Tag Archives: bast

Meiji Era Indigo Dyed Sashiko Cotton Bag

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This is the beautifully hand spun and woven lining fabric. Below is the hemp rope used to tie the bag.

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Vintage Japanese Hand Spliced Hemp Thread

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When this thread arrived from Japan there were small bits of newspaper from the 40’s or 50’s clinging to some of the threads. I assume they were packed away in a weavers workshop for many years. Everything about this thread makes me contemplate the extreme skill needed to produce such consistent and strong thread. The hemp was harvested, steamed, dried, boiled, the fibers were then separated and hand spliced. In the second photo you can see the joins where the spicing was done. After splicing a final twist was added using a spinning wheel. I have several hanks of this thread and I think I will use it for the warp of an upcoming project.

Growing Ramie

This summer I planted a few ramie plants in the hopes of being able to harvest some ramie fiber next year. Ramie is a member of the nettle family and has been used throughout Asia to create a beautiful and strong fabric similar to linen or hemp. IMG_2709

Here are some examples of ramie fabric from a small komebukuro. Komebukuro are small patchwork bags used for giving gifts of rice and beans to friends, family, or a temple. The fabric was woven using a double ikat technique and may have originated from the Ryukyu Islands located at the southern end of the Japanese archipelago. IMG_2707IMG_2708IMG_2710Here is a short Japanese video about how ramie plants are processed into beautiful fabric. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIGscKahEqY

 

Kudzu fiber

IMG_2716Over the last month I have been trying to get better at taking fiber from kudzu vines. This was my last attempt and I’m pleased with the results. I gathered the vines from the forest floor where it was easy for me to find vines that were straight and were growing with almost no leaves. I boiled the vines for one hour and then allowed them to rot under a piece of old roofing tin for about 4 or 5 days before stripping the fiber from the vines and washing it with warm water and castile soap. The fiber is a very light golden color and the remaining bark is easily removed.

IMG_2719IMG_2717IMG_2718Kudzu fiber can be purchased from my web shop here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/204322779/raw-kudzu-kuzu-fiber?ref=shop_home_active_1

Cotton and Hemp Zanshiori

I recently found this very worn zanshi fabric. The warp is hemp and the weft is cotton and hemp. It has a beautiful worn feel simular to antique linen. It has been dyed with indigo, but the natural color variations in the hemp thread also lend to the design. Zanshiori is fabric that has been woven using the threads left over at the ends of numerous bobbins. due to the use of thread fragments the fabric has a random pattern and a varied texture because of the knots used to bind all the threads in the weft together. Zanshi was often woven at the end of a bolt of fabric to make use of any remaining warp.

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I have listed some of this zanshi fabric for purchase here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/178807794/antique-handwoven-japanese-zanshi-indigo?ref=shop_home_active_3

Bowl Of Kudzu Fiber

This is fiber taken from the kudzu vine. Here in the South kudzu is an invasive plant that can take over entire tracts of land in a season or two. Despite being an invasive weed it is a beautiful lush green against the sometimes dry and burnt colors of late summer. Kudzu flowers give off a thick sweet scent, vines can be woven into baskets, and the fiber from the vines can be woven into fabric. IMG_2060

I took this kudzu fiber back in the fall last year. It is a delicate fiber that has a glossy sheen which I think was part of the reason it was such a desirable fiber for clothing of the upper classes in old Japan. I have it resting here in an Edo era lacquer ware bowl. The bowl has a beautiful uneven shape and thick deep red lacquer. I imagine that it was made by a rural lacquer maker as it has a strong rustic handmade feel rather than the delicateness of a more refined city made bowl.               IMG_2061There is a long process of taking kudfu fiber from the vines. Vines are gathered and bound then boiled for about an hour. The bound and boiled rolls of kudzu vines are then left outside to ret  under leaves or grasses for a few days. When a powdery white mold appears on the vines and they are slimy to the touch the inner vines can be stripped from the outer fiber. Then the fiber can be washed and scraped to remove the slimy outer coat. IMG_2062I have only attempted to make kudzu thread but this site  http://www.ryukyutextile.com/kasuri/Weavers_studio_4.html  is a great visual guide for processing kudzu fiber.