For the first time, during this May and June, the Kyoto Seika Textiles department ran an obi dyeing class for the second year students. The project brief was to dye an Obi with the theme of the four seasons. You were allowed to focus on just one or all four of the seasons and could utilise katazome or yuzen techniques.

Myself and another Master’s student, as well as one exchange student from Finland managed to join in with the class. I was given permission to focus on Australia’s four seasons as my theme.

Whilst Australia (well, where I’m from at least) does have four distinct seasons, we aren’t conscious of these changes in the same way that Japanese people are. Seasons and very subtle changes in between the standard four seasons are celebrated and marked in all kinds of ways in Japan: sweets are made in seasonal shapes such as cherry-blossom petals or hydrangea or pine needles, people send particular fruits and vegetables as seasonal gifts, imagery in Japanese art is tied up with symbolic seasonal combinations like Red leaves and a clear moon for autumn or morning glories and dragonflies for summer.etc etc

Japanese sweet I had just last week, shaped like a hydrangea, which flowers during this hot rainy month of June.

When I thought about Australia’s four seasons, the things that came to mind were things that you wouldn’t really put on an obi: bushfires, floods, bright sunshine, Canberra’s “fluff trees” that bloom in the spring (see ANU Fluff Trees ), sunburn…haha you get the idea. So instead, I chose to depict the changing cycles of the seasons by making a pattern with the Swift Parrot, a migratory parrot that breeds in Summer in Tasmania and flies across Bass Strait in one go to spend Winter in South Eastern Australia. It returns in the Spring and the cycle continues.

Here’s an image of my design. I tried to include patterns of the ocean and the flowering eucalypts which the Swift Parrots follow as a main food source.模様にこのインコが探しに行く食材になっているユーカリの花や海を入れました。

almost one full repeat of the design I created to depict Swift Parrots オトメインコの模様
My design was a repeat, using one stencil and resist paste. I dyed all the circular sections first and then did a second run and after covering all those dyed circles with resist paste, dyed the background green. Oh and did I mention it  takes 5 METRES of fabric for an obi?! Luckily it’s only 30-35cm wide but it certainly makes things take longer.一枚の型紙を繰り返して、帯に必要な5メートルにも糊をおきました。その後、この写真に見えるように、だんだん円形の中に染めていきました。
starting out, have pasted the repeat design onto the 5 metres of narrow silk and starting to dye the circles.

slowly but surely.だんだん染めていて。。。
もうちょっと!Just a little bit to go!

Swift Parrot dyed but with the brown katazome resist paste still on fabric
Being the keen bean that I am, I decided to dye my own lining for this obi too (yes, just another 5 metres!). I wanted it to be simple. I love the writings of John Gould, a famous English Ornithologist (bird-man!) who spent time in Tasmania and Australia studying birds. He published these lavish volumes of bird illustrations and writings that are just so wonderful to look at. I used parts of John Gould’s fanciful paragraphs on the Swift Parrot to ‘write’ on the obi lining fabric.

John Gould’s flowery writings about the Swift parrot, in yellow resist paste. ジョン・グールドの華やかな文章を黄色ぽくにした色糊で

after that, I dyed the whole length this dusty purple. それが乾いたら、この紫をそめました。
I am currently sewing the lining onto my finished fabric but here’s a view of them together at the assesment day. Also some of the other student’s obi. 
some of the second year students’ obi fabric. capsicums, tomatoes, circular floral motifs, geometric patterns
more second year obi. morning glories, Kibune Shrine, a giant Carp streamer, peonies 二年生の帯-朝顔、貴船神社と椿、鯉のぼり、牡丹

By the way!!! (once I finish sewing it up…) I will be exhibiting my finished obi at a group exhibition in Kyoto starting next week. It’s called “Parade” at 3F Project Room from July 4-16. If you happen to be in Kyoto, please feel free to drop by!!

Parade. 6 person group show, 3F Project Room Kyoto, 4-16 July 2013. 6人グループ展「Parade」3FProject Room 京都7月4~16日