Saturday, October 06, 2007

Katazome Workshop

Wow...what a busy week it has been! I hosted a Fiber Arts Workshop (I just provided the site for the workshop; Donna Barnitz did all the organizing). It was on an ancient Japanese textile dyeing process called katazome. It was taught by Karen Miller who was already out here in New Mexico at the Folk Art Museum last weekend doing a demo and lecture on the katazome process.
A very complex process that is absolutely fascinating! Paper stencils are cut from a special handmade mulberry paper and a rice paste mixture is made. The paste mixture is pressed through the stencil onto the fabric and allowed to dry. It is then dyed with indigo dye many times over to get that beautiful indigo color that hails from Japan (almost black). I've really oversimplied the explanation of the process, but I hope the images help to convey the story. Be sure to click on the links provided in this post to get more information on the process and the teacher.
What's so magical is that when the fabric first comes out of the dye, it is this bright flourescent green shade. Literally, within seconds, as the air hits it and oxidizes the dye, it starts to turn blue. You can really see this in the 8th and 9th images from the top (the two panels that look the same). These two images were taken within SECONDS of each other and the change happens that quickly and dramatically. As the panels hang on the line with full air contact, they continue to oxidize and turn more blue. It takes quite a few dips to get the dark blue color we know as Japanese indigo. The panels have to dry completely before they can go back in for another indigo dip. It's a good thing the climate here is 'un-humid'!
It was lovely to see everyone using the space that we have here on our property in such a manner! I thought it quite magical to have all those panels hanging in my back yard. I went crazy taking tons of photos as the sunlight at this time of year is perfect for photography.

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