Well the big day for this katazome artist has come and it exceeded even my wildest dreams. I had arranged for a Japanese interpreter to accompany me to the workshop (Kobo) of a kimono dyer who uses traditional Okinawan type katazome designs (bingata), although he uses acid dyes and direct dyes rather than the natural dyes and pigments used by the Okinawans and also by John Marshall, who was trained in bingata.
My husband took movies of the processes and when we get home we will figure out how to put them up on You Tube. For now stills will have to do.
This is the big workroom where the dyes are applied.They roll the 12 meter lengths over a set of rollers so the dyer can stay in one place, seated (and not, to my relief, kneeling). They sometimes use a cold steam vaporizer to keep the paste from drying out. Some of what they were working on were obis, some kimonos.
The next room was where they cut stencils and did their designs. From there we went into a long warm room where fabric treated with sizing was stretched to dry. There was fabric with fresh paste covered with fine sawdust to make it more durable, something I have not done, for lack of a source for the fine sawdust. They color their paste blue with aobana, a blue colorant that does not dye the fabric, so it makes it easier to see. At the other end of the room a man was applying paste with a tube to cover designs that had been dyed, so black background dye could be applied. This is exactly what I did with my trout pieces.
Then we went outside to a covered patio area where two guys in waders were in shallow pools with flowing water washing the paste off the fabric, which had been professionally steamed elsewhere. The water was blue from the aobana.
The final room was where the long boards were for applying the paste. They have ceiling racks to store the boards, which are half the length of the kimono. The fabric is attached down one side and back up the other. The dyer remarked that he knows it is time to retire when he can no longer lift the heavy boards. He was applying a second layer of paste to protect the fabric from the penetration by the acid dyes. He says for black they use three layers of paste. This is not something I need to do with pigments.
We finished with a visit with the owner of the kobo. Here he is demonstrating a kind of board clamping used to make fabric for underwear kimono (jyuban).
He is a nice man, the successor to the founder of the business, and an avid amateur Noh actor with 30 years experience! He showed us pictures of himself playing the role of a servant in a costume he made himself. I asked some more questions and told him my background. He was impressed with my work and gave me a copy of a very beautiful book showing the work of his predecessor. He says if I want to return to Japan and study there for a time, I am welcome. So there it is, that is what I hoped to accomplish. It remains to be seen when I can gather the resources to actually do it, but the door is open.