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Sometsukasa Yoshioka 染司よしおか, A Botanical Dyer’s Atelier: Post #3, Blue

Written on June 17, 2009

Enjoy some photos of “blue” which were shot at Sometsukasa Yoshioka, the atelier of Kyoto’s master dyer, Sashio Yoshioka, who is the fifth generation dyer in his family’s dyeworks.

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In this third post on the remarkable Renaissance man, Sachio Yoshioka, we are glimpsing some images of indigo dyeing at Sometsuka Yoshioka, located in Uji, Japan.  (Feel free to scroll down to see the two prior posts which introduce Yoshioka and his work).

Below, the indigo dyer at the workshop is holding a tsutsu or a cone fashioned from mulberry paper that is saturated in kaki shibu, or green persimmon tannin.  With this tsutsu, rice paste is applied to cloth before it is dyed in order to resist the dye of the bath; this process of freehand resist drawing is called tsutsugaki.  You can see a bit of rice paste at the tip of the tube.

The day I visited the workshop, this dyer was working on an order of cotton tsutsugaki furoshiki or wrapping cloths which you’ll see in photos below.

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Immersing cloth in the indigo vat, below.

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In the photo, below, the dyer is rinsing a finished piece and checking that the rice paste is entirely removed from the cloth.  Notice the bright white dot: this is the white cotton that resisted the indigo dye.

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Some photos below of another furoshiki which has just been dipped in the bath and is dripping dry.  Note the encrustations of dried rice paste on the cloth; these areas will resist the dye and remain white, as in the photo above.

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Fully resisted white-on-dyed blue, below:

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Many fragments of cottton taped to a piece of paper allow the dyer to monitor the consistency of color produced by the dye bath, below.

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Below is a clamp dyed (itajime) cloth, clamped and dyed in two directions.  Sometsuka Yoshioka sells this kind of item in their Kyoto shop, and in a later post we’ll browse the store.

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In the next post I’ll show some photos of the wonderful blacks to be found in and around Sometsuka Yoshioka.

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