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Archives for January, 2014

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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