Katazome is a type of fabric that is decorated through the use of paste resist stencil designs. The technique has been used in China and Japan for hundreds of years. I wanted to try the technique, but felt overwhelmed by the large number of supplies needed. This was my short cut experiment in katazome. I began by cutting out a stencil from some small squares of kakishibu treated paper. Kakishibu is a dye made from the fermented juice of green astringent persimmons. It is often used to dye fabric or to waterproof paper. I copied the chrysanthemum and sea holly patterns from some antique fabrics, and I made a simple rice paste glue by cooking glutinous rice flour in hot water for a few minutes. I left the paste to thicken up and cool down in the refrigerator.
The base fabric was dampened with a spray bottle and the stencil was also moistened so that it would lay flat on the damp fabric. I used a small spatula to push the paste through the stencil before removing the stencil and allowing the paste to dry in the sun for about an hour.
After the paste was no longer tacky I dyed some of the fabric pieces with indigo and the rest using kakishibu. The kakishibu dyed fabrics need to be exposed to strong sunlight in order to deepen the color of the dyed fabric. I am pleased with the simplified katazome fabrics that this experiment produced. I wrapped the fabrics up as gifts with some antique Japanese paper from old daifukucho.
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.
This patch is decorated with an amazing fern design often seen in late Edo and early Meiji tsutsugaki and katazome fabrics.
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.
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.
This furoshiki or “carrying cloth” was made from rustic hand spun cotton. The design of a ginger flower kamon against a deep indigo background was achieved through the process of tsutsugaki. Rice paste was pushed through a small metal tip affixed to a paper bag. After the design had been executed the fabric was dyed and then washed to reveal the outline of the ginger flower kamon. rice paste would have then been applied again to the areas that are now white before drying for a second time.
The deep indigo color of the background could have taken, as many as, 20 dips into the indigo dye vat to achieve, while the light blue of the kamon more than likely only took a few. This attests to the great skill of old Japans rural dyers.
This furoshiki also has some beautiful repairs. there are several mended holes within the kamon itself, but one of the most beautiful is located at the center bottom of the furoshiki. This indigo patch has been applied with indigo dyed thread. I love the unintended texture of this patch.
This is the second year in a row I have attempted to grow my own upland cotton. Last year it failed due to the cold spring weather of the Pacific Northwest, but this year in North Carolina I have had much better luck. I started the cotton indoors back in April and transplanted them in May. Now that the weather is hot and dry the plants are flourishing.
The stems and young leaves of these cotton plants are deep red. The leaves become green as they mature. I have them growing with basil, tomatoes, and Amish cockscombs.
The cotton flowers change from white to red during the two or three days that they stay on the plant.
Large cotton bolls take the place of the flowers a few days after the flower falls from the plant.