First to explain myself. My name is Melinda and I’ve just recently completed a double degree at the Australian National University, majoring in Textiles and Japanese. In 2008 I spent 10 months living in Kyoto, Japan studying at Kyoto Seika University. I chose to study katazome for my two semesters there.
What is katazome?
Put concisely, katazome – 型染 is a Japanese technique of stencil resist dyeing. That is, using a stencil to apply a resist paste to a fabric or paper surface. Then dyeing over the top of the dried resist paste to create the patterning.
Cutting a stencil
Applying resist paste
Dyeing in the gaps
I came to love the technique of katazome because of the process and the very Japanese cultural elements of it.
The process of katazome as explained very crudely above is very structured and every step needs to be followed in a certain order for the artist to create the design they envisage. Though the technique seems structured it also gives the artist a great deal of freedom and possibilities.
Especially now having returned to Australia, I also appreciate the very Japanese nature of katazome. The ingredients used in the resist paste, the stiff bristled brushes used for dyeing the cloth, the bamboo stretchers used to hold fabric taut, the soy bean milk applied to the cloth; these things are grounded in Japanese culture and its way of life.
It is these deep associations with Japanese culture that have interested me in my katazome work. I wanted to use this technique to depict my own, Australian culture. I have experimented with depicting Australian flora and fauna. I love the idea of creating a textile that resembles something perhaps traditional in appearance but once observed up close reveals instead something unexpected, like these symbols of Australian culture.
This idea is something I want to explore and here I hope to share my new discoveries and developments.