Katazome A Dyeing Art
The Evolution of Imagery on Fabric
Katazome is a paste resist technique applied to textiles and was used in the making of the Japanese kimono. One of the earliest forms of self-expression, decorating the human body in it's many forms (like tattoos), inspired the practice of textile art. It is thought that dyed clothing started making an appearance in India around 1500 BCE, the earliest know dying techniques were a freehand method which involved drawing directly on the fabric by hand.
photo Â© by Judy Ferony
Mud cloth (made in Africa) were also an early form of fiber art this didn't involve dyes, fermented mud from various regions were used to produce different shades of earthy tans, browns and black.
As time passed techniques evolved using sticks, stones and other objects as stamps; eventually evolving into the woodblock method; woodblock would have to wait till paper was invented to reach it's full potential.
Katazome: The Birth of Paste Resist Dyeing
Now a Dyeing Art
Katazome (pronounced kah-tah-zoh-meh) is specifically Japanese..There are a few steps to Katazome, first you make a design and cut a stencil for it, then you make the paste resisit and apply it through the stencil and last there is the dye process. It is a very time consuming textile art and each step must be executed perfectly or your finished product will not come out as planned (which may or may not wind up as a happy accident); this is why Japanese kimono sell for upwards of $10,000. or more, and are primarily used for traditional Japanese weddings.
Making Soy Mordant - Better Known As Soy Milk
In order for the natural dyes used in Katazome to become colorfast you must use a soy mordant first; traditionally the soy mordant is applied with wide badger hair brushes and left to dry before dye is applied. You buy soy beans in the health food store and use enough water to cover the soy beans, soak them overnight. Do not throw out the water! Using a blender or immersion blender grind the soy beans and water; then strain them in a cheesecloth over a container big enough to save all the liquid; this is your soy mordant, I take the pulp and cover the soy beans with water once again and strain and save the liquid again then combine all the liquid mordant from the first and second pressing.
Stretch your fabric taunt over a wood frame, as if you were going to stretch a silkscreen or do some silkpainting; it's okay if the fabric has a little give as it will tighten up when it dries (so don't make it as tight as a drum). I recommend you watch John Marshall's videos or buy them if possible; this whole process is much easier when you watch it vs. reading the instructions. Let the fabric dry and move onto the next step which is applying the paste resist.
Katazome Stencil - Loaded With Paste Resist
Cutting the stencils take some skills, you can also use punches that create little circles they are a fixed size and part of the traditional Japanese tools used to create stencils. After the stencil is cut a mesh gauze is applied, traditionally lacquer was used however water based acrylic paint works well; this step makes the stencil much more durable. Paste resist can be applied through a stencil or with a pastry bag and small tip that you would use for the outline or details in cookie icing.
Dancing Bears in Tri-Chem and Paste Resist
Making the Katazome paste is an interesting process, it's like making bread in the sense that you have to have a feel for it; once you do it a few times you'll get the hang of it, it's never an exact science and the outcome will always be affected by humidity. Best advice, "Just Do It!".
- 1 part water
- 1 part mochiko
- 1 part komon nuka
- When the dough is the consistency of pie dough for it into little balls and boil them till they float to the top, or make little doughnuts and steam them till the are roughly the color of peanut butter; then mash them with a mortar and pestle, sometimes salt needs to be added depending on humidity, and sometimes calyx is added depending on if your water's hard or not, if you add the latter of the two mix till you have the color of Dijon mustard. If adding salt (this prevents the paste from cracking when dry) add about a teaspoon to a cup of warm water and dissolve the salt, go easy, only add a teaspoon of this solution at a time. This is all trial and error and is something that you really need to buy books/videos on, or best case scenario take a class on it.
John Marshall Katazome Master
Text with BIG Picture
The quality of my lenses are usually much better, I am working on a NoteBook (er, meant NetBook) that a friend lent me (and grateful for that) however I don't have Photoshop and other programs I previously relied on; plus the screen is very small and I have bad eyesight. I'll try my best, a good artist uses the tools at hand and makes the best of it ;-)