Images of the katagami stencil making and katazome printing processes tried by Sarah Desmarais
As part of her 'Katagami in Practice: Japanese Stencils in the Art School' research, Sarah Desmarais used experimentation with traditional stencil paper, rice-paste resist and dyes in order to demonstrate the value of experiential engagement with process and materials for understanding artefacts like the katagami stencils. She used traditional stencil material, still available from Japan, and rice paste that she made according to a traditional recipe from sticky rice flour, rice bran, salt and slaked lime. She experimented with a range of dyes that have been used in Japanese textile production, including indigo and modern fibre reactive dyes. Each aspect of the design and making process - drawing from the katagami, stencil cutting, making rice paste, printing with stencils, dyeing fabric, washing out the rice paste - was explored in detail and the practical and reflective dimensions of the process documented in detailed field notes. These notes were then analysed for their main themes, and served as a springboard for the development of a three-day workshop for students at Middlesex University.