October 30, 2020

A Look into Our Classes 4 "From the Production Sites of Textiles" Cartoons

There are various people who teach in Kawashima Textile School’s Professional Course. In addition to the full time teachers, we invite artists, designers, and technical experts as guest teachers and lecturers from outside the school, to create an open, positive atmosphere. In this series we will introduce you to some of the classes held in the Professional Course.



As a part of their final project, the first year students in the Professional Course are working on a tapestry piece as groups. The school invites experts from each production site of Kawashima Selkon Textiles Co., Ltd. to give a series of lectures called "Textile no Genba (Production Sites of Textiles)," as a class that can be held because of its unique relationship with the company, and students proceed with their advice. The first class was "Learning from the Professionals of the Dress, Arts and Crafts Department: A Lecture on Cartoons, and Tour of the Tapestry Factory" by Mr. Masami Yamanaka, who designs kimono products.

A cartoon is the original design enlarged to full scale for weaving the tapestry. It is a process of visualizing the steps of making a picture into a tapestry, and involves consideration on how to pick up colors, how to draw the borders, and how to organize the infinite number of colors. "Accuracy and precision are important,” says Mr. Yamanaka, who introduced all the points and precautions, and the lecture was filled with details for manufacturing high-quality items within limitations.

On the factory tour, students visited the production site of theater curtains. After seeing part of the cartoon, which was about 20 meters wide, the students walked around the actual weaving site. Since each process of production is divided, close communication is important for cooperation, from the people creating the cartoon, to those who choose the colors, to the weavers. They heard comments such as "There are tricks in how to draw lines and how to separate colors. I try to give the person in the next process instructions that are easy to understand, and we work while exchanging opinions, like in a three-legged race." Learning the extent of making, from the difference in the work, product, and scale. What they have in common is the attitude of paying attention to details. Students will incorporate the inspiration from the commitment from the people on-site, and how they work, into their tapestry making.


-What does weaving mean to you?
"Beauty"

"My career has been focused on designing, and I have been drawing designs for 48 years. At first, for replications I tried to make them close to the original painting, but as I started to become familiar with the stages of production, and the beauty of the finished product, I learned there are expressions unique to weaving that are not found in paintings. That is the power and texture created by weaving in the weft, one pick at a time, but it cannot be expressed in words. I like the beauty of weaving."


About Masami Yamanaka
Masami Yamanaka joined Kawashima Textile Manufacturers Ltd. (now Kawashima Selkon Textile Co., Ltd.) in 1972 after studying painting and art in general, focusing on graphic design, at a Design Course in a technical high school that mainly focuses on textiles. He now works in the Traditional Fashion & Accessories Development Group, Manufacturing Dept., Products Business Division. Since joining the company, he has been involved in the design of kimono products, and has been creating designs for obi, uchikake, and kimono accessories.

October 20, 2020

An Interview with Spinning Teacher Yoshiko Nakajima 3/3

Director Kozue Yamamoto, a graduate of our school, interviewed Yoshiko Nakajima, who has been involved in homespun as an artist for over 40 years and has been a full-time instructor at the school since 1979. In the final episode of the three-part series, they talked about the sense of distance with weaving changing with the times, the characteristics of the school as seen by Ms. Nakajima, what weaving means to her, and about learning from yarn.

Part 1
Part 2



◆ Lessons from weaving helping in life

-When did you start teaching at the school?

1979. Someone introduced me when the school was looking for an instructor to teach spinning. I started teaching the spinning and homespun classes in the Professional Course, then the workshops, and after that, there were requests from students who wanted to weave clothing fabric, and I was asked for guidance. That's how everything connected.

-That was about 6 years after the school opened. What were the students at that time looking for when they came to the school?

At that time, weaving was not so distant. There were many people who just wanted to do handweaving. People who worked in the Nishijin district, people who moved to Hachijojima and started weaving Honba Kihachijo, people who worked in boutiques, and so on. After that, I have the impression that the school has changed according to the times.

