This is a hanging I bought in Okinawa in a shop that was all textiles. I loved it the minute I saw it at the far end of the shop.
The dyeing is so special; however, I can’t tell you much about it. It’s been hanging in my window for a year at least and the black is still as dark as ever.
You can see the careful placement of the colors and the ikat pattern. Planning this for the colors to hit precisely in the warp as well as the weft just right was skillfully done. Double ikat at it’s simplest and most beautiful. I also like the slight irregularities in the yarn.
I began making scrolls a year ago. Now I’ve made 55 or more scrolls in four collections. The first was dyed linens, the other three about putting texties together. The first two collections were in two shows in the gallery where I live. The last two groups I’m photographing now and are in this and some future posts. I must admit everything in the last half of the project has its art pinned onto the background fabrics! It’s like they are the first drafts to me.
This is a shibori hankie I dyed and gave as gifts on one of my trips to Japan. One man immediately put it in his shirt pocket which was fun. The background is a piece of a kimono found at a flea market in Japan. The narrow width tells us it was part of the collar/borders on the front. It is precisely done double ikat. That’s why the pieces were saved.
I folded the cloth then wrapped it on a pole for the resist. It was then dyed in indigo. The folding I did after taking a workshop in shadow folds with Chris Palmer at Slow Fiber Studios in Berkeley. I used silk handkerchiefs from Dharma Trading Co.
I wove the background with a deflected double weave recipe some of my weaving friends were doing. It’s from the book, Double Weave with a Twist. The square you may remember from a Chines boutique. I love the stitching, so this is a way for me to get to enjoy it rather than have it stuck in a drawer or under a mug.
This shows the stitched piece. There are layers of cloth. Ms. He Haiyan, in her boutiques in Beijing and Shanghai, uses scraps for lots of lovely projects and keeps her sewers busy. You may remember the post, “More Ideas for Projects” November 15, 2020.
1. I did the shibori 2. I dyed the background black walnuts 3. Close up of bag on previous scroll. I love it. The squares are the skins of cocoons from tent worms or something similar from Japan. I also have an obi made of them. And a collection of them framed. 4. I dyed the scarf. The purple is an old piece. The dye precious.
Both are felt pieces I made on cloths with heavy indigo coating (I think).
This is another felt piece on the indigo background. By mistake I ironed on the fusible lining on the front side late last night. I quick went to th internet for how to get it off. Steam and a press cloth. I was desperate. It didn’t come off but I decided it was interesting with the press cloth wrinkled up when I pulled it off. Thank goodness I was using a scrap of the interfacing so some of the original pattern of the indigo coated cloth was still visible. Whew!! If I had more cloth I might try it again. Or on something else. How ideas are born I guess.
This is a fragment of a cotton Japanese summer kimono called a Yukata. I must have gotten it at a flea market in Japan. The cloth is 13” wide, selvedge to selvedge—the common width for many Japanese textiles. The length of the piece is 48”. It is so soft to handle that I’m loving handling it again for this post.
The reason I’m thinking is it a piece of a Yukata is there is an area where the cloth hasn’t faded over time. It probably was inside the area around the front opening.
It is so soft because it is extremely worn. In fact it has holes in it where the cloth wore out. It is almost tissue paper thin. This cloth was salvaged and re-useable because another fabric was added as a backing.
The indigo dyed cotton backing is also what makes it have a lovely body as well as being so soft.
The entire piece and I assume the entire yukata was stitched to attach the backing and back the holes. The rows of stitching are consistently ¼” apart. The stitching and the ikat pattern work beautifully together, I think, which is another reason I love the piece.
I was showing it to a friend and she immediately thought it was a lovely piece even though she is not a textile person. The more I looked and talked with her, I began to think about the double ikat pattern. It isn’t precise like in my previous posts. I think the cloth was dyed, woven, and re-purposed by a farmer’s wife. Cathy and I visited maybe the last farmer’s wife to grow and dye her own indigo in Japan. Traditionally, the women would grow the indigo and weave the family’s cloth while the farmers tended the fields—could be rice paddies.
