December 1, 2020

About the School: Internationality 5 | Interviews with Graduates

-From an indigo workshop in Thailand to KTS, making in a way that suits the land and lifestyle- Zazima Asavesna 

The Internationality segment of a series introducing Kawashima Textile School (KTS). Over four weeks starting from Part 4, we are bringing you interviews with graduates from all over the world who have various relationships with weaving, where we ask about how they came to learn at KTS, what influenced them, how they use the skills they have learned, and what weaving means to them. This is Part 5 of the series.

"At the previous family indigo workshop in Sakon-nakhon where I first learned about indigo vat dye. The Indian indigo (indigofera tinctoria) is local to the area, they were planted, harvested, and made into indigo paste here. These small earthen jars contain indigo vat dye, normally a small skein of yarn can be dyed once or twice a day per jar."

Zazima Asavesna (Thai/German)
Textile artist, Natural dyer, Designer & maker of a small apparel business
Currently living in Thailand
Courses: Beginners, Foundation Kasuri, Applied Kasuri I 
(May to June 2013)

-Could you tell us why you chose to study at KTS?

I started my career life as a small animals veterinarian , got married and moved to my husband’s hometown in Sakon-nakhon, where the family had been practicing natural indigo vat dye for over 20 years. There, I got the chance to learn about natural dyeing and tried my hands at indigo and other natural dye dyeing which later led me to the interest of textile weaving. My first experience of weaving on a floor loom was led by a few local artisan women who were so kind and very pleased to share their knowledge with me. There were absolutely no theories, I just copied what I see.

After that experience, I had so many questions and I was eager to know about the possibilities of weaving, so I started to look for a place to learn how to weave. Without knowing if a weaving school really existed anywhere on earth, I accidentally found KTS on the internet. I knew right away this is the place I am looking for. The school was located in one of my favourite towns I’ve ever been to, plus a wonderful location near nature, not so far from the city, where Japanese culture/contemporary art and lifestyles also took place. I was so excited to get to know more about the principle of weaving, the Japanese weaving tradition and also excited about the small international students community where there is a chance to get to know people from different backgrounds and weaving traditions.

-How has your experience at KTS influenced you?

Being surrounded by a group of textile enthusiasts of different ages really inspired me. Our energy was exchanged, I felt connected and welcomed to the world of textile weaving regardless of my past and background. Not only engaging with international classmates, I also made friends and secretly observed the long term talented Japanese students who are working on their amazing projects next door and upstairs. I was mostly amazed by the Tapestry class taking place in the 2nd floor atelier. It was the very first time I ever saw a tapestry being woven from a cartoon (draft) in real life.

Being a self-taught artist, KTS gave me the confidence to weave, the confidence to start learning and seeking new knowledge in life. After that spring I decided I want to seriously weave and was determined to make time and plans for my future so that I can spend time on my weaving projects and make a living out of it.

Tiny tapestry portrait #014 (left) #016 (right) (2020)

"“My first solo exhibition at Ranlao Bookshop Chiangmai, Thailand in 2018. The concept was about self exploration of feelings in the era of social media. The exhibition displayed 6 pieces of handwoven textile made with traditional floor loom and tapestry frame loom. All of them were dyed with my favourite natural dye, indigo. The technique seen in this photo is a stencil dyeing technique using rice paste."

-How do you use the skills learnt at KTS in your career, life, etc?

I often work with local natural materials such as cotton, hemp and locally harvested natural dyestuffs. In my early years, my work involved dyeing a piece of simple plain weave cloth with a resist-dyeing technique. For me, weaving plain weave is quite stressful because it is the most simple form of weaving which easily shows a lack of skill of the weaver.

I don’t own a western loom so I kind of adapted the knowledge to what I have. With my loom (Isaan traditional floor loom), I aimed for the same results such as even warp tension, nice and even edges, how to fix the broken warp neatly etc. keeping in mind “Anybody can weave, but not everyone can weave a beautiful textile” the concept my awesome teacher shared with me at KTS. It reminds me that I should try to improve my skill whenever I can.

My personal belief is that the efforts and skills you put into the textile you are weaving is as important as the imagination or the ideas behind it. Art and craft doesn’t have to separate itself from each other. I have been wanting to learn tapestry weaving so badly for the past few years but never got the chance, so 2 years ago I made myself a nail loom from a canvas frame and started learning by myself. A year later I discovered that I really enjoy weaving tiny human portraits (some may have embroidery details added) and since then I have been continuing doing so. Tapestry was not the skill I earned from KTS, but I know in my mind it all started from there.

-What does weaving mean to you?

Weaving is like a journey into myself, a self exploration. By sitting there and repeating the body movements, instead of traveling with your body, your mind travels. Physically I am trying to find the balance of my body rhythm.In many occasions It allows me to explore my thoughts, my emotions and feelings. Sometimes I feel like I am in a battle, a battle with things that will constantly go wrong. Whatever the result will be, you have to accept it.

""Isaan floor loom"
The loom is an old traditional loom made of hardwood by a local carpenter. It originally belonged to an old lady who passed away, then was passed on to another weaver who used it as a spare loom before it was left unused. The reed, heddles, shafts, and treadles are attached to the loom with ropes and bamboo sticks. The tension is made by tying the warp into a knot directly to the loom and manually released and pulled by hands.

Follow Zazima on instagram at @zazieandherloom and @wildinstagram.

Zazima's "Student Voice" article from 2014, with photos of her work in the KTS Graduate Exhibition.

About the School: Internationality Series 1/2/3/4