-Indeed. I also loved textiles and wanted to continue, so after graduating from the Textile department of my university, I studied further at this school. People at that time were not necessarily aiming to find a job, and the atmosphere was that we were thinking about how to make use of the weaving techniques we had learned. Now, I have the impression that more and more people are already thinking about finding a job before entering the school. With that, the school has changed, too. What do you think about such changes?

It's difficult. The main focus of this school is handweaving, but in the actual market, machine production is the mainstream, and in the case of synthetic fibers, handweaving becomes more distant. In the midst of that, it's important to connect the goodness of textiles to the economy, but if efficiency is prioritized, things will go in a different direction. I hope that those who study at school will be able to have a different perspective from short-term productivity. I don't know if that will lead to employment right away, but it will help in life somehow. The feeling of reality behind life is too distant nowadays. By working on handweaving, people will be able to realize how things are made, and what kind of background people's lives are based on. I think that will also lead to developing an eye for seeing the true essence of things.

Teaching a spinning workshop at Kawashima Textile School, 1990


◆ An opportunity to recapture the sense of time

-Is there something you remember most, looking back on the 40 years at the school?

In the late 1980s, prior to the dawn of spinning, there was a time when the school called instructors from overseas and held what were called "public workshops". There, Ms. Rainey MacLarty (Lorraine MacLarty) from Australia had been teaching a hand-spinning workshop for hair/fur fibers for over 10 years, and I sometimes worked as an assistant. Rainey-san would teach theoretically. Until then, I worked based on my senses, so it was inspiring to know that there was a different perspective. From the students' perspective, I think theory is reassuring as a guide when starting out. Even if you feel like you can understand it by the numbers, in reality it doesn't work exactly as planned. That's why I think it's important to have a sense coming from practice, based on theory.

-It has been 47 years since the school opened. I think that the reason that it has continued this far is because this school has its own characteristics, but what do you think they are?

A wide range of acceptance regardless of age or nationality. The fact that the foundation for learning from the basics has not changed, even if the times have. To be able to gain the experience of making by actually moving your hands. The possibility to have enough time and space to create, unlike following a cut and dried system, could be some.

-Being able to work in a quiet environment is also an opportunity to recapture the sense of time.

Among the students, there are some who understand how good it is to use time like that.

-In that sense, this school surrounded by nature is an environment where you can concentrate on making and face yourself quietly.

I think it is important to have time like that in your life. Looking at the students, there are quite a few people whose facial expressions change by the time they finish, two years later.

-It could be because they have come across something that they can confidently say "I can do this." It may be a feature of the school that students can change so much in a year or two. Is there anything you would like to tell the students?

In this era, the speed of change is so fast that we can't see the future, and continuing one thing itself may be difficult. In order to continue what you love, sometimes you can find your path by looking at things from various angles, and seeing them as one big flow in the long run. Set your own axis, and watch the flow of the world as if you were doing a fixed point observation from there. Even if at times you are swept away, you will be in a state where you can objectively see yourself being swept away. I think it would feel easier if you had a foundation like that.

◆ Weaving becomes a method of thinking

-What does weaving mean to you?

What can it be, hmm... a feeling of security. When I am working on weaving, I feel calm, and can gain a feeling of security that I am together "with" weaving.

-It's a question that would be a problem if I was asked too (laughs). To me, weaving is not something special, but a part of my life.

Making fabric itself is tough, since it is time consuming and labor intensive, but it feels good to be absorbed in it while weaving. So it wasn't that hard to stay home even during the self-restraint period (due to the Coronavirus).

-What are your hopes for weaving?

I want weaving to remain in the future. I think it can be a way to think about various things, including relationships with people. It takes a long time to make handwoven fabric. Even for the yarn alone, in my case it takes days to wash the fleece, dry, loosen, card, and spin it into 100 grams of yarn. There were times when I wondered what I was doing, spending so much time, given the price of the same amount of machine-spun yarn, but I stopped comparing. I don't worry about it. Even in today's very busy world, yarn teaches us the importance of looking at it with plenty of leeway. That itself is the value to me, and what I think makes it irreplaceable.

