Mike and I drove up to rural Northern California over the weekend to visit John Marshall, a well-known katazome artist, at his home/studio in Covelo. We had a wonderful dinner with John and his other guests, and Sunday morning I got some time to chat with John, tour his studio, and see his work.
Here’s one of his amazing katazome pieces (photo taken with permission, of course):
I’ve deliberately left both of the larger photos (click on the image to get to the full size version) at the original size, so you can zoom in and admire his work – the smaller photos really don’t do justice either to the power of the design or the subtlety of the colors. John is truly an amazing artist.
But what, you ask, is katazome? It’s the art of Japanese paste-resist dyeing. I took a katazome class from Karen Miller awhile back, and posted about the class here and here. (My finished pieces from the class are here.) Basically, you start by carving a stencil, like so:
(This is one of Karen’s stencils, not mine – I unfortunately did not take photos of the process using my own stencils.)
Then you use the stencil to “print” on the fabric using rice paste resist, like so:
And then you apply the pigments or dyes over the resist:
And then you wait for the dye/paint to set, then rinse out the resist:
Obviously this piece is not a Work of Art (as usual, I was trying to do too much in a single design), but hopefully it gives you some idea of the possibilities.
I was somewhat interested in katazome earlier, but after seeing John’s work, it’s definitely something I want to explore further. I’m hoping that next year I can go up to his place and study katazome with him – he offers a week-long class in his studio/home that sounds really enticing. I never managed to find the time for it before, but maybe next year…?
John was also kind enough to gift me with some uchikake padding (used for making uchikake, the Japanese ceremonial kimono), and loaned me a uchikake so I could reference a real garment when making my phoenix uchikake! That will be super helpful. He also gave me a copy of his book “Make Your Own Japanese Clothes”, which has instructions for making uchikake. In addition to being an amazing artist, he’s also a really generous guy.
I also discovered that, alas, my “kinshi” thread is not kinshi. Apparently the label (which is in Japanese) says “synthetic gold thread”. What I get for not reading Japanese, I guess. Well, I didn’t pay too much for it, so I’ll just chalk it up to experience. If I want to use the real stuff, I’ll order it from John, who has actually had his thread assayed to ensure it is real gold.
John also showed me some beautiful Japanese textiles that have subtle embroidery in gold and rayon threads to enhance a woven or dyed pattern. I hadn’t thought about doing surface design on the phoenix kimono, but now I see that it might make a great way to add depth and interest to the kimono. There are two ways I could go with this: embroidering “real” phoenixes flying up the kimono against the woven phoenixes in the background, or subtle embroidery to add just a bit of glitter to the woven phoenixes. Either would be a valid approach – I’ll have to think about it some more.
I’m glad to say that I’m on the back end of the asthma flare-up, too. Friday I went back to the doc and got a prescription for codeine cough medicine, which has been letting me get more sleep at night, which has helped my lungs heal up a bit. I’m almost back in the swing of things!
My project over the next few days will be the fabric for my Handwoven article. I haven’t started it yet mostly because I’m reluctant to cut that 10-yard warp in fine threads off the loom – it was such a pain to get on the loom and to debug that some part of me wants to keep it going, even though it’s served its purpose and is only tying up the loom now. In another day or two, maybe I’ll get up the nerve.