Category Archives: Cotton

Meiji era furoshiki with patches

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This Meiji era furoshiki or “carrying cloth” was probably once the smallest of a set of three furoshiki that were part of a brides trousseau. The central kamon or “crest” and the kanji on the side have been dyed using a technique known as  tsutsugaki. I love the simple design and the naive way the kamon and kanji are rendered. What makes this piece so nice are the beautiful patches and stitches that adorn the back and peek through to the front.IMG_2019IMG_2017IMG_2018IMG_2020IMG_2440

I found this kamon in a Japanese book of family crests compiled in 1913.

This furoshiki can be purchased at my shop:    https://www.etsy.com/listing/154792021/antique-japanese-tsutsugaki-indigo?ref=shop_home_active

Hand spun katazome

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I like this early Meiji katazome for its bold design of chrysanthemum flowers and its beautiful hand spun texture. I also think its really amazing how strong the indigo remains after over 120 years. This design tells a lot about how katazome designs were created. You can clearly see the small connecting lines in the design that were made by small pieces of the original paper stencil. These small connecting lines helped hold the stencil together when an artisan was pushing rice paste through the stencil to deposit the resist.   This second photo also shows the spot where the stencil was overlapped to create one continuous design.

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Edo period katazome patches and sashiko

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At first glance these patches seem ordinary. The first is a patch of small sashiko stitches and the second a normal enough blue patch with haphazard stitching holding the two pieces of fabric together. When you turn the piece over it reveals two beautiful patches made from beautiful Edo period katazome.IMG_2432

This patch is decorated with an amazing fern design often seen in late Edo and early Meiji tsutsugaki and katazome fabrics.  IMG_2434

The next patch has a beautiful double design of black leaves and branches on an indigo ground, as well as, resist dyed cherry or plum trees with stylized blossoms. I can’t even begin to understand the process of dying something like this.IMG_2433IMG_2439

I think these patches elevate this beautiful Edo period katazome, and I am in complete reverence of the masterful hands that created these fabrics so many years ago.

Antique furoshiki made from a nobori

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This is a furoshiki, or “carrying cloth” made from three sections of an old Japanese banner. It was produced in the early to mid 20th century. and was dyed using fermented persimmon dye. The kanji was produced using a technique called tsutsugaki. This furoshiki is a great example of the Japanese idea of mottainai or “nothing wasted.”  Notice the third section of the furoshiki where the kanji are upside down. IMG_2420IMG_2421IMG_2419

The darker portion above is where the banner would have been attached, via a fabric tab, to a pole  that held it aloft. It remained dark while the rest of the banner was sun bleached. IMG_2418

Early Meiji katazome

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This early Meiji period katazome is made of indigo dyed cotton that has been hand spun and hand woven. The fabric is thick and has been worn soft by years of use. This piece was probably the top of a futonji and has been pieced together from 15 small pieces of the same fabric. It has also been mended with several large patches. IMG_2404IMG_2406IMG_2407IMG_2405

This last photo shows the irregular hand spun threads that produce a fabric with such amazing weight and texture.

Antique Miao blankets

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These images come from six antique Miao blankets. all of the blankets are cotton and they have all been dyed using indigo.  Freehand drawing and stencil methods of resist dying have been employed to create the designs on these blankets. two different weaving patterns have been used to create the cotton base fabrics. The two older blankets are woven with a plain weave and the four remaining have a diamond pattern that is traditional to the Miao of Guizhou provience, China. IMG_2370IMG_2367IMG_2369IMG_2371IMG_2372IMG_2373IMG_2374IMG_2375IMG_2376IMG_2378

This photo comes from a book titled Lost China. The blanket hanging behind the man in the photo is simular in construction, narrow strips of fabric, and in the use of stencil resist designs to the older blankets shown above.

Crane furoshiki

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This furoshiki or “carrying cloth” dates to the Meiji period and was made from hand spun and hand woven cotton fabric. The crane was expertly dyed using natural indigo. This type of decoration is known as tsutsugaki it was created by a dyer who used a paper cone or “tsutsu”. The tsutsu was used to apply a mixture of ground rice bran, rice flour, salt, and water onto the fabric to create a resist. This resist was washed away after dying to reveal the design. It must have taken several applications of rice paste and many dips in the indigo dye bath to create the colors in this furoshiki. IMG_2350IMG_2349IMG_2353

This furoshiki may have started its life as a futonji or “padded futon cover”. The symbolism of the crane was one often used on items made to be given to a bride and groom as a wedding gift. It has several large repairs that attest its use over the years. The repairs have all been mended using hand spun and hand woven cotton. The large patch in the middle of the furoshiki is made of very thick course homespun. IMG_2354IMG_2351