textile art

Textile Art To Drool Over

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wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Welcome to my www.wafuku.co.uk Wordpress blog

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Japanese textile art often leaves me overwhelmed by its beauty and intricacy. Many kimonos have hand applied textile art, known as yuzen, created by several artisans, from the designer to an artist whose speciality may be outlining, another whose speciality is shading, perhaps one who applies metallic lacquer etc.There are also magnificent examples of textile art that is woven and some is hand printed or stencilled or created using batik or shibori (tye dye) techniques.

I am saying this simply as an excuse to show off some beautiful examples of the Japanese garments I have.

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This next kimono has a wonderful repeat landscape.

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Blind Man’s Bluff on a Men’s Haori Lining.
One way geisha entertain is by playing lighthearted games and here, on the donsu silk lining of a men’s haori, is a portrayal of a game of blind man’s bluff being played in a dark room, by just the light of the moon coming through a little window.
The outside of the haori is black habutae silk, with 5 mon, making it the most formal haori, called an itsutsu montsuki haori.

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The outside of that haori; black habutae silk with 4-eye mon. There are three mon at the back and two at the front, making it the most formal style of men’s montsuki haori.

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Mount Fuji Through clouds. Simple but striking.

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The textile artist has added his signature to this kimono.

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An antique furisode kimono. This kimono has the ultra-deep swinging sleeves of a furisode (only worn by young, unmarried women) and wonderful artwork including brightly coloured flowers, beautiful birds, ouches of lacquer work and lavish, gold  embroidery.

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A delightful woven design on a pre tied obi.

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You can also check out my www.wafuku.co.uk website, providing vintage & antique Japanese kimonos & collectables.

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One of my kimonos being modelled by the singer Rita Ora

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Please note that any advertisements shown below my posts are put there by WordPress, not by me. I am not responsible for whatever product or service is advertised and it being there does not mean that I endorse or recommend it. 

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Tomesode & Tiger Bags

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wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

Welcome to my www.wafuku.co.uk Wordpress blog

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Coastal Scene Tomesode. I have been looking through some photos of kimonos I bought in 2012 and this is one of them. I wish I could remember which box it is in. It has fabulous textile art, displaying a coastal scene. One has to have beee rich and extravagant to have commissioned a kimono with lavish and high quality artwork like this one.

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Huge Tiger and Lion Backpacks. I fell for these huge, great, dramatic backpacks when I saw photographs of a few people in Tokyo’s Harajuko area with them. There’s a brown tiger, a white tiger and a lion. I tracked them down and got just a couple of each to make available on www.wafuku.co.uk and got a brown tiger one for myself. I might keep one of each.

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Bamboo on Purple. This is a silk Nagoya obi I recently added to my website. It is such a glorious colour and the bamboo is just lovely.

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One of my kimonos being modelled by the singer Rita Ora

haorisweeritao

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You can also check out my www.wafuku.co.uk website, providing vintage & antique Japanese kimonos & collectables.

www.wafuku.co.uk

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Please note that any advertisements shown below my posts are put there by WordPress, not by me. I am not responsible for whatever product or service is advertised and it being there does not mean that I endorse or recommend it. 

Spotty Dotty, Trompe-L’œil & Kimono Cleaning

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Cotton Kimonos.
Here are two of my cotton kimonos. The first is one with a slightly op-art spotty pattern that I love, with kanzemizu (swirling water) in the large, grey spots, and the second kimono is an odori yukata, a cotton kimono that would be worn at an odori matsuri (dance festival), with a motif of traditional Japanese 3 stringed instruments called shamisen and some bachi, which are the huge plectrums used to play shamisen.

The spotty cotton kimono.

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The shamisen motif cotton kimono.

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Hand Washable Kimono.
The next kimono is made of synthetic textile and is hand washable. It is unlined and probably made for dance, as traditional Japanese dancers often wear synthetic kimonos because they can be washed and unlined ones to keep them cooler as they dance.  It is a nice bright green and a very painterly design. Green is a colour that relatively few kimonos come in; you do get green ones but there seem to be fewer of those than most other colours.

