June 14, 2012

Roketsu-zome noren curtain making process

Hello and Welcome to www.nipponcraft.com,

I  visited Kanbayashi-san's noren factory in Kyoto last week again to take photos of making process of Roketsu-zome (batik) noren curtains. The factory is producing the off-the-shelf noren curtains and also accepting individual orders from customers.  The off-the-shelf noren curtains are shipped though dealers like us.
This Kanbayashi-san's factory is located 20 minutes walk from Kami-Katsura station of Hankyu Railway.

When I visited Kanbayshi-san (the owner of the factory), he was sewing noren curtains by himself.  It was late afternoon, so he was hurrying to finish up the work of the day. He must be a multi-talented man and he handles every process of noren making.

Kanbayshi-san's two sons are the successors of the factory and the second son showed me how the roketsu-zome (batik) noren curtains are produced.
First of all, he needs to layout customers' design on noren curtains. To copy the design, he traces the paper on which the design is printed by lightening from bottom.

Then he pastes wax on the design parts for protection from being dyed in the afterward process. The protected parts will be white off.

Then the pasted wax are dried naturally with air. (Sorry, I missed to ask how long it takes to dry the wax.)

To make the colors for dyeing noren, he mixes base color powders (close to red, green and blue mix). He needs a precise measure for mixing colors to reach to desired color. The weight of powder is measured to the level of 0.1 gram.
The factory keeps its own "knowledge base" (actually a notebook) for color creation. In this knowledge base, the various mix ratios are stored to reach many kinds of colors. They know the best color mix ratio that makes noren curtain look most beautiful.
Anyway, it is an "analog" (not digital) work to create colors of customers' desire.

Then he pours fixed amount of water to make dye material. This was also a hand-work.

Now, he is painting with the dye material he just created. The rest of the part where he is painting is wax protected, so it will not be dyed. The result will be a back circle design on white base color.

In the left photo,  the base color of noren is dark blue and the designed parts (birds and bamboo leaves) are white off.
After washing and removing wax, the final noren curtain is ready for shipping to customers.

Thank you for visiting!