-You have been with the school for about 40 years. In this interview, the words where you said, "Weaving is the feeling of security of being together" was a very deep message. The values ​​of facing handwoven fabric and the importance of simple living has led to the continuation of your work in weaving.

In order to connect the school to the 50th and 60th years since its establishment, we will continue to go on as we draw a future image of the form of learning that suits the times, what will or will not change, based on the tradition and philosophy of the school as a foundation. Thank you very much for today.

It was the first opportunity for me to look back on the past like this. Thank you very much. Looking back from the old days to the present, once again I felt the change of the times. No matter how much the world changes, I want to start with a single strand of yarn.

October 12, 2020

An Interview with Spinning Teacher Yoshiko Nakajima 2/3

This is part two of the interview with Yoshiko Nakajima, who has lived most of her life with textiles as a homespun artist and full-time instructor at Kawashima Textile School. She talked about what is interesting about homespun, re-examining her relationship with objects, a simple way of life, hiking that she started in her 40s, and the unique sense of weaving she has gained from it. The interviewer is Director Kozue Yamamoto.

(Continued from part 1)


◆ Wool covers a wide range of use

-What part of homespun appeals to you?

The practicality and the variety of wool. In wool, there is a wide range of things that can be made since there are many types of sheep, from hard wool for rugs and such, and delicate, soft wool for things that touch your skin. In Japan, the conditions for keeping different types of sheep are not met due to such things as the climate and culture, but there is a wide variety of wool itself and it is interesting to be able to weave with a yarn that suits what you are making.

−Yes, that is the best part.

If you use ready-made yarn, you have to choose from a limited number of types, and we have to adjust to the yarn. If you spin it yourself, the best part is that you can spin the yarn considering various factors the yarn itself will hold, such as the thickness, twist, and texture. Even if you don't know if you have the ability to do it, you can try it. Whether it works out or not, you can still learn from the results of the challenge, so that still interests me very much.

−What do you want to try now?

I'm weaving clothing fabric now. What shocked me about homespun was the volume of the items and the usefulness of the fabric that I saw in Mr. Arikawa's exhibition of clothing fabric. It has all the necessary conditions for clothes, such as breathability, elasticity, lightness, and ease of wearing. It is interesting that the fabric is made into clothes and then used. I've always wanted to make that kind of clothing fabric, but it takes time to get started. Now I have more time than before, and I have material that I bought a long time ago. I am focusing, thinking that I should work now since there is a limit to my physical strength due to my age.


◆ Seeing materials, history, and social movements through textiles

−Do you think life and woven fabrics have a close relationship?

I think so, but nowadays, there are less natural fibers in things like the clothes you wear, and more jerseys and knits than woven fabrics. The speed of change is fast, and I wonder what will happen in the future.

-Do you create with the environment in mind?

Woven fabrics, especially natural fibers, are closely related to the environment, so I think about it very much. In particular, many natural products can only be harvested once a year, like rice. In Japan, sheep are sheared once a year. Hemp and cotton also have a harvest season. On the other hand, since chemical fibers are made from things such as petroleum, they can be manufactured regardless of the season or climate. While convenient, I have concerns of it dominating textiles. In everyday life, human beings are expanding their distance from nature, and I don't think that is good.

−I agree.

If people could really feel that all the clothing, food, and shelter they are involved in every day are all born from nature, and that they can only be made in a limited amount, I think they would be able to take good care of things, but I think the world is not like that nowadays. I think it is important for people to learn and feel the relationship with objects through textiles. For example, the material and feel of silk, wool, cotton and linen. If you have a chance to wear it, you would understand how nice they feel, but if they are distant, people would not be interested in it.