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I have just added these three kimonos and several more to my website.

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More haori.
Here are three haori that I added to my wafuku.co.uk website this week.

The first has a nice trompe-l’œil print that looks like red lace on a light blue ground. It is silk but, surprisingly, is of a weave that feels rather like cotton. Silk, of course, can be woven into many textures and feels. This haori also has cute little Daruma on the silk upper lining.

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The next haori has houndstooth check (sometimes called dogtooth) made up of stylised cranes. 

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The third haori has  a kanzemizu (swirling water) design on a bokashi (shaded) background.

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Cleaning kimonos, haoris and obis.
The traditional method of cleaning a kimono is called Araihari. It involves unpicking all the stitches and taking the kimono apart entirely. Each piece of kimono fabric is then stretched out and cleaned, then slightly starched and allowed to dry. Once dry, the kimono has to be sewn back together again. Obviously this is a very time consuming and very, very expensive cleaning method but if your kimono or haori has cost thousands of pounds, as silk ones tend to, or even tens of thousands of pounds, which is not unusual, it is a wise and worthwhile investment. Araihari is still done but many people nowadays have their precious kimonos cleaned instead by specialist dry cleaners.

To have a kimono cleaned by arhairi, if one does not want to do it oneself, one uses a shikkai. Shikkai is a place where they do a variety of kimono aftercare things, such as araihari (dismantling and washing), maruarai (washing a kimono just as it is, not first disassembles), shiminuki (stain removal) and kakehagi (invisible mending), sumpo naoshi (alterations), somekae (re-dyeing) and mon-ire (applying a crest or family crest -kamon).

After araihari cleaning, as it dries, the kimono fabric has to be stretched to keep its shape and to smooth it. You can see, in the pictures below, how flexible rods called Shinshibari (a type of bamboo needle)  are used to do this. The fabric is held by wooden clamps at each end. Araihari requires a lot of space too. I was given the pictures by a friend, with no details of whom to attribute them to, so, if you know, please let me know.

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Sometimes the textile is stretched out on very long boards (note, from the front hem all the way up and over the shoulder, then back down to the back hem is one very long piece of fabric, as kimonos have no shoulder seams).

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Here are the required tools.

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Here is a large art installation, called Obi, by Yanda, which is a huge screen, with its design based on an obi being cleaned using araihari, for the exhibition of AODJ, which sends Japanese creativity worldwide. You can see the giant shinshibari (stretching rods) clearly.

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You can also see shinshibari (stretching rods) used here to keep a length of silk taut while a textile artist paints a design on it for a yuzen kimono.

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Here is a woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849), called Two Beauties of Spring. The women are cleaning a kimono using the araihari method. Katsushika Hokusai’s best known work, which you will have seen, is  The Great Wave off Kanagawa.

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You can also check out my www.wafuku.co.uk website, providing vintage & antique Japanese kimonos & collectables.

www.wafuku.co.uk

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Please note that any advertisements shown below my posts are put there by WordPress, not by me.

I am not responsible for whatever product or service is advertised and its being there does not mean that I back or recommend it. 

Where Did The Time Go?

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Another Christmas approaches.

I don’t know where the year went; suddenly the end of it is upon us. The past few weeks have been rather hectic. After years of feezing my rear off in my little cottage each winter, I had a new and more efficient boiler put in three weeks ago, when my old one died, and had three big windows double glazed to try to keep  some of the heat in. Both jobs caused much upheavel so my house has been a complete mess, with stuff stacked all over the place to allow the workmen to lift floorboards, rip out windows etc. and the house ended up with a thick layer of dust covering everything inside. Having failed to expect this, I hadn’t covered much, so everything has needed washed and I’m far from finished that task.

I have also, thankfully, been very busy with Christmas orders. It was ‘fun’ getting through the snow to the Post Office with heaps of packages, some of which sat in the Post Office for days as this little town was snow bound.

