As part of the Super Japan festival going on at Esplanade, I signed up for a Japanese block printing workshop to make furoshiki (風呂敷).

Furoshiki (風呂敷) are a type of traditional Japanese wrapping cloth traditionally used to transport clothes, gifts, or other goods. Furoshiki began to be used in the middle of the Nara period, in traditional Japanese baths (Onsen). To prevent a mix up of the bathers' clothes, the removed clothing was tied up in Furoshiki. Later the system of folding spread and was used by traders to protect their goods or gifts. (Wikipedia)

It is interesting to note that the Japanese environment is encouraging its citizens to revive this part of culture in a bid to save the environment - to redirect people from the convenient yet plain plastic bag to something more sustainable and personalised. Though it does feel good (to some degree I suppose) to champion environmental protection with cutesy pieces of cloth which you can feel proud of! My lunches can now have more zhng yo.

We started off the session by going through some various ways to tie the cloth, and were given a sheet of paper of different styles of tying a furoshiki. Subsequently, we moved on to the main part of the show: making our stamps.

This involved the usage of tracing paper, pencils, simple prints provided, carving tools and many a lighter hand and grumbles of "aiyah shit I cut too deep!!". Nevertheless, it was a therapeutic experience; to sit there and while away time carefully grazing away at blue rubber with ongoing conversation of life matters with a friend - the stillness and predictability in motion, for me, was calming.

I chose a pattern with my liking for symmetry and "manly" designs, as I told Bobbie - thick lines with an understandable pattern, or vivid splashes of colour with organisation. Actually this pattern reminds me particularly of Jack Spade designs.

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Print, tracing paper and stamp.

Subsequently, after we were done with carving, it was time to print. Colours were given by the kind folks, and I chose shades of navy and turquoise. Really liked the colour pigmentation in particular - can't remember the brand though after I asked.

 

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Materials: Cloth, paints, foundation sponge and lovingly painstakingly carved stamp.

I wanted to make alternative rows of the pattern (boring hor). But the limited time resulted in a change of plans and so I ended up with...

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We are done, with smiles, and one step closer to becoming Japanese aunties!

Learning how to carve and print was a bit of a spark in my otherwise normal Sunday; I find that as a city girl, I'm more used to the sound of my fingers rustling past qwerty keys on a key board protector rather than to feel for fabrics and watch my nails get doused in navy from pressing down on stamps on fabric. It's always a pleasant moment to find that your hands have discovered something new about themselves today, and also the rush of simple excitement and joy following making and completing an otherwise unremarkable piece of work.

Otherwise, the fancy folks at Fictive Fingers did an awesome job with today's workshop - go check them out here (plus point: they are a pretty pair of siblings)

Sayonara minna-san!

 

Till then,
G