Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Japanese Stencil Master In-House Study

Noguchi san is a 6th generation katazome master. His son Kazu is the 7th. I have known them for 17 years now. I could write volumes on my experiences at their studio. I bring my out-of-towners there and watch them levitate in cultural and textile heaven.

Although I have spent countless days over the years at Noguchi sans studio there are things I still haven't picked up. I decided to go formally study with them for a few weeks this August.  I am bringing along some friends so we can all pick up the minute details. Seven pairs of eyes are more effective than one.

Kim, Mini, Serge, Dillon, Harada kun, Aliki and myself.

There are recipes for making the rice resist paste in books and on the Internet. I've tried a few and they work. I've asked Noguchi san how he does it but was never quite sure of the minute details. He is teaching us how to do it. Not on the small scale I usually manage in my kitchen though. He measures out the sifted mochi rice powder and slaked lime and adds boiling water.

The quality and strength of the slaked lime changes over time. He was particularly concerned with this point. He has been making it for 65 years. It is hard for him to tell us all the nuances of the lime never mind the other thousand details he manages in the entire process.

He works with his wife in a well choreographed kneading ritual. Cutting the dough-like rice past in sections and exchanging them in effortless tosses to each other. 

The paste patties are now ready for the next step we will do today.

One of our projects will be to make a festival jacket. The scope of Japanese standardization left us all speechless at the end of a long day. Three ancient nails on the wall is all that is needed to measure out the material into lengths for sleeves and the body and to know where the stencils will be placed to line up on the back of the jacket. 

The fermentation indigo was in perfect condition in the sweltering summer heat.

Our resident hunky Dillon models the shirushibanten we will all make.

Aliki and Dillon align their stencils so the pattern matches seamlessly. 

There was enough information to write a book just on first day visit. It is hard to edit my excitement to write even a simple blog post. I will keep you posted over the next few weeks. 


  1. You are fully transmitting your excitement, believe me!

  2. How exciting. What a wonderful way to spend August before visiting Liechtenstein

  3. Loving this - your writing and photos, generous snippets into a true and beautiful authentic artistic/cultural lifestyle ... sounds an absolutely awesome and unique educational experience.
    Thankyou so much for sharing.

  4. That stencil with the leaves is so beautiful. Have some more inspiring days with your friends.

  5. what a marvelous opportunity to study with a master. very interested in what you learn about slaked lime, I've been wondering about it's viability while using it in my indigo vat. keep us posted, wish I was there.

  6. What a marvelous adventure! I will look forward to your next blog posts, and to trying katazome myself someday!

  7. Can't wait to read the next part!

  8. ohh i'd kill for the experience of making art mochi.
    keep those posts coming.

  9. Looks very interesting... I still don't understand what all that paste is for and why it's being put on a board in the next blog post, etc.