Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



From Textiles in Daily Life: Proceedings of the Third Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, September 24–26, 1992 (Earleville, MD: Textile Society of America, Inc., 1993).


Copyright © 1992 by the author(s).


While in Japan in September 1991 we were fortunate to be taken to several small dyeing establishments that make fukusa, furoshiki and kosode. We were most fortunate to have an entre into these establishments because without the proper introduction we would never have been able to make the contacts necessary for an invitation to observe their operation. We were fortunate also in being able to attend a special exhibition of kimono produced by contemporary textile artists. We could not help but be impressed by the cost of these kimono, which are one of a kind works of art. Those in the field are aware how labor intensive the various dyeing techniques are and how protective the individual artisan can be of the various specialized steps necessary in creating the finished product. The very high prices of these new kimono are brought into perspective when the time and effort to produce them is seen first-hand!

We were quite surprised by the number of small family-owned workshops that are still in existence in Kyoto, processing and dyeing silk fabric. Many of these establishments have been in the same family for several generations and earlier generations may have produced some of the eighteenth century fukusa and kosode that we saw in the various exhibitions of Edo period textiles we attended last autumn. Except for the use of modern commercial equipment to steam the fabric, to regulate water temperature and provide proper ventilation, the textiles are embellished by using the same labor intensive techniques as those employed by the previous generations of textile artists.

The Japanese practice of not using plurals will be followed in this lecture. That is, when Japanese words, such as furoshiki, fukusa, kosode are used as plurals, no "s" will be added.

We will cover the four workshops we visited. The first workshop removed the sericin from the silk fabric. The second workshop printed the textile using a separate screen for each color. This process is a variation of the silk-screening technique used in Western printing. The third workshop dyed the textiles with a paste resist applied by using a stencils and the last workshop dyed the textiles using shibori techniques.