Wednesday, April 9, 2014

In Store...

As usual I'm not doing a very good job of keeping my blog up to date! These items are in my shop at the moment but not all of them are on my online shop - you're very welcome to email me about anything you're interested in.
I've put out a nice bundle of boro  - I'll  be putting these online soon - or you can email me if you're you'd like to see more photos.

We usually have traditional sweet moulds in the shop and I've just added a few more:

I just got in some Japanese books on using mizuhiki

Yukata charm packs - which are available online as well:

I'm slowly building up a selection of lovely new cotton fabrics. This lovely soft weave 'sarasa' just arrived:

I've got more of these wonderful wooden textile stamps - great for card making:

I was very happy recently to meet UK shibori artist Jane Callender and see some of her beautiful work - which you can see for yourself here:  . I'm now stocking a selction of her shibori patterns and stencils: 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Asa - Bast Fibres

I'm  reading a book on the history of Japanese fashion at the moment and came across the (unreferenced) statement that until the use of cotton became widespread 'linen from flax had been the most popular fibre' .  This is not correct! (And  of course makes me wonder what other factual errors there are in this book.) Cotton production didn't begin in Japan until the late 15th century and even after its use had  become widespread in the Edo period (1603-1868)  there were still people who couldn't afford or access cotton, especially in the north where it was too cold to be grown.  People in these areas continued to rely on the plant bast fibres which had been used  before cotton became available.  As well as hemp and ramie, which were both cultivated, wild plants and  trees such as wisteria, linden and paper mulberry were used for textiles. In some remote areas production of these  textiles continued up until the middle of the last century.  I don't know to what extent these skills have been handed down to the present generation.  In Okinawa a type of fibre banana or plantain called basho was also used to make fabric and the indigenous Ainu people in the north of Japan used  elm bark (ohyo). However,  linen from flax was not one that was grown or used! I think the confusion probably arises because these various plant fibres are often referred to under the umbrella term 'asa'.  Technically linen/flax is also a kind of asa  - and probably the most well-known kind of  asa in the west  - and so asa is sometimes mistakenly translated as linen.

Here are some asa examples from my collection. If you're interested in this topic I'll put some references at the end as well.

 This is a large linden fibre (shinafu) noren that hangs above my bed. (Accompanied by members of my sarubobo collection - which I also mean to write about at some point). Close up:

Bast fibre textiles  weren't exclusively worn by the rural poor. Often they were producing fabrics (for example very fine 'jofu' ramie)  which were intended for the urban market and which they themselves couldn't afford to wear .  This would be true of this kasuri  asa kimono. I have always thought that it was ramie but it may be hemp. It  isn't always easy to tell  - which is why garments in catalogues and books will often be simply labelled 'asa'.  

The lining is itajime kasuri. This is a type of kasuri developed in the 19th century in which instead of binding the threads before dying they are clamped between two carved boards (similar to print blocks) which creates a very detailed resist for dyeing and a fine, precise design when woven. 

The last one is  piece of bashofu from Okinawa woven from fibre banana:

Some useful references: 

Louise Allison Cort, 'Bast Fibers' in William Jay Rathbun (ed) Beyond the Tanabata Bridge: Traditional Japanese Textiles, Thames & Hudson, 1994   (If I could only have one book on Japanese textiles this is the one I'd choose!)

Riches from Rags: Saki-ori and other Recycling Traditions in Japanese Rural Clothing, San Francisco Craft & Folk Art Museum, 1994  (This has clear photos of various bast fibre jackets)

Anna Jackson, Japanese Country Textiles , V& A Publications, 1997

Goro Nagano & Nobuko Hiroi,  Base to Tip: Bast-Fiber Weaving in Japan and its Neighboring Countries, Shikosha Publishing, 1999  (This is in Japanese with some English, but lots of photos and diagrams for people interested in technical details . It's appears to be available on Amazon Japan - but it isn't cheap!)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Silk Skis

Customers often ask what others  are using our kimono silks for and they are usually  surprised if  I tell them that one of my  customers is using them in snow skis!  Here are a few photos and I'll put links below so that you can get in touch if you're interested in carrying your love of Japanese fabrics into the ski fields!

