The January guest speaker was Rod Byatt.
The first international braiding conference was held over five days last November at Kyoto Institute of Technology, Kyoto. It attracted 120 participants from Japan and ten other countries. The next conference will be held in the UK in 2012.
Proceedings have been published and they provide an excellent snapshot of contemporary braiding world-wide. The strongest focus was on Japanese braiding including loop-manipulated braids, but Peruvian braids, Canadian Assumption sashes and Hmong braiding from China were all treated comprehensively. The entire conference was run on a voluntary basis and included practical workshops on marudai, takadai and karakumidai equipment.
An exhibition featured top-quality work and participants gained exclusive entry to private studios, factories and retail outlets. More information at www.kumihimoconf.org.
Rod discussed a wide range Japanese textiles and garments, describing briefly the many techniques and traditions perfected over the centuries. He covered fibres and spinning (hemp, paper, ramie, banana, elm, wisteria and other bast fibres prominent in country textiles and silk and cotton in city textiles); weaving (plain, twill and gauze including shima, komon, shifu, nishiki brocade, Saga Nishiki, nishijin-ori, zanshi and sakiori ragweaving); dyeing (indigo, persimmon kakushibu, shibori, kasuri); printed fabrics (paper stencils and katazome, rice-paste resist yuzen, sarasa Indian chintz) and needlework (sashiko, kogin, temari, shishu).
He had on show examples of city and country textiles, mens’ and womens’ garments including kimono, obi, aprons and jackets. Some examples showed how different textile techniques were combined in the one piece (background shibori dyeing with yuzen stencilled pattern plus metallic embroidery highlights) as well as how fabrics were constantly recycled, from kimono to quilted patchwork to rags ending up as temari thread balls and zanshi weaving using recycled thread.