.from the collections of Rhoda Braunschweig, Ruth Cadoret and Pati Johnson

"Japan has an extremely rich textile history.  The arts of  weaving, dyeing, and embroidery have always played a crucial role in determining the cultural climate of the country and continuing respect for these traditional skills has secured Japan's present position as a major force in the world of textile design."--Japanese Country Textiles
Most of these KASURI (ikat) fabrics are cotton that was indigo-dyed many years ago..   Kasuri textiles are produced by the weaving of pre-dyed yarns in which portions of the yarn are  tightly bound or compressed prior to being dyed.  The dye does  not penetrate these protected areas when the yarn is dipped into the dye bath.  This produces a yarn that is partly white and partly colored.  The yarn is then used as warp or weft (or both) so that a pattern, with slightly blurred edges, emerges as the cloth is woven.

Great skill is required of the dyer to bind the yarn in exactly the right place and of the weaver to ensure the pattern will appear as planned.  One of the most striking characteristics of Japanese kasuri is the use of free form and realistic designs ("picture kasuri"), often used with geometric motifs.

Many of these kasuri textiles were futon covers.

INDIGO is an excellent natural dye that is still popular today.  It develops its full depth of color through repeated dipping and subsequent oxidation in the air.  The intensity of  color is not the result of the time submerged in the dyebath but how many times it has been dipped and aired.  Some of these textiles may have been dipped as many as 50 times.

SHIBORI (tie-dyeing) is a Japanese dye technique in which cloth is stitched, bound, or folded to resist dye.  The areas which are wrapped do not allow the dye to penetrate and when the fabric is opened, the design appears.

KATAZOME dyeing is done by applying a rice paste to a fabric through a KATAGAMI (cut stencil paper).  This process is repeated over and over the length of the fabric, with careful attention given to the edges of the stencil to insure perfect  matching.  The fabric is then dyed.  When it is washed the resisted areas retain the original  color in contrast with the dyed areas.

YUZEN dyeing is a complex process combining paste-resist dyeing and painting, making it possible to dye a fabric with a  complicated design.  The most common method today is a hand-painted one.  In this method the design pattern is outlined  with a resist paste which is extruded from a funnel shaped utensil with a nozzle set at the tip.  This resist paste is used to outline the motif,  the inside of which is then dyed in colors.  Next, all of the dyed section is coated with resist paste and the background is dyed with strokes of a brush or  immersion.  Steam is used to set the dyes and the fabric is washed to  remove excess paste.  When washed the first resist leaves delicate white threadlike outlines.

NISHIJIN textile weaving features intricately woven brocades of colorful dyed yarns.  These beautiful fabrics are designed with great precision.  The design is transferred to graph paper and then computerized.  It is woven using very, very fine silk threads dyed colors chosen by the weaver.  An example of the fineness of  the weaving was seen in a 17-inch section that took 5000 weft threads.  Both hand and power looms are used.

CONTEMPORARY textiles offer beauty rooted in traditions, with technical innovations.

"For centuries Japan has been associated with a  rich textile tradition and  was a leading center of cotton, and silk production, but in recent years it has emerged as an influential and vital force in this industry.--Structure  and Surface, Contemporary Japanese Textiles

Among the textiles shown here are a silk triple designed by Eiji Miyamoto and a doubleweave of silk organdy and feathers (hand-inserted as it was woven) designed by Reiko Sudo.

In the largest sense of its meaning the word KIMONO means clothing (thing to wear).  In the twentieth century, it came to mean Japanese style clothing.
Unlike Western garments, kimono have no curves or darts for shaping, being a straight cut and flat garment.  A bolt of cloth (kimono width) is cut across its width into seven straight pieces:  two long body panels, two
sleeves, two overlaps and a neckband.  The body panels are sewn at the center back and sides.  To each front panel is added an overlay to the body, sleeves, and a long  neckband attached.  The essential accessory is the OBI (sash) ranging from the country (shown here) to the ornate and fancy fabrics tied in simple or artistically complicated designs.
The country obi were created by weaving thinly torn strips of cotton cloth taken from garments or other textiles that have become too worn for use.

If you would like to be on an e-mail list to be notified of future exhibits or if you have questions about the current one, contact knitterstreat@wekz.net.
As always, a heartfelt thank you to Rhoda Braunschweig  who plans and David Braunschweig who assists in "hanging" each exhibit.

Photos by Lori Manning Berg
Copyright © 2002.
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