I’ve also been helping my daughter and her fiancé to lag under the floorboards of their new flat in Glasgow and will be helping with that again this weekend, weather permitting. Talking of which, I really hope the snow doesn’t block the roads this coming week, so my daughter can be here for Christmas.

Above, you can see a photo I took of a lovely uchikake that my daughter has hung in her bedroom. It’s an odd one, a child’s uchikake. An uchikake is a wedding kimono, worn by a bride, rather like a trailing coat, open over a kimono, so it is somewhat strange to have a child’s one. I haven’t been able to find out why such a thing exists. It would fit a girl of about 7-10 uears old but girls of that age do not marry in Japan and it is not an antique or anything, so not from a time when children might marry. Someone suggestied it might be for a play or something like that but it is a very high quality garment and must have cost a huge amount originally. I can’t make sense of it but it is a beautiful thing and much easier to display than an adult’s uchikake, being much smaller. Below, you can see the faric close up. The entire backgound of the fabric has gold woven through it, so, when the light hits it a certain way, the entire kimono shines gold. The bouquets of flowers and the trailing cords are embroidered.

The picture below shows it closed, as it hangs on my daughter’s bedroom wall, above the bed, though the photo isn’t very good quality and does not do it justice at all.

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This is Vicky Barton, telling me that she loved the kimono she got from me. She sent me the photo you see below, of her wearing it. Vicky kindly said I may add the photo to my blog, so you can see her below in a very Japanese style garden, holding a very menacing Japanese katana (sword). The kimono Vicky is weraing has lucky mallets and lines of kanji (Japanese text) all over it.

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This summer there were some Japanese people visiting my mother. In the next photo, taken that evening, we are holding an embroidered obi. I am very petite, just under 5′ 2″, although my tabi boots do have 2 inch heels, but you can see how petite the Japanese lady is; it’s quite a novelty to me to stand beside an adult who is smaller than I am. The kimono she is wearing is a cotton yukata kimono. Yukata kimonos are casual kimonos, worn in summer, particularly as robes at home and at summer festivals; any time in summer when one wants to dress casually. The obi worn with a yukata is called a hanhaba obi and is narrower than the more formal obis and much easier to tie. When wearing geta or zori shoes with a yukata, one wears them with bare feet, not with tabi socks. With more formal kimonos, one would always wear tabi.

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A tomesode kimono, with fishing village scene.

A girls’ red kimono, for Shichigosan celebrations. (Update – this is the one they chose for the article)

A ko-furisode kimono, with sakura fubuki (shower of cherry blossoms; as they fall from the tree), with gold lacquer detailing

A black silk haori, with a striking, red itogiku (spider chrysanthemum, also called rangiku).

A black, silk haori, with stunning, metallic urushi (lacquer coated silk thread) mountains and mist.

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I wish you all a happy Yuletide.


More Japanese Textiles

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More Japanese Textiles

…and the reddish cats on grey silk

Next is a very Japanese motif, flying cranes, on a glorious purple silk.

The one below is an odd one, it is a very fine, high quality, soft wool textile, so fine it almost feels like soft cotton, with Thumper the rabbit from the Disney film Bambi. Not what one thinks of as a Japanese motif but the Japanese did like early Disney animations, so one occasionally finds characters from them on their textiles. This is an entire bolt of textile, roughly 12 metres, woven to make a child’s kimono and haori ensemble.

I can’t resist any Japanese textiles, whether unused lengths of fabric or already made up into fabulous Japanese wafuku.

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Textile Art To Die For – Or Wed For

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My latest uchikake kimono

I know I must not buy more kimonos, I can’t move for the things and my home is now a warehouse with them crowding me out of every room but I could not resist the exquisite uchikake kimono you see below. It was expensive, as was the shipping from Japan, since it weighs about 6 kilos, so I can’t keep it and it will end up for sale on my website but I get to own it briefly, at least, and that will do. I have nowhere to display it anyway and it does not deserve to be hidden away in a box. It hasn’t arrived from Japan yet but I am quite excited about seeing it up close.

