a little house cleaning

I am finding so many good things while getting ready to have the studio painted. When the physical part of cleaning and sorting gets tedious, I take a break and clean out old files from the KimonoMomo website. Among them I found this, a shot from several years ago when I dressed the staff of a children’s museum for Hina Matsuri.

Of course the best part of digging through boxes and bags of fabric is finding pieces I thought were long gone, including several pieces of vintage shibori.

This pair of silk shibori panels were once part of an early 20th century haori. The garment was so damaged in places that the only thing left for it was to be recycled. These two pieces are all I have left. At some point I may find a use for them… other than sitting around and looking pretty, which they do quite well.
The top panel is a light tsumugi silk dyed an earthy russet orange. Bamboo leaves are rendered in an ori nui shibori stitch and dyed soft yellow.

The second piece was part of the haori’s lining. Bold kumo (spiderweb) squares in shades of white and yellow overdyed in bright red make a nice contrast to the more subtle bamboo motif.

For those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ll be at the following upcoming events. Stop by and say hello!

Sashiko Furoshiki class at Knit-One-One, May 8

Asian Heritage Street Celebration, May 15

Fanime Con, Memorial Day Weekend, May 28-31

New in the shop for April

Yummy new yukata fabrics have landed, with more on the way. I just can’t help myself when it comes to getting more. Unlike the larger Kona Bay and Alexander Henry cotton bolts I have on the shelf, yukata cottons take up so little space, which leads me to figure I can fit in a few more… which works just fine until the shelves get so heavy they fall down.

Anyway, here are two of the many new bolts I have in stock. There are so many other fabrics I have yet to either photograph or simply list that it’s going to take a while to get through them all, and by then more will have arrived.

When time allows, I am also sorting through another pile of vintage fabrics, including some rather lovely shibori pieces. And as so often happens, just as soon as I finish one pile, there’s yet another to go through. This, however, makes me happy!

Home again, bearing gifts

Slowly getting back on track, planning new classes and ordering more beautiful fabrics.

Several times it has been said to me “you really need an assistant” and I know it’s true. Not sure how to go about this other than posting an ad on craigslist–which has worked in the past (thank you, Jacob!)–but I certainly could use a part-time, able bodied and skilled assistant to help me keep things all together and sorted out. I still have heaps of photos and information to write about for my indigo feature, new yukata cotton bolts from Japan, piles of kimono, and other items that have yet to make it into the Etsy shop.

Some days I wonder if I need someone to STOP me from buying more stock! Well, maybe not.

Several beautiful new and vintage fabrics will be listed in the shop later today and tomorrow including shibori. In the meantime, a question: Would you be interested in hand dyed 43″ wide cotton yardage from Japan at $40 a yard?

It’s a little more high end than I usually carry, but it is beautiful and I’d love to have it in the shop if people will buy it. This fabric is available in black, indigo, brown or red. Post your feedback and next week (April 14, 2010) I’ll pick two people at random to receive a small bundle of indigo fabrics.

Sumptuous pineapple cherry shibori

I disasemble a veritable bounty of kimono every year and figure I’ve seen some crazy fabric combinations, but this piece made me laugh when I first came across it. Used as a sleeve lining for an early 20th century kimono, this synthetic fabric dyed in bright yellow and vibrant red has oodles of cheeky charm.

It’s 2:00 am Pacific Coast time and I get a little silly after midnight, but bear with me.

Pineapple shibori

Pineapple shibori

Like bright rings of pineapple, the kumo (spiderweb) shibori circles dance between wide stripes that were stitched, bound and dyed. Keep in mind this piece was not visible when the kimono was worn. The kimono itself was far more subdued, but this gives a hint to the potentially vivacious personality of the wearer. That’s what I like to think, anyway.

Pineapple shibori 2

Pineapple shibori 2

Hiding bright linings inside of more subdued garments is very Japanese. To wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve is common enough in the West, but to do so in Japan would not be iki, or chic. It was not always thus, but suptuary laws and class distinctions similar to those seen in Europe in the past made it impossible for the common man, regardless of his affluence, to wear certain colors or textiles in public. To work around restrictions, many people simply went underground, so to speak, by wearing fantastic linings under their plain kimono.

Here’s a bit on sumptuary laws from Wikipedia:

Japan under the Shoguns

According to Britannica Online, “In feudal Japan sumptuary laws were passed with a frequency and minuteness of scope that had no parallel in the history of the Western world”.[13] During the Tokugawa period (1603–1868) in Japan, people of every class were subject to strict sumptuary laws, which extended even to the types of clothing that could be worn. In the second half of that period (the 18–19th centuries), the merchant class (chōnin) had grown far wealthier than the aristocratic samurai, and these laws sought to maintain class divisions despite the ability of the merchants to wear far more luxurious clothing and to own far more luxurious items. The shogunate eventually gave in, and allowed for certain concessions, including the allowance of merchants of a certain prestige to wear one sword at their belt; samurai always wore two swords.

