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A Rustic Okkochizome Shibori Kimono: Heavy Striped Cotton

September 5, 2013

KyushuShibori01Since I acquired this kimono a few years ago I’ve loved it.  It’s a dip-dyed or okkochizome shibori garment which is made of heavy, hand loomed, striped cotton and it was made in Kyushu.

KyushuShibori01aThe indigo is deep, velvety and warm in color.  The shibori is stitched, and the images are raw, bold and rustic–most of their meanings I am unable to decipher.

KyushuShibori01bWhat’s interesting is that the cotton is of such a heavy weight which is unusual for this type of garment; the weight is almost like a very light weight cotton canvas.

KyushuShibori01cI love that the images are so large in relation to the garment.  For example, the flower shown above measures 11 1/2″ in diameter.

KyushuShibori01dThe kimono itself measures 53″ x 50″ or 134.5 cm x 127 cm.  It was probably made in the second quarter of the twentieth century.


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A Group of Sakiori Obis and Miura Shibori

November 7, 2012

When I was in Japan last month, I found a good group of sakiori obis.

When I go on buying trips, I never know what I’m going to find, and that I found a nice assortment of these ragweave kimono sashes was a good thing.  Of course, with the dollar being lower than it’s ever been and the yen being astronomically high, this material is more expensive than ever, but I couldn’t resist.  They were there.  I had to have them.  And they’re all in good condition.  I’ll be offering them on the webshop over time.

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A Six Panel Itajime Shibori Futonji: Sekka and Kikko

October 27, 2012

Many of you are familiar with sekka itajime shibori, or clamp resist dyed shibori which ends up looking something like a flower, in this case, sekka or a snowflower.  And as this shibori technique was commonly used for diapers, many of you are used to seeing this type of shibori done small, like this.As sekka shibori is a fairly straightforward and relatively easy-to-do shibori technique, it was used a great deal in old Japan, especially in the 20th century.  Here we see it covering a marvelously large area as 6 standard-sized loom widths are machine stitched together to create a futon cover (which is now opened, as shown here).  But sekka shibori was also used for undergarments and yukata.In addition to the snowflower motif, you’ll also see an all-over configuration of hexagons.  This could be read as kikko or tortoiseshell, and, as you can imagine, it is a traditional motif that conveys wishes for a long life.This is a huge piece.  It measures 89″ x 72″ or 226 cm x 183 cm and it’s in quite good condition.  Every so often there’s a match head-sized hole, but the cotton is bright white and the indigo is a rich sapphire blue.  It was probably made in the 1950s or 60s.

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Mame Shibori

May 11, 2012

In Japan it seems that everybody’s in love with mame shibori–I know I am, too.  Mame is “beans”–like edamame.  Of course you can see why this style of pleated shibori is called “beans shibori.”Shown here is a contemporary, hand-dyed tenugui–the unfinished, simple cotton towel that is multi-purposed.  Just two days ago when I was at the wonderful Kyoto-style Brooklyn izakaya, Hibino, all the cooks were wearing tenugui tied around their heads, which is a Japanese custom.  I bought this mame shibori tenugui at a well-known Kyoto shop called Sou-Sou, which specializes in gorgeous patterned tenugui, clothing, tabi, bags and shoes–some of the clothing being hand dyed shibori from Arimatsu, as was this mame shibori tenugui.  Mame shibori tenugui are routinely out of stock at Sou-Sou. There’s just too much demand for them.Have a look at the very quick clip below which shows the voila! moment of mame shibori being unveiled at an Arimatsu dyer (clip courtesy of the aforementioned Sou-Sou).

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A Patched Cotton Shibori Han Juban

March 12, 2012

I’ve had this indigo dyed cotton shibori han juban for a few years.  I bought it for its wonderful, hand spun cotton yarns and its beautiful shibori pattern.  Only recently, though, did I turn it inside-out, only to realize that I like the “inside” better than the “outside.”As you can see from these photos, the inside of the han juban or half under-kimono, shows a centrally placed, undyed, hand spun and hand woven cotton panel which reinforces the back of the piece, shown here.  Very nice cotton indeed.  And flanking it are two patches, one pinkish and one white.  It’s amazing how perfectly placed these patches are: the visual allure is uncanny and unintended.Very nice shibori, too.This lovely piece probably dates to the late nineteenth century or so, and like many other Japanese folk textiles, is full of surprises once you start really looking.

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Two Indigo Dyed Shibori Cotton Yukatas

March 9, 2012

A yukata is an unlined, cotton kimono that is used on casual occasions.  In old Japan they were worn to go to the sento or bath house as well as for evening strolls during the hot summers, when visiting an onsen or hot spring, or, say, to gather together during festival times to watch fireworks.  Yukata are made of light weight cotton, are usually blue and white, and they often are imprinted with “cooling” images like butterflies, streams, gently falling leaves and the like.These two are shibori dyed.  The one shown here, above and below, is a subtle and complex pattern of stacked diamonds.  It seems that the paler, more “spider web” diamonds were tied and then bound with string while the darker diamonds were tied and not bound.  Binding and not binding give two different effects which was used to great artistic advantage here.

