• A design journey across time and five nations

      Wells, Kate; University of Derby (2019-09-19)
      ‘Itajime gasuri’: A design journey across time and five nations. A design journey of twenty years and five nations starting in Japan to Thailand then back again. This paper discuses a journey of the textile patterning technique itajime gasuri. How it evolved from an ancient craft/dyeing practice through digital intervention to a process reinvention, one that retains some of the qualities of original process but creates fabric designs suitable for the 21st century consumption. Across the World, the ancient fabric patterning technique of ‘board clamping’, has been constantly reinvented, but over the last few centuries its traditional use has declined to almost extinction. Known by different names depending upon the country of origin, the most common today is the Japanese term Itajime, but an older word Kyokechi is sometimes used and a variation Itajime gasuri, invented in 1837 is a patterning technique for yarn provided an ‘ikat’ effect design. But to the authors knowledge, by 1996, the technique, Itajime and Itajime gasuri are no longer employed commercially with the exception of the Japanese craftsman, Norio Koyama, who was the only remaining craftsperson in Japan to employ the traditional process of Itajime gasuri and Itajime in a commercial manner. In 1996, Norio Koyama made a gift of eight boards to the author, this much-prized gift has ensured that the knowledge of such an ancient technique continued to be developed as part of practice- based research into the 21st Century. As digital technologies evolved, these new technologies were investigated to find new methods of creating boards or reproducing the original fabrics produced that retained the qualities of original pieces but could be replicated. Initially through digital copies of the original designs; the exploration of CAD/CAM production techniques for new boards to finally a collaboration with ‘Turnbull Prints’ in Thailand, who collaborated in digitizing an original dyed Itajime fabric and digitally printing a warp which when woven produced a new hybrid fabric that reflects the qualities of the original Itajime gasuri technique. The excitement occurs when a process initially invented in 1837 to copy and increase production of the labor-intensive textile resist dyeing technique Ikat can be once again employed to create designs that if digitally printed onto a warp will, once woven, produce a ‘Ikat’ effect: A complete cycle of creativity and innovation created and over 20 years later, a piece of this fabric was returned as a gift to Norio Koyama in Japan to complete the collaboration cycle and say Thank you.