Octopus or Jewel?

Flipping through reference books while looking for examples of goldwork embroidery, I stumbled onto a page in Flowers, Dragons, & Pine Trees that made me pause, somewhat concerned, and turn the book upside-down. The image, plate 77 on page 234, is credited as an indigo dyed Kasuri Futonji from the 19th or 20th century. From the text,…

Overdyed patchwork Oriental rugs

When I first heard of overdyed patchwork rugs, my reaction was… less than enthusiastic. The concept is to take pieces of rugs too old and worn out to be used as-is, overdye the pieces, and stitch them together to make a new rug. Simple enough, and certainly not new, but recently this type of rug…

Sashiko Furoshiki

Wandering around the San Francisco Design District last week, I found this gorgeous HUGE furoshiki at Tansu Design. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my tape measure on me so I couldn’t tell you the exact measurements, but yes, that is a sofa it is draped across. I’d estimate the size to be roughly 4 feet in…

Inside the modified yukata

Taking a closer look at our modified indigo shibori yukata, there are some interesting touches that signify this was very much a homemade or at least home-modified garment. The partial lining is from a tenugui, or cotton hand towel. It is very soft, and has been carefully tacked in such a way to give more…

Kimono or yukata sleeves too short? Modify!

When this floral-patterned shibori yukata caught my eye, I just couldn’t say no. I’ve been collecting vintage clothes my whole life (starting with hand-me-down baby clothes when I was an infant) and as some of you vintage collectors know, there are items that have a marvelous vibe to them, as if the previous owner imparted…

An experiment in washing vintage indigo kasuri, part 2

(Continued from yesterday’s post, as promised) So how did it fare after the second wash? The blue background color is sharper and clearer, but the splash areas that were once light blue are now white. This does not diminish its attractiveness in my opinion, but I had been hoping to retain the light blue on…

An experiment in washing vintage indigo kasuri, part 1

Along with shibori and sashiko, I am a sucker for kasuri (絣). Popular in Japan since the Edo era, kasuri (or gasuri) is a double woven ikat, meaning the threads are dyed prior to weaving and the design is in both the warp and weft threads.  Machine woven Bingo kasuri, which constitutes the bulk of…

Engi mon zukushi indigo has arrived

What’s that, you say? Remember the indigo I polled about last week? It’s here. And boy, was I surprised when I pulled it from the package. This is not quite what I expected, but I sure do like it! Engi mon zukushi translates roughly to a collection of small treasures. What I had at first…

A Closer Look at Yukata fabrics

After handling these fabrics for several years, I often forget that many people have never seen a bolt (called a tan) of Japanese fabric, much less a kimono. Here are my thoughts on a question I am often asked: Why is the fabric so narrow? This is a bit of a chicken-and-egg question, as I’m…

Focus on Indigo part IV, Katazome

Today I present two katazome items, one from the SFAPA show and one from my personal collection. Click on the images to get a closer look. The first is from the Cavin-Morris Gallery in New York. It’s a stunning katabira (帷), an unlined (hitoe 単衣) ramie (jofu 上布) kimono for summer wear. This would have…

Focus on Indigo part III, tsutsugaki kimono

I met Vicki Shiba of Mill Valley, CA last year during my first visit to the Arts of Pacific Asia Show in SF. She’s a soft spoken woman with a sharp intellect and a dazzling collection of antiques. She had several pieces worthy of mention in her booth, and I have chosen two that I…

Focus on Indigo part I, Samurai Vest

note: Clicking on any of the images here will give you a larger image so you can see the details more clearly. While I have always had a love for all things indigo, this was the first piece at the Arts of Pacific Asia Show in San Francisco this month that inspired me to reach…