Futaba-en is a working studio and museum specializing in Edo komon and Edo sarasa dyeing techniques. It’s located in the Ochiai area of Tokyo where the Kanda and Myoshoji Rivers come together. During the Meiji period, many dyers and merchants selling dyed goods migrated to this area because of the flowing water. Water is integral to the dyeing process. The river is just outside the Futaba-en studio doors (below left).
Brushes line the walls inside the studio (below right) and bowls of dye are being used (above left and right).
We are here today to learn about the Edo sarasa technique. As many as thirty, and sometimes more, stencils are cut and used to create the elaborate designs. Our instructor informs us that we will only work with twelve stencils today, but even that seems like quite a few. We begin by placing the first stencil onto the fabric and matching a triangle and diamond shape in each corner. This ensures that all the stencils line up correctly. A wide circular brush made of deer hair (left) is used to lightly apply the dye color onto the stencil (above right). After the desirable amount of saturation is achieved, the stencil is lifted off and the next stencil is put in place (below right). The process continues and the dye colors begin to layer over each other, creating the colorful patterns.
Detail of my finished sarasa dyed pattern.