−Since the classes at the school mainly use natural fibers, I hope students will gradually feel how nice, and how valuable natural fibers are, and that it would bring them to reconsider their relationship with things. Did your awareness deepen while working in weaving?

Yes, In the process of making, I naturally become interested in the materials. Through textiles, my perspective expands from materials to history and society, such as how and what kind of people raise the sheep, and what the current situation is. Creating brings me joy and happiness. On the other hand, the difficulty also becomes apparent.

Clothing fabric which has just recently been finished


◆ Keeping belongings as simple as possible

−Is there a key point in why you have been able to continue weaving?

It's because I simply like it. And I try not to carry too many things on my back. Possessing things uses energy, such as paying attention to maintenance, so I keep my belongings as simple as possible. It's easy if you have your own values. I live in a traditional nagaya (row house) in Kyoto. There are only 3 rooms, and the largest is 6 tatami mats*. I have two looms, and I sleep next to them. Even if I live in a space like a workshop, that is enough for me. I am satisfied with it. If I didn't like that, I could save money and make an atelier, but I don't want to spend time working for that. I want to spend as much time as I can on weaving, so it's best if I can manage with what I have.

*about 11 sqm.

−When did you start to see your own values?

It was formed with weaving. Looking at the world through eyes of the time, as the fabric takes shape, I have come to think that in the midst of all the ways that people live, for me, spending my life this way, creating, is good. Making naturally teaches you. I am able to spend my time doing what I want to do, so I think this is good.


◆ Weaving and the mountains, from the smallest unit to the infinite

-The richness and leeway of spending time in the process of making, not the measure of the speed of time, all comes back to you. Weaving has that kind of principle. By the way, when talking about you, we can't forget about hiking. I heard that you started in your 40s, but was it from anticipating that weaving requires physical strength?

The motive was play (laughs). I just go to the mountains because it's interesting. Until then, I wasn't confident in my physical strength, and I think it was good as a result. Weaving is work and mountains are play, but I have continued both of them only because I like them.

−What is interesting about the mountains?

Forgetting about everyday life and concentrating on walking. Otherwise, there are dangerous places. Weaving is nerve-wracking, so it could be that I go to the mountains to rest my nerves.

−When weaving, we stay cooped up at home, so it's a good balance to have activities both inside and outside.

Woven fabric is a tiny world where the warp and weft intersect, starting from the smallest unit. The mountains are wide and the natural scale is completely different. When you look at the scenery, you will realize the immeasurable power of nature. The two are connected within me. Woven fabrics are physically finite because their width is determined by the size of the loom. However, the small, incorporated structure itself, which is constructed as a fabric, can sometimes feel endlessly expansive. I imagine fabric being a small part cut out of it. I feel that woven fabrics have an interesting aspect in being able to make people feel a sense of an endless expanse from a tiny world.

-You are very energetic, going to the mountains the day after a workshop ends. It's important to change your mood in that way, and I'm sure there's something beyond your tiredness when you go. Such a way of life is attractive.

If you continue walking in the mountains, you will notice that before, you could walk the same course faster, or you could walk in a place with poor footing without any fear, and you can see that your physical strength is decreasing. Physical strength is required for both the mountains and weaving. Especially so for homespun. You won't be able to go to the mountains when you lose your strength, but with weaving, as you continue, several little realizations pile up, and push you to do what you're doing.


Continued to part 3 (Oct. 20, 2020)

October 7, 2020

Workshop: Introduction to Weaving (Dec. 15-19, 2020)


We have planned a new workshop, open to people living in Japan (for the time being, due to travel restrictions). We look forward to meeting you!


Date: Dec. 15 (Tue.) - 19 (Sat.), 2020 (5 days) 9:00-16:00
Tuition Fee: 55,000 yen (without tax, materials fee included)
Capacity: 4-8 students
Language: English
Application Deadline: 9:00 (JST) Nov. 16 (Mon.), 2020

Please click here for further information and how to apply. 

