Reflections on teaching katazome

This past week I taught an overview of katazome at the Textile Center of Minnesota, introducing a group of eight students to the process, with a focus on hands-on experiences with the raw materials. Over Thursday evening and Saturday (9 hours in all), we pasted stencils, made two kinds of rice paste, made soy milk, and painted with natural pigments. I did a soy sizing demo (in a slip of the tongue I made up the word “soysing”). There was much preparation on my part, including pre-sizing fabric, and cooking up a batch of paste for the first evening. As planned, I brought a selection of my own stencils to practice pasting (no time to create them in this short time period). The lively and innovative group enjoyed playing with rice paste on both fabric and paper — squeegeed the rice paste through thermofax screens and rolled it onto linocut stamps. We also made a batch of rice paste resist using a Japanese rice bran available locally at United Noodle in Minneapolis. I was really energized by the experience! I’ve posted many photos from the class on my silver minnow facebook page.
A few photos:

The photo above compares two kinds of rice paste resist. The dry rice bran from the local source was more coarse, as was the finished paste (the one on the left). Perhaps one could try sifting it through a fine mesh sieve.


Each student brought a frame, but pasted more fabric than could be stretched, so we used the wall and push pins to stabilize the extra work while the paste dried.


I bought a limited palette of 6 natural pigments. This was still plenty to get lots of color!

A lot of things had to happen simultaneously to pack so much into nine hours. I look forward to teaching again, next time incorporating stencil design and cutting, and perhaps stretching the course across several consecutive weekends.

2011 Lunar Calendar giveaway: katazome on kozo

I rinsed my 2011 lunar calendar today. Not-hurrying gave the colors a chance to cure. Not hurrying is always a wise approach.
To rinse these, I floated them in  shallow water in the bathtub, front-side down (just 2 at a time). After about an hour, I drained the water, and then gently placed them face-up in the tub. I poured water from a pitcher over the top surface to rinse all the rice paste residue away. I did not touch the paper with anything other than the water. Finally, I placed them face-up on a towel to air-dry. The operative word here is GENTLY.

Here are the results:

Below is a close-up of the bottom portion (a wee bit darker image). The ampersand in July is my way of calling attention to the extra NEW moon that month (formerly I said blue, I meant NEW.)


Layers explained:

  1. Paper: handmade Japanese Hosokawa kozo, from Wet Paint Art in St. Paul. Final size of print: approx. 9×22″
  2. Rice paste for the letters, numbers and moon grid – one stencil.
  3. Light blue for the background (e.g. behind the rabbit). Colors consist of watercolor paints thinned with soy milk, rolled on a gelatin plate and transferred to the paper by placing the paper on top of the plate, and gently rubbing with my hand to ensure contact.
  4. Rice paste for the image of the rabbit.
  5. Three more layers of dark blue.
  6. Some hand painted highlights.
  7. Layer of burnt sienna on rabbit, from a cutaway of the original gelatin plate.
  8. Two gentle mistings of soy milk, drying in between (not sure this was necessary).

To enter the giveaway, please post a comment below, consisting of three words or phrases that best express your intentions for the new year. I will choose one winner at noon CST on Valentine’s Day and add a comment to congratulate the winner. The rest of the prints (9 of them) will be added to my shop over the weekend.

Here are my three for year of the rabbit: take notice, explore playfully, loosen my grip …

Good luck!

Lunar calendar print part 3: still playing

I decided to add one more layer, a burnt sienna, over the rabbit portion of the calendar image. To do this, I placed my rabbit stencil under the glass and cut away the gelatin plate. I inked the remaining part, and lined up the print with a couple of strategically placed pieces of masking tape. No need for super-accurate registration — this is a very soft-edged process.


I still wonder if the paint will wash off the paper along with the rice paste resist. After curing it for several days, a bit of blue rubbed off on my damp finger, so I decided to mist it with soy milk, let it dry, then mist it again.  I will wait three days and wash it out on Wednesday Feb. 9.