Two years ago during my trip to Japan I had the great pleasure to meet and get to know a very talented girl. She did not only take a complete stranger into her home she also showed me the most secret treasures of Tokyo. Hiroko makes the most beautiful hand dyed garments with traditional japanese hand dying technique. And as with most creative people from Japan I always remain refreshingly impressed about the spiritual way they put their mind and soul into what they do. Be sure to check out her ETSY SHOP HiRoKoJapan and Website.
Here’s a short interview where she explains a few things about her works.
1. Could you tell me a little about how you started out with your products?
I love Kimono. When I was a Fashion college student I started to see our traditional Kimono and its craftsmen in decline as a problem and wanted to enhance this beautiful art.
While working as a packaging designer of mass-products, I felt guilty for producing wastes and It went against an ecological lifestyle. I loved to have a creative job, so I turned to crafts like natural dyeing and Japanese traditional paste-resist stencil dyeing. I would love to share the idea and introduce our culture and these eco-friendly items to people worldwide.
2. what kind of technique do you use and what’s so special about it?
I use KUSAKI-zome (e. natural dye/ vegetable dye/ herb dye) which means I only hand dye with natural dyes such as leaf, vegetable, flower…etc
Katazome (Kata: stencil, zome: dyeing in Japanese)
This is a Japanese method of dyeing fabrics using a resist paste applied through a stencil and it’s unique in the world.
You prepare a stencil, which consists in carving a hand made mulberry paper smoked by persimmon liquid. You then apply resist paste made made of rice and rice powder to a fabric or a paper through the stencil paper.
You then clean out the paste resist after the dye or pigment dried so the stencil part stays in white as fabric color.
Nowadays we are used to see chemical or synthetic colored products. But before late 19c, we only used natural-color. It has become a special technique now but it was not special back then.
By the way did you know Japanese Katagami (stencil for Katazome) was one of the influential arts to the Art Nouveau in the end of 19c?
3. Where does your inspiration come from?
I believe that my inspiration comes from nature. And as one of media, nature gives us their message through me. For each leaf, each plant, each herb…gives my textiles a rich, subtle, and natural color that is one-of-a-kind.
100% natural-color scarves and traditional Japanese stencil dyeing items fused with my contemporary taste. All the materials I use (ex: natural fabrics, hand-crafted papers and wooden panels) are carefully chosen textures made in Japan!