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?

"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.