Suminigashi- Ancient Japanese Art

Suminigashi- Ancient Japanese Art

When Colleen took the photo of our newest knit fabric, she told me that she thought she knew how the print had been created.  I invited her to write a guest blog. …Thanks Colleen!

The recent arrival of a printed fabric at the warehouse door took me back to many years ago, the 80’s if my memory serves me correctly, when I took a day class at our local art museum on paper marbleizing. It was such an unusual technique of getting ink on paper (or it can be done with silk) with such stunning results that I never forgot it.

I remembered the process involved a water bath in which eyedroppers of different colors of ink were randomly applied to the surface. The inks floated on top of the water in their separate circles of color. The colors did not automatically mix together.  Then an implement like a knife or skewer, was gently and slowly drawn through the floating inks on the waters surface.  This swirled the colors into beautiful one-of-a-kind patterns. Lastly, a sheet of paper was gently placed on the surface in a roll-on, roll-off motion, so as to minimally disturb the inks.  This transferred the pattern to the paper. The paper was then left to dry.

The finished papers could then be cut and used as blotter edge covers, pencil holder covers, or the edges sheets of paper could be marbleized to make personalized stationary. This was the time before personal computers remember, when people had formal desk set-ups. I, of course, was thinking what cool scarves and such you could make!

So again, when the swirly knit came in, it brought me back to that fun day at the museum. I looked up the technique on the web and found that is called suminagashi. It originated in Japan in the 12th century and means floating inks.  There are instructions on how to do the technique on ABSOLUTEARTS Blog, eHow, and a step by step pictorial on the DIY Network site, just to name a few I came across. I found differences in the ingredients and techniques in each one as well as varying suggestions on how to achieve better results. There are also crafting kits available like Magic Dip if you want to go that route.

We think this fabric was created by using this technique on a paper medium and then transfering to the knit fabric by a print technique.  Whatever the technique, the result is stunning!

See the fabric at Suminigashi.

4 Responses to “Suminigashi- Ancient Japanese Art”

  1. Priscilla Claus

    2009-01-30T10:52:00+00:00

    Hi Barb!
    I have some questions on the recent e-mail swatches. What does the fiber Cotton/Lenpur mean? And why is it eco-friendly? I never heard of that content before.
    Thanks.
    Priscilla

  2. Priscilla Claus

    2009-01-30T05:52:28+00:00

    Hi Barb!
    I have some questions on the recent e-mail swatches. What does the fiber Cotton/Lenpur mean? And why is it eco-friendly? I never heard of that content before.
    Thanks.
    Priscilla

  3. Ancient Japanese

    2009-04-26T10:09:00+00:00

    Wow, that pattern is cool. I am somewhat familiar with Japanese fabrics, both ancient and modern, but don’t recall having seen that. Nice write up btw!

  4. Ancient Japanese

    2009-04-26T06:09:28+00:00

    Wow, that pattern is cool. I am somewhat familiar with Japanese fabrics, both ancient and modern, but don’t recall having seen that. Nice write up btw!

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