December 1, 2011

Ivonne Sigler part 2

(part 1 here)

Kawashima Textile School, an amazing one-kind school.

In June, I visited the Kawashima Industry Museum. I was marveled with the quality and the persistence to achieve perfection on textiles.

Three months ago I had come to Japan and I already had had an approach to Japanese traditional crafts, but seeing a place in the industrial process which had maintained high quality standards was impressive!

Indeed, Japanese people have genes for liking textile's excellence.
In this visit, I discovered that Kawashima Company has a Textile School. My wish to attend to this school came true with the support of Kyoto Institute of Technology.

Between August to September, I had the opportunity to attend the Chuya Ori Workshop with Keiko Yoshida Sensei; the Natural Dye Workshop with Masaru Hori Sensei; and finally, the Nassen Gasuri Workshop with Kozue Yamamoto Sensei.

In the Chuya Ori Workshop I learnt the importance of small details. For example, tying a proper knot is an action that usually goes unnoticed, but is very important. Keiko Yoshida helped me a lot to introduce me to the school and teachers with her fluent English.

With Hori-Sensei, I discovered the beautiful natural dyeing colors that the Japanese people have produced for centuries. Hori-Sensei's dyeing technique with two rods or metal 'hashi" was new for me.

As a Spanish speaker this was the most difficult class, because of its many vocabularies in Japanese. But Hori-Sensei and my team encouraged me in doing the exercises and supported me with the translation of concepts in English.

Yamamoto Sensei's Workshop was interesting. It was my first time I dyed on the loom with the stencil technique. This course taught me the importance of concentration and to know your own rhythm for working.

In these three workshops, the teachers and students showed me a part of Japanese culture: the significance of small details, the importance teamwork, to be patience and perseverant to achieve your own goals.

Kawashima Textile School is different from others. It doesn’t matter how old are you or what your profession is, only if you are really interested in learning about textiles.

Not only the workshops are high quality programs, all the teachers and people that I met in KTS were high qualified. I’m so grateful with their advise, otherwise I couldn’t have approached other textile artists, artisans and designers to complete my JICA's research.

Thank you so much to KTS for everything! I hope the School continues supporting textile lovers!

Ivonne Sigler part 1

Hi, my name is Ivonne Sigler. I’m a young textile designer in Mexico.
At the beginning of this year, I traveled to Japan because I made a training course in “Modern Design and Traditional Culture & Craftsmanship” held by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

This eight-month’s training course consisted in two parts. The first period was formed of master course’s classes in Kyoto Institute of Technology; related on Japanese traditional culture and aesthetics.

For example, I attended lectures given by Mr. Kitayama the gardener of Kodaiji's Temple; by Mr. Keimei a famous Buddha Sculptor; and by Mr. Morito an Architectural decorator. I also visited Watabun Company (brocades from Nishijin), Zuikogama Company (Ceramics), Shoeidou Company (Incense), and others. This was my first deep approach to Japanese traditional culture trough their artists and artisans.

The second part of the program began on September. It consisted in making my personal project. Because I am a textile designer I decided to research about traditional weaving and dyeing techniques, as well as interviewing textile and fashion designers: to learn how they apply the traditional techniques in the contemporary clothes or interior design.

My research consisted of eight interviews, eight weaving and dyeing workshops, stays in other cities, like: Tokyo, Okinawa and Nagoya; and visits to remarkable temples or buildings, museum’s exhibitions and design stores.

The design process that I learnt in Japan was unexpected. The Japanese Design is so close to philosophy and also to humans. I could notice a strong relationship with human’s fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason and language.
As designers we are focus on the aesthetic or the functional of the product for follow the market constants demands. But when we rediscover the past techniques and we stay in contact with the artisan's work, we remind the importance of pursuing bring a better service to humankind using wisely the natural resources and knowledge.

The designer’s main goal should be to build a bridge between these artisans and the common people. Always reminding that before products are the human beings.

Above all, we have to preserve things that remind us of our humanity.

February 8, 2011

Maeve Mulcahy

Watching the leaves fall
Six weeks at Kawashima Textile School

In the west, we see Japan as a beautiful mystery, a culture that embraces tradition and technology with such ease and precision. I was very inspired by the beauty of everyday life in Kyoto, the ritual of drinking tea, taking a bath and eating a bowl of rice, watching a monk sweeping leaves and elders tending to their gardens.

I came to Kawashima Textile School to learn the basic theory and methods of Kasuri weaving, and thanks to all the time and support I received from the teaching staff, I was able to experiment with the kasuri technique and create a large work which showed my understanding. I enjoyed using native natural dyes, and binding the yarn to create the patterns that I envisaged. I found working with the Japanese raw materials such as Ramie, Hemp, and bast fibers really inspiring, and I hope to experiment with them more in the future.

