Kakishibu Dyeing in Seattle

The beginning of July was full of travel for me again! This time I flew to Seattle for a little break from the Texas heat and amazing learning experiences. I had the most wonderful adventures at Botanical Colors' workshops with Takayuki Ishii from Fujino, Japan. I'll tell you all about it in a series of blog posts over the next few weeks. I'm so excited to share with you!

Although, I would love to travel to Takayuki's hometown, Fujino, where there is an Art Village and Art Sanctuary, Seattle was much closer and a pleasure to visit. My trip to the Pacific Northwest offered me unbelievable opportunities to study with Taka and his wife, Tomoe that I will never forget!

In our first workshop, we started with Kakishibu, a dye made from green persimmon juice. The word Kakishibu comes from Kaki meaning persimmon and shibu which means bitter or sour. This art is a traditional Japanese dyeing method, which has been used for over 1000 years. It is 100% natural and no chemicals are used.

The persimmon is a very important fruit in Japan and dried persimmons are symbols of good luck and long life. Being able to take this workshop was definitely good luck for me and I'll need long life for all the projects I have planned!

We started by drawing a plan for our Kakishibu dyed pieces.

Next, we capped or isolated the areas we wanted to stay light and dyed the pieces three times in the Kakishibu vat. They were then dipped in natural lye water made from hard wood ash. 

Finally we capped our pieces to isolate additional areas and dyed and dipped.

And, finally dried again and recapped repeating the process.

The Kakishibu darkens to a beautiful deep brown as it is dried in the sunlight. It will continue to darken with age and become even more stunning.

Once our pieces were dry, we used them to create a traditional Japanese Noren or curtain. Keeping with the traditional theme, Tomoe helped us hand sew our Noren.  

In Japan, Noren are used in homes to separate rooms or outside of the door of a business for identification.

They are so beautiful and it was a joy to make Noren from our newly hand dyed fabric. 

Our visit to the gorgeous Japanese Gardens in the Seattle Arboretum near Lake Washington to hear a lecture by Taka was a very special experience.


It was our first night after all-day class and although we were too tired to explore the gardens.....

...we were not too tired to enjoy Taka's wonderful lecture and beautiful kimonos!

We also took advantage of the lovely setting to snap a picture of five of us who have traveled to Japan to study with Bryan Whitehead. You can read more about my studies with Bryan by clicking here to read my blog post

My Kakishibu pieces were wonderful treasures to take home, but my most precious take-home is Takayuki and Tomoe Ishii's amazing book, The Way of Indigo.

Covered inside and out with hand-dyed papers and filled with hand-drawn illustrations, it will make my Shibori heart sing with magnificent memories forever!

You can learn more about Takayuki Ishii by clicking here to view a video recorded by Botanical Colors in 2021.

And, if you're inspired to try Kakishibu, be sure as always, to use PFD (Prepared for Dye) fabrics. I have a carefully chosen selection of PFD fabrics on my web site that you can shop by clicking right here


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