In April 2005, I came to KTS to do hands-on research into basic weaving and dyeing techniques, focused on natural fibres and dyes. My previous experience and study in this area of textiles had mainly been theoretical, so studying at KTS gave me the chance to engage in and more fully understand textile art practice. My Japanese language skills were very limited (!) but the teachers and staff were all very kind and helpful.
Throughout my half-year of study, I researched the application of dyestuffs to different types of fibres, and the processes involved in creating handspun threads from plants and animals. I used a variety of looms to learn structural weaving techniques.
Amongst other things, learning how to create Kasuri cloth, over a two-month period, was a challenging and rewarding experience. I sampled the four main techniques: weft kasuri, warp kasuri, double kasuri and picture kasuri, then went on to design and create a 5-metre linen cloth dyed with indigo. These processes have given me a greater understanding and appreciation of many different aspects of textile art.
During this time, I began teaching English at the school. My after-hours classes continued from 2005 until March 2010, with the intention of resuming in April 2011. My background in textiles and teaching provides a solid foundation from which to direct students’ learning. KTS members learn English for a variety of reasons: to study, travel or exhibit overseas, as well as to communicate within Japan with visiting students, teachers and artists, and to research using English language materials. As well as gaining conversational skills, students learn how to discuss and present their own and others’ artworks, sometimes including reviews and portfolios.
My other work includes teaching established Japanese textile artists (privately and at Gallery Gallery), tailored studio-visit tours for art enthusiasts, and translation work (for example, this website and during tours). I continue to research and explore Japanese art practice, particularly fibre arts.
Foreigners are welcome at Kawashima. Whether as a group organized by their school or institution, or as individuals coming independently, there are unique experiences waiting for those who are ready to delve deeper into the world of textiles.