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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 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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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 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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Mottainai: The Fabric of Life at the Portland Japanese Garden 4-27 November

October 29, 2011

I’m really pleased to say that the Portland Japanese Garden has asked my close friend and colleague, Kei Kawasaki of Gallery Kei in Kyoto, and me, to mount an exhibition which will run through November.The show, called “Mottainai: The Fabric of Life, Lessons in Frugality from Traditional Japan,” opens on 4 November and is on view until 27 November.Both Kei and I are planning to show some of the highlights from our collections and we will be exhibiting some extraordinary and rare pieces.  In order to illustrate the breadth of traditional Japanese textiles Kei will be showing bast fiber textiles: wisteria, linden, hemp, ramie, paper, paper mulberry, etc., and I will be showing cotton boro textiles.  I’ll be exhibiting a range of types, from everyday utilitarian textiles to large, complex garments.The images here are details of some of my pieces which will be in the show.We’ll both be in Portland this coming week setting up the show: I’m really looking forward to it.  Kei has produced a beautifully illustrated catalog for the show for which both she and I have contributed essays.  I’ll let you know when it is available.I will be updating the webshop as per usual this Wednesday at 11 AM New York time.  *As I’ll be in Portland until 5 November, any order placed from 30 October through 5 November will be shipped on Monday, 7 November.*If I’m able to do so, this coming week I’ll blog some images from the set-up at the Garden.  Stay tuned….

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A Taisho Era Cotton Shibori Yukata

August 12, 2011

For those of you who know, Taisho era (1912-1936)  kimonos have a distinctive look.  Usually large-scale patterns come into play, as do contrasting values and sometimes bright, chemically dyed colors.
Shibori of the type shown here, which is indigo, white and grey, indicates that this yukata, or unlined summer kimono, was most likely dyed in the Taisho era when a grey tone was often added to indigo dyed shibori yukata.The motif which runs in lovely diagonals is fuji or wisteria.  The softness of the shibori dye and the rendering of the fuji is really lovely–and cooling–to the eye. 

The design and execution of this casual kimono is splendid and is evocative of a bygone era.  This yukata has been worn as can be seen by about 4 or 5 small, pale stains.I love this detail, above.  Usually a piece from the end of the bolt was used as a patch on the seat of an unlined kimono: this area of the kimono receives a lot of stress from crouching, sitting, standing, etc., so it is almost always reinforced to keep the yukata’s center seam from splitting.  In this case, the image on the patch, and its orientation against the flow of the design of the yukata, is a lovely, hidden detail.

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A Cooling Shibori Yukata: Two Processes

July 21, 2011

Since it’s high summer and the heat is intense, I thought I’d show something cooling to the eye, a shibori dyed cotton yukata, an unlined, casual kimono.This yukata is dyed using two methods, which is not immediately apparent.  The first is a vertically pleated shibori technique, referred to as suji shibori.If you look at the photograph, below, you’ll see the irregularly spaced suji shibori–and then alongside the shibori you’ll notice regularly spaced vertical lines.  This is done with by applying dye directly to the cloth through a stencil.   This process is called surikomi.The suji shibori and surikomi processes are very apparent in the photos above and below.I love the “point/counterpoint” effect of the pleated, irregularly spaced shibori against the regularly spaced surikomi dyed lines.

This is a man’s yukata, most likely dyed in Arimatsu, Japan, and it dates to the early twentieth century.

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