An uchikake is worn by a bride in Japan, part of one of many outfits she wears on her wedding day. They are not worn with an obi, they are worn open, rather like a coat, over her kimono and obi.

Uchikake are worn trailing on the ground, the bride stands with the hem laid out around her and the padded hem makes the bottom lie beautifully

It has magnificent aranami (wild waves), flying tsuru (cranes) and kumo (clouds). Cranes are a popular motif on wedding kimonos, as they are symbols of longevity, fidelity and loyalty. The Japanese believed cranes live for one thousand years. They mate for life.

On the front and on the back of one sleeve are red botan (peonies), symbolising happiness, wealth, and honour.

This uchikake is pure silk and has yuzen textile art, which means it was hand painted on the bolt of fabric used to make it. It will have cost ten to twenty thousand pounds, easily. In Japan, brides usually hire the uchikake for the wedding day, which will still cost a couple of thousand for the day’s hire. This makes buying a vintage one, for wear or display, a real bargain, as it will only cost a few hundred pounds and you get to keep it.


Haori Photo Shoot – The Versatile Kimono Jacket

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Haoris in the sunshine – A photo shoot with fabulous, Japanese haori kimono jackets

Saturday was a beautiful, sunny day here in Scotland, so I made the most of it and had a photo session to get pictures of a few of my Japanese haori kimono jackets. Astrella modelled them all for me, sweltering in the heat without a word of complaint. We took 331 photos and I have selected 58 for you to feast your eyes on here.  The pictures may help you gauge the general length of them, as haori are longer than many people realise from pictures of them just on a hanger. Astrella is five foot one inch tall (roughly 155cm) and a UK size 10 and about 125 cm from wrist to wrist.

The first haori shown below is covered in large, pink and white ume (plum bossom) and shows how good haori can look when worn with a belt, which is something the Japanese don’t do. They wear them unbelted on top of a kimono and obi. You may notice that haori (and kimono) sleeve seams lie down the arms a bit, not up at the edge of the shoulders. The traditional way of fastening a haori, if one chooses to fasten it at all,  is with a single tie, just inside the fronts, called a himo, which holds the fronts edge to edge, not overlapped. As you can see, though, from photos on this page, haori do also look extremely good with a a belt added. The first one below is being worn with a wide elastic belt.

This next one has magnificent textile art of bright flowers on black, shown modelled with a narrow leather belt as well as without a belt. The large white stitching at the edge of the sleeves is called shitsuke and is often put in, by the Japanese, just to keep garment seams neat during storage. It is simply pulled out before wearing but, as this haori was just being modelled, I left it in.

All but one of the haoris in these photographs is pure silk, inside and out, and all are entirely hand tailored, with the seam edges completely hidden in the lined ones, so those can actually be worn inside out too. Some have hand applied textile art. The quality of the fabric and workmanship is absolutely exquisite.

The following photograph shows a haori in a pretty pink, with a design of magenta leaves.

Now a touch of 1950s pattern. Shown, in one photo, inside out. The bottom half is usually lined in the same silk used on the outside, with a lighter weight silk on the top half and the sleeves. This haori’s upper lining has a lovely design of colourful parasols on it.

Pink leafy repeat pattern.

Graduated pampas leaf pattern on russet. The leaves become more dense towards the bottom.

Bingata style print of pretty flowers.

The one below has autumn maple leaves, shown with and without a belt and shown inside out, with the beautiful lining on show. Haori are usually so exquisitely made, with hidden seams and hand tailoring, that you can wear or display the lined ones inside out. The lower half is lined with the same silk as the outside and the upper half and sleeves are lined with a lighter silk in a different design. This one has lovely Japanese parasols on the upper lining.

In the next photo you can see how beautifully they are made, with the edges of the seams completely hidden inside and out; not a line of stitches in sight in the lined ones.

On the next haori you see a wonderful design of stylised kiku (chrysanthemums) swirling over the silk.

