans.
Go Apple!!

Shibori Workshop in Kyoto

This past week, I spent a morning taking a Shibori workshop at the Kyoto Museum of Shibori. This museum has excellent exhibits about the process of Shibori, as well as many mind boggling examples in the form of kimono, wall hangings, and samples. If you are a textile artist, I highly recommend a visit here.
Samples of Shibori Art

Shibori is a dyeing technique that is practiced around the world. It has many forms, and of course, the name changes from region to region. Basically, it is a type of resist-dyeing, where part of the fabric is either bound or clamped in order to prevent the dye from penetrating. There are many ways to achieve the ‘resist’ process. You will find resist dyeing in Indonesia, Africa, India, etc.

Japan calls this type of resist dyeing Shibori. It dates back 1300 plus years. Kyoto is a important center for Shibori, and here it is known as  Kyo-Kanoko-Shibori. The
techniques are varied, and have been passed down from generation to generation. In Kyoto, silk was the primary fabric used, and the resultant fabrics traditionally would be used by the men, women, and children of samurai.  In the Edo period, high-class shibori was created on silk in Kyoto and the ordinary-class indigo shibori was created with cottons and linens in the country areas.

Our instructor was Ryo Shimada. He is Japanese, but speaks perfect English, with an Australian accent (quite amusing to me). Ryo was fantastic. He was informative, helpful and patient. I'll discuss one technique in this blog post, and another technique is a separate blog post.

Technique One: Stitch and Dye
The first technique we covered involved stitching into the silk cloth with strong cotton thread. I believe this technique is called Kasamaki. We began by choosing a pattern we liked from the example wall. For the sake of time, all the stitching process had already been completed on our scarf, so we simply focused on the drawing-in of the threads to create the resist areas of the cloth. Here you can see a sample of the pattern I chose to do, and the threads that were already stitched with either a single strand or a double strand of cotton.

 The ‘flowers’ of my design were created with single strand thread. My task was to use a stand tool to hold the knots of the ends of thread and allow me to get good tension while tightening the thread first (which outlined the flower), and then binding the projection (which would create the striations of the ‘flower petals’.

Below, you can see how the 'protrusion' of fabric was wrapped tightly, letting the wooden stand device aid in the process.
Wrapping the protruding fabric

The results

The second stitch technique (which I’ve seen called Nui), involved using a double-strand running stitch, and drawing the threads ‘tight’. Little pieces of cotton at each end, protected the fabric later, when it came time to pull the thread out (acting like washers). Some of these were done for me (in advance), and some I pulled and tightened myself.

Once prepped, the pieces went into the dye bath. Synthetic dyes were used, and these were heated and ready for us when we got to the de studio. After the dyeing, we spun out the excel moisture and then waited for the pieces to dry.
Into the dye bath (love the stirring sticks)
To remove the running stitches, one simply pulled the fabric with the palms of your hands to break the threads. To remove the threads from the ‘projections’ we snipped the end knot and undid the threads with our fingers. Then came the magic moment when two people pulled the scarf from the opposite end, and let it ‘bloom’. Wow!  Too much fun!!

The 'bloom' and running stitches

running stitches

My 'bloom' 

Watch for an upcoming blog entry on a clamping technique of shibori.

127 Shikiamicho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8261, Kyoto Prefecture
+81 75-221-4252

An American Site with info and tools, etc.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Kimono in Kyoto, New, Rental, and Resale

The kimono is alive and well in Kyoto. You commonly see people wearing them on the street, albeit a small percentage of the crowd, yet it is a pleasure to see the variety and the people wearing them.

Kimono at Fushimi Inari Shrine
The Obi at the back
As it turns out, one doesn't really know if the person is a local, or a tourist, who has rented a kimono for a day. There is quite a business here, where you can no only rent a kimono, but you can have your makeup done as well.

Kimono Rental Store
Love the polka dots!
Option for Hair and Make-up
And of course, there are kimono resale stores. Check out the kimono I purchased for about $9.00. According to the shop keeper, this second-hand kimono is made from silk and is about 70 years old. It's in my current favorite color! Orange like the shrine walk above.

The resale kimono shop is on Sanjo street, within 20 meters of Exit #2 of the Higashiyama metro stop (on the Tozai line).

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Katagami (Stencil Painting) in Kyoto, Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts

Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts (Fureaikan)

My project... a set of coasters
Kyoto is a city that is rich in textile heritage. It was the capital and seat of the Imperial Court for more than 1000 years. Members of the Court became patrons of the arts, and a strong industry in handcrafts resulted. Even today, Kyoto holds on to its heritage of traditional crafts.

On Sunday, September 13th, I visited the Museum of Traditional Crafts (Fureaikan). The museum hosts exhibits that demonstrate the steps of various textile and other crafts. There were several artisans demonstrating techniques.

Katagami is a Stencil technique where the images to be dyed onto fabric are cut into a heavy handmade paper called washi. Made from the inner bark of mulberry trees, the layers of washi paper were treated with persimmon tannin and smoked to make them waterproof. If the designs to be cut were extremely fine, strands of silk would be laid between the sheets of paper used to build the stencil, to stabilize it.

Cut stencil
A variety of paints

Each element (leaves, petals, etc.) of the image would have its own stencil cut, and thus registration (lining up) becomes imperative.  

Registering the first stencil
The stencils are laid onto the fabric, and the color is applied using special brushes. One doesn’t simply use a single color per stencil; rather, the art of mixing colors and shading is what makes the finished results so amazing.

Surikomi brushes are used and these come in a variety of sizes, although the brush head is generally small, as is necessary for the fine art of stencil painting. The short bristles were traditionally made from deer hair, and the handles were bamboo.

Blotting excess paint from the brush
The painting technique involves dabbing the brush into a color, and then blotting it on a soft cloth to remove excess dye until only a small and controllable amount of dye remains. One then moves to the fabric and blots the color in place through the stencil, onto the cloth. A light circular motion is used. This is where the ‘art’ comes into play, as you can blend and shade multiple colors to create the result you want.

Don painting butterflies

My first stencil with colored dots

My first attempt at katagami was great fun. I know I have a long way to go, but I understand the basic process. It was a pleasure to take this workshop from the two Japanese women at the museum. They spoke no English, but there tends to be a universal language that can easily be understood when it comes to textile arts.

One of my finished pieces

An example of proper shading (this is not mine...)

Samples of finished pieces

In addition to the wonder displays at the museum, there is an excellent library of books and videos that you can browse through. Most are in Japanese, but again, the pictures tell the story. And of course, there is an amazing gift shop.

Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts (Fureaikan)
Address: 9-1 Okazakiseishojicho, Sakyo-ku | B1F MiyakomesseKyoto 606-8343Kyoto Prefecture
Phone Number: +81 75-762-2670

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