Wednesday, 14 March 2012

shifu...cloth from paper

beyond being a store name in St Kilda
[the Shifu Dumpling Express]
it seems to me that shifu isn't much known of in Australia

as the Kawashima Textile School [Japan] describes it
Shifu is a woven cloth produced from paper yarn spun from Washi
it's a craft that has its roots in the 7th century

i first ran my fingers over a piece of this wonderful cloth
when Hiroko Karuno kindly visited with me in Toronto
a few summers ago

and then again when i visited with Velma Bolyard
in upstate New York last year
- she even let me beat an indigo leaf
into one of her precious pieces

Velma makes paper cloth beginning with the harvesting of plants
processing them to paper pulp
makes the paper
spins thread
and weaves the cloth. it's exquisite. 

so i was very excited when i read
that Velma plans to visit Australia
in June this year. it's a splendid opportunity for down-underers to learn about this craft [otherwise we'd have to travel to Japan, which is of course lovely if you can speak Japanese, but not within the reach of most!]

she's giving a class at the Natural Dye Symposium 
being hosted by Beautiful Silks
if you're quick
you might get a place.

i've signed on for a couple of classes [Velma's shifu and also Trace Willans class]
it's a great initiative
gathering together a bunch of natural dye enthusiasts
in a city like Melbourne [when you're there, make sure to visit the forest inside the museum]

but enough idle chatter.
images below were kindly supplied to me by Velma

and a little off topic but found while trawling the net and putting together this page
a marvellous exhibition concept entitled "why bother"
worth a look.


  1. Just wanted to say, I recently found your blog and I am enjoying it very much. Love the photos you posted today :)

  2. YAY for shifu! blushing a bit, but liking the idea of making shifu with you!

  3. Ah, shifu is beautiful. Sandra Brownlee is beginning to make shifu with copies of her journal pages. I'm curious to see what she weaves with it.

  4. Lovely photos! Wishing I lived nearby!I would love to attend Velma's class.

  5. I'd love to attend so many of the things on offer - ankles are red from kicking myself that it looks like I'll be elsewhere when all this deliciousness is going on (V's work is especially interesting - I'd love to just be a fly on the wall...)

  6. Replies
    1. i'm thinking this will be a magical class.

  7. I have been drooling over Velma's work for a while - although I've seen it only on the web so far. Would love to touch some in person. And now you've introduced me to Trace Willans. Thank you - even though it means yet more time in Webland. It's so difficult not to spend all my time here - there's so much beauty to see. I almost thought I was going to be able to attend your class in New Hampshire - but no, it's not to be, for me.

  8. great proces! think i'm going to use it in my next trimester at school:)