I love the hit and miss of the warp and weft pattern yet the tiny areas of the threads in the pattern cross exactly in the right places throughout. Once in awhile I could find where the weft ikat pattern really crossed the warp in the right place. This close-but-not- exact gives a real soul to the cloth, I think. It made me think of the woman planting and growing the indigo plants. Then making her vat not with heat, but with cold water. Her son told us that to make the ash for the alkali, they burned the wood for two months which kept them home. Then she tied the warp threads and the weft threads in the ikat pattern. Then the threads would be dyed in the indigo vat and finally woven. I doubt that she minded that the pattern wasn’t precise and thought it was fine the way the threads hit pretty much perfectly. I wonder if the original cloth was a futon cover—a larger piece—or was it always meant to be fabric for a yukata. After the weaving, would be the hand sewing. When washing, the pieces would be taken apart and then put back together again. Probably there were many washings before the cloth was stitched so carefully to the handwoven backing cloth.
I’m making a scroll with the fabric so that I can have it out to look at. The soul of it touches me. I’ve pinned the pieces on top of the fabric for now, but I think I’ll move them up higher.
One way of making weft ikat seen here is to stretch out a guide thread and paint or stencil the design for the weft on it. Then it would be stretched out along beside a long bundle of yarns needed for the weft for the entire warp. Where the dark pattern hits the bundle is where the bundle would be tied to resist the dye. I would die to have one of these weft frames with a weft pattern on it.
This shows the areas on the weft where the pattern was to be tied to resist the dye. (The resisted areas resisted the dye and remained white.) Here the wefts are woven on a traditional dark warp.
Here the same wefts woven on a white warp.
Remember this tote bag from a previous post? The egret could have been put on a frame like in the first photo and that pattern thread used to mark the weft for tying and dyeing. Note that white wefts were woven on the dark warp for the light area where there was no pattern.
Remember this pocket I made from an earlier post? Did you see the horses?
Here are the horses! The stencil for the horses was made by the creative young weaver in the previous post. Note that she chose to use a white warp with the stencil for the ikat weft. Her name is Butsusaka Kanako.
Slide the vertical line in the photo back and forth and see the difference the color of the warp makes on this weft ikat cloth. We visited a young weaver in Japan who made these 2 different cloths using the same weft threads she ikat dyed.
When I turned back to see what the first lesson was in the 2-shaft book, I liked the idea of one warp color with different colored weft stripes. Weavers with any number of shafts should not forget about this possibility. Often, we weavers sample different wefts to see which we like the best, but seldom make stripes with different colors. Even though the warp changes all the weft colors a bit, many combinations of colors can make good-looking fabric. Using the example from the previous photo, the same idea could apply with a dark warp. This is what inspired this whole post.
This is the traditional way we are used to seeing these cotton weft-ikat fabrics in Japan. White threads for the weft are tied and then dyed in indigo. This results with the pattern being white with a dark background when the warp is also dark.
A close-up of the dark warp with the ikat weft.
I only saw one other example of using a white warp with indigo dyed ikat weft patterning at one other studio—It was a piece displayed on the wall designed by the weaver’s wife’s mother who was an artist. Our young weaver used the non-traditional in the same unique way: using a white warp instead of the traditional dark one.
17” x 54” This began as what I thought was a “scarf” that Indian women wear over their chest for modesty sake. I planned to wear it as a scarf. However, it was huge, and the silk taffeta was slippery and not crushable. I tried to wear it but was always swallowed up in it; or it was slipping off. I later found out it was a scarf to be worn over an outstretched arm. It would look nice that way, but I wonder how one would do anything but pose with it.
I loved it so decided to make it narrower and shorter by making some wide pleats. I tacked them down with red tailor’s tacks. As it progressed, more and more pleats were made until it came to scroll size. I discovered the back side had these nice ruffles.
Here you can see why I had to have it. Think of all the tying for the ikat to make the border.
The border all the way around was ikat-tied as well as the red parts!
I finished this scroll today but I started it weeks ago. It hung in my hallway all this time with its art pinned to it and draped over a rod and hung with clothes pins. Yesterday I got the urge to finish it and solutions presented themselves. More about the process in the next post.