October 6, 2020

An Interview with Spinning Teacher Yoshiko Nakajima 1/3

At Kawashima Textile School there is a full time instructor who has been teaching homespun consistently. Yoshiko Nakajima has spent 40 years at the school, and more as an artist, and has been showing us what it is to "continue" to work in weaving. Director Kozue Yamamoto, who is a graduate of the school, interviewed Yoshiko Nakajima. We will be sharing the interview in three parts, in which she spoke in depth about her work and life. The first part is on how she started hand weaving, her time as an apprentice, how she encountered homespun, and how she paved her way by studying on her own.



◆ Leaving a job in design and entering a workshop as an apprentice

-You majored in Design at the Kyoto City University of Arts. Please tell us how you encountered handweaving.

I first encountered handweaving at Kawashima Textile School. After graduating from university, I started working at an interior company in Nagoya, and my job was to draw designs on paper. That company gave high priority on employee training, and in my first year, my boss told me that Kawashima Textile Manufacturers Ltd. (now Kawashima Textiles Selkon Ltd. Co.) opened a school, so he wanted me to study there. I took a dobby weaving class for a month, and for the first time experienced the process of how fabric is made.

-I wonder if weaving became interesting to you by studying at the school?

I thought, "I didn't know there was a world like this, maybe this suits me better than drawing designs." I became more and more eager to weave myself, and I was very sorry for the company, but I left after about two years. After that I moved to Kyoto, found a place to live, and started looking for a workshop. First I consulted my professor at the university, hoping there could be a place where they could teach me. I was introduced through a number of people, and ended up working as an apprentice for textile artist Tsugio Odani in his workshop.

-When you have a strong desire to do something, there is an inevitable tendency of connecting with people.

Fateful encounters. It was a life saver. I learned while helping Mr. Kodani's production, and was shocked to see the reality of manufacturing, in which the drawing on paper is not the end. He actually wanted someone who could weave. However, at that time I was not ready to. Still, he didn't tell me to quit, let me do what I could, and I was able to experience the process starting from dyeing and preparing the yarn for weaving.

In the Kawashima Textile School Atelier, 1974


◆ The historical backdrop of the Mingei boom

-What was the workshop like?

Mr. Odani mainly created tsumugi (pongee) or kasuri (ikat) kimono, and craft products such as zabuton (square cushions) in different materials according to the season, such as cotton, silk, hemp, kudzu (arrowroot), wool, and the studio had plenty of tools such as yarn twisting machines. It was good to have the opportunity to get to know various textiles, come into contact with different fibers, learn the basics of the origins of fabric and how they are constructed.

-Were there many workshops at the time?

There was a Mingei boom in the 70s, and I think it was thriving in different areas of Japan. Mr. Odani was an apprentice of Etsutaka Yanagi, textile artist and nephew of Sōetsu Yanagi, and if anything, he was closer to Mingei.

-Were you not afraid of losing economic stability, by quitting your job?

No, I wasn't. I think it's because I didn't think too much about it. I wonder if there was an atmosphere of the times such as the student movement. I might have been worried if I had worked for a company for a longer time, but I was young. At that time, there were many workshops, and I was convinced that the products made would be distributed smoothly. I thought that if a person who was much older than me could make a living in that way, I would be able to as well. Looking back on it now, that was thoughtless (laughs).


◆ Paving a path of homespun by studying on your own

-When did you first encounter homespun?

At first it was at the workshop. Mr. Odani would weave handspun scarves in the winter, so I would prepare the wool by washing, dyeing, loosening it and such. After that the spinning process was done by an American student, and by watching I learned the whole process there, of how wool would turn into fabric.

My real encounter was at an exhibition. Mr. Hironao Arikawa has a workshop in Morioka (Iwate prefecture), and is a fellow apprentice of Mr. Odani. Mr. Arikawa was going to have an exhibition in Kyoto, so Mr. Odani went to help. I also went to see it, and saw a homespun fabric for clothes for the first time, and I experienced a big shock that something like that could be done with handweaving.