These first ones are using quite old yuzen  silks:

The ski on the left was made with an unusual and very  bold 1970's design silk:

Many thanks to Ian  from Black Jay Skis for letting me use his photos. You can contact Ian  on  Facebook!/blackjayskis    or email  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

In Store.....

Just a few photos of what's in the shop at the moment...

I'm just about to put out these old  hinoshi kimono irons:

I spent this morning making more kimono fabric buttons: 

We've got lots of these wonderfully characterful bamboo bag handles:

Real gold couching thread:

Play packs of Japanese paper - some handmade, some not - fun for cards:

We still have some cute 'creative kokeshi': 

This type of brocade has probably been for dolls and ceremonial decorations. It's popular in the shop for card making and other crafts:

These small  inexpensive dishes are very sweet and very popular:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Kimono Style in Modern Japan

I'm very happy to be participating in this exhibition and informal talk on Sunday 9th February. From the programme:
  Speakers and topics include:
·         Official Opening, introduction to and brief history of the kimono
Barbara Hartley, University of Tasmania
·         Indigo Garments and Garments from a Country at War
Jan Ochi, Wafu-Works, Kingston
·         Kimono Undergarments and Women Re-claiming Kimono
Sheila Cliffe, Jumonji University, Saitama
·         Dressing in Kimono
Minako Stewart, Bujinkan Tasmania Dojo

 The exhibition is in conjunction with a conference on 'Technologies of Gender: Shaping Women's Bodies through Kimono and Costume in Post-Meiji Japan.'  being held on the  10th - 11th  Feb by the University of Tasmania and the Japan Foundation. This is open to the public and there is no cost.  Please let me know if you would like to attend.

Conference Program
                       Monday, February 10, 2014

Venue: Room 312, UTAS Sandy Bay Campus


Coffee and croissant

Panel 1

Technology, Costume and Visual Imagery 1

Japan Institute of the Moving Image
Working Women on the Silver Screen: In Search for Monpe Eroticism

Andrea GERMER,
Kyushu University

A Visual Chronopolitics of Dress in Wartime Japan

Ryukoku University, Kyoto

Yearning for YĆ“fuku: Women’s Fashion Culture in pre-War Japan as Precursor of the post-War Clothing Revolution

Morning Tea

Panel 2
Japanese Techno-Dress Goes Global

Sheila CLIFFE, Jumonji University, Saitama

Gender and the Kimono

Emerald KING,
Victoria University, Wellington, N.Z.

More than Meets the Eye:
Cosplay and Technology

Olivia MEEHAN, Australian National University
A Body of Work: Isogawa Akira, Second-hand Obi and Vintage Kimono Fabric in Contemporary Australia


Panel 3

Technology, Costume and Visual Imagery 2
University of Woollongong

Taisho Bohemia: Transnational Style in the Tokyo Art World

University of Woollongong

Technology, Nature and Costumery in the Illustrated Literature of Awa Naoko (1943–1993)

INUI Yoshiko,
Tokai University, Sapporo

War Images in Japanese Modern Kimono

Afternoon Tea

Panel 3 cont.
Costume and Visual Imagery 2

3.30 – 4.00
Barbara HARTLEY, University of Tasmania

Technology, Textile and Tone: Subverting Hegemonic Desire and the Images of Takehisa Yumeji

Post-graduate workshop

Content and participants to be advised

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Venue: Room 312, Sandy Bay Campus

Coffee and croissant

Panel 4
Technology Meets Weaving, Decoration and Costume
Formal Opening

Speaker TBC
Carol Hayes,
Australian National University

Sashiko Needlework Reborn: From Functional Technology to Decorative Art

Tomoko Aoyama, University of Queensland

Akaiko and Arachne: The Techne of Weaving

Brief coffee break (refreshments provided)

Yasuko Claremont, University of Sydney
The Impact of Western Technology on Women’s Clothing and Bodies in post-Meiji Japan

Jenny Scott,
Shujitsu University, Okayama, Japan

The Representation of Women Through Kyogen Costume

Summing up then move to lunch

Lunch (Lazenby’s, Sandy Bay Campus)
All participants
Continue summing up and “where to from here.”