Thursday, February 14, 2013

to give colour ~色を付ける~

I promised progress photos of my kimono dyeing and after several weeks of 12-hour long (or more!) days spent dy(e)ing, so here they come!

This step is called iro-sashi (色差し) which means putting on colour. In the case of yuzen technique, this means working withing the fine resist lines with various brushed and filling in the shapes with dyes. It's not unlike the silk painting that we are familiar with in Australia. In the case of yuzen, the dyes are mixed with a little thickener (sodium alginate: smells like a scummy rockpool but it does the trick), to prevent them from bleeding under the resist.

There are many dyeing techniques for yuzen, to achieve gradations, depth of colour and various effects.This video is classic 1990's Japan but it really gives a great idea of how a professional yuzen dyer goes about his work. You can see he uses both flat and round brushes, sometimes works wet on wet and is only working on a small section of the kimono fabric which is stretched taut on shinshi bamboo stretchers. My dyeing skills are nowhere near as skilled as his but anyway, here's some pictures of what I managed!

mixing dyes 色を準備して置く
dyeing flowers 花びらを色差し
職人さんがよく刷り込み刷毛も使いますが、私は筆の方が染めやすいと思います。Yuzen professionals often use flat tipped brushes but I prefer these round brushes.
ユーカリの実と葉っぱ。dyeing eucalyptus leaves and buds
testing colours on the actual silk fabric of the kimono. 着物に使う生地に色の試し

and then! hanging the almost complete lengths up together. So satisfying to join up all the pieces!!!  This is the centre back and part of the back right sleeve. それで、大体染めた四枚を棒で吊って、柄合わせして見る。これは背中と右袖の裏です。
a detail from one of the sleeves 袖の部分
まだ出来てないが、適当に吊って、どういう感じかを見るだけ。裾にある白い部分が水側。それはまだ染めていない部分です。Its not really a kimono yet, just four lengths of fabric. I hung them up and pinned the pieces in place to get an idea of the final result. Yipee!! the white section on the hem is a water motif, yet to be dyed in this image.
 The next step (there always seems to be another one!!) is to take the fabric to a company in Kyoto to have a final steaming and the rubber resist paste removed. They will also do what's called ゆのし yunoshi  where the fabric is held taut over steam to make it nice and straight again. Then I will have a unique hand dyed bolt of fabric that gets handed on to a seamstress (who knows what they are doing), to sew it all into a kimono for display! What an epic process this has been! (still is!!)

The plan is to have the kimono all ready to go for my solo exhibition coming up at the start of April in Kyoto.  Lots to get done before then!! I'll be putting up details of the exhibition here before long.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

steps to the finish line 着物の段階

Since I last posted pictures in my post Making a Kimono..., I have gone through several important stages of the process: nori-oki (applying resist paste), ji-ire (applying pre-dye sizing), fuse-nori (covering paste) and ji-zome (background dyeing). Here I'll try and briefly explain these steps.


*Nori-oki 乗り置き
literally means the putting on of paste. In all my previous work, I have used the traditional form of nori that is a combination of mochiko rice flour and komon-nuka rice bran. Traditional nori is soluable in water and dries to a stiff resist. In humid summer months, the dried nori remains leathery but in winter it's water content to dry up and it ends up cracked like an egg shell (not good!). Being winter this time, and for it's water resistance (essential to the background dyeing part of the process) I used gomu-nori, a rubber paste that has a blue colour added to it for visibility. It is much more sticky and viscous than standard nori and smells like paint (unfortunate) but on the plus side, it is nice and flexible when it's dry and it doesn't wash out in water which means it can be used in clever combination underneath standard nori to achieve layers of dye.

applying rubber paste along the lines traced with aobana (water soluble ink) onto the fabric previously.  in the case of  rubber nori, you can use a cellophane cone (much like cake decorating), and throw it out once empty and start on a new one. Wasteful but better than getting this sticky rubber all over your fingers and nice metal tipped paper cone.
They say that when applying the resist paste, you ought to be improving upon your design as  you go. That is, rather than following the traced lines passively, see the design afresh and make any changes you see fit.

*Ji-ire 地入れ
Ji-ire is the term for pre-sizing the fabric before dyeing. Japanese textiles traditionally use milk extracted from soybeans and a thickener in the form of funori-seaweed. This application of sizing helps the dye 'grip' the fabric evenly and prevents dyed edges from bleeding. The ji-ire liquid is applied to the back side of the entire length of fabric quickly and in one go, keeping the brush moving and working down the fabric to ensure an even application. I made a 2 minute video of this process when I was about 70% of the way down one of my lengths of fabric. My wrist was starting to get sore by this point!  You can see it is tricky to work around the bamboo shinshi that are keeping the fabric stretched taut.


*Fuse-nori 伏せ糊
Having applied my design areas using the rubber resist, I now want to be able to dye the background colour. To do this, I need to mask all those precious birds and plants so they remain white, to be dyed later. This is where the rubber resist proves it's worth. I go back and apply a masking layer of normal resist paste over my design areas, this time using the normal paper cone with a metal tip. To help this resist dye, you sprinkle a layer of fine sawdust on top of the wet paste. When it's dry, it feels a little like sandpaper.

渋紙の筒で普通の糊をゴム糊の上に置きます。地染めの色に染めたくない部分を守るというわけです。  protecting the parts of the design I don't want to dye yet by applying normal resist paste on top of the rubber resist. 
先がねを外したら、広いところを早く伏せられます。taking the metal tip off to cover larger areas more quickly.
乾いていない糊にひき粉を撒きます。sprinkling fine sawdust over the wet paste will give it strength.

*Ji-zome 地染め
Finally the nerve racking step of dyeing the base fabric colour. This makes you sweat for two reasons. 1. You'll be physically sweating by the end because you need to dye all 17 metres in one go so that your colour application is even and the fabric all dries in the same temperature conditions etc. 2. You will sweat it out mentally because you're hoping that your fuse-nori is doing it's job resisting the dye and that you aren't leaving any (too many) irregular areas in your dyeing. 
The dye is applied in the same way as the sizing, but with a more (expensive!) absorbent brush made from deer hair. You need to be applying just enough dye so that you're not dry-brushing the fabric but certainly not flooding it either. 

 紫!今回も酸性染料で染めました。紫専用の刷毛ですねmmm, purple! using the 'purple-only' brush, made from deer hair. This is acid dyestuff. 

染めた時は焦っていたので糊が置いた状態の写真が取りませんでした!この写真では普通の糊が洗い取った状態で、ゴム糊の線と白い模様の部分が残っています。よっしゃ!I was busy in the moment of dyeing, so I don't have a picture of the dyed lengths with the paste still attached. Here, you see the fabric after the normal paste has been washed off and the rubber resist lines remain, along with my white design areas. yay!
紫の地染めした後の生地です!これで次の段階(色さし)の準備ができました。(実はこれを撮ったときはもう少しだけ色さしを始まりましたけどね)detail of the fabric with the background dyed,  ready for the next stage: dyeing the patterned areas! (actually  I had already started here, just a little bit on the grass seed pods )

And so now I'm off to add colour to my pattern and bring it all to life!!