-The second shock. There you encountered wool.

Yes. I left my apprenticeship at the studio at two years, but I wasn't clear about what kind of weaving I would do in the future. I tried weaving with cotton and silk but somehow it didn't feel right, and taking that encounter at the exhibition as an opportunity, I decided on wool. I studied design, so I am attracted to practicality. If it is a piece of clothing it can be used in daily life, and I liked the feel of wool. For me, the fact that I got the perspective of using fabric that I wove myself in daily life was significant.

-Did you study homespun on your own?

I studied it on my own. I wouldn't have a salary if I worked as an apprentice at another workshop, so financially, I had to continue by myself. I didn't have much because I left work, so I started, thinking I would do it myself. I encountered many people and fabric, and learned through books and workshops, so it didn't feel impossible. I set myself up through the help of many people, by trying methods with wool I saw and heard about at Mr. Odani's workshop on my own, and joining Mr. Arikawa's classes.

-It's amazing that you started on your own from the very beginning.

In learning, some things can be done without being taught from others. Homespun has been done at home for a long time, so I didn't think it would be that difficult. I also didn't understand the difficulty.

-Both yarn and weaving don't have a right or wrong. You have pursued that.

You continue with your own judgment because you can't compare. It is a lot of work just to spin and weave, so at first I had a sense of fulfilment just by making something.

Continued to part 2 (Oct. 12, 2020)

September 29, 2020

Interview with Dyeing Teacher Masaru Hori 3/3

Kawashima Textile School has a history of 47 years since its foundation. Instructor Hirokazu Kondo interviewed skilled dyeing specialist and full-time instructor at the school for over 20 years, Masaru Hori. In the third and last part of this series, he talked about passing on skills, what dyeing means to him, the source of his health, and his thoughts now, being over 80 years old.

Part 1
Part 2



◆ The skills are being passed on

-You have been involved in yarn dyeing for a total of over 62 years, working at Kawashima Textile until retirement, and then teaching at the school.

Actually, about three years before retirement, I was removed from the dyeing room and was transferred to another department. My boss at that time was someone who worked in the same Dyeing Department when I joined the company, and had thought "It is wasteful since he has dyeing skills. It is a loss for the company as well. We should use it somehow." Just then the previous dyeing teacher was leaving, and I was transferred to the school. If I hadn't met that boss, I would have left at retirement age and would not have continued dyeing. That is how I am here now.

-I didn't know something like that happened.

At the time of the transfer, my boss told me, “Just teaching is not good enough. I want you to teach with the intention that you are passing on the skills of Kawashima Textile,” and that has left a lasting impression on me. So when I teach, those words are always in my mind, and I try to keep myself focused, thinking that I cannot teach irresponsibly.

When the school opened (1973), the president of the company had a strong hope to make this school a base for handweaving culture, not only for teaching. Also at that time, the trend of supporting arts and culture by companies was widespread throughout Japan, called Mécénat. Kawashima Textile is also a school that was created with the idea of contributing to society with the culture of textiles and the technique of handweaving. When I came to the school (concurrently taking over from 1996, full-time since 1999) It was a place where everything about handweaving such as engineers, researchers, artists, from designing and disassembling textiles would come together. Did you have designing and disassembling classes, Kondo Sensei? 

-Yes, we did. It was called "Kishoku-ron (weaving theory)," and we disassembled actual fabric and "read" them to make weaving designs, wrote weaving drafts, and researched the density and material. We don't have a disassembling class now, but students study weaving drafts in other classes such as "Kiso Ori (Basic Weaving)" and "Tenbin bata (Countermarch Looms)." Perhaps having these kinds of classes is due to the fact that Kawashima Textile works with restoration of cultural properties.

