I recently taught a class in Richmond, VA about making thread from wisteria and kudzu fibers. Here are some photos of my preparations. Wisteria bark fiber and hardwood ash.
This is a completely hand made cotton textile. I think it dates to the late Edo or early Meiji period. The fabric is soft and worn and has probably seen many different uses in its long life. The pattern is odd and I haven’t seen many others like it. I love the way the indigo has worn to produce an almost ikat pattern under the applied katazome decorations.
I’ve been spinning cotton for about 3 years now. I started by using a drop spindle and then moved to a spinning wheel and charkha. I have experimented spinning short staple, long staple upland and naturally colored cotton. Its really rewarding to dye upland cotton thread with indigo. Because of the luster in upland cotton the resulting color is bright and picks up different levels of color due to how much oxidation occurs. The process of spinning my own thread has allowed me understand the huge amount of patience and talent held by spinners dyers and weavers in the past.
This antique paper covered basket holds some of the yarns I have been making over the past few months. The basket itself is really special. It has been covered with a layer of hand spun cloth and then encased in multiple layers of paper taken from daifukucho or shopkeepers ledgers. some of this paper has been treated with persimmon tannin which turned the paper dark red/brown and made the basket waterproof. I think the basket is probably from the early Meiji period.
Here are some wisteria or fuji yarns. The blue has been dyed with indigo.
I dyed this fuji yarn with indigo that was past its prime. It has a gray quality I really like.
This paper yarn or shifu I made from part of a roll of washi paper I found. I cut the paper into a long narrow strip and then spun it using an Ashford spinning wheel. the thread is really strong and has a lot of elasticity. I would like to try dying shifu in the future but it seems like the nature of paper and water might cause problems.
This is yarn I made from scrap cloth cut into strips and spun. some of the cloth has been dyed with indigo.