Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Kawashima Textile School

We returned to Kyoto on Tuesday night and got an early start on Wednesday the 22nd to spend the day at Kawashima Textile School , a short commute from central Kyoto. Suzumi Noda is the school's director and makes interesting conceptual textiles. The textile school is funded by the Kawashima Textile Company and its classrooms and dormitories are on the company premises. Kawashima produces everything from textiles for automobile companies (it makes 70% of the textiles used by Honda) to very fine tapestries and obi. We were able to tour the weaving rooms where we watched several craftsmen working on an enormous tapestry curtain commissioned by a large theatre company. In the same room, we also watched a young woman working on a small, very fine, very detailed, very ornate silk tapestry that was nearing completion. I think she said she had been working on it for three years. That gives new meaning to the "patient weaver." I was awestruck!

Our full-day visit to Kawashima also included a guided tour of their museum-- where we got to see several textile fragments over 1000 years old,--and a presentation about Kawashima's painstaking efforts to reproduce some of these ancient textiles for posterity. After lunch served in the school cafeteria by very friendly staff, we visited the school's weaving studio where students were busy working. Finally, we made our way to the school's amazing dye room where we played with natural dyes under the astute direction of a teacher who has been at Kawashima for 30 years. I picked up some really valuable information that I'll put to good use in my own studio practice.

For anyone interested in textiles and looking for an opportunity to study in Japan, this would be a school to look into. They welcome foreign students for short or long stays, and can tailor a program to your needs. They provide room and board -- so no need to worry about preparing meals or any of those other mundane daily necessities!

Unfortunately, were weren't permitted to take photos of the museum or tapestry weavers. I did take a couple of photos of our natural dyeing session.

Our teacher is standing, in the foreground

Diana tending the dyepots

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