Now black, with striking, champagne gold, metallic urushi (lacquer covered silk thread) woven to create a landscape design.

An iro muji (self coloured), scarlet haori, with flowers in the damask weave of the silk. I do wish I’d ironed it before the photos, though. They usually aren’t creased when unfolded, as there is a special way of folding haoris and kimonos to ensure they very rarely require ironing when unfolded for use.

Swirls of dragon fire on black silk, with subtle touches of gold detailing that are lovely when up close. A 1930s haori, so slightly longer than most of my more recent ones, with slightly deeper sleeves too.

Magnificent birds and flowers.

Big, pink butterflies on black.

Vermillion flowers and leaves on black.

Now for two examples of kuro muji (plain black) haoris, with patterns in the weave that the photos haven’t picked up. Each has one white mon (crest) at the centre of the back at shoulder level.

This second plain black one, below, is an antique haori, which are often longer than more recent ones. This one is 102cm long.  I am keeping it for myself.

Below is another metallic urushi landscape design haori, this one with glinting, distant mountains and a formal mon (crest) at the centre of the shoulders, making it a hitotsu mon (one mon) haori

An unusual one next. It’s a large sized, child’s michiyuki jacket but big enough for an adult to wear. It would fit a child because children wear them with big tucks loosely stitched in the shoulders, narrowing the width. Children’s ones have a collar and tassels, whereas adult michiyuki usually don’t have either of those and would also be longer than this one. The michiyuki you see in the next two photos is made of shibori patterned silk, with little red dots all over and large ume (plum blossom). Shibori is an intricate tie dye process, usually painstakingly, entirely hand done, making it a frighteningly expensive fabric that is highly revered by the Japanese, so this garment would have been for a child from a family with a great deal of money.

In Japan, haori jackets are not worn with the fronts overlapping and not worn with a belt but michiyuki jackets are worn overlapped at the front and they are usually fastened with press studs, which in itself is unusual, as almost all traditional Japanese garments are fastened only by tying; using using various sashes, cords, obis etc.

Finally, black silk, with painterly, red branches and little ume (plum blossom), shown with and without a smile. This is a haori that the model has kept for herself, to wear with her red, Terry De Havilland shoes

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More Vintage Kimonos & More Post Office Annoyance

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More Kimonosoidered Furisode Kimono

butterfly furisode kimono

The kimono above is a lovely, silk furisode kimono. Furisode (pronounced foori-so-day) means ‘swinging sleeves’ and this style of kimono has extra deep sleeves and is worn by young, unmarried women, from about the age of 20. Once married, they replace it with a houmongi kimono, which has much less deep sleeves. This one has the most fabulous embroidery on it; great big butterflies. The lining is foxed, that is, it has yellowish brown spots on it, a characteristic sometimes seen on vintage silks, especially the ones used for linings. It doesn’t weaken the fabric, it just discolours it and that doesn’t show when it is worn. The photos don’t really do that furisode justice, it is much nicer up close. My daughter’s scarlet hair goes well with so many of the kimonos.

I’m most annoyed with the UK Post Office. A parcel sent to Germany went missing (I since insist on sending overseas mail as insured, registered mail), so I put in a claim for lost mail, even though I will get £34 back at most, when the contents’ value was £120. The other day I got a letter from the Post Office, asking for my original receipt for the contents, saying I had 5 days to reply or they would consider the matter closed. What annoys me about that is that it took them 7 WEEKS to send that reply to me. I told them, in my reply, exactly what I thought about that!

Now I’m going to take a 30 minute nap, having got little sleep last night, then it’s time to make lunch, after which I will pay another customs’ import tax bill for kimonos I’ve bought from Japan.

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A Tiring Evening Spent Photographing Japanese Vintage Kimonos

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A Tiring Evening

It’s 4:15am and I’m not long home from visiting my daughter in Glasgow. We spent the latter part of the evening and a couple of hours into the morning taking photos of kimonos, which she models, for my site. After about 4 hours of taking the photos while she poses, I always seem to have an exceedingly sore back, her arms ache terribly and we are both tired out but we then still have to fold all the kimonos the traditional way and pack them up for me to bring back home. She is terribly patient and does this for me every 2 to 4 weeks.

