Thursday, November 06, 2008

I'm Baaaack (with Japanese fabric)

So, I'm back from Japan. It was a wonderful trip. We visited Tokyo, Kyoto, Mt Fuji (where it unfortunately rained the whole time), Kahone, Hiroshima, Okayama, Kurashiki, and Osaka. The Japanese people were wonderful. If they saw you standing on the street with a map, someone would come up and try to help. They even would walk you to where you wanted to go. As some of you may know, I was on a fabric quest and turned out o be more difficult than I anticipated. I was looking for traditional Japanese fabric. First, it was not that easy to find since traditional Japanese dress is worn infrequently. Second, when I did find kimono tailors, much of the fabric was extremely expensive which is one of the reasons kimonos are not worn as much now. A kimono can easily cost $1,000. Anyway, click below to see the treasures I did find.

These four fabrics are called kasuri. It is the Japanese ikat weave and each of the fabrics seen here is woven as double ikat. The warp and weft are both indigo dyed before weaving leaving the design portions undyed. The trick is to get the weft to cross the warp so that the undyed areas meet forming a white design. Double ikat weaving is not for the faint of heart and it seems that professional Japanese weavers are disappearing - the unfortunate fate of many handcrafts.

This is an antique kasuri from a kimono. You can see that the weaving is not really precise and there are random white streaks where the warp and weft areas didn't meet - that's part of the appeal.

These fabrics are shibori dyed - a form of Japanese tie-dyeing. The design is stitched on the fabric and the thread is pulled tightly. When dyed, the tightly bunched areas resist the dye and when the thread is released the designs are visible.

This piece of fabric is resist dyed using rice paste. Where the rice paste is applied the fabric does not take up the dye. This fabric required at least 2 applications of resist to get the two different blues.

This is the one kimono fabric I bought at a tailor's in Tokyo. The fabrics are 14" wide on a roll. Each roll holds is 12 1/2 meters which is the amount needed to make a kimono so they will not cut it and sell by the meter. That's one of the reasons I only bought one - what would I do with all that fabric? But I couldn't resist buying at least one roll. I love the chrysanthemum pattern and I already have the pattern selected.

Well, I think I have enough fabric to keep me busy for a while (as if I didn't already) and I already have projects in mind for some of them. So, keep looking for them. They'll appear here when you least expect it.

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