Tag Archives: kasuri

Amami Oshima

continuing tradition…

Wednesday’s post was long enough so I didn’t add specific information about the side trip I’m taking after the Silk Study Tour to Japan ends. Prompted by one of the tour participants who is researching the mud dyeing traditions of various cultures and locales, I was inspired to go and see this for myself and add to my Japanese textile knowledge. I will spend 4 days there learning and exploring the textiles of Amami Oshima.
Amami Oshima (oshima means island in Japanese) is the northernmost island in the Okinawan archipelago.

it is part of the Ryuku Islands

While the Ryuku Islands (and Okinawa) are well known for their Indigo dyeing and beautiful weavings using tropical plant fibers, Amami Oshima is known for its tradition of plant and mud dyeing on silk, often supplemented with indigo. Its beautiful and intricate weavings using the previously bound and dyed warp and weft threads are called Oshima Tsumugi.
This link has a good description of the process and terms.
Japan seems like it is filled with endless opportunities to learn and discover so many textile traditions and this is one I have not previously explored.
Interestingly, I realize I have already collected a small sampling of these textiles! I’ve seen them here and there in Japan and picked some up when the price was not too steep just to study and enjoy them. A sampling:

A recent video shows more of the process and the issues facing the economics behind weaving this very time consuming textile.
There is also a lot of indigo dyeing that occurs in the Ryukyu Islands perhaps in part due to its tropical and mild climate as well as the weaving of choice bast fibers, especially on Okinawa. I expect I will also see some of that on Amami Oshima as well.
I also read where they produce a special type of sake there using sugar cane…will have to try it!

So the fabric collections I will be putting together for you includes one selection that will be collected only from Amami Oshima and I wanted to explain a little bit more about what that was all about. You can see the various collections that can be ordered here in the shop.

I look forward to sharing my Amami Oshima adventures here on the blog in early June.

booth 1620

being well prepared is half the victory

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arashi shibori on silk

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vintage kasuri and taiten

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some smaller bits

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materials for the indigo workshop

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Shibori ribbon flower kits

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Shibori ribbon, of course…

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indigo, always indigo

and thank you for the overwhelming response to my workshops. when they fill 2 times over  I understand they get to automatically repeat the class next year.  that would be nice!

and…while I am leading the indigo workshop the very talented Mary Alice Sinton of Blue Bonnet Studio will be working the booth. Mary Alice is a certified teacher of both Traditional Japanese Embroidery and Japanese Bead Embroidery. She travels and teaches many classes. Come by and say hello!
Houston Quilt Festival 2013

collected folk fabrics-indigo, kasuri, hemp and more

backside-silk floats across two flowers

I wanted t0 do a little post on some of the fabrics I brought back with me from Japan.  The first one is a bit of a curiosity to me which is why I bought it at one of the temple sales I wandered through. I’m sure this technique has a name and a history but since I had never seen it ( or noticed it) before, I was quite unaware of it.  At first I was drawn to it because of the indigo, next by the hemp, and also by the subtle pattern woven into it. Then I noticed that it was also embroidered with silk here and there.  Not only that, but what I saw as embroidery seems to actually have been added into the design as it was being woven.  There are large floats across the back too.  What is this called?  Is it common?  I like so many things about this fabric.  I like the uncommon pairing of the course hemp and the lustrous silk.  Perhaps John Marshall might know- or a weaver passing through…

asa (hemp) weaving indigo

The light flowers, stems, and leaves first appear as if they could be katazome, but no.  The back side shows the motif as darker than the ground.  A form of kasuri?  Or just a kind of double weave floating the lighter weft over the darker warp threads. I just don’t know.  Again, a question for a weaver to answer.  And then with the silk.  a soft handspun yarn lightly dyed -perhaps with madder.  Three pieces  of this I dug out of a pile of things under a table, appear to be an old obi.

Then there was this-

cotton or linen warp, silk weft kasuri

~this was found at the same flea market where I found the zakuri. the seller had several fine textiles.  Makoto bought one especially nice boro kimono for his wife.  This was in his scrap box (where I shop!) and I loved the color and the two way kasuri pattern.  The warp is a fine black cotton and the weft a lovely orange slightly slubby fine silk.  A great combo.  He had several pieces and I bought only two and had regrets by the time I got home for not buying it all.  To our surprise, the next day we saw him again at a different temple sale and I asked if he had brought it with him and he dug it out of a box and I bought the rest.  So 5 pieces in all-a kimono that was taken apart for cleaning and never put back together.  I love that about kimono.  The making of them does not require cutting into the fabric except for length and in the end you can dismantle the piece and use it all over again.  What plain and common sense!

kasuri detail

Walking back to the train one day I came upon a small street where a few vendors had thrown down some tarps with kimono and fabric piled onto them.  I picked up a couple of things-

The one on the left (partially shown) is a shibori noren. Likely made or at least tied in China. The other one seemed more possibly Japanese. I liked what I saw in it.

Two kasuri jackets or possibly summer weight yogi (for sleeping) – both in great condition.  All hand sewn.  Each use different cotton kasuri fabrics.  A couple of small seam repairs and I may put one of them in the shop.  It’s quite small.  But the fabric is wonderful.

I’ve saved the best for last-

komebukuro-sack for offering rice at the temple for special religious ceremonies

~this particular one appears to be quite old and with many boro patches.  It employs various homespun cotton fabrics and the rope appears to be handmade from hemp fibers. Also quite large-12 x 20″ at least.  The inside is more interesting than the outside-you can better see the patchwork. I would guess this one to be from the Meiji era (1868-1912). I appropriately found it at a temple sale.  A few more pics of it:

inside full view-1

more inside detail

edge detail and rope

bag bottom inside

outside view 2

another outside view

And today, while silk was steaming on poles, I dyed up the mandalas I exampled in the online workshop-

indigo mandala with itajime on cotton organza

that’s all I can manage right now-whoops, except for this:

itajime indigo on hemp- table mat and coasters

Took this for a test drive and liked it-fabric is some hemp I found along with the komebukuro and I’ve backed the coasters with a little hand stitched kasuri. They’re reversible. Moons of course. I keep wondering why we can’t have hemp in this country…it’s just such a practical enduring fabric.

whoops- almost forgot the silk-some kimono lining silk rescued and indigo dyed-

kimono lining silk indigo dyed

There is a shop update in the near future.