The second day Mr Ohno invited an old friend, a retired art school professor and katazome expert, to stop by and use his better English to answer my more technical questions. That was actually a big help. I was especially curious about their resist paste (nori). They do not make it there but buy it from the nori shop, and then color it quite blue with aobana, a non reactive pigment. It is somewhat startling looking frankly, but it makes for hugely accurate paste application. Especially because, and this blew me away, they apply three layers of paste! The fabric is always attached to a long board or table so nothing can shift or distort and even the tiniest paste dots register perfectly. I have resisted this method, but for some things I can begin to see its usefulness. And the point is that the tiniest flaw is cause for the kimono seller to reject the entire bolt, so there is absolutely no room for error.
In the course of the discussion both men gave me much needed reasurance that my own artistic path is a valid one and that as long as I am making pieces that hang , where the hand of the cloth is not an issue, as it must be in their kimono tradition, pigment dyes are serving me well and there is no reason to switch over to synthetic dyes unless I want to.
Yesterday they took me to see the steaming and finishing operations and to visit another long board dyer. Then we went to peek into the nori factory. That was an eye opener. Kimono dyeing they tell me is failing in Kyoto, but based on the amount of paste ingredients and buckets of paste I saw there certainly did not look like any kind of decline. Evidently every dyer has paste made according to his specific recipes.
Home last night to another wonderful hot bath. Now I will be a tourist for a couple of days until the tour begins.