What is Irosashi 色挿し- We Love Kimono Project 10

Jizome 地染, the process of dyeing the kimono fabric with the base color, is done.  Fuse-nori has been also washed away, but Itome 糸目, the fine thread-like dye resist still intact on the fabric.  At this stage, the craftsman moves on the the next step: Irosashi色挿し.

Iro means colors.  Sashi means to apply.  In this process, the craftsman directly applies different colors on to the fabric.  Bordered by Itome, one color is not mixed with the neighboring color.  With the Medashi芽出し, the sample pattern of the matching obi beside him, the Yuzen craftsman decides which color to be applied where.

Depending upon the size of the area, s/he uses different sizes and shapes of the brush.  For creating gradation, s/he uses a flat tip brush.  Since this Islamic Flower design is so fine, the craftsman mainly uses brushes with pointed tip rather than flat tip.  


Once the Irosashi 色挿し is complete, the fabric is steamed, then is washed away with water again.  This time Itome is washed away together with excess dye.

Mamiya-san sent me a photo of the kimono fabric after the second washing is done.  With Itome also washed away, the lines where the Itome was applied are now white.

Medashi – sample pattern of obi
Yuzen pattern on kimono fabric

I placed the photo of the Medashi (left) and the one of the Yuzen pattern (right) next to each other.  The shape of the design and the color gradation is almost identical, but the outer circle is more prominent on the kimono fabric.  This subtle difference gives the eyes illusion that the two designs are somewhat different whereas harmony is still maintained. Very cool, Kosaka-san.  I like the way it turned out.

The dyeing process is over, but the Yuzen process is not complete yet, said Mamiya-san. Kosaka-san is planning to add some silver film and some embroidery on top of it.  Where on the design will he place silver?  Which part will he add embroidery, with which color?  I’m anxious to see but I have to wait a little more until the kimono is finally complete. 

By the way, did you notice that the kimono fabric has fine stripe across?  This fabric type is called 絽Ro.  After every odd number of weft, like 3, 5, or 7, two warp threads are crossed over, creating small gap between the weft.

The summer in Japan is hot and humid.  You want the fabric as airy as possible.  Ro is one of the solutions for keeping you cool.  Isn’t it cool?

The photo shows the work-in-progress of Kosaka-san applying 銀泥Gindei – silver mud.  It’s a paint made by mixing very fine pure silver power (99.99%) with glue.  For Yuzen, gold, silver, and other metal ultra-thin films or mud paints are used to add depth and contrast to the design. 

The craftsmen whose specialty is to apply gold and silver on Yuzen fabric seem to have obtained special eyesight.  Calculating how the light reflects on the design when worn, s/he knows exactly which part should be decorated with such shiny objects.  No manual for his/her work.  I doubt that Artificial Intelligence will ever take over his/her work.

Mamiya-san told me that this design on the photo is not the actual design that will show on my kimono.  When Kosaka-san dyed the kimono fabric, he drew the same design on the edge of the kimono fabric, which usually has some buffer in length.  Knowing this edge will be cut off not used when the kimono is finally sewn, Kosaka-san used this design on the edge to experiment colors. The final design shown on the kimono may be slightly different from this, said Mamiya-san.

Now I learned that Kosaka-san has his own version of Medashi.



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