Katagami in Practice

Are you a textile designer? If so, you may be interested to know about a new project that's just begun at the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture. Among their holdings are the records of the Silver Studio, a commercial studio that produced designs for wallpapers and textiles between 1880 and 1960. This collection includes around 400 Japanese katagami, traditional resist-printing stencils for textiles that were used by the designers as a source of inspiration. Among the most popular objects in the collection, they hold a fascination for creative practitioners because of the intricacy of their cutting and the stylisation of the motifs depicted. 

Japanese katagami stencil depicting two sparrows, c.1870, MoDA, KI.4. 

Japanese katagami stencil depicting two sparrows, c.1870, MoDA, KI.4. 

As part of the Katagami in Practice project, four researchers have been appointed to look into how the stencils have been used in art and design teaching, both historically and in a contemporary setting. They'll be working both individually and collaboratively to produce a range of outcomes over the next six months. For example, Caroline Collinge is a designer maker who comes from a costume and performance background. She's intending to create garments informed by close analysis of the katagami in MoDA's collection, and then to develop these into costumes to be worn for a dance performance.

Meanwhile, Sarah Desmarais wants to explore how these Japanese stencils can engage students' creative practice today in a deeper way than simply encouraging them to reach for the laser cutter. As a textile designer, she's become particularly interested in the meditative and repetitive nature of making things by hand and the deep engagement with the material world that this entails.  Her plan is to engage in the process of making katagami herself, and to observe and reflect on that process. She intends to devise workshops that will encourage students to consider katagami as ‘ambassadors’ of human-material interweavings across time and space.   

If you'd like to know more about the project, why not take a look at their blog?