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Kusaki Kobo, Dr Kasuki Yamazaki

Part 2 of a 3 parts training trip to Japan by Tinctoria

Dr Kasuki Yamazaki is a natural dye Professor at the Art and Design University in Yamagata. He has dedicated his life to the research and teaching of ancient Japan’s traditional colour aesthetics and dye techniques.

This was a four days intensive training, where we unlearned just about everything we new about mordants to learn Kusakizome – or natural dyes the traditional Japanese way – with Kasukisan, his son Hirokisan and the magical team of fairies who made this very dense class possible in such a short time frame.

We used the plants which have been part of Japan’s elite clothing for centuries. Thanks to Kasukisan’s in depth knowledge of both practise, botanic and chemistry, we where able to get a peak into the Japanese way of dyeing silk and ramie, as well as into his extensive research. Figuring out the densely covered teaching board with Japanese and French translations was quite an experience!!

A row of silk scarves dyed in traditional colours

While pretty disconcerting, the techniques we learned absolutely had the woo factor in terms of colour reveal and colour changes with pH adjustments. Although the biochemistry behind it was very thoroughly explained, seeing that much colour-change had something of a magic trick and felt very much out of a fairy tale.

Coming back home, I can’t wait to try those “new” technique with our European plants. I know for a fact that I will be banging my head against the walls for a while before I get reliable results, but isn’t that the whole idea behind this job 😉

Again, admirable photography by Nobuki KAWAHARAZAKI

We also learned the direct application of pigments on cotton, a technique called Surizome. A truly unforgettable course, which I was very sad to leave

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