photo Yuzen-zome


Yuzen-zome is one of Japan's best-known traditional dyeing processes. It involves drawing designs on white fabric with paste and dyeing it multiple colors. After the fabric has been cut into a kimono shape, an underpainting is drawn in a dye called aobana-eki (blue flower liquid) that washes out without leaving a trace. Thread paste is then applied over the lines of the underpainting, creating masked-off lines that prevent color from mixing. Then, the areas of color are filled in. Finally the paste is washed out. In the style known as itome-yuzen it leaves fine white lines where it had been, while in sekidashi-yuzen the entirety of the fabric is dyed so that no white lines remain.


Facts about yuzen-zome

In itome-yuzen, the fixative used to create resists (lines that are not dyed) is called itome-nori (thread paste), and is made from the flour of glutinous rice and ordinary rice.

Did you know?

When the paste is washed out of the fabric, it leaves behind white lines that make the design stand out crisply.


How to dye fabric with yuzen-zome

  1. (1) Draw an underpainting with aobana-eki (blue flower liquid) dye, and apply thread-like paste on top
  2. (2) Once the paste has dried, apply color to create the design, and steam the fabric to make the color take hold
  3. (3) Apply more paste on top of design, and areas you want to leave white, to mask them, then dye fabric with background color
  4. (4) Steam the fabric to make the color take hold. Wash it, and you're done!
  • "What Are Traditional Crafts? -A Guidebook to Seeing, Learning, and Enjoying-" Edited by the Japan Kogei Association Eastern Branch. Published by Unsodo / List of works English translation: Kazuko Todate (Art critic / Art historian)


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