“The joy and sincerity of natural dyeing is beyond words.”
Located in Fukuoka, Takarajima Senkou is a dyeing workshop founded by Chiharu Ogomori in 2001. The workshop prides itself for adopting traditional hand-dyeing methods and only using dyes that are made from natural materials such as leaves, flowers, roots, tree trunks, fruits, mud, charcoal, tea, coffee, seaweed, etc. “Natural dyeing is the wisdom distilled from the daily.” As a matter of fact, nature’s finest is always out there, waiting to be found, cherished, and made use of.
Takarajima Senkou specialises in Shibori (tie-dye). It is done by tying the fabric with threads or by folding and then binding it by plates, and then sealing it with wax before dyeing in order to prevent the dye from reaching those parts of the fabric. The longer the fabric is soaked in the dyeing liquid, the darker color it will get. Yet, such color will change as the dyed fabric dries in the air. From light pink and pale yellow, to green, and eventually blue, the transformation of color mimics the perpetual transition of seasons. One will be amazed by the dedication and precision required to hand-dye a fabric — it requires years of experiences to get the exact same color every time.
“They are not art pieces, but products. They are clothes that are priced and designed for everyday life. I want more people to buy them.” Ogomori strives to make clothes that can be worn by people of all sizes, ages, and gender at any occasions. She believes that the design and cutting of clothes should stay the same over time because it will help the customers to easily find a replacement when their clothes are completely worn out. In terms of materials, Ogomori opts for cotton and linen mostly as she believes that they are comfortable, durable, and can be re-colored after the dye fades. It’s interesting to note that Ogomori’s products look completely different when they are on display and wear on the body. To preserve the tradition of natural dyeing, it is essential to make dyed products a part of everyday life. In fact, long before the introduction of chemical dyes, the use of natural dye was nothing but common. For example, indigo, which has the medicinal properties of insect-repellent, deodorization, and sterilization, has been treasured by Japanese people since ancient times and was especially popular amongst the lower class in feudal Japan.
Natural dyeing is similar to making a hearty soup — every step and every ingredient counts. One can easily see wonders in each and every piece of the dyed work for it is a reflection of impeccable craftsmanship and nature’s beauty.