Japan Tour 2017 – Day 12

Day 12 Ishigaki Island, Okinawa. We took a taxi to the Minsa Textile Institute & Minsa Craft Center and were met with lovely yarns drying outside the entrance. It is a large shop with a little museum upstairs. We spent quite a long time there. The weavers were winding huge warps onto beams to be put into looms when an order was placed for that color and design. There were tens of warp beams on the shelves to be woven as needed. We weren’t allowed to show photos of the process or the things in the shop. The shop was very attractive with contemporary colors and designs using traditional techniques woven on this island. Too bad I can’t show photos. Minsa technique means narrow weaving for obi for men and women. This shop used the warp faced technique with wider warps for lovely products to sell. Some examples were placemats, pillow covers, small coasters and lots of bags of all sizes. Everything was beautifully made.

Skeins drying after being dyed. The ones with the white plastic sticking out were ones that had been tied before dying. The area with the ties resisted the dye and will remain undyed. The cloth woven with these specially dyed threads in patterns is what is called “ikat”. Ikat is pronounced “e-cot”. See the next photo for a closer look.

A close look at the threads tied for ikat cloth. When they are put on the loom the tied will be removed and the yarns will be beige and white.

In the afternoon we visited a small weaving studio where the patterned “ikat” cloth was woven on looms with the pattern warp on a reel device that fit onto the back of the loom. This I had never seen before. Instead of tying the pattern threads they were painted on the warp threads while the warp was on tension on this reel device. This meant that the patterns lined up perfectly and didn’t need adjusting like we had been seeing before on the other islands. The next photos will show closer looks.

Here is the warp with the pattern painted on it.

There are two warps on the loom. The patterned one and a white one which is the main part of the cloth. The two are integrated in the heddles and woven together.

This is what the woven cloth looks like. Besides the warp threads being patterned the weft threads are patterned as well by tying the ikat threads and then dyeing them. We call it double ikat when both warps and wefts are dyed in these ways. The warps are the vertical threads and the wefts are the horizontal threads.

This is the tool used to “paint” the pattern on the warps.

9 thoughts on “Japan Tour 2017 – Day 12”

  1. That reel is very unusual! Can you explain an bit more how the painting tool works? Did you see any painting being done?
    Thanks so much,

  2. I’m fascinated by the warp reel and warp painting process. It’s not really a supplemental warp; is there a name for this process? The weft patterning looks very exact. Did you see if the weft threads were tied in a traditional manner? What a wonderful trip you’re having!

    • I don’t know what the Japanese call This is the only place in Okinawa that we saw the reel arrangement. we did see a man mako warp marks at regular intervals earlier in the trip and I think I might have put it in a post. The ink or paint was in a shallow cup and it looked like there was cloth wadded up in the ink. He dabbed his tool (like I show) in the saucer and dabbed the tool on the bundle of threads that was under tension. He separated the thread a bit to be sure they were all inked. I didn’t get to the weaving supply shop in Kyoto so I didn’t get the tool. I bought some stiff stencil brushes st a dye supply place that I hope will work.


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