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.

Family Weaving Samples_w
These Ryukyu Kasuri samples, shown at the workshop, were produced by my Grandmother (bashofu), Great-Aunt (silk and hemp), and myself (bashofu and cotton). The green leaves are Ryukyu Ai (indigo) leaves obtained from my 10-year old plants grown in Houston, TX–these indigo plants were the source of pigment used for our organic indigo vats at the workshop.

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.

Ryukyu Kasuri Weft Motifs
My grandmother’s Ryukyu Kasuri bashofu motifs include “birds in flight” (upper left) and “husband and wife” (lower left).  My Great-Aunt’s Ryukyu Kasuri hemp motifs include a “spider” (upper right) and “farmer’s trough” (lower right)

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.

Kasuri Supplies_w
Ryukyu Kasuri tools…guide rulers, kasuri tape, marked guide string, aobana markers, workflow documentation, and Takahata loom weaving shuttle

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!

Ryukyu Ai Vat_w
Resist-tied Kasuri skeins rotated around a wooden pole in our workshop Ryukyu Ai organic vat

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.

Juliann Prepares to Resist-Tie_w
Juliann uses her guide string to “guide” her marking of the resist areas on her stretched Ryukyu Kasuri skein
Stretching and Tying Kasuri Skeins_w
Mary and I discuss the process for marking her Ryukyu Kasuri skein prior to resist-tying. Becky resist-ties her skein just behind us
Mickeys Guide String_w
Mickey resist-ties the marked areas of her stretched Ryukyu Kasuri skein
Becky Resist-Ties Her Kasuri Skein_w
Becky double-checks her resist-ties on her Kasuri skein
Theresas Resist-Tied Threads_w
Theresa C. checks her indigo dyed kasuri threads for quality, then begins to unwind the resist-tape on the bound areas of her skein
Marie Stretches Threads_w
Marie stretches her kasuri skein and unwinds the resist areas in preparation for bobbin winding

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.

Sherri Advances Kasuri Warp_w
Sherri advances her kasuri warp while reviewing her beautiful handwoven “fingernail” (middle) and “flowing water” (in process) motifs. Marie is handweaving her kasuri obi sampler in the background where she has a view of the Ryukyu Ai vat just outside the studio window
Theresas Kasuri_w
Theresa begins weaving the Ryukyu Kasuri “coin” motif (in process) using the “shifted weft” technique

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

Liz' Husband & Wife & Stars_w
Liz applies the “defined block” technique to handweave the Ryukyu Kasuri “husband and wife” motif (in process). She added “sparkles” to her handwoven by tying additional small resist areas on her weft skeins
Deb Weaves Flowing Water_w
Deb applies the “shifted weft with displacement” technique to handweave her Ryukyu Kasuri “flowing water” motif (in process)
Eileens Shifted Weft Kasuri_w
Eileen uses the “shifted weft with displacement” technique to handweave her Ryukyu Kasuri “fingernail” motif (in process)
Agnes' Fukugi & Ryukyu Ai Threads & Motifs_w
Agnes handweaves the Ryukyu Kasuri “coin” and “weavers shuttle” motifs using “shifted weft” and “defined block” techniques, respectively. In addition, note her beautifully dyed yellow Fukugi skein
Agnes Scissors and BIF_w
Agnes handweaves the Ryukyu Kasuri “scissors” motif (in process), a 2-shuttle “shifted weft with displacement” technique
Theresa's Bird in Flight_w
Theresa C.’s contemporary “Bird in Flight” motif is produced using 3 different resist-tied kasuri skeins and a combination of the “shifted weft with displacement” and “defined block” techniques.  Note her lovely sakiori weaving too
Mary's Racecar_w
Mary designed her own fun contemporary motif  entitled “race car”.  She handwove the motif with 2 different resist-tied skeins. One skein was hand-dyed in Ryukyu Ai while the other skein was hand-dyed in Fukugi dye.  Mary utilized the “defined block” technique to weave her kasuri motif










Published by Ryukyu Heritage Textiles

Weaver. Fiber Artist. Photographer. Cook. Independent Traveler. Writer. Knitter. Fiber Spinner. Gardener. Geoscientist. Nature Lover. Angler. Marathoner. Wife. Observer. Taster. Technologist. Did i say Weaver?

2 thoughts on “Kasuri (Ikat) Handweaving Workshop

  1. Oooooo Scharine!!! Your pics are wonderful!! This is what I want to learn!

    Do you have plans to teach this class in Anchorage? I will mention this to the weaving program people to get this set up if it works in your schedule. Thank you for sharing!! Julie

    1. Hello Julie, It’s so nice to hear from you! Yes, I’d love to teach an Intro. to Kasuri (ikat) weaving workshop for the AWSG. Kasuri (ikat) has so many exciting traditional and contemporary design possibilities! Please say hello! to everyone at AWSG for me!

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