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.
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.
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.
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.|
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.|
|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!!