Direct Fresh-Leaf Rubbings – Surizome 摺染め

Surizome (rubbed) Kimono

As young boys, my brother, Billy, and I played with a set of plastic King Arthur “army men” with flat knights, flat castles, flat horses, and flat trees–very simply stamped plastic with none of the three-dimensional qualities that came later in toys such as these. When preparing to do some fresh-leaf indigo rubs, I so wished I had held on to the trees to use in printing–then I stumbled upon the kimono below…

White silk rinzu (jacquard) kimono from John’s collection, with rubbed design of trees

Just what I was imagining I would like to try!

Detail of rubbed trees

While preparing the above for this blog, I got to wondering what else might work, and I came up with these–

Plastic aquarium fish and coral I found on line – all are flat and easy to rearrange

I can’t wait until my fresh crop of indigo is in this summer to try out an aquatic scene! Maybe it will look something like this–

Computer simulated fresh-leaf, tadeai-indigo rub using plastic aquarium toys

Following along with this idea, let’s take a look at this close-up of another kimono in my collection…

Relief rubbing on Japanese tsumugi (spun, raw silk)

I find this most intriguing in its approach to design–very simple and traditional. It almost looks as if it could have been done by gluing elbow macaroni to a piece of cardboard to make the template. The fabric is very high quality tsumugi silk and will only become more beautiful with age and use.

Reverse side of fabric showing good bleed through

With any fabric, it is a good idea to check for bleed through to the back. This indicates that the dye has been absorbed well into the weave, allowing for a deeper, richer experience with the colors on the right side.

Close up of kimono sleeve – some one must have been having a bad day!

I must just be a quirk of my personality, but I am always drawn to pieces that look as if the grandpa down the street could have executed them with loving hands. In this case the imagery isn’t double-shifted because the camera moved while taking the shot. The artist executing the rubbed design was obviously bumped or ogling a passerby, because the fabric made a major shift over the template while he rubbed the indigo across the surface. Perhaps grandpa just had double vision. In any case, take a close look at the area within the red circle and you will see what I mean. The purple circle is simply calling attention to the blue that was added after the silk was removed from the rubbing surface. It is one of my favorite pieces for all these reasons.