Metamorphosis II

Kapital Century Denim 7S 1.5 Years 1

Change marks the passage of time; from one state to another. The transition of dark to light, to dark again. I have been on the move, and as always interested in trying some new things. Lately I have been intrigued in the workings behind kakishibu and the other tannin dyes used in Japan. In the previous Metamorphosis post I showed the early stages of the transition of a few items.

These Kapital Century Denim Sarouel pants have passed their 1.5 year milestone. After the second coating of kakishibu more character in the denim has appeared. Whiskering has flourished behind the knees, and the thighs. A lot of the color change is due to heavy wear but also routine washing. They are also ready for a few minor repairs.

Kapital Century Denim 7S 1.5 Years 4

Silver Rivet
Silver Rivet
Gold Rivet
Gold Rivet

Jack Knife Barn Jacket Black

Remember that Jack/Knife Barn Jacket we coated in kakishibu? Well, we had one more that we wanted to dye black. The combination of persimmon tannin and wood vinegar created a brownish-black. The unevenness of they dye is not the result of a chemical wash, or bleaching. It is actually the natural result of the dyes. I love this imperfectness, not because it looks worn or faded, but because it is the natural result. I am hoping with a little time and wear, the brown will seep through the black.

Jack Knife Barn Jacket Black 1 Jack Knife Barn Jacket Black 3


This Tezomeya Tee has faded so beautifully. Regular careful washing and drying inside out has helped preserve most of the iron wood vinegar black. The persimmon brown base color has slowly seeped through and given the knit fabric a deep complicated texture. This constant transformation of the color is what I enjoy most about these naturally dyed products.

Metamorphosis II Tezomeya Tee 1 Metamorphosis II Tezomeya Tee 2

Tezomeya | Beauty in Process

Tezomeya December 2013 1 Tezomeya December 2013 2

I caught up with Masaaki recently about a few things before the end of the year. Some readers may or may not be aware that in Japan people tend to tie off loose ends before the end of the year. Especially since we are planning something big for early next year…Tezomeya December 2013 3

Please enjoy some of the simple beauty of the Tezomeya process, and some newly featured products.
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Tezomeya Summer | Natural Dyes in Nature

These are a few of the Tezomeya products I will be showing this summer. I wanted to show how these shirts fit and can be styled with a variety of color and texture.

Tezomeya Summer Part 2 1

Kihada and indigo shibori t-shirt, blends so well with greens and browns.

Tezomeya Summer Part 2 2

Tezomeya Summer Part 2 3

Indigo basque shirt, and washi scarf. Meditating and contemplating the indigo spirit. Tezomeya 2013

This background is a wall of a kura that burned down some years ago. The walls were baked like bizen stoneware. Fujinezu color contrasts the orange-brown of the background.

Tezomeya Summer Part 2 5

Here I am wearing the Oitake color basque shirt. I really like how the blue stripes play with this medium light green tone. Tezomeya Summer Part 2

The Silk Sense

Bryan’s house is more akin to a shrine than a house. This was my third year in a row to visit my friend Bryan, to gain more insight into Japanese textiles, and dyeing methods. These visits leave me with enough to stew over for well over a year. I am always awestruck at his current and past projects, he generously gives me peeks into his work.

For any textile fanatic, craftsperson, or indigo-blooded human this house/village is a place of worship. There is so much to revere and to stir a million new ideas. The scenery, the indigo bubbling in their vats, the silk worms munching on mulberry leaves; it all culminates into an inspirational soup. Rather addictive stuff as this time he had numerous guests from all walks of life, eager to find inspiration from the mixture.

Interiors say a lot about a person. From artifacts to pottery, you can get a general sense for someones travels and tastes. Being the first to rise, I took my morning leisurely walk around the village. I am sure as he reads this he is grumbling something about me taking pictures before he had a chance get something or other into order. He is a fastidious individual…

So many ideas have been found and discovered in these mountains and rivers. The inspiration for a pattern: a fallen leaf, or the enchanting sound of the river running over rocks. Nature is speaking to the person willing to listen. The curves in the road are transitions to majestic views, every turn a beautiful panorama. I can never get enough of the precariously placed tea terraces.

We really got a treat this time, reeling silk the traditional way. Bryan describes poetically the history of the techniques and the methods, there is no need to bother with note taking. It is like memorizing a favorite song. As the beautiful silk unraveled from their cocoons we all shared our own stories and experiences. Reeling in inspiration I cannot thank my host enough.

