Once the 糸目置Itome-oki is complete, that area is covered with 伏糊Fuse-nori. Fuse-nori is a mixture of sticky rice, rice bran, and salt with water, making the texture of thick paste. By applying Fuse Nori evenly and sprinkling saw dust on Fuse-nori, the covered area is left intact when dying the fabric with the base color.
The next step is to dye the fabric with the base color. 地染Jizome, it’s called. Mamiya-san chose bright wisteria color for me.
The standard length of a kimono fabric is about 12 meters or 40 feet. The craftsman first clamps both ends of the fabric and hangs it across. A very long room is needed for this process. Then s/he places bamboo sticks in an arch shape across the short side of the fabric, so that the tension of the sticks keeps the fabric straight. About 200 sticks are used. Once the fabric is hung long with its surface stretched flat, it’s ready for the craftsman to spread the dye.
Using a flat brush, the craftsman swiftly spreads the dye so that the color is even all through the fabric. Mamiya-san’s design has the river-like flow. The craftsman applies暈しBokashi technique to shade off the wisteria color at the border. Both spreading the dye evenly and shading off the color gradually require high skills.
The craftsman spreads the dye not only on the front side but also on the back side. On the back side you can see the bamboo sticks spreading the fabric.
Once the basic color is applied, the fabric is left until it dries. Then the fabric is folded loosely and put into a small enclosure where the fabric is steamed in high temperature for 20 to 50 minutes. The darker the color, the longer it takes. Steaming helps the color of the dye seep into the thread of the fabric.
After steaming, it’s time to wash away the excessive dye as well as Fuse-nori. Washing the fabric used to be widely seen in Kamo River and other rivers that run through Kyoto. Contamination of the river water, however, became a major concern. In 1971 washing out the kimono fabric on the river water was completely banned. Yuzen makers had to create an alternative method.
The photo above shows how the washing out process is carried out today. Kyoto has abundant underground water, and these days the water is pumped through the well into the indoor pool. The water used to wash out the kimono fabric is treated before it flows back to the wastewater system.