In the photo above, you can see stacks and boxes of kimonos, haori and obis. There are around 60 kimonos and haoris in that photo and about 20 obis plus a smattering of other items, just a tiny droplet in the ocean of wafuku (traditional Japanese garments) I own.  About two thirds of the items in those stacks are the kimonos she modelled tonight. Tomorrow I start rotating, resizing and colour adjusting the photos, to make them ready for use, which will be a full two or three days of work.

Below you can see my daighter modelling one of tonight’s batch of kimonos, a pretty, silk homongi (houmongi). Photographing them takes so much time that we don’t do the traditional fold over at the waist or use an obi, she just wears a broad elastic belt, which is what she usually wears with her own kimonos, and she stands on a little footstool to compensate for their length. Kimonos are deliberately very long and the traditional way to wear them is with a tie around the waist and the fabric pulled up and folded over it, which shortens them, then the obi goes on top, with the bottom of the fold-over showing below it. In the western world, the average height is slightly higher than it is in Japan, so some are tall enough not to need to do the fold over. You can see video instructions on how to put on and adjust a kimono, in an earlier section of this blog

As soon as I got home, aching and beginning to seize up a bit, I rewarded myself with an entire 500ml tub of Häagen-Das, pralines & cream ice cream. Now wishing I’d stopped eating half way through, even though I felt I deserved the entire tub.


 


Japanese Haori Kimono Jackets

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Japanese Haori Kimono Jackets

embroidered haori

The haori above is black silk, with embroidered flowers and leaves.

A haori is a long jacket with deep, swinging, kimono style sleeves. About two thirds of the depth of the sleeve is not attached to the body of the garment. Haori are made to be worn over kimonos but look great worn with western world clothing; dressed down with jeans or dressed up with a dress.

Here I show womens’ haori but I also have many mens’ ones. Mens haori are less decorative than women’s, though the linings often have fabulous textile art, and mens’ kimono and haori sleeves are attached either all the way down the body or to about an inch or two above the bottom of the sleeve, whereas womens’ sleeves hang free from the body for a large part of their depth, so that a deep obi can be put round the kimono. As men wear much narrower obis, the sleeves can be attached much further down.

The haori below has wonderful peacocks, woven in metallic, urushi (lacquer coated) thread.

peacock haori

The next haori shown here is a nice example of a light coloured one. Like most vintage haori, it is entirely hand tailored.

white haori

The haori shown below has magnificent, hand printed poppies. It is one of my favourites

poppies design haori

Where a kimono is a fabulous item to wear in the house, here in the West, I find haori are very versatile and useful garments and I have several of my own that I wear quite frequently. My greatest weakness is for ones with Japanese people on them or with gosho ningyo (imperial dolls), which are very white (to look like porcelain), chubby little figures.

The haori shown below has gorgeous little trees. Another of my favourites

red trees haori

Below is a picture of the front of a haori. Unlike kimonos, they are not worn with an obi sash. They are worn open or can be fastened by attaching a pair of ties, called himo, to the inside edge at the centre, where there are two little loops.

glinting roses haori

Below, you can see the himo attached to the haori with the roses, shown above. Below that are instructions for tying a woman’s himo.

glinting roses haori himo

himotiewomensMen wear haori too, though theirs tend to be less decorative on the outside. The lining of a man’s haori often has fabulous textile art on it, considered ‘hidden beauty’. There is a section in this blog all about that, if you wish to read more on the subject. How to tie a man’s haori himo can be seen here. Men’s himos are hooked onto their haoris and are not untied to open the jacket; to unfasten the it, you just unhook the himo. Men’s himos are tied differently from womens and are bigger. Men;s are usually tied so that the man’s haori lies slightly open and the himo shows.