I’m a big fan of Itchiku Kubota, who made fabulous kimono in the tsujigahana style. Tsujigahana combines shibori (tied-resist) dyeing with hand-painted motifs, usually flowers. Kubota took this method to jaw-dropping heights – so much so that his work is my personal inspiration. If I can make something as beautiful as his “Symphony of Light” kimono, I’ll consider my life a success. (I wrote a blog post about Kubota a few years back, if you want to know more.)
Though Kubota’s work is out of my price range, I’ve been looking for a piece in the tsujigahana style for awhile. It’s complicated, because in Japan, “tsujigahana” also describes a design style rather than a specific method – which means there are many imitations using other methods (woven, embroidery, printed) and the imitations can be quite good. John Marshall has been helping me sort the real from the fake.
Last week I finally came across a kimono that John and I both thought was real, and where I liked the overall design. So I bought it online, and spent the next week biting my nails waiting for its arrival. The package finally arrived yesterday, and I tore it open, to find that it was even more beautiful than the online photos! And it is definitely genuine.
So I spread it out for photos, and naturally the first thing that happened was this:
After gently shooing away my beautiful kitty, I tried taking photos of the full kimono. I couldn’t do it justice with my cell phone, but here’s my best effort:
And here are some closeups:
You might wonder how the makers handle seams – how do you get the two pieces to harmonize perfectly across the seam, like this?
In some cases the answer is to dye the garment (seams and all) after sewing, which is what I suspect happened on this seam because of how perfectly the shibori pattern lines up. However, there are also cases where the pieces are dyed separately, with a little extra on either side. This can result in imperfect overlap, like so:
Around then, help reappeared, and I gave up on taking more photos, since it was obviously time to pet the cat:
I’m very pleased to have the kimono! I’ve been thinking about what to do with it. I haven’t got room to display the whole piece at home (not to mention what the feline assistants would do to it), so I’m thinking I might remove one sleeve and pin it up in my cubicle. It’s not nearly as nice as seeing the whole thing, but at least this way I’ll be able to see it daily.
Meanwhile, some other wonderful packages have arrived. This lovely 4-quart All-Clad saucepan came a day or two ago, a gift from my in-laws:
Of course I had to try it out immediately, so this morning I inaugurated it with the beginnings of some yuzu marmalade:
My other package will come in handy for the marmalade. Here is my Christmas gift to myself:
It’s a solid copper preserving pan – designed for making jams and jellies (and marmalades!). Copper conducts heat efficiently and evenly, and the sloping-outward sides encourage quick evaporation. It’s a large pot – 10″ at the base and almost 16″ at the top – which also makes for quick evaporation of excess liquid.
It’s also beautiful, especially from the outside, as it is hammered copper – which you can see a bit on the inside but is much more prominent outside. I’ll take another photo tomorrow, when I take it down to finish cooking the marmalade.
I’m actually making two batches of marmalade tomorrow, using the same amounts of liquid and chopped yuzu for each. One batch will be boiled in a conventional stockpot, one in the copper preserving pan. I’m curious just how much faster the marmalade cooks up in the preserving pan. I hope it makes a big difference – the faster the excess water boils off, the better the flavor, as lengthy cooking destroys flavor.
All these packages arriving mean lots of empty boxes and packing material, of course, which makes somebody very happy:
Not only does he love chewing on cardboard boxes (all of ours are a bit ragged around the edges 🙂 ), he enjoys playing and pouncing in the paper packing material. The Christmas season is wonderful for cats!