material research

Japanese Textile Arts

Project Scope

exploring cultural heritage


This project stems from my fascination with Japanese culture and crafts. The project covers the process of dyeing with natural indigo, different Shibori dyeing techniques, dyeing & weaving with Kasuri yarn, and creating patterns by applying Sashiko stitching.

Techniques like Shibori and Sashiko stem from the Japanese Edo period (1603-1868). It was a sustainable and self-sufficient society, based on the principles of complete utilisation of finite resources.

By experimenting with different folding & clamping (Itajime) and stitching (Nui) shibori methods I made several patterns. I made a dye bath of natural indigo, by adding fructose, calcium hydroxide and water. The dye bath is completely biodegradable and reusable. It can also be stored and preserved for years.

Shibori is a generic term for myriad Japanese pattern and dyeing methods using clamping, folding, stitching and binding. These methods prevent parts of the fabric from colouring blue, which creates patterns that are hard to replicate. Tight tied fabrics result in strong and clean lines and loose tied fabric in fluid lines.
Sashiko (literally “little stabs”) is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching or functional embroidery. The white cotton stitches the size of rice grains on the traditional indigo blue cloth gives Sashiko its distinctive appearance. The hemp leaf pattern (Asa no Ha) was known for its rapid growth and strength. It was believed to bring good fortune to the wearer.
Kasuri (ikat technique) is fabric that has been woven with fibres dyed specifically to create patterns and images in the fabric. The nature of ikat is that the design looks blurred, hence the name kasuri, which derives from the verb kasuru (to write something in a blurry or scratchy manner). Kasuri can be ikat of both the weft and the warp. The threads can be a solid colour or resist-dyed, and the weft thread is resist-dyed in a specific pattern dyed with indigo to form a pattern when the cloth is woven.

Japanese Textile Trip

exploring Yamanashi prefecture

In 2018 I visited Japan for the first time after years of anticipation. In March of 2020, I went back for the second time and travelled to Yamanashi prefecture, home to Mount Fuji and an important textile region with an over 400-year-old textile heritage.

Tetsuya Igarashi, a Senior Researcher from the Yamanashi Industrial Technology Center was so kind to show us around several textile factories and designers. You can read the full travelogue on the blog.

Kurume Kasuri

a series of webinars

Together with the Dutch Center of Culture and Development (CCD-NL) and Japanese weaver Shimogawa Orimono from Kurume we hosted the 2021 webinar series Yesterday, Today, & Tomorrow’s Kasuri, in which each episode takes you further into the world of this traditional Japanese textile art.

Part 1 of the series, The Historical Journey of Japanese Kasuri, focuses on the origins of Kasuri and the geographical characteristics of the textiles as well as highlighting the cultural connections between the Netherlands and Japan made through Kasuri.

The 2nd webinar, Maintaining Tradition in a Transitory World, illustrates the foreign ties that Kasuri and other textile practices retain. Most importantly, it emphasizes how Japanese and Dutch artisans can work together.

The last webinar, Sharing Kasuri’s Tomorrow, discusses the future of Kasuri. This diverse webinar highlights how the cultural ties and understanding between the Netherlands and Japan can help with Kasuri’s preservation.


Textile Design
Laura Luchtman, Kukka

Indigo Dye Recipe

Collaborating Partners
Carolien van Tilburg, Embassy of The Netherlands, Tokyo
Bas Valckx, Embassy of The Netherlands, Tokyo
Kaori Ieyasu, Trend Union
Tetsuya Igarashi, Yamanashi Industrial Technology Center
Center for Culture and Development (CCD-NL)
Shimogawa Orimono

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