And shown below is the clamp dyed or itajime shibori where cloth is folded, clamped tight, and then the edges are dyed.  The result is this kaleidoscopic image, which in fact is the tortoiseshell motif, one that conveys wishes for a long life.In the case of each of the two yukata shown here, the cotton is lightweight and rather gauzy–good for keeping one cool in the hot summers or for absorbing sweat or water should you be visiting an onsen.Each dates to the first half of the 20th century, more or less.  I’ll be offering the beautiful itajime shibori yukata on the webshop soon.

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Shibori Time

February 26, 2012

We really haven’t had winter here in New York.  It’s been warm and mild since November which is really, really strange.  And February is a month which can bring big storms, but nothing.  Yet.

It feels like spring here today, which is probably why I’m in the mood to show some light hearted shibori.  I’m as confused as the nesting birds and the budding trees (yes, budding.  In February).With its contrasting white-on-blue or blue-on-white patterns, shibori cloth often seems to shimmer or give light.  With this strange spring mood, I was inspired to hang a lot of it in the showroom, and here’s a group of five pieces that I think look good together.Some of you can recognize that the piece on the top, left, or bottom, center, is an itajime dyed diaper.  What’s interesting about this piece is that the six pointed sekka or snowflowers are configured into hexagon shapes which is kikko or the tortoiseshell patter, which, of course, means long life.

The two pieces, above, are beautiful and complex, and the cotton is of heavily hand spun and hand loomed cotton.  Unlike the cotton diapers shown here (there are two: if you look at the topmost image on this post, one is on the far left, the other is second from right) these pieces are on the pricey side.  I’ll be showing the cotton diapers on the webshop soon.  I have a small collection of them.On the image, above, you’ll see circular forms.  This is a broken shippo tsunagi or interlocking circle pattern.  The lightly dyed segments of the circles are the result of a piece of paper being stitched into the cloth before dyeing.  Somehow it helps soften the absorption of the indigo dye and creates a light tone as we can see here.The two diapers shown here probably date to the early-to-mid twentieth century and the other three lengths are probably date from around 1900 to 1930s or so.

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A Beautiful Shibori and Katazome Mat

February 8, 2012

The indigo dyed shibori and katazome mat I am showing today is beautiful in its simplicity and straightforwardness–or at least I think so.   It is made of very nice hand spun,  hand loomed cotton, two loom widths, that have been hand stitched together.The shibori is stitched, quite a direct process.  The patch is a fabulously weathered piece of old katazome cotton cloth showing plum blossoms and pine needles.  The katazome cloth is most likely from the mid to late 19th century; the shibori is probably from the early 20th century.   The piece measures 44″ x 25″ or 111.5 cm x 63.5 cm.

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A Tsutsugaki Futon Cover: Tsurukame, Kamon and Faux Shibori

January 30, 2012

Today I’m showing a stark and interesting four panel, indigo dyed cotton futon cover that is decorated using a free hand paste resist technique called tsutsugaki.  The images on this futon cover are concise yet celebratory: the tortoise and crane (tsuru and kame in Japanese) and a centrally placed, large kamon or family crest.The kamon is interesting: first, it is a rendition of stripes whose source has a martial background.  During wartime in feudal Japan a general’s encampment would be surrounded by curtains of alternating colors in order to distinguish his from the rest.  This kind of stripe or hikiryo is the basis of this mon or family crest.Notice how this mon is designed using a fake kanoko or fawn dappled shibori pattern.  Really charming.And the crane and the tortoise–it is fairly well known that these animals symbolize longevity in the language of Chinese and Japanese design.Not only does the crane represent long life, its elegant form conveys a sense of beauty.  Also, the crane is a symbol of conjugal fidelity as cranes mate for life.These tortoises are charmingly rendered–and once when I was traveling in China I saw hairy shelled turtles, much like these.This futon cover was most likely created for a wedding trousseau.  In the Meiji Era (1868-1912) there was an easing of government strictures upon Japanese citizens and at this time ordinary people could produce showy bridal trousseaux and could present them in a lavish fashion with great ceremony to a newly married couple.

In feudal Japan, which essentially ended at the end of the Edo period in the mid-nineteenth century, ordinary people would not have been allowed to create such an ostentatious show of wedding gifts as started being customary with the onset of  the Meiji period–nor would common folk have had the money to have commissioned such beautifully decorated utilitarian textiles as this one.


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A Group of Beautiful and Complex Shibori

December 3, 2011

Today I’m showing a group of very beautiful, very sophisticated late 19th, early 20th century shibori–all dyed in botanical indigo on hand spun, hand woven cotton.Maybe in the future I’ll highlight individual pieces from this group as each is worthy of a closer look.  Today, though, I just wanted to leave an impression.

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