Day 7: Textiles

Today we had three meetings with various affiliates of the Tatsumura Textile Company. We first met with the future successor of Tatsumura Co. Tatsumura Amane. He is praised within the company for his work towards increasing the functionality of Nishiki weaving However today he spoke to us more about the history and the techniques that Tatsumura Co. employs. Cassidy and I originally thought that we were going to be meeting with the head of all operations that the company works but in actuality, the company is split up into multiple branches that are in charge of different aspects of the company’s procedures. Amane’s branch of the company does not deal in mass production for train and plane seat covers, but the more fine, detailed, and elaborate pieces like kimono, obi, and theater screens.

I was particularly impressed by one of the textiles hanging on the wall as we walked in. It had a dark background, with gold sprinkled, seemingly randomly, around the edges. But then he shined a flashlight on it and the gold began to sparkle brightly, allowing us to see the true picture, an extravagant dragon, spread across the textile. The part that surprised me about the textile was the lack of flare without the addition of light. This theme, light as a catalyst for hidden beauty, is pervasive throughout the various artworks. The artwork that most overtly embodies this concept is the rainbow colored textile, designed to emulate every color refracted in light. Once again, when he shined the light on the textile, it seemed much more vibrant and alive.

We then went down stairs to learn how to work the loom. I have deeeeeeep respect for the weavers. They can send these shuttles through so smoothly. It is NOT as easy as they make it look. It was actually a really nice experience though. Once my arms got over the pain of being held up constantly, the preciseness of the loom movements in concert with my body was somewhat meditative.

We left there and went to a textile design factory. Here we spoke to a manager who explained the different types of fabric and how they are made. It was very technical and informative on the process of the looms and the jacquard function but i did not get a chance to ask more about the modern designs versus the old school.

We left there and went to the dying facility. This was a pretty straightforward visit in which they explained the dying and drying processes involved with filling order for dyed silk. They dye silk by using a sample provided by the customer as an objective color. They use that model color as a reference point and dye and re-dye the silk until it is as close to the target color as possible. We watched him do this and I am convinced that he has an ability to see subtle differences in color that i simply can not see because he died 8 or 9 times before it was the right color but it looked correct to me after the 2nd dye. I wonder if the affinity for color recognition was a trait he possessed before he began dying silk or if it developed over the years. Either way, I’d like to see what he could do in a more artistic form as a painter or something of the sort.

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