I promised progress photos of my kimono dyeing and after several weeks of 12-hour long (or more!) days spent dy(e)ing, so here they come!

This step is called iro-sashi (色差し) which means putting on colour. In the case of yuzen technique, this means working withing the fine resist lines with various brushed and filling in the shapes with dyes. It’s not unlike the silk painting that we are familiar with in Australia. In the case of yuzen, the dyes are mixed with a little thickener (sodium alginate: smells like a scummy rockpool but it does the trick), to prevent them from bleeding under the resist.

There are many dyeing techniques for yuzen, to achieve gradations, depth of colour and various effects.This video is classic 1990’s Japan but it really gives a great idea of how a professional yuzen dyer goes about his work. You can see he uses both flat and round brushes, sometimes works wet on wet and is only working on a small section of the kimono fabric which is stretched taut on shinshi bamboo stretchers. My dyeing skills are nowhere near as skilled as his but anyway, here’s some pictures of what I managed!

mixing dyes 色を準備して置く
dyeing flowers 花びらを色差し
職人さんがよく刷り込み刷毛も使いますが、私は筆の方が染めやすいと思います。Yuzen professionals often use flat tipped brushes but I prefer these round brushes.
ユーカリの実と葉っぱ。dyeing eucalyptus leaves and buds
testing colours on the actual silk fabric of the kimono. 着物に使う生地に色の試し

and then! hanging the almost complete lengths up together. So satisfying to join up all the pieces!!!  This is the centre back and part of the back right sleeve. それで、大体染めた四枚を棒で吊って、柄合わせして見る。これは背中と右袖の裏です。
a detail from one of the sleeves 袖の部分
まだ出来てないが、適当に吊って、どういう感じかを見るだけ。裾にある白い部分が水側。それはまだ染めていない部分です。Its not really a kimono yet, just four lengths of fabric. I hung them up and pinned the pieces in place to get an idea of the final result. Yipee!! the white section on the hem is a water motif, yet to be dyed in this image.

 The next step (there always seems to be another one!!) is to take the fabric to a company in Kyoto to have a final steaming and the rubber resist paste removed. They will also do what’s called ゆのし yunoshi  where the fabric is held taut over steam to make it nice and straight again. Then I will have a unique hand dyed bolt of fabric that gets handed on to a seamstress (who knows what they are doing), to sew it all into a kimono for display! What an epic process this has been! (still is!!)

The plan is to have the kimono all ready to go for my solo exhibition coming up at the start of April in Kyoto.  Lots to get done before then!! I’ll be putting up details of the exhibition here before long.