roketsuzome is traditional japanese wax resist dying, a batik process. my mom and i did a class at the yamamoto roketsuzome studio in kyoto. they are very relaxed, and used to foreigners. they have lots of info on their website, and the whole experience is set up for you to take a nice handmade souvenir home. they have tons of designs to choose from (you can draw your own too) and you can transfer them to many different cloth articles: T shirts, handkerchiefs, scarves, etc. my mom and i both chose to do japanese noren curtains (the kind you hang in front of a shop in japan). mom's finished work is at the top of this post: irises and maple leaves.
mine are bamboo, which you will see a little later.
the inside of the studio, with the master working on an intricate design. the fabric hanging above is kimono fabric, which is dyed with this process using rollers.
the studio has a number of these desks, basically a pair of light tables with a wax heater pot in between them. example works are hanging all around.
the rollers used to dye kimonos.
these are the machines that apply wax with the rollers. each kimono fabric is 12 meters long, and is run through these machines. most of the work visible in the studio is not this rolled kimono fabric, but rather the hand painted wax designs.
the beginning of my design. the paper pattern goes on the light table, under a piece of waxed paper. then the fabric. then you apply wax with a brush.
the grandma instructor (and my mom!). she gave my mom a lot of pointers, and was not at all bothered by the fact they didn't have a language in common. i asked her how long she had been doing this, and she said: "forever. ever since i got married." their website says the studio has been in business for 50 years. so that's a lot of experience!
the brushes are dipped in the hot wax, wiped off on the edge rack, and wax should be applied right away to the fabric.
the dye kitchen. the fabric is going in the indigo vat. this is commercial indigo, different from the plant dye mentioned in previous posts. so the square metal vat is indigo, and the plastic bucket on the floor has water for rinsing. on the stove are the pots of boiling water (to melt the wax off the fabric) and soapy water (to get rid of the wax).
the fabric is circulated in and out of the vat for about 20 minutes
and hung to dry. at this point, the dyed cloth looks almost black (it will become dark blue after it's washed out and dries). the yellow wax is still on the cloth.
melting the wax
after the wax is melted off, the white fabric is visible, but the cloth is still darker because it's wet. next we ironed the fabric, which was basically to dry it faster and press the wrinkles.