Day Two – Layer upon layer.

Our focus on Thursday was looking at the successive layering that happens in many sorts of upper garments.

From the foundation weave which contains the base layer and color and defines the drape and form (potentially containing repetitive patterns) to the overall design layout – the focus of the discussion centered primarily on stenciling and the application of thin layers of gold to the upper surface.

Monica gave a demonstration of stenciling showing the various techniques: laying a positive object down and applying dye on and around it leaving negative space once the object has been removed, standard stenciling wherein dye is forced through a cut-out and finally resist stenciling (where glue or sizing would be applied through a cut-out and then allowed to dry, dye applied, and then the water soluble glue washed away resulting in negative space.)

A number of different traditional stylized patterns useful for stenciling were introduced: pine bark, snake skin, lightning, circular forms, waves, running water. Many of these patterns are seen in other aspects of Japanese design and the class was familiar with many of them; it was interesting to be informed about what these abstract shapes represent.

Near the end of the day we paid a visit to Noguchi Takuro’s home. After introductions and a welcome of tea and cookies Nogouchi-san showed us the way that the paper backed gold are made that are woven in the base layer of costumes. A paper backing has lacquer evenly applied to it and then gold foil added, and then cut up into the successive strips that will be used as wefts in the fabric.

Noguchi Takuro.

The very thin strips of paper-backed gold destined to be woven into fabric.

Noguchi-san followed in his Father’s footsteps by taking on the family business. The home was stately and in a very traditional style. At one point they manufactured gold wrapped thread (which is in essence the thin paper backed strips wrapped around a silk thread core), but they no longer make it as a result of the reduction in demand.

Gold and silver thread.

The discussion was congenial, and Nogochi-san was a consummate host. Friday’s discussion will focus on embroidery, and a visit to Yano’s to see embroidery and conservation work.

Noguchi Takuro’s back garden.

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About Theatre Nohgaku

Noh, one of the oldest continuing stage arts, combines highly stylized dance, chant, music, mask and costume with intense inner concentration and physical discipline, creating a uniquely powerful theatrical experience. Theatre Nohgaku’s mission is to share noh’s beauty and power with English speaking audiences and performers. We have found that this traditional form retains its dramatic effectiveness in languages other than Japanese. We believe noh techniques hold a powerful means of expression in the context of contemporary English language theatre.
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