One of the school's missions is to pass on Kawashima Textile's handweaving skills and textile culture. When the school started, they were recruiting students with a high ideal that people with first-rate skills gather here to teach skills and culture. However, as generations change, the people gradually change. How should we pass these things on as the people change? This school started with engineers from Kawashima Textile, but as the years go by, the graduates become teachers. They were taught by teachers from Kawashima Textiles, so I think those skills are still being passed on.

Practicing his swing before class has been a daily routine for years.


◆ I hope to be of help to everyone, even a little

-You have been working at the school for over 20 years. Where does your motivation to continue come from?

When I first came to school, I was very intentional about the succession of skills, but after I actually started teaching, I didn't really think about it. But I don't want to repeat the same thing for 20 years, so I am gradually changing the content depending on the year. Students continue to come up with new things, and each time I discover something new. Especially students in the second year of the Professional Course make their work with a specific goal in mind, so they come up with things that I can't imagine, and each time I think with them. It's fun because there is a lot of communication, and it doesn't end with just teaching something. So every year, looking forward to what the new students will be like, and what they will make, is a strong motivation.

-A life spent together with dyeing. What does dyeing mean to someone like you?

I think it is a connection with people. I teach about 100 people each year, including students in the professional course and workshops, and I continued doing that for 20 years, so that would be more than 2000 people. There are so many interactions with people. My greatest joy is when the students finish the class and say "Thank you very much" as they return home. The students who come to this school have a passion to learn, so many of them work hard. The greatest happiness is to teach people who want to do it. People often say I am "always smiling" or "calm," but I'm wondering if my personality naturally became that way because people say thank you to me. That is why I can interact with people, smiling.

-You are also active in golf. What does golf mean to you?

It's a source of health that I have a strong connection with. I can keep my energy and physical strength. The time when I can no longer play golf would be the time I quit my job (laughs). I don't feel any stress working at the school. In a normal workplace, human relationships are complicated and stressful, but here it feels more like a workshop than a workplace. I feel more stress playing golf (laughs). It's a good balance, and that leads to good health. I started playing golf around the time I was 35, and it will be nearly 50 years now. It could be that I am able to play golf because I work, and the joy of playing golf doubles because I work hard.

-Is there anything you want to say to those who want to study at the school?

The difference from other schools is that at the root, there is a hope to pass on the skills and that the students learn from them. That the facilities accompanying that are well equipped. Since we teach based on a deep philosophy, students can learn dyeing and weaving techniques in depth.

That is something I want to tell the people involved in the school now, including the teachers. I want them to keep in their hearts when interacting with the students, the hopes that Kawashima had when they first opened the school. If they do, I think it will gradually come across to the students. It's not just teaching. I want them to feel that.

-In the history of Kawashima Textile School, which is about to reach its 50th anniversary, there are things that have been passed on, such as the philosophy and skills. I felt that once again by hearing it directly from you. I started as a student and am now a full-time instructor here, and feel that what people who come to study at school want to make, have changed as the times have changed. There are some things that we can't do as they were in the old days, but as the fundamental skills, techniques, and attitude towards creating stay the same, I will continue to convey them with care. Thank you very much for your time today.

I wouldn't look back on my work if I didn't have the opportunity to do an interview like this. I was able to reflect on it again. Thank you very much.

There is one last thing I want to say. Now, I hope to be of help to everyone, even a little, rather than doing my best. It is relevant to the philosophy of the school when it was established, and the social contribution of the company. That is how I feel now at over 80 years old.

September 23, 2020

An Interview with Dyeing Teacher Masaru Hori 2/3

This is part 2 of the interview with skilled dyeing specialist and full-time instructor at Kawashima Textile School, Masaru Hori. We talked about subjects such as what is important to him when teaching dyeing, and about being called a magician of dyeing. The interviewer is instructor Hirokazu Kondo.

(Continued from part 1)



◆ Teaching so that students can dye at home

-I always feel your inquisitiveness towards dyeing.

I'm only communicating my experiences. In particular, the basic how-tos of dyeing thread for hand weaving has remained the same. However, I do think about special dyeing methods, such as twist dyeing, blur dyeing, and douse dyeing.

