The dyeing process used today hasn’t changed much at all to the process used during the Edo period. Let us have a look at the dyeing process which is in use today. We will be speaking with the dyeing artist Mr. Kouichi Sakaguchi who is a master of the Kaga small-pattern dyeing technique.
The small-pattern technique was largely requested for use in the design of ‘kamishimo’ or the ceremonial dress of the samurai.
■Itabari (Stretching board)
Paste is applied thinly to the wooden stretching board usually made out of fir tree and then left to dry. There are some boards in use today remaining from the Edo period. Once the paste has dried, a layer of moisture is sprayed on. Additional moisture is applied over the whole surface using a brush and then a layer of white cloth is attached.
■Katazuke (Printing the pattern)
Yuzen paste and dyes are mixed together into a paste called ‘menori’ and then applied evenly to the board using a ‘koma’ spatula. The pattern is applied to the fabric using the stencil, where the stencil is held in place using ‘aiboshi’ pinpoints.
Fabric is aligned evenly over both sides of the board and the stencil removed so the dye can be applied but as the front and rear surfaces are joined together, slight kinks termed ‘katatsugi’ remain behind. But the skill of the Kaga artisans is such that they are able to apply the dye such that no kinks are visible.
It was normal for the dye to be applied only to the front surface but the artisans of Kaga preferred to dye both the front and rear sides of the material to achieve the desired effect.
■Jizome (Dyeing the background)
The stencil is applied to the fabric and ‘jinori’ or colored pasted is uniformly applied to the material. As a result, the menori sections of the material turn into the same color as the menori and the jinori sections take on the same color as the jinori.
The fabric is placed into a steam box and left for 50~60 minutes where the dye is then fixed into the material.
■Mizuarai (Washing in water)
When the steaming process has completed, the dye is fixed into the fabric.
The paste of the undyed sections are washed off in water leaving behind a white pattern.
■Yunoshi (Steam Pressing)
After being washed, the fabric shrinks and creases form and so steam is applied to even out the material.