Betrothed in Silk

The story of silk is behind all the beautiful clothing we see worn by some contemporary men and women, adding wonderful splashes of colour in the streets, like  this betrothed couple walking by the canal in Gion. Antique Kimonos and fabric scraps are a feature of the vintage markets.

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Traditional Couple
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From Sanjo Bridge
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Silk Worms

Silk has an unglamorous start as these little caterpillars, known as silkworms, which are protected and fed until they make their cocoons. 

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Cocoons

The cocoons look like small white cotton wool balls. 

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Jacquard Weaving Loom

The thread from the cocoons is unravelled and spun into fibres which are then woven on looms. In the Nishijin textile museum there is an old Jacquard loom with its punch cards. This is a very early form of computer, being binary i.e. depending on the holes in the cards, either an individual warp thread is raised or it is not.

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Applying Gold

Textiles are taken very seriously in Japan. In Kyoto there are still many artisans and craftsmen and women weaving, embroidering and hand painting the finest kimonos. Some kimonos are worth 10’s of thousands of pounds.

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Vintage Textile - Shibori

Techniques that are popular include SHIBORI, which is a very delicate form of tie dyeing where threads are wrapped tightly around little areas of fabric which then resist the colour when the fabric is dyed leaving small areas of white.

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Vintage Textile - Katazome

Katazome is a technique where a rice resist paste is pushed through a Katagami paper stencil to protect some areas of fabric, then other areas are painted with dye. When the dye has been fixed the paste is washed away, leaving undyed areas.

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Vintage Textile - Katagami Stencil
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Vintage Textile - Warp Print
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Fashion Show - Primrose

Featuring the work of these highly skilled craftspeople, the Nishijin Textile Centre put on a Fashion Show of the New Season’s Kimonos.

 

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Fashion Show - Spring Number
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Fashion Show - Golden Kimono
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Fashion Show - Black is Back
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Fashion Show - Back to Black
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Fashion Show - Wedding in Red
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Fashion Show - Red Wedding Dress
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