I bought this in a favorite small shop in Kyoto and have loved it. I wore it once—last Halloween! It’s been hanging out now for a year and I’m ready to do something new to me. It’s done a lot in Japan and I thought of it when I bought it. I’m going to take it apart. The seams are all hand sewn. In Japan, I see fragments of kimonos that have been taken apart for sale. I have bought many over time at flea markets and high end shops. I plan to hang the panels separately. I’m thinking of hanging them close-ish and perpendicular to the wall. I’ll have to see about that.
Here is a closer look at the beautiful ikat job. And an appreciation of the cloth.
This is a section of the back. The center back seam is here as well as the tuck taken where an obi would cover it. The care taken to match everything is amazing.
An even closer look at the fabric. Gorgeous silk threads unevenly spun for the weft. A delight to see from near and far.
The linen scrolls are finally finished! And all 14 of them will be hung in our gallery space in the common areas in the retirement place where I live. Here are some of them hanging ready to be rolled into a room to be quarantined for a week. I began with white linen fabrics that I brought back from India in February—just before the pandemic hit. Way back in March I began dyeing with onion skins from our kitchen’s chef and black walnut dye I made a year ago.
Here is the rest of the 14 in the collection. I began with 9 different fabrics with the idea they would be subtle variations in color when they came out of the dye pots together. One fabric turned out to be silk so in all the different dye baths it was always the lightest one. Usually silk dyes the best and linen the lightest but I used techniques for dyeing linen and the silk wasn’t happy. The Ellis and Boutrup book came to me just at the right time. It’s hard to believe that everything started out white sometimes.
Here is one of the scrolls. I almost always arranged the pieces in the center from light to the dark. Often I basted the swatches to a backing pad I made out of cotton. Then I attached that to the background fabric. To make the small pieces lie flat I used French knots to tack them down.
Since I have been in lockdown all this time, I could not get to my studio to find matching threads for the French knots and stitching. I used what I had, matching the value of the thread to the fabric. Colors of the same value blended in so well they were barely noticeable—just like the threads had matched. I had a lot of spools of thread of different values to work with.
This amazing piece of embroidery I brought home from our textile trip to the Philippines some years ago and made into a scroll. But the embroidery is more important than the scroll. I think this piece was meant to be part of a man’s shirt.
You can see how the fine threads are pushed around by embroidery to make the pattern.
Another close-up of the embroidery. You can see how the fabric had been pinned out taught while being stitched upon.
Here is the scroll as it hangs in my hallway. I couldn’t get far enough away for a photo straight on. I dyed linen fabric for the background. This piece is my half. We also visited where they were weaving with the pineapple cloth called pina cloth (I think). The warps and wefts were like hairs practically. Since the length of the pineapple plant’s leaves determines the length of the fiber, each length had to be joined together to form long threads—by hand of course.
Finally after beginning with the idea 4 months ago, this velvet piece is finished! In April when my posts were about velvet fragments I brought back from Italy, I was working on how to mount this piece I loved to be a scroll. I didn’t want a hem at the bottom. (I liked the cut edge.) I ended up using a product similar to “Fray-chek”. I got “Aleene’s Original Stop Fraying” on Amazon. It’s amazing what can be gotten online when one can’t get to JoAnn’s.
The piece hung in my hallway for months clipped onto a yard stick with clothes pins. I didn’t want a hem so knew a regular stick couldn’t work. Finally, it dawned on me to use a beautiful piece of black bamboo. I’ve used it quite a bit and have a “goodly” amount of it in my stash. I think it’s perfect. Then I used mono filament from the bamboo to hang it.
The background fabric is the gazar silk I first posted about in April. Here is a repeat of a photo of it hanging off my ironing board that shows its body and sheerness. You may remember how I struggled to iron it perfectly. I wanted the background to be perfectly flat—like a scroll. I have had to accept some little puckers. I am realizing that a normal scroll is backed with paper so it can be absolutely flat and a textile is what it is: beautiful, but not paper.
Here is the center piece of my first dyed scroll. In previous posts recently I’ve told about dyeing linen fabrics with 3 tannins (myrobalan, Brugueira, and quebracho) before mordanting with alum before dyeing with onion skins or black walnut dye. Sometimes I only used the tannins after-mordanted with alum and no dye. Sometimes I used an iron or copper afterbath. That means with 9 different fabrics I ended up with a lot of swatches too good to just go into a notebook.
I featured the swatches on the background cloths I dyed a week or so ago for my scrolls. Here is the first one. The pieces are only based in place. They came from two dye baths: myrobalan, alum, walnut and myrobalan, alum, onion with iron afterbath. The different fabrics took the dye deliciously different I think.
Here is the whole scroll. The background is dyed with myrobalan, alum, and onion skins. The linen fabrics ironed beautifully but wrinkled when I manhandled it. When I’ve made final decisions, I’ll do a good ironing with my wrinkle releaser and it should be beautiful. As of now, I’m not exactly sure of the dimensions and exact placement. The swatches can be exchanged around, too.
Here’s how I handled the black marks made from the safety pins during dyeing. I folded the pieces anyway I could so the marks wouldn’t be on the right side. The seam could hit anywhere in the back or on a side. You can see the mark on this one on the upper right.