This year, we are teaching BOTH mandala shibori AND itajime techniques in a three-day course. Mandalas basically being circular patterns which display different magnitudes of symmetry. Itajime shibori is an ancient japanese technique, but I initially approached it for a different reason. For me, the initial attraction was the fact that it is also repeated mandalas, if you look at it that way. And also the fact that Japanese width fabric lends itself so perfectly to such a technique!
Today, I completed this panel which combines both techniques in one work. The central mandala is 6 points in the middle, doubling to 12 points partway thru. Anybody who knows me and my work knows I love and prefer 6 and variables thereof, like 12 and 24. Six is displayed in nature in crystals of ice, and elsewhere, and the 12-point mandala surrounded by six-pointers seen in the itajime pattern (hard to make out clearly with this one, too many colors) is a basic representation of the structure within certain energy flow models. Sacred geometry, baby!
Granted, our first pieces don’t have to go the full nine-yards like this one did. We will learn and practice on both silk and cotton, steadily and repetitively over the three days. You will certainly get the practice needed to retain the technique, so you you can take it with you and make it your own! : ) Everybody should dye mandalas!! It’s too fun!We are still looking for more students, so if you think you are interested, get in touch! : )
There’s the link below.
Fabric is incredible. Never ceases to amaze me, teach me, tell me stories.
One of today’s revelation began with this hemp, purple kasuri (ikat) hemp from a very old kimono.
I have been pulling a lot of stuff out recently in a never ending attempt to pare down, get rid of some of the stuff I have accumulatd over the years. There is a lot of fabric. I was photographing and measuring this piece, etc etc , to eventually get it up on Etsy when I noticed something very interesting.
I have had lots of these machine-woven kasuri-like fabrics. Kasuri, also known as ikat in Indonesia, is a painstaking process of dyeing the threads b4hand so as to affect patterns and motifs in the woven fabric. Just found out on wikipedia that kasuri (Japanese-style ikat) is weft ikat. The weft is resist dyed first to create the pattern (in other versions, the warp is resist dyed).
Well, i assumed that this was more of the same, fake ikat. But then I got to looking closer. At first, I noticed by looking at the “coins” in the pattern, and the chords, that the pattern was minutely different in each coin or chord. When they are printed or woven using programs, every minute detail in the repeating pattern is identical. These ones were highly variable.
Then I got to looking at the selvidge, the edges of the fabric. Completely uneven, as you can see in the photo below. And then my inkling started coming to light. No, it couldn’t be….Looked closely at the weaving in the fabric. Not exactly delicate, almost deliberate….Is that a tie-off? Looks like where the string broke and they added a new string in there…..has the fatness of two strings just for a bit there….nubby hemp….but a stable, seasoned hand, for sure…no lack of skill….
But, I got to thinking about where the fabric came from, the old inn, a place which I salvaged in the spring. And remembered how all the fabrics which came out of there were of the utmost quality. (this lady had TASTE and these people had YEN!) And my inkling grew to a feeling!
This is handloomed~! This is homespun!! This is incredible!!
I look at the fabric and think, there’s no WAY I could ever pull something like this off! It must have driven the weaver plumb batty! And there is a whole kimonos worth, altogether over 10 meters. I sat and thought. Imagine weaving a whole bolt of this stuff!!
There’s no way. If I were to weave the bolt and had to put a price on it, the thing would be about $100,000! There’s no way a “modern person” (in their right mind) would even consider…yes, I know, some folks still do weave….but it’s hard to imagine, to putr a face to it and imagine someone doing this as a menas to make a kimono, let alone as a means to make money.
Have we changed that much in the 100 or so years since this fabric was woven? I’m afraid that we really have……and it could be dismaying…..but I’m sure we’re not completely beyond repair. I am quite sure of that!
At first, the objects seem quite mundane, quite one-dimensional. Fabric. So what? How much fabric do we have in the world? It’s become too commonplace, somewhat trite almost. So easy to disregard, like it’s a given part of the landscape.
But look a little deeper and things seem to expand, grow dimensionally, in stature and in import. What was once a point is now a plane, next a cosmos! Did something come from nothing?! Or was it the change in viewpoint, change of perspective, change in merely the attitude of the observer,which seems to have changed the very object itself?
Can see both uneven edges and the sort of “approximate” placement of the rows of color for the pattern.
There’s a link to ths fabric being sold on Etsy!! Go get it b4 someone does first!
Found somethging else which has me intrigued at that old ryokan. It’s an indigo-dye felt blanket. Not synthetic felt, but real, steam-shrunk wool felt. Dyed a deep indigo blue. I have never seen something similar before…..
OK, it’s completely moth-eaten. You can imagine how it was folded. I found it in an old storage tansu full of mosquito nets (kaya), way down on the bottom. I have heard b4 that indigo imbues the dyed cloth with some amount of bug protection. I guess wool is wool though, yummy to certain moths despite the indigo!
Why did I take it, you ask? Something in such condition could have no value, you probably think. But to me, not only is this worthwhile for studying the history of textiles and indigo dyeing here in Japan.
But also, I am presently working together with a man named Ritarou who specializes in sashiko, or the reinforcement of fabric using stitches. I have a feeling he will be very happy about my find. And that a winter vest or coat at least can be salvaged from even this bug eaten mess.
First I have to wash and air it , though….
More photos….There’s a tag in the corner. Can’t make out what’s written….
And the edge of the back side is interesting. Have a feeling this is a clue to how it’s made. Almost looks like three layers subsequently deposited one over the other, maybe on a large screen-like sieve….
There he was, in some frozen airspace within the syringe, on that cold morning. Keepin’ me on my toes…