Katazome (型染め) - Japanese Stencil Dyeing

It has been a busy week!  I've had the opportunity to experience some deep things - all of which I hope will lead to a mad burst of compositional inspiration and productivity - and, pretty damn soon, as my deadlines are approaching.  

Yesterday I took a workshop with a master of katazome, traditional Japanese stencil dyeing.  Because the sensei is the cousin of the wife of the friend of my good friend in Niigata, I took the workshop free of charge :-) Cheers to tangential connections!  

You can read a bit more about Katazome here, if interested.  

The workshop was held in a former noh theater, that has since this artist's grandfather's day it has been used for katazome.  The building embodies what is so beautiful about Kyoto architecture: you can come off of an urban street and enter into an oasis of old wood, inner gardens, and exit out the back door find a small stream lined with cherry trees.  There is so much feeling of countryside within the city, and so much hidden behind the facade of each building.  

I was a guest in a workshop series with three other students who had been studying from 6 months to 2 years.  The instructor spoke no English, and seemed slightly annoyed that he needed to speak slowly for me to understand, so he spoke faster and asked if I understood often (which I generally did not). His was not a hand-holding teaching style, shall we say.  I had no idea what I was attending - from what was explained to me I thought it was going to be a washi (traditional paper) dyeing workshop.  

In any case, I decided to create an image inspired by the striking kagome-ita (decorative stage panel seen in Noh and Bunraku theaters) at the National Bunraku Theater of Osaka, which I was looking at for many hours the day prior. The below pictures show the process of creating a katazome. I appreciated the challenge of having to be both creative and efficient in the condensed 3 hour workshop, hanging on to small threads of instruction in Japanese.  In the end, the sensei gave his stern approval.