Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Sky Tree Feudal Leftovers

Today in class we looked at the Bernini's St Theresa and the katagami exhibition book. Kamei san and Yamaguchi san were interested in how they were related.   The conversation was interesting as we were all primed for the subject because the 'Sky Tree Tower' opened in Tokyo today. Heavy news coverage anyone? The general population seems embarrassed by this ugly carbuncle (What's one more?) on the face of Tokyo.  Something like a nuclear reactor... foisted on the people who will just grin and bear it. Hardly necessary, poorly designed and it will be there for several million years in one form or another. Why is Tokyo such an ugly city? How can Japanese have such exacting high standards of quality and aesthetics and manage to build a city that sounds like fingernails on a blackboard every time you look out the train window?

We will fight back we figured by making really beautiful indigo dyed and woven projects  in the future. A pretty paltry and insignificant weapon but it is about all we have. Kamei san dyed half of this cotton scarf with gardenia pods the other day. She contrasted the light green with a belt of the darkest blue indigo with white circle shibori.  The exhibition and the Sky Tree opening was a little kick in the butt to get back to the original direction I wanted for the textile classes when I first opened them. Cocoons to naturally dyed thread and then made into small bags like the ones used in the tea ceremony.  Sato san and I set up this silk warp from thread I had long ago dyed with thistle leaves, pomegranate skins and walnut tree bark. This silk will be used to make tea ceremony items.

I set up three kumihimo stands to braid cords for the bags. The Sky Tree somehow energized the class and made our priorities clear again.

The silk thread on the left was dyed with onion skins and a copper mordant. The silk thread on the right was dyed with walnut tree bark and an aluminum mordant. They were wound onto wood waku and then  set on a small warping board. Next step onto the bobbins and then onto the kumihimo stands. 

And Snoopy had it right. Sky Tree hmfffff.... Bernini grmffff. 


  1. onesmallstitch23 May 2012 at 06:26

    Snoopy looks like she hasn't a care in the world, wish we were all like that. Yes! taking the time to make anything beautiful that comes from the heart is a statement against the ugly,the useless and the mundane. Sharing the skill with others widens the circle.I, too have started on a series of tea ceremony bags - thanks to you and Fujino.

    1. Hi Jean;
      Thank you for the comment. I was feeling a little sheepish for going on a "it's so ugly " rant. So many beautiful things in Japan. Small things that people make. Then an anonymous group (of men) just muck it up with dysfunctional architectural d**ks in the middle of the city. Back to textiles and small things.

  2. bryan, i so get this, even here, in a place of great beauty, there are those same men (and women, alas) trying to muck it all up, bring in another walmart, blah blah blah. each beautifully made bag, basket, page matters immensely.

  3. if this helps ugliness happens everywhere. but the remedy as velma says is concentrating in creating beauty around us.beauty is powerful and it spreads joy.

  4. What about a new project - guerilla indigo? How much gorgeous blue fabric do you think it would take to completely drape the Sky Tree?

  5. If you knew how much my staying in Fujino has influenced my sense of aesthetics and beauty, a truly step forward from my Italian cultural education: I see 'ugly' more easily and 'beautiful' less often.
    Those who can produce beauty are the blessed ones, the world would be a less pleasant place without people like you, that not only 'make' but also teach and explain.

  6. I think most people don't even realize that Japan is all hidden beauty. Unfortunately most people only get to see the urban bleakness, because they'd rather taste sweet than shibui. Bryan luckily you live in a small corner pocket of that sublime shibui.

  7. We were lucky to be surrounded by the beauty of Fujino

  8. When we visited the suburbs of Tokyo to do katazome dyeing with Noguchisan, there was definitely beauty there but hidden as you say. Japan for me is a country of juxtapositioning and contradiction always but I have been fortunate enough to see the true beauty offered by its people.