I’ve spent the last two and a half days working with katazome, the Japanese art of stenciled paste-resist dyeing. Friday I cooked up the paste, a mix of glutinous rice flour and powdered rice bran. Saturday, my friend Alfred and I pasted up some pieces – Alfred dipped his in an indigo vat, and I hand-painted some of mine. Here are “before” and “after” shots of my work:
And here are some of the indigo-dyed versions:
Saturday, Alfred and I also completed quite a few new stencils – applying paint and netting to one side, removing the excess paint, and drying them flat. I used those stencils yesterday, producing a ton of half-finished pieces. Here are two of them:
These will come out better than the first batch, I think, as I did them more “properly” than the first batch. Instead of painting onto untreated cloth pinned to a plastic background, I pre-sized the cloth with soy milk (which helps prevent bleeding) and stretched them out by pinning them to screen printing frames. Here’s a pic of the whole shebang:
The Japanese way to do it is to use harite (clamps) on either end of the fabric, then put shinshi (bent pieces of bamboo with a pin on either end) into the selvages. The whole collection is then suspended from two pillars, holding the fabric nice and taut, perfect for painting. However, while I had shinshi, I didn’t have harite, or pillars to suspend the whole affair from – and in any case, for pieces so small it would have been serious overkill. So I used what I had lying around.
I can’t wait to see how the new batch came out. None of the pieces are perfect – there are drips of paste and places where a repeating stencil didn’t come out right – but since they are mostly just samples, that doesn’t matter much. I learned a lot while doing them, which is the important part!
Today I might paste up a few more pieces of cloth, but will probably dip them in an indigo vat rather than do elaborate painting. I have only two more weeks of recovery before I have to go back to work, and as katazome isn’t one of my main interests, I don’t want to “waste” too much of my precious time on it. But it sure has been fun to play with, and I love the results!
And the cats? Fritz was delighted to see my friend Alfred on Saturday, as Alfred has big feet – big enough to stick your entire head into, if you’re a shoe-fetishist cat. Here is a video of an ecstatic Fritz, caught in flagrante delicto with one of Alfred’s shoes.