Tezomeya Summer


This summer I am planning to show a few samples across the US to promote, showcase, and sell Tezomeya’s products. If you see anything you like please let me know by email. During my visit I want to share the stories of the colors and explain the significance of the products first-hand. Please have a look at the introductory post I did on them last year.

Kakishibu soaking some early summer rays on the roof tiles. They stay like this for up to three weeks, and then flipped over.


These are cotton scarves dyed in a medium indigo shade, and the other is a light khaki green. The scarves are sourced in Thailand and this texture is indicative from the peculiar wavy texture of the weave. They are dyed in Kyoto.

Tezomeya Summer 2

These three are smaller versions of the Thai cotton scarf above. Same colors (natural light) but with one extra yellow color made from dried pomegranate skins.


This is my personal favorite. These are washi or Japanese paper woven scarves. They are very light and hold color differently than color. They are first submersed in water and woven wet, the technique dates back to Edo period. Through modern processes the weave is made extra fine.


Tie-dyed t-shirts. All of the colors at Tezomeya are historical and cultural. Masaaki has spent a lot of time studying the techniques and stories behind each of the colors. These are fun and simple tie-dyed tees that I think are a good example of the fun of Tezomeya’s products.

Natural lighting, really brings out the indigo and red tones.


These are very special loopwheel-knit basque shirts. The horizontal stripes are not naturally dyed however each shirt is garment dyed by Tezomeya. The indigo one and this khaki one really look fantastic.


The shibui selection of t-shirts at Tezomeya is remarkable. These falling loop-knitters date back 100 years. Two threads are woven and it takes aproximately a day and a half to knit a run of fabric.

(from left to right) Two tones of India indigo, my favorite natural khaki color, and this intriguing black color. The black color is the same color that was used by Japanese warriors in sword-fighting training.

Tezomeya Summer 1

This pine green color is named after a peculiar stag-horn seaweed “miru” 海松. The kanji reads “ocean pine”, the color is very reminiscent of the beautiful pine tress that line the Japanese coast. The light-pink is called “haisakura” 灰桜. The characters read “cherry blossom ash”.


Two different shades of India-indigo.

Ibara, Okayama | Nihon Menpu – Factory Tour

There are some names are that are the forefront of fashion and textiles and others that sit quietly in the back. Nihon Menpu is one of those companies in the back, but the back bone of so many big names. Odds are if you are wearing something “Made in Japan” then probably that fabric was made by these folks.

Located in the mountains of Okayama, Nihon Menpu is a company with a long history. Stretching back over 90 years they have their roots in dougi fabrics, and traditional Japanese textiles.

Today, they are synonymous with denim, and the highest quality cotton textiles. I had the chance this summer to visit and got a special peek into the work behind the scenes.

Tezomeya | Kyoto Organic Craft Dyeing

Masaaki and Tomoko are the couple behind the brillant work going on at Tezomeya. Kyoto is where they call home. Their studio is a short walk from The Kyoto Imperial Palace. I was fortunate that they are located in a big city like Kyoto. Most of the time when I go see craftspeople they are always tucked away in the country-side. Masaaki spoke passionately about his crafts and we chatted about his processes. Their kindness made me feel like I was at home. I felt more like I was in heaven though with all the astounding colors and knowledge to behold.

What you will find there is nothing short of extraordinary. A organic-dyed wonderland. Colors that are made from exotic ingredients – insect galls, mordants, indigo, madder roots – the list goes on and on… . Their main product is t-shirts. Organic cotton, woven on 100 year old loop-wheel knitting machines in Wakayama. The colors are shibui, nothing bright or annoying. Real colors from things you can hold in your hand.

They left their careers to open this studio and do their craft in 2002. Something so simple as a t-shirt becomes a cultural treasure. Colors dating back to Edo period and earlier, they are protecting important cultural assets. They are also creating something unique and important by using locally produced materials. By using organic elements in their proceses they are also doing no harm to the environment. The tasks are tedious and time-consuming. The results are truly amazing, and the story of each color is so deep and intriguing.

If readers ever have a chance to visit you can see for yourself their passion for their craft. You can hear first-hand about the history, chemistry, and love that goes into their colors and products. Please if you are in Kyoto, stop by and say “Hello”.