When I hung it originally I saw a wonderful thing: moire! I knew I needed 2 layers to accomplish it so I decided to hang it doubled with the hems at the bottom. Then the layers could hang freely. Moire pronounced mo-ray occurs when 2 layers of plain weave are seen together. Perhaps you’ve seen it when 2 screens are together and in other situations. See the wavy pattern showing up in the hanging? It is ever changing when you move it around with light behind it.
This shows the two layers and some moire can be seen. The background fabric is a loosely woven linen I bought in Tokyo at a BIG fabric store. I bought it for another idea but the moire pleases me greatly. I wove it once with a fine silk in a tube. I tried it a second time with no luck. Now I think it’s more a function of the amount of space between the layers.
The art is a silk ikat fabric from Oshima, Japan. I probably made a post about it before, It’s where the resist is woven on a loom. Then taken off the loom, dyed, and then woven on another loom. It’s very expensive but we found a shop that sold pieces of the bolts. I like the whimsy here
A close up of the weave. See how finely detailed the design is and how exactly the warp and weft patterns cross precisely? I love it.
I’ve been wildly putting together fabrics the last few days. Seems every time I turn around I get out more fragments and not-so-fragments that I’ve stored away. I find them exciting and then excitedly look around for background fabrics for them. Last night I was getting ready for bed at midnight and I kept getting more and more ideas that it was 1:00 before I turned out the light. For example, I found places on a table mat from Japan for the tiny velvet pieces that I had left. The most exciting idea was to put together a white wool felt pleated cape from China and a handwoven skirt also from China that had woven strips for fringe. I thought to put the fringe at the top of the cape instead of at the bottom where fringe normally is! It will take a good while to get all the pieces made up. I’m also in the throes of writing another Kindle book. The days are not long enough!!
A closeup look at the gorgeous silk taffeta shows fine ikat detail where the borders begin. I bought this “dupatta”in a shop in India years ago. I loved the fabric because of the edges of the borders. I thought it was to be worn over the chest for modesty sake. The internet says they are 2 meters long and can be worn over one shoulder. For years I’ve tried wearing it in a variety of ways. Finally I asked a well-dressed Indian woman what to do and she said, “That isn’t for the body.” What a relief, but a disappointment that I couldn’t have it to feel and look at. I got the inspiration to make it smaller but save the borders for a wall hanging (scroll). I pleated it vertically then horizontally and made small tailor tacks to hold the folds in place. It took a few more iterations to come to what it is now—an official scroll.
Here is a view of the middle section of the wall hanging/scroll. When friends saw me working on it (took a good while over the past week) they thought it was 2 pieces of cloth—not one single fabric.
The bottom. More border. The whole fabric is ikat—warp and weft wise. Looking at the tiny red dashes, I can’t imagine doing the tying for the ikat. Ikat means that the THREADS were tie dyed BEFORE the cloth was woven! Such precision and the care in making the tiny blurry edges of the borders!
Here is the top again and I hope you can see the ruffles that happened when I pleated up the middle section. One neighbor thought the ruffles very elegant and feminine. I think I love the black ruffles as much as the ikat blurry edges. And the center part seems to really set off the very black borders. It is very white with the red dashes.
Here is the result. It started out 98” long plus fringe and 24” wide. Now it is 50” long and 13” wide plus fringe
Here are all the places we plan to visit together. I am going again with my friend Cathy Cerny. She has done all the planning just like in many previous trips. I counted 9 hotels in 21 days so we’ll be moving right along. I hope I can do a post every day! – Click photos to enlarge –
Our first trip is a flight to Amami Island to the town of Oshima. (it is way south and off my map.) We want to see a particular type of ikat called orijimi. The resist is done on a loom forming a mat with the ikat warps or wefts to be woven in. Then the mat is unwoven to reveal the resisted places (dots) where the warps on the original weaving resisted the dye. The dye is also a special mud dye from the area. Oshima fabrics are expensive and have been imitated. We will look at the selvedges to see the tiny white dots to be sure we are getting the true orijimi technique. A friend and expert sent me this precious fragment so we would know what to look for.