Monday, February 26, 2007

An Amazing Day!

Today was one of the most amazing days! Matthew made plans for us to visit Saori's home to see where and how she works. Her mother has her own business painting floral patterns on silk Kimono fabric for handbags. Saori said that after graduating from school, she left home to try out acting in Tokyo. After four years she missed her home, Kyoto, very much. She gained a new appreciation for the tradition and culture of Japan. So she desided to move back home and learn the craft of painting kimono fabrics (Yuzen). This Process is very difficult and time consuming, but very beautiful and special.

When we visited Saori's home, we were amazing by what we saw. There is an elborate set up for the fabric to hang on that allows easy access and movement. On one piece of fabric there are 16 bag patterns. The outline has been applied by a different worker by using a glue that acts as a resist. Saori and her mother paints the color on the fabric. But I make it sound like regular painting, but it's not. Imagine painting very small flowers with watercolor. Trying to have each leaf fade colors (from dark to light and from one hue to another) All before it dries, but keep in mind that you are working over a heater because the paint must dry with heat in order for it to become permanent. So you have to paint these tiny complicated flowers in under a minute.

Her mother also mixes all the paints from seven basic colors to make many Japanese traditional colors.

Musukashi- very difficult!

We were very impressed and took lots of pictures.

After the fabrics a finished being painted, they are sent to a worker that washed the fabrics, then to a worker that steams the fabrics and then to a person that sews the fabric, and I am sure I am missing some workers and some steps. It is a very long process in which every worker gives the most care and attention to each piece. Finally when the piece is done the bags are very expensive but each worker doesn't get paid very much. I began to understand that they continue to do the work because they believe in the purity and importance of the Japanese traditional crafts. These bags can be made in China for a lot cheaper and probably the close to the same quality. You can also buy bags that have been printed from a computer, but a Yuzen painter would be able to identify it as a computer copy. Where does this leave the Japanese Craft workers?

After this discussion Saori showed us the Kimonos that her mother designed and painted. They were so beautiful. The effort that attention that went into the fabric is very amazing. Her mother's prized Kimono is elegantly designed and painted. It is such a formal kimono, that to acquaire the appropriate obi (sash or belt) is very difficult.