It’s the middle of summer here in Kyoto now and the rainy season has finally broken to leave us with hot hot summer weather! I’m nearly on summer holidays!
This past semester I was lucky enough to join in on a special class at Kyoto Seika University in Yu-zen dyeing (友禅). Yu-zen is the traditional method used to dye spectacular kimono.

For this class we dyed a piece of silk fabric about 1metre by 80cm. The other students in the class were second years in the Textiles department so they were forced to produce a design on the theme of self portrait. (ergh how second year Art-school is that!) Being a free-wheeling research student (!) I was allowed to create my own design as I wished. I chose to use the image of an Australian Rosella.

Here are some photos and explanations of the process.

My design in progress

We used this dark blue ink to paint the design onto our fabric

…like so
design all painted on the silk
Then you take this tube made of a reinforced Japanese paper that has a metal tip attached to the end. You fill it with a resist paste made of rice flour and rice bran. It looks like melty peanut butter.
…pipe the resist paste onto the fabric, a la cake decorating, following the blue design.
Paste applied to entire design and has dried. Ready to dye!
In progress. Its really just like painting in between the lines using a watercolour brush and chemical dyestuffs.
Blossom section. You can see the brown paste lines, which will later be washed off to reveal the white fabric underneath.
Dyed, steamed and washed! Ta-da! But not done yet…
so that I can dye the background, the design gets covered up again with resist paste and dried.

Then I dye with purple over the whole fabric. Steam and wash it all over again and…


 Was a very interesting process to experience. Of course, it was time consuming. But what Japanese technique isn’t? In future I’m hoping to combine yu-zen with katazome resist techniques that I’ve previously studied. I finished this piece just in time for a small exhibition with the other research and exchange students currently studying at Kyoto Seika University. The exhibition was a great success and lots of people came to see it which was lovely. Heres a few photos of the exhibition.