Noguchi san, the katazome master living a few stations from me, paste resists both sides of his yukata material and then brushes on a sizing of soot and soy milk. The finished kimono has a more sophisticated blue colour than just a plain indigo dip. He also dyes the happi coats for festivals and festival banners using this dyeing technique.
We have been playing with soy milk soot dye and getting excited about the possibilities at home but I wasn't sure of how to get the pure black colour. Today, Julie, Karin, Luisa, Liza, Serge and I made the pilgrimage to Noguchi sans magical time-slipped studio and had the master show us how he makes the blackest black for the kanji lettering on festival coats. It was a dream-like experience as always.
He soaked the soy beans in water the night before. For the initial sizing of the black, the soy beans were lightly smushed in the serated-sided mortar with a wood pestal. A cup of water was added to the mash and again lightly stirred.
We brought along some white antique linen and had Noguchi san's son Kazu paint some kanji on for us. Kazu is the seventh generation stencil dyer. He had a son early this year. I hope he will be the eighth generation.
When the ink had dried on the cloth we outlined it with rice paste and let it dry while we had lunch.