Autumn was such a beautiful time to be in Kyoto, watching the leaves turn crimson red and the night skies clear. It was nice to see the students wearing bright coloured felt and wooly hats to school as the days turned more cool. I was so happy to be able to see exhibitions of Japanese Textile artists in the city, and really got a sense that there is a thriving Textile community alive in Kyoto. At Kawashima, I was able to watch other students create beautiful Kimono cloth and see some really innovative ways of creating textiles, I was touched by the other students warmth and friendly nature, they made me feel right at home.


Maeve studied in the  Foundation and Applied Kasuri Course of Fall 2010.

February 1, 2011

Anastasia Macdonald

Weaving in Japan was a learning feat which I would have been sorry to have not undertaken. The technical knowledge alone is something that will vastly improve my weaving, dyeing, and design planning. Not to even touch on the tools and equipment which make even the most difficult task easier, and more precise.

Kasuri weaving was a labor-intensive technique which results in an endless amount of pattern creation. Learning this skill one-on-one with a knowledgeable teacher is an experience not to be passed up. There are nuances to this craft which would have been frustrating to learn from a book; so having the teacher present to guide one through was invaluable. I feel this technique is one which I can use in my own work and is easily adaptable to one's own style.

Staying in the dorms, eating home-style Japanese cooking, and getting along with fellow students has been a fun and funny experience for me. I will miss the hot bath of the onsen, the cafeteria ladies' delicious food, and all of the yummy treats my fellow students shared with me. I never felt that my lack of understanding the Japanese language was a detriment to my experience here; actually, at times it was something to be gotten much hilarity from!

at the Kawashima Textile Museum

As for the world outside Kawashima, oh, what fun!

There is so much textural history in Kyoto, from the beautiful shifuku of the tea ceremony, to the incredible kumihimo which adorns the kimono, it would seem that there are textiles in every part of the Japanese life. Traditional textiles are not the only type to be found here, the modern textiles of such designers as Mina Perhonen and Sou-Sou neither disappoint nor are lacking in panache.

One of the things I noticed as I was shopping was the creative displays and incredible attention paid to the packaging; things which have been an inspiration to me, from a business point of view.

Not to be forgotten, the food was delicious! Hot giant bowls of ramen, bittersweet cones of matcha soft serve, mochi wrapped anko, revolving sushi, and the many tasty treats to be found in the basements of Takashimaya and Daimaru. Oishii! I only wish that I could fit it all in my suitcase.

Places I found of interest:

Shijo-dori area:
mina perhonen
basement level of takashimaya; pan (bread)
6th floor of Takashimaya; wooden bento, shifuku
basement level of Daimaru; tea sweets, honey
basement level of Fujii-Daimaru; organic produce
Nomura-Tailor, floors 1-3; many varieties of fabric, pinbacks, sewing notions
lisn; modern natural japanese incense

Itoh Kumihimoten; just gorgeous silk kumihimo
sou-sou; really awesome tabi shoes
Gallery Kei; amazing unique textiles form japan's past, ramie, banana fiber, shifu
Ippodo; matcha tea, ocha tea, tea tasting and brewing demonstration
Kamiji Kakimoto; washi store

Kyoto Station:
Malebranche; delicious matcha and white chocolate cookies, matcha icecream

kitayama station:
La Droguerie; buttons, ribbon, liberty tana lawn, sequins
Kamigamo; 4th sunday of the month

Shijo-dori to Oike-dori, between Karasuma-dori and Kawaramachi-dori:
lin-net; linen fabric, linen clothes, linen bias tape, linen thread
avril; like habu textiles? you'll love avril.
Kyoto Design House
Ippudo; yummy fresh ramen, i ate here three times
konnamonjya (in Nishiki Market); tofu doughnuts

shrines/ temples/nature:
Saihoji (also known as Kokedera (moss temple))
Fushimi Inari Taisha


Anastasia studied in the Beginners Course and Foundation Kasuri Course of Fall 2010.
To read more about her studies and adventures in Japan, visit her blog, birds in chandeliers.

January 27, 2011

Lecture: Katsuji Wakisaka

Textile designer Katsuji Wakisaka came to KTS and talked about his work at Marimekko, Jack Larsen, Wacoal Interior Fabric, and sou sou (present). Mr. Wakisaka was the first Japanese designer to work at Marimekko, and is famous for his fabric design "Bo Boo."

Bo Boo (1975)

Mr. Wakisaka explaining how the printing technique and dye is different now compared to the 60's and 70's, and how a repeated pattern is made.