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Dialogue with partner

We want to leave the consideration and consideration method of creators to the future! The dialogue between member of Kiwakoto and development partners.

The heart of creation

Masanori SONOBE (Dyed worker of SONOBE / Representative writer) × Masaru YOSHIMURA (Director of Kiwakoto)

Masanori SONOBE
Dyed worker of SONOBE / Representative writer
Independent work since 1970. Established the ink flow dyeing technique of Yūzen (Yūzen /友禅染 is a Japanese dyeing technique for fabrics. Silk-weaving families can be traced to the 15th century in the famous Nishijin weaving center.). Started his career with apparel material and leather. Awarded of the Yellow Ribbon Medal (Ojo Hosho. Award to the excellent artisans) in 2017.

Mr. SONOBE in this dialogue is very important leader who established the technique of ink flow dyeing of Yūzen. Though he is 80 years old this year, still working with his disciples in the factory, challenging and seeking the new methods of dyeing technique. Not only the making of Japanese traditional clothes, but also the normal apparel materials and the materials those are used for fashion designs, Sonobe is larger the possibility of his work, he wants to make an evolution with the aesthetic consciousness from Japanese tradition and the new modern designs. As a great predecessor of life, we must respect him.

Yoshimura:
Thank you for your work all the time. We are surprised of the range of the materials dyed by the technique of ink flow dyeing, leather, cotton, and silk etc. So, what is your purpose to dye so many materials?

Sonobe:
There’s no purpose for me to do this, but a spread inevitably. Usually I consider about to make things what can not be copied by the others, and if my creations were copied, I would stop making those, and developed new things. My work is a circle like this.

Yoshimura:
I think it’s difficult to develop new things, isn’t it?

Sonobe:
For example. It’s always said that the revolution of the ink-jet technique replaced the job of craftsmen in the past, but I don’t agree with that.
  
Ink-jet made the manual work meaningless, it made a great speed to efficiency of workmanship, it’s rather good in this point. And even some ink-jet works can’t be distinguished of machine making or handmade. But artisans can not be feeling lost about it. We must accept the fact of the evolution of technique and try to figure out how to make the new tech and traditional manual work collaborate.

Yoshimura:
Is ink flow dyeing a technique cannot do by ink-jet?

Sonobe:
I don’t think so, if the ink-jet read the data of the ink flow dyeing, it can print the same effect too. But the point value of ink flow dyeing is, you can’t make the same pattern twice. This’s the most charming part of the manual work. In the past someone ordered a batch of t-shirts, about 3000 meters long of material, asked me to make it by ink-jet. Of course, I refused. In my opinion, the ink flow dyeing’s point value, it’s unreproducible.

Yoshimura:
Is there a secret of new challenging?

Sonobe:
People cannot create things by himself only, to meet partners, it’s very important.

Yoshimura:
You met partners of ink flow dyeing design?

Sonobe:
There are too many meets with grateful. And there are two people who gave me great influence. We could dye silk and cotton only at first, when we started to challenge dye the leather, a wholesaler came to my factory, he was moved so much by the moment of marvelous patterns which were dyed on the leather, then he told us he wants to help us to persuade his customer to try this, and then he did. We tried once and dyed perfectly. But when we started to dye a large piece of leather, there were some troubles, and he kept staying with us to conquer all of them.

Yoshimura:
And what about another one?

Sonobe:
A manufacturer of dyes whom I met. It’s while my training period, the Mardley dyeing was still making patterns on hard paste only, and the tools would become pasty, it’s very hard to wash off. I considered might we not use the paste then we could finish the work fast, just like now, almost dye all products on water. So, after we discussed with the manufacturer of dyes, he really worked very hard to develop the dyes which wouldn’t melt on water and wouldn’t mix up with each other for us. It shortened the work time for us, I really appreciate for what he did.

Yoshimura:
The challenge power of Mr. Sonobe is so attractive. And your disciples are also so enthusiastic, we are appreciating for the hard working for our needs always.

Sonobe:
The young craftsmen in the factory always say that they must thank to the teamwork. And the motto of our company is “the heart of creation, challenge, gratitude”, and we repeat it every morning.

Yoshimura:
I heard that you have been drawing flowers for learning the technique of express beauty while your training period.

Sonobe:
Yes, I have. Handwritten artisans express the beauty by balance. And they learn the balance from drawing flowers in different sizes.

Yoshimura:
Just like ikebana.

Sonobe:
The world of flowers is said about “heaven, earth, and human”. Heaven is in the highest, the earth in the lowest, and human in the middle. I couldn’t help to consider about the balance of color matching and patterns too. It’s not interesting to make patterns round only, triangle and rectangle are good too. I was often told “it’s less of lingering charm in same patterns” by my master.
  
You may think all patterns are the same by one glance at ink flow dyeing but look from the entire of the dyeing you can find the exquisite changings of it.

Yoshimura:
You considered the balance at the very first of the work. I think there are many people want to see the flow of the dyeing work, and it’s very charming for me to see the patterns were changing on the water. It recalls me about the nobles of Heian period, they poured the ink into the river and enjoyed the changings of the ink comfortably. And we must thank to you Mr. Sonobe, it’s you and artisans like you make the marvelous techniques alive still.

Sonobe:
And I want to say, we must strive hard to work on, for more young people who want to come and work as an artisan. Let’s make good products together.

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