Yoshiko Wada book and DVD

Well, I didn’t win the Blog to Japan competition. Thank you so much to everyone who voted on Facebook – I came second.

Shibori book coverSo I shall continue my studies of shibori in the UK for now. One of the most useful books I’ve found on the subject is Shibori: The Inventive Art of Japanese Shaped Resist Dyeing by Yoshiko Wada, Mary Kellogg and Jane Barton. It’s a comprehensive collection of different shibori techniques, along with monochrome and colour plates of historical samples and the work of contemporary artists.

I found the brief explanations of how different artists work particularly inspiring. For example, Shioko Fukumoto leaves some of the stitching and binding in, creating fantastic fan structures of rippled pleats and mesmerising movement. Hiroyuki Shindo, who runs the Little Indigo Museum in Miyama,  produces fantastic ombre work, with panels and layers that seem to shimmer off the page.

One thing I found very difficult to grasp from the book is how the Japanese use tools for binding kanoko shibori. It includes diagrams of wooden or bamboo tying stands fitted with hooks and bobbins, with explanations of how the cloth is held and the thread is wound, but I still found it difficult to picture.

So I was delighted when I found the DVD Arimatsu-Narumi Shibori: Celebrating 400 Years of Japanese Artisan Design in the library at Morley College. Narrated by Yoshiko Wada, the DVD shows Arimatsu artisans in action, hand knotting with these tools, stitching at a furious rate, and pleating and folding with aplomb.

What I didn’t realise is that each artisan specialises in a single part of the process, whether it is stencilling the design, stitching or knotting, dyeing or unpicking. Unlike me, who is trying to master every stage, they stick to their own specialisation.

Obviously this makes for a more efficient process, but if I’d spent hours stitching a lovely kimono bolt, I think I would feel a little disappointed not to be there when the piece is opened up after dyeing, to see the results of my work. 🙂


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Flextiles uses shibori, ecoprinting and felting to create original, one-off upcycled pieces. Extending the life of a garment by an extra nine months reduces its environmental impact by 20-30%.

2 thoughts on “Yoshiko Wada book and DVD”

  1. That’s too bad you didn’t win – but you did fantastically well to come in second. Congratulations.
    Like you, one day I hope to get to Japan and visit the Arimatsu / Indigo artisans’ areas. There’s just something that totally resonates with my core about Japanese textiles.
    Finally got my naturally fermenting indigo vat up and dyeing. Doesn’t have much of a flower on top, but gives beautifully dark blues.

  2. Thanks Jennifer. Glad you’re continuing with the indigo – I agree that there is something almost spiritual about Japanese textiles. I envy you being able to grow your own indigo: it must be so satisfying to produce the dye yourself from scratch.

    And I love the text you’ve made out of paper on your blog – what a fantastic idea.

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