The Yomiuri Shimbun
A craftsman at Kamedatomi Co. in Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, strikes a framed stencil alongside a protracted piece of material.
KYOTO — The dyeing approach is centuries previous, however the merchandise are something however conventional. And they’re flying off the cabinets.
Kyoto-based Kamedatomi Co. has returned to its roots and tailored Kyo-yuzen to make Aloha shirts and T-shirts that includes a wide range of colourful motifs and patterns depicting cranes, dragons and different auspicious symbols.
The agency’s lavish cut-and-sew gadgets are impressed by kabuki costumes. Different items function designs impressed by the work of the nice ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai and others beneath the corporate’s Pagong model.
The agency, which was based within the Taisho period (1912-1926) supplies clothes with a contemporary really feel based mostly on conventional Japanese stencils used throughout its lengthy historical past and which had been preserved in its warehouse.
The clothes has proved significantly fashionable amongst abroad vacationers and younger Japanese.
Courtesy of Kamedatomi Co.
An Aloha shirt made utilizing the Kyo-yuzen dyeing approach
Painstaking course of
Not too long ago, I visited the corporate manufacturing facility the place the materials are dyed.
Yuzen dyeing was invented within the Edo interval (1603-1867). The manufacturing facility makes use of a way known as “kata yuzen,” wherein every coloration is dyed by hand utilizing a stencil.
Katsuhisa Yamada, 68, and Masayoshi Ono, 36, positioned a wooden-framed stencil onto a bit of tightly stretched white fabric measuring about 1.1 meters extensive and 24 meters lengthy, then unfold dye on the fabric with a big rubber-bladed squeegee. The stencil was then moved alongside the fabric and the method was dexterously repeated.
Throughout my go to, a dragon sample was being created on silk fabric. Every time Yamada moved his hand, the define of the dragon grew to become clearer. A pair of eyes got here into view and additional shading was added, making the creature look nearly three-dimensional. Every coloration has a unique stencil, and for the dragon sample, 10 stencils are used. Some complicated, colourful patterns require as many as 25.
The manufacturing facility makes use of greater than 500 colours. Primarily based on formulations handed down via the years, powder dyes are dissolved in sizzling water and blended with glues of various viscosity.
Nice talent is required to realize stunning, blur-free finishes with every a part of the sample in place. The manufacturing facility makes use of numerous materials, together with silk, cotton and polyester.
“Every time I work on a brand new sort of material, it’s a strategy of trial and error,” mentioned Yamada, a craftsman with 45 years of expertise.
Squeegees fluctuate too — some have comfortable ideas, whereas others have laborious ones — and you will need to decide the right one to make use of based mostly on the fabric and the main points of the sample. Explicit care is required when dyeing satin or taffeta, as they’re liable to uneven coloring.
Expertise is essential to this job. “An excessive amount of dye being absorbed is unhealthy, whereas too little causes unclear patterns,” Yamada mentioned. “It’s essential to use the correct amount of strain.”
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Katsuhisa Yamada makes use of a squeegee in the course of the dyeing course of.
Kamedatomi Co., which was established in 1919, employed greater than 100 craftspeople within the early to center a part of the Showa period (1926-1989), when there was robust demand for kimono. Within the following Heisei period (1989-2019), nonetheless, Japanese life modified and the corporate primarily dyed materials for Western-style clothes. It labored as a subcontractor and regularly decreased in measurement.
A turning level got here in 2001, when Noriaki Kameda, 66, the fourth-generation head of the corporate, determined to as soon as once more use the 5,000 to six,000 Kyo-yuzen patterns preserved within the firm’s warehouse. The agency’s Kyo-yuzen Aloha shirts have been nicely obtained after they first appeared available on the market.
Lately, inkjet printers have been more and more used within the mass manufacturing of kimono and different clothes.
Tomihiro Kameda, 37, the fifth-generation head and present president of the corporate, mentioned: “The appeal of the kata-yuzen [technique] lies within the detailed patterns and exquisite colours. The deep colours and heat can solely be achieved by human palms.”
Kameda says the corporate will proceed utilizing the standard methods and go them on to future generations.