kakishibu update

One of the pasted folkhouse pieces made it into the kakishibu (persimmon tannin) just to see what would happen. Kakishibu and paste can be tricky, because the paste softens when it gets wet and with kakishibu the idea is to wet the piece and let it dry in the sun multiple times. Each dunking and sunning leads to a darker rust-color, and only the side facing the sun takes on color.

Here’s with paste on, after being in the sun:
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River washout:
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Final result (though it needs a good pressing, sorry about that):
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In some places, the paste cracked and left little lines of rust, giving it a bit of a batik crackle. I really like the darkness of the color and the imperfections of the kakishibu in relation to the stencil design.

I am looking forward to combining kakishibu with indigo and working with layers of dye and paste. Maybe offsetting the stencil? Maybe the use of different stencils directly over each other? There’s something to this process–and to katazome as a surface design technique–that I want to explore more fully. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to try it.

ba kata (leaf stencil) for katazome

inspiration: the greenery around me and classic katazome stencils featuring detailed leaves on a dyed background

stencil 1: open leaf; stencil 2: leaf veins. This was my first attempt at designing a 4 way repeat, so let’s just ignore all the places where things don’t quite meet up. The third small stencil is to sign my work. (And if I ever remember to paste it on anything I hope it looks cool.)
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in progress: pasting the open leaves. (Yes, that is a 95 year old Japanese shibori artist in the background; she’s making all of us lunch!)
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in progress: removing the paste after the first indigo dye series by washing it in the river
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in progress: The red paste is the second pasting using the leaf veins stencil.
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in progress: removing the paste after the second dye bath
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results: two different samples dyed with indigo
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folk houses of fujino

inspiration: This book from 1963, featuring wax-dyed textiles of the folk-houses, small towns, work spaces of craftsmen, and daily life in Japan in the early to mid 20th century. If I were a different sort of person, I would hide this book in my luggage and never let it out of my sight again! (Mom, if you are reading this, my birthday/christmas is coming up.) I was particularly inspired by this kimono.image

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stencil: Folkhouses of Fujino–my representation of daily life in the mountains. I attempted a 4 way repeat, if that means anything to you.

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in progress: pasting the fabric. The pasted areas will remain white.

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results: The difference between the light and the dark samples is due to how many times it was dipped in indigo.

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I am really excited about this technique and the possibilities it offers. I appreciate the effort and intentionality that goes into stencil making, especially the push and pull between planning and execution, and what can’t be predicted or planned. (Or, at least, not by me or not yet). There is a kind of magic in seeing your stencil brought to life once the fabric is dyed. Maybe katazome could offer me room to grow and a set of limitations to explore. I’m thinking on it.

we dye everything shop

Today, we visited the dye studio of a pair of 6th/7th generation katazome artists. The father and son team paste and indigo-dye rolls of cloth they sell to department stores to be made into fancy (and high-quality) summer yukata. Bryan estimates there are fewer than 20 studios like this left in Japan. They very generously gave us a tour and answered our questions, and then let us dip a few things into their fermentation vats.

Some images: 1. inside this unassuming doorway lies some traditional magic

2. tools of the trade–harite (stretcher bars) and hand brooms

3. the son is writing calligraphy with my very serious help (I was very focused you guys!)

4. the father outlines the kanji with paste using a tsutsu (cone)

5. uncovering the in-ground indigo vats

6. carefully dyeing so I don’t introduce extra oxygen into the vat

7. completed sign after dyeing; it is the logo image image image image image image imagefor their business: “(the) we dye everything shop”

first katazome stencil

Katazome is stencil paste resist. Technique overview: design and cut a stencil from a strong flexible paper. Then you add a net to the paper to reinforce it. Next, mix up some paste and apply it through the stencil. Wait for everything to dry, then dip your fabric in indigo multiple times. Finally, wash out the fabric and the paste and see what you have.

Here’s my first try at cutting a stencil and dyeing over it with indigo.

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