Review - Beyond Tradition

by - Saturday, September 06, 2014

Diana Sanderson of the Silk Weaving Studio
introducing the evening.

On Thursday Sept 4, Professor Masayoshi Ohashi took the audience through an incredible survey of the textile artisans who preceded him and talked about how their influences shaped his own formidable body of work. With a mixture of humour and wit, Ohashi introduced provocative new ways to think about dyeing. For example, he became fascinated with the gradations formed when cloth is dipped into indigo. If the cloth is not fully immersed, the colour creeps up the cloth as the water soaks the fabric.

Professor Masayoshi Ohashi

Ohashi considered this moment and perceived it as a line - a border that marks the region where the water has traveled and which separates it from the regions where the water chose not to go. It became the basis for a body of work called "Water Carries Colour" some of which will be on exhibit at the Silk Weaving Studio between September 5 and 26, 2014.

Even those familiar with the traditional clamp resist technique (known in Japan as itajime) were astounded with the possible variations that Professor Ohashi presented. One variation on itajime involves cutting a space out of the resist block. In the past this technique was refined to the point where up to 40 individual blocks (each about 12 x 16 inches) were carved to create either repeating imagery or figurative work. Through his own research Ohashi determined that historic blocks were made from a very particular type of pine tree. He was able to locate a stand and in his words he "purchased a tree." The image below shows the itajime boards that he created from this tree and the resulting print. He also exhibited historic boards that were used in Japan during the Edo period. It was the first time that these rare objects have left Japan. 

Itajime boards are used in a manner which is the exact opposite of blockprinting. The higher areas do not carry colour, rather they create a physical resist. The dye pools into the "rooms" that have been carved out and contacts the cloth in these open spaces.

Carved itajime boards and the resulting print.

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