A Japanese Bag Perfect for Gift Giving

Gifts and their packages are important in Japan. For years I’ve used square cloths called furoshiki with the corners tied like a hobo’s bag. I have several from pretty small (10” square) to huge ones about a yard square.  One day two Japanese textile friends met me in my Tokyo hotel room, and we exchanged gifts of course.


Nice cloth or paper is also important. This trip to Japan I remembered that paying for anything and everything will take time and patience. The fabric here is the silk lining of a kimono that one of my friends took apart.


Here is the shape of the finished bag. I often saw them in the shops with the “handles” all tied up and had thought they were made with square fabric like I was used to. So, this shape intrigued me. The ends would be tied in a knot providing handles for the bag.


We spent a good bit of time tearing up paper to get the right starting shape and proportion. The length should be 4 times the width. The creases in the paper show where it should be folded.


Here is the finished sample.


Afterwards we had a soba noodle lunch in the hotel’s Japanese restaurant looking out at a lovely garden.


Shifu: Weaving with Paper

Introduction:

Now that I’m back home I have time to make more proper posts with photos of my 2 ½ weeks in Japan. We were extremely busy and went to a lot of interesting places. We visited an artist in Yamazawa who weaves with paper, and we had a chance to make some paper weft thread and weave it into cloth.

Here is a hanging made of paper hanging in the studio. I took the photo because it seemed like a really good idea to make a wall hanging without using a lot of weft or weaving time.


Old account books are popular for making thread for weaving. I’ve collected some myself over the years, hoping to make some shifu cloth myself. This time I mean it!


Here is a spool of the paper weft. The black marks (and maybe a red one or two) are from the notes written on the account books. People didn’t pay for each purchase but had a page in the merchant’s account book and paid up periodically. They were available on my past trips in flea markets.

How the treads were made.
We cut the paper into strips about 1/8 wide in such a way as to make very long strings. The cutting didn’t go clear to the edges of the paper, sort of like a paper lantern. We stretched out the cut paper and where the paper hadn’t been cut, it made a little bump where the paper was stretched. (See the book below.)Then we twisted it off the point of a spinning device. Formerly, I twisted it off the point of a bobbin winder.

Then came the weaving.
For several others, it was their first weaving experience, and they were thrilled beyond belief.


There is a special look of the cloth—little bumps or irregularities where the uncut paper was twisted.  Unless it’s very professionally made you can tell a shifu cloth by those little bumps.


This is the book I plan to use to make my own shifu. It goes into detail about cutting and also about what papers are good. In my  first class I took years ago we used old paper dress patterns.


Here’s a photo from the book that shows the irregularities indicating it is woven with shifu paper wefts.


A beautiful walk

A gorgeous walk in the Oirase gorge along the river near the city of Aomori. We are still in the north in Japan. Check the map in a previous post. The Japanese call the fall colors of the trees as “God’s brocade” or something close. I loved that because the tree color was just beginning and it looked like a brocade.


A walk along the river with waterfalls.


Falls and trees.


This was a gorgeous hike in the woods by the river..


“Two days of eating and traveling…” – Part Two

Two days of eating and traveling after breakfast in Kyoto ryokan and flying way north to Hokkaido for a lunch of much meat and big Ainu museum. Then the Shinkansen train back to Honshu, the main island of Japan. A huge wind and rainstorm really hit all the way to Temple Fugenin hot springs for the night.  PS. the drink was made with honeysuckle juice and was delicious.


Two days of eating and traveling…

Two days of eating and traveling after breakfast in Kyoto ryokan and flying way north to Hokkaido for a lunch of much meat and big Ainu museum. Then the Shinkansen train back to Honshu, the main island of Japan. A huge wind and rainstorm really hit all the way to Temple Fugenin hot springs for the night.  PS. the drink was made with honeysuckle juice and was delicious.


Pre Japan 2023 Tour Day

We caught a fleeting glimpse of Mt Fuji on the last leg of our flight from Tokyo to Nagoya.


We visited Tokonome a town famous for pottery. And had oolong tea with Seige Ito.  And we admired his gorgeous small tea pots. He is pouring hot water to cool it a bit to warm the tea cups in this photo.


Our hotel is inside Nagoya’s old radio tower on the levels lit up in this night photograph. The moon was full and lots of people and families were out enjoying the evening and relief from the 90 degree day.


I’m Off to Japan: My Art is Going to China!

I’m off to Japan on a tour with my precious friend and tour leader, Yoshiko Wada, founder of the World Shibori Network Foundation.


Here’s A Ring of Silks before shipping to China.


All nestled safely in a large box.


It is a large box. Off to be loaded in the car.


Waiting to be weighed and labeled. And I’m saying Goodbye!