24 Jan 2018 in So Design
Discover the secret to creating sumptuous kimono designs: the intricate art of Kyo-yuzen!
Some are plain black, others feature modest stripes – but the most elaborate Japanese kimonos are objects of absolute beauty, hand-painted and dyed using a centuries-old technique known as Kyo-yuzen.
So, how does a designer go about creating a Kyo-yuzen kimono? By investing lots of time! The method involves multiple steps, but the key to the process is a rice-paste coating known as itomenori that gives Kyo-yuzen designs their characteristic white outline.
The first step is to draw the design on the fabric in a washable ink called aobana-eki. Next, fine lines of itomenori paste are applied to the outline of the design.
Once the paste has dried, coloured dyes can be painted onto the design, with the itomenori acting as a barrier to maintain each dye in its place and prevent colours from mixing.
Finally, the cloth is steamed to fix the colour and then rinsed. It’s during this step that the itomenori washes away, leaving striking white outlines where it once stood.
Given the painstaking method, it’s no surprise that Kyo-yuzen designers are highly-respected artists and their hand-designed kimonos can fetch thousands of dollars.
Like to see kimono artisans at work?
Head to Kyoto, where the method originated, and visit a Kyo-yuzen workshop.