John’s Art – Pick of the Week: Hanging Garden BR-190
In my blog post Sparrows and Bamboo I discuss using Mdm. Hayashi’s stencils during my studies in Japan. I’d like to follow up on that comment by sharing with you one of my garments in which I used a stencil carved by my teacher, Matsuyo Hayashi, and inherited by me after her death.
The stencil is of a very old and traditional Okinawan bingata image depicting pheasants in flight and peonies in a fanciful arrangement. Perhaps you’ve even come across this image yourself in your research. To the left I’m including a copy of the image she used to inspire her variation.
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For my piece I have chosen to use a hand-woven Chinese silk with a heavy slub. After first dyeing the fabric a silver-grey, I stretched the yardage in the traditional manner using traditional harite and shinshi. Soymilk sizing was applied, the paste pushed through the stencils carved by Mdm. Hayashi, and the natural pigments applied one at a time to build up the rich variations in color. Six months after I started, the water-based paste was rinsed from the fabric exposing the intricate design.
Traditional Okinawan Bingata
Detail showing weave structure and the clarity of the pasted lines.
Most of the silhouettes I produce for my garments have very simple lines to show off the fabric. In this case in particular I wanted to highlight the layout of the imagery.
Detail of back showing
pheasant in flight.
copyright John Marshall, 1998
This is the haori that found its way to me after so many years.
When it finally arrived in my studio I wasted no time placing the treasured stencil over the dyed image and…it was a perfect fit! It must have been dyed using my stencil, or one that was carved at the same time by the same artist. I was ecstatic!

This is how my life seems to go – in series of recurrences, on going reminders of kindnesses received.