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A Magnificent and Large Sashiko Stitched Maekake: Superb Katazome Tie

March 15, 2014

Sashiko02In every way this is an exemplary sashiko stitched textile: in its wonderfully regular sashiko stitching; in the hand spun, hand loomed, indigo dyed cotton base cloth; in the superb katazome dyed tie; in its safflower dyed stitched details; in its extravagant size–30 1/2″ x 37 1/2″, 77.5 cm x 95 cm.

Sashiko02aIn fact, this piece is surprising large, much larger than many maekake or aprons I have seen, collected or sold.  Because of this unusually large size, I am am wondering if  this may be a koshimaki or a half-under kimono–although I doubt it.

Sashiko02bLook at the marvelous safflower dyed stitcing, above.  A wonderful surprise.

Sashiko02cAnd have a look at the absolutely wonderful hand spun hand woven, katazome dyed tie, a detail of which can be seen below.  

Sashiko02dIn some ways this is a masterpiece of its type: finding an example as fine as this will prove difficult.  Most likely this dates to the Meiji era (1868 – 1912).


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An Elaborately Stencil Resist Dyed Peacock: Katazome

February 15, 2014

Peacock1When I first saw these three panels from a futon cover I thought the large, multi-toned indigo dyed image was a phoenix; having a better look it was clear that this image is a peacock, an image not often seen on folk textiles.

Peacock1aThe peacock was resist dyed, possibly using a set of stencils, the technique is called katazome.  Or, maybe, this image was made using a combination of katazome with a free hand resist dyeing technique called tsutsugaki.  And what a complex image this is–and what a large one, too.  The peacock itself measures 27″ x 32″, 68.5 cm x 81 cm.

Peacock1bThe three panels are taken from a futon cover and as you can see by the wonderful fading on the indigo dyed cotton, this futonji was used hard.

Peacock1cThe level of detail on this piece is just fantastic–it’s a beautifully realized rendering.

Peacock1dIt probably dates to the late nineteenth century and its overall dimensions are 71″ x 37 1/2″ or 180.5 cm x 95 cm.  I will be listing this for sale on the webshop in the next few weeks.




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Kigami and Kami-ito: Japanese Handmade Paper and Paper Thread an important new book by Hiroko Karuno

January 30, 2014

ShifuBook2Hiroko Karuno, a master shifu weaver and paper yarn maker, has  just published a generously illustrated book which showcases the history of shifu or woven paper.  It introduces the master paper makers who supply Karuno with her raw materials and, most importantly, shows in step-by-step detail Karuno’s method for making kami-ito or paper yarn.


This book is a treasure for anyone interested in shifu weaving and a monumental achievement in insuring that this, the rarest of Japanese weaving traditions, is kept alive.

ShifuBook2cKaruno was featured before on this blog, here, and here you will find an article I had the privilege to write on Karuno and her shifu for Selvedge magazine.


I am thrilled to be selling the book on my website here and I am so very happy that Hiroko Karuno has generously shared her life’s work with the world.












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A Large Indigo Dyed Hemp Furoshiki: Trompe-l’oeil Sashiko

January 24, 2014

NambuKatazome2I love the kind of cloth that was used in the making of this furoshiki which is a cloth used for wrapping, storing and hauling of household goods.  What I mean by that is that I love textile techniques that mimic others, in this case its a katazome dyed hemp or ramie cloth that is meant to look like it was completely sashiko stitched.

NambuKatazome2bThe asa cloth is densely hand woven and it feels wonderfully rustic and thick to the touch.  This furoshiki is still very crisp, which means that it was only lightly used during its lifetime.  I imagine it was made in the first third of the twentieth century.

NambuKatazome2cIt’s of good size.  It measures 51″ x 53″ or 129.5 cm x 134.5 cm and it is hand stitched from four panels of cloth.  This furoshiki likely comes from Japan’s north east region called Tohoku, probably from Nambu, which produced such cloth in its heyday.


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An Old Shima Cho: Stripe Album

January 9, 2014

ShimaCho093I really love shima cho or “stripe albums.”   Shima cho are said to be a collection of home weaving samples taken by a new bride when she leaves home and joins her husband’s family.  Carrying an album of home weaving is a way for the bride to remember the weaving patterns of her birth family.

ShimaCho093aI’ve always thought this notion was a bit prosaic, but that’s what’s said of shima cho in Japan.  This one I’m showing today is a beautiful one.  I think it’s from the mid 19th century and it shows a very good selection of hand loomed cottons that are dyed in natural dyes.

ShimaCho093bIt shows a lot of plaids, which I love, including one of my favorite types of old cotton, a woven, basket weave type plaid called sankuzushi in Japan.


ShimaCho093d Below is a close-up of a wonderful example of sankuzushi.

ShimaCho093eThis shima cho was featured with other items from my collection on the website Bureau of Trade.  And I’m offering it for sale here on my website.





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Seasons Greetings and Wishing You All Good Things in 2014

December 23, 2013


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Some Very Good, Old Boro Paper

December 14, 2013

Today I’m showing some pieces of “boro” paper from my personal collection.  These pieces are several layers thick and they are glued together from old ledger books, creating unintended, tone-on-tone collages.  Each very beautiful.  They date from the 19th through the early 20th century and each is about 30″ or 76 cm square.  The are said to have been used in pawn shops to wrap goods.









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A Clutch of Varied Photos: Japan, October 2013

December 7, 2013

About six weeks ago I returned from a buying trip to Japan, and when I’m back in New York after such a trip, I get caught up in myriad details of running my business.  That said, it was only today that I was able to review some of the photos I snapped in Japan in mid October and I wanted to share some with you.
















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A Book of Full Size, Hand Stenciled Katazome Patterns

November 21, 2013

KatagamiSampleBook1This is a very interesting sample book that shows about 74 katazome patterns.  The images are stenciled directly on to paper from an actual stencil, so in the cases where the page is not cut–most of the book–the images seen here are an imprint of a full stencil.

KatagamiSampleBook1aEach full page measures about 9 1/2″ x 13″ or 24 x 33 cm.  It’s wonderful to be able to leaf through this book and see each of these repeats in full size.

KatagamiSampleBook1bThe patterns seen in this book vary between stylized floral images, abstracted natural images and animal images and the many images shown in the book only scratch the surface of the endless variety found in the canon of katazome designs.

KatagamiSampleBook1c The book was probably produced in the early twentieth century.








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A Length of Shifu: Woven Recycled Paper Yarn

November 8, 2013

ShifuLength2Shifu is a kind of Japanese cloth which is woven from paper yarn.  Usually the weft yarn is hand twisted from washi or paper and the warp yarns are of another material, in this case it’s indigo dyed cotton.

ShifuLength2aThis length is wonderful for its details.  As you can see, running from left to right on this length are dark colored blips.  These dark blips are remnants of the ink which stained the paper which was shredded into narrow lengths and twisted into warp yarns.

ShifuLength2bThe kind of paper that was often used for shifu weaving was taken from books, sometime accounting books such as this type were utilized.

ShifuLength2cShifuLength2dWhat I can’t convey in this blog posting is the light weight of this piece of shifu: paper is less dense than, say, cotton, so a woven length of shifu is quite a bit lighter than cotton or hemp cloth.

ShifuLength2eOn the photos above and below you can easily see the indigo dyed cotton warp yarns and some of the loose paper yarns.  This length probably dates to the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.  Most probably this piece was taken from a shifu kimono.


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