-It is said that people tend to get stubborn as they get older, and I think it may be difficult to hear and take in ideas from us and the younger generation, but you have always been flexible and accepting, and have given us suggestions on how to proceed.

That's because I want people to have fun dyeing. Failure in dyeing is inevitable. If the color doesn't match, you can re-dye them or change the color scheme. Sometimes uneven dyeing can result in an interesting fabric. Dyeing isn't a job to be stubborn about. It's only dyeing, but it is still dyeing. However, I do want people to handle the yarn carefully. If the thread isn't damaged or tangled, things will work out.

-Do you have instances where you think dyeing is interesting, even now?

Rather than dyeing myself, I like seeing the people I teach get better at color matching.

-What has been important to you, for teaching at the school?

I try to teach the students so they will be able to dye by themselves, with the facilities they have at home. Rather than just dyeing, there are various steps before that, so I work with the intention to teach each and every trick. There are many little tips on how to handle threads, such as how to twist threads, how to put the skein down somewhere, and how to put the skein in the spin dryer.

-There are some things that students don't get right away, since they are busy keeping up with the dyeing process during class. As a student, I also wrote down what you taught us and reread it later. When I work by myself, I realize that each detail is important.

While students are here, I can help them with their dyeing, but after graduating, I want them to be able to dye by themselves. Beyond dyeing itself, giving students advice on the work process before and after dyeing is also an important job of mine. I think this is something that I can teach because of what I know. Another is to have data samples. I want people who are going to start dyeing seriously to first make data samples. I hope that this spreads not only among the students here, but also among other hand weavers.

Hori Sensei in the Kawashima Textile School Dyeing Room, early 90s


◆ Sample data making is an asset to the school

-Preparing data.

When I first came to the school, there was only kanzome (instinctive dyeing), so first I prepared the data. Teaching the basics of dyeing is important, but to dye on one's own, having data samples is important. With synthetic dyeing, you have to mix dyestuff to create the color you want. With natural dyeing, color matching is unnecessary, and if you learn the basics, you would get a decent result, so people who are starting to dye use plants. However, natural dyeing has its limits of color, so there are many people who take the synthetic dyeing workshop to make data samples.

*kanzome: The technique of adding dyestuff (the three basic colors, yellow, red, and blue) instinctively without data.

-So the school's data samples were made after you came.

The data sample class is an asset to the school. I want non-students to start from owning self-made data samples. However, just having the data is still not enough. There is an infinite number of colors, so if you can't find the color you want, you need to adjust the data. When you don't know how to change the data, you need to have kanzome skills. So at the school, we recommend learning how to make data samples and kanzome as a set. Currently, we have about 120-130 colors for each type of yarn at the school.

-I heard that you were called a magician of dyeing among the students.

During class, a student who wanted to dye thread in a green color accidentally dyed it pink, and was trying to dye new thread. So instead of using new thread, I added a dye over the pink, and instantly changed it into the green color desired by them, and the students who saw it said, "Sensei, you're like a magician."

-In the workshops, you teach and use time to the fullest. Why is that?

Students of the workshop participate only for that purpose, so everyone is focused, and there are many people who have taken the time and effort to come from afar, so my hope is that they can go home with as much as possible. Thinking about work arrangements within a limited time frame is also a learning process, and I think that way, students will get a greater sense of fulfillment afterwards. This can only be done because the students themselves come here with a strong desire to learn. The classes in the Professional Course are spaced out during the school year, so I try not to squeeze too much into each class, and the international students have different customs, so proper breaks are necessary.

-So for you, teaching is your second career.

I didn't come here thinking of building a second career. I didn't expect to work until this age (81) (laughs). I'm grateful for that. The feeling of gladness that I have continued this work in dyeing comes to me every time. I didn't like dyeing when I first joined the company, but I am here now as a result of patience. I'm glad I didn't quit back then.


Continued to part 3 (Sep. 29, 2020)