In the textiles department at Kyoto Seika, students often make kimono. My teachers had been suggesting I dye my own kimono since July. I was scared!…the fabric is expensive, it takes a really long time to complete…but it’s another of those ‘only-in-Japan’ opportunities, so for better or worse I am in the midst of producing a kimono!

some initial sketch ideas 色々考えた

Creating a design for a dress is one thing, designing for a kimono is an entirely different beast. Parts of the kimono are folded upon wearing and are unseen except when displayed. When worn the front left overlaps the front right so that disappears too. The patterns and colours of a kimono vary depending on the age of the wearer and the occasion; older women wear smaller patterns and more delicate colours, young women can wear very bright and large motif designs. Some kimono are patterned all over, others only on the hem or on certain sections only. All of these things and more took a long time to get my head around but finally I came up with a design for a furisode – an unmarried woman’s kimono with longer sleeves.

this image clearly shows the difference in sleeve length between a furisode at left and a normal houmongi at right.

This time I wanted to work with more flying birds, because they really lend an energy to the image. In my research of what birds are attractive in the air, I decided on the Rainbow Bee-Eater (merops ornatus). These tiny birds have spectacular green, blue and yellow feathers and spend most of their time in the air chasing their main food source of bees and insects. They are migratory birds that spend their winters in the north of Australia and New Guinea and then return to breed in Australia in summer.
今回のデザインでは、飛んでいる鳥をもっと入りたかったです。飛んでいる鳥は作品にはエネルギーを与えると思います。飛んでいる姿が綺麗な「Rainbow Bee Eater」(ハチクイ属)を染めることにしました。この鳥はハチや蛾を食べるので、いつもひらひらと飛び回っています。冬はオーストラリアの北部やニューギニアで過ごすけれども、繁殖期は夏で暖かい南オーストラリアに帰ってきます。

getting a rough idea of how the kimono would look displayed
building up the design with eucalyptus

Right now I’m tracing my design onto the silk fabric I bought using a blue ink called aobana. This is water-soluble and will come off the fabric at a later stage. The next steps will be to apply the resist paste using a reinforced paper cone with a metal tip and then commence brush dyeing using acid dyes.

tracing my design onto the fabric using aobana. You can see the silk I chose has a wave self-pattern running through it.
the hem of the kimono all traced on, satisfying! 裾に全部写した後。

So I’m afraid this is another cliff hanger. I will post more pictures as the Kimono really gets underway. Wish me luck!! 着物の作業が進んだらまた写真をアップロードしますので、楽しみに待ってください!