Thursday, 1 December 2011

Detour from Japanese Textiles

Space is a luxury in Japan and this fact of life manifests itself in peculiar ways. The economic asset-inflated economy was ballooning in the 80s and the air inside was thick with the smell of wet pedigree pet feet running freely around the previously off-limit rooms. Shopping was the national pastime. There just were not enough hours in a day to buy what you wanted. The size of the average home didn't change much though. And the rooms filled up quickly with overly enthusiastic purchases.

This is how a few semi-gigantic Finnish and Swedish Looms (and I remember a Bangladesh monstrosity made from teak that broke my floorboards) eventually made it to this mountain village. Tokyo sneezed years after the bubble deflated had splattered it's over sized purchases to outlying areas with rooms to spare. Some ended up at the dump or dumped on someone.

"I hear you aunt bought a loom on a weaving course she took in Helsinki in the summer of 88... She can't remember how to use it and it is taking up a full eight tatami room. She is looking for a loving home for it."

They looked like a giant boogers of sorts, wrapped in mountains of funky Scandinavian cardboard and bubble wrap .

Two were then taking up precious space in one of my ten tatami rooms. For years and years. Students eyed them and queried about what could be made on them. Besides a few long hours spent looking at the possibilities on YouTube I had no concrete idea.

I learned to weave in Japan on very old broken down soot stained kimono looms. Basic plain weave. I focused on thread making from cocoons and natural dyes and not fancy weave constructions with tons of peddles and heddles.

The students curiosity and my embarrassing ignorance of these non-Japanese looms got the best of me. I set up a cashmere warp of indigo and kihada. A simple herringbone tweed in mind. Things got out of control very fast with wild peddling and multi colored weft rants. I am happy with the result and it is keeping me warm as I blog away on a drizzling December evening.


  1. lovely colours and I imagine the cashmere feels wonderful. who gets to sleep under the looms?? you might enjoy woven shibori.

  2. It's beautiful, Bryan, and always a pleasure to read your writing.

  3. I love the happy ending to this story!

  4. What a lovely scarf/shawl/throw you have woven Bryan, it looks very soft and drapey (is that a word?) The colours look like winter. Glad you have made the loom work.

  5. Congratulations!!! It looks great from here. Now the students can take turn using the loom...