Kasuri (Ikat) Handweaving Workshop
It was such a pleasure to teach an Introduction to Kasuri (ikat) Weaving workshop last week. The workshop was sponsored by the Weavers and Spinners Society of Austin (WSSA), and was attended by participants from various locations around the State of Texas, USA.
The workshop covered the workflow process that I published in the Complex Weavers Journal article “Kasuri Ikat Handtowels” in February, 2014. Unlike the published workflow, however, I focused the workshop curriculum on the production of weft-based kasuri motifs vs. double ikat motifs. These Ryukyu Kasuri production workflows have been utilized in my family of bashofu weavers for at least 4 generations.
Elements of the production workflow included the creation and use of guide strings and guide rulers for measuring Kasuri skeins, and methods to stretch and mark Kasuri skeins in preparation for resist-tying.
Further elements included the dyeing of the skeins using the pole method in two ancient natural dye vats, Ryukyu Ai (indigo) and Fukugi bark. The Ryukyu Ai organic vat consisted of indigo pigment that I had extracted from my 10-year old Ryukyu Ai plants grown in Houston, TX , mizuame sweetener (extracted from Japanese sweet potato), and hydrated lime. The organic Ryukyu Ai vat provided the source for an “ocean blue” dye color on the resist skeins, whereas the Fukugi bark provided a source for a yellow dye color on the resist skeins. Most workshop participants were drawn to the magic of the Ryukyu Ai (indigo) vat, as I’m sure you can imagine!
Each participant hand-tied at least 6 different resist-skeins allowing a multitude of options for handweaving Ryukyu Kasuri motifs. The motifs I had selected for this workshop included 16th century traditional motifs that are found in the Miezu-cho Ryukyu Kasuri guidance document.
The Miezu-cho was published by the former independent Ryukyu Kingdom (now a prefecture of Japan known as the Okinawa Prefecture). The publication of the Miezu-cho took place in an effort to provide guidance to Ryukyu handweavers/natural dyers across the Islands (40 are inhabited). The Ryukyu handweavers/natural dyers were focused on producing high quality Ryukyu Kasuri textiles to be used for tax payments (in lieu of currency) to mainland Japan. The Miezu-cho includes Ryukyu specific motifs and textile designs that were used in the production of fabrics for the making of kimonos. Since the people of Okinawa have a close relationship with nature, many of the Ryukyu motifs represent elements of nature. In addition, the motifs include tools and parts of the human body.
Since there are no official (and consistently used) terms for the techniques used to weave kasuri motifs, I developed 3 descriptive techniques to be used for the production of Ryukyu motifs in the workshop. The 3 techniques include: 1) shifted weft with displacement; 2) shifted weft; and, 3) defined block. These techniques will be discussed in detail in a book that I’m currently in the process of writing. For now, please enjoy the photos captured at the workshop, and the visual display of the techniques used to produce ancient Ryukyu Kasuri motifs! My best to you, Scharine