Draconian as these restrictions may have been, at least people at that time didn’t have to endure seeing brand name labels splashed across bodies everywhere. That’s not iki, that’s just ick.

If you’re in Ohio…

A friend recently alerted me to this exhibit at Ohio’s Canton Museum of Art which opens on February 9 and runs until April 26, 2009.

Kimono as Art: The Landscapes of Itchiku Kubota opens at the Canton Museum of Art on February 9, 2009. This breathtaking exhibit features 40 giant landscape kimono of the Japanese Master who spent much of his lifetime perfecting a lost textile process called Tsujigahana.

The works are by Japanese designer Itchiku Kubota whom I researched for an earlier post. While the museum article lauds him for “perfecting” tsujigahana, it has been pointed out to me by Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada and also states in Kubota’s own book Opulence: The Kimonos and Robes of Itchiku Kubota that what he achieved was a modern version of a lost art. His technique is labor intensive and likely as close to the original tsujigahana as we may ever get, but is not recognized in Japan as actual tsujigahana.

Regardless of the semantics, if I were in Ohio, I’d drop everything and go see the exhibit without delay. It looks fascinating. A companion book for the exhibit, Kimono as Art: The Landscapes of Itchiku Kubota, was published last year and has now been added to my Amazon wish list.

Three examples of indigo shibori

Due to circumstances that likely could have been avoided, I will be writing part 2 of the sashiko tutorial tomorrow instead of today. In the meantime, here are some great examples of shibori done in indigo and white.

These three show just how diverse a medium shibori can be. The piece on the left is a vintage textile, possibly intended to be used as a baby’s diaper/nappy. We should all have such  fashionable bums.

The cotton is extremely soft and very likely absorbent, but I haven’t tested this theory out. This style of shibori is kumo, or spider web. The fabric is folded and pinched into tall peaks then wrapped with thread tight enough to fully block much of the fabric from the dye. The area where the binding ties were wound is quite visible, giving each bound area its spider web appearance.

This next piece is new, from a lightweight, crisp cotton bolt dyed in a very dark indigo. The design is a repeating tortoise shell, or kikko, symbolic of longevity.

The shibori technique is square ring dots, or yokobiki kanoko. The design is stenciled onto the fabric before tying, then bound quickly with very little thread on each binding (more thread=larger resisted area, less thread=smaller resisted area). This cotton, although quite dark, is quite thin and gauzy when held up to the light. One might imagine wearing a yukata made from this in a hot, humid summer and finding it quite breezy, but still modest.

This last piece is a delicate little gem I received from Andrew Galli of Studio Galli, the producer of Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada’s Shibori DVD available in my shop.

This technique is a somewhat random form of a usually staid looped binding called miura shibori. Miura is often seen done in rows, but this one is quite different. The result is a highly textured, vivacious and chaotic splash effect, the sort you’d find done by an artist who is well acquainted with the rules and chooses to ignore them. Note how the peaks were bound toward the bottom, but not at the top. This give a stark contrast with dark indigo in the foreground and crisp white in the background, the opposite effect seen in the first piece of the three. The fabric has not been steamed, so the peaks remain as they were the moment the binding threads were removed. Beautiful.

Back to sashiko tomorrow.

I’m back

At long last, I’ve returned to the desert… where it’s raining. All week long I’ve been looking forward to the dry air and warm climate that I’d left behind, only to find it damp, cold and dreary when I got home last night. Oh well.

Fanime was fantastic. The show was exhausting, but a lot of fun. It’s always difficult to let go of my favorite vintage pieces, but once I see them on the right person, it’s worth it. For those of you who took home a new kimono at the show, remember “wear it for a day, air it for a day” and treat your kimono well so that it will look great for the next show.

One of the highlights of my trip was having tea with Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada, author of several excellent books and articles and a video about shibori, lecturer, teacher, and all-around shibori expert. She showed me the proper way to appreciate a cup of oolong tea while we discussed textiles. If I hadn’t just finished up a week of 12 hour days on my feet, I think I might have been better company, but she was a wonderful host nonetheless.

This Saturday, May 31 I will be doing a kimono fashion show at Summit High School in Bend, Oregon for their Sakura Matsuri event. If you are in the area, I hope you will come by and see the student volunteers who will be wearing kimono and having a good time. I hear the rain should be moving on by then and the skies will be clear. Fingers crossed!

If you’re wondering where all the sashiko items went in my Etsy shop, they will be relisted soon. I’m holding on to them for the show on Saturday and will update afterwards.

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