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A story of the hand made needle – local vegetable dyed cotton threads.

When I entered the exhibition hall, I would have never imagined I would end up with a precious tool which was used by the artisan. This unbelievable incident gave me a chance to think about the materials and tools artisans use. This is a story of female artisans dominant traditional craft of our region, Kagawa, Shikoku, JAPAN.

The information you get from this article are…

  • Traditional Crafts of Kagawa “TEMARI” & the certified artisan Ms. Sogawa
  • How she got into the world of TEMARI
  • Exterminated Tools
  • The reason why I fell in love with her & her apprentices work & where you can view her work

She dyes her threads by herself… for…

I had met Ms. Sogawa through Mrs. Morimoto, who is the wife of our listed artisan Mr.Morimoto, a couple years back. She is the certified artisan of Kagawa Traditional Craft. What she creates are called “TEMARI (手まり)”. It is a hand made ball decorated by cotton threads. It is easier for you to understand about the craft by watching the video above (2:49) than I keep writing about it. So, I strongly recommend watching it first.

“TEMARI (hand ball)” crafts exist all over Japan. These are usually made with silk thread. But our regional “TEMARI” is made with cotton thread. Cotton is widely produced in the west of Kagawa where also this traditional crafts are mainly produced.

Ms. Sogawa and her apprentices dye their own threads to create their TEMARI.

The day I visited her at the Traditional Crafts of Kagawa Exhibition took place in Takamatsu, Kagawa, Ms. Sogawa told me how much she loves dying the thread every year. All colors are from plants or sometimes bugs. I was drawn into her story of how she creates different colors and experiments she has done over the years to get the color right. “Isn’t it fascinating?” says Ms. Sogawa with her sparkles in her eyes. According to her, it was cotton and vegetable dying how she got into this world. She had wanted to find the way to present the beauty of these thread most. Then what she found was “TEMARI”.

Ever since I met her for the first time, I was very curious about her and I was so grateful that I could finally had the chance to hear her story. After listening to her story, I bought a few bunches of her thread, wanting to create something with it and for the memory of our conversation. Before I left her booth, I asked her what type of needle I should use for the thread. Then, Ms. Sogawa, just pull out one needle from her pincushion and gave me a needle. Then she also told me the story about it….

After stealing at the threads I bought on my desk for a week, I decided to use it for embroidery. Although I am not best at hand sawing or any type of sawing that matter, my urge to express the nature of Kagawa with her threads and the needle. Surprisingly, it is relaxing.

Handmade needles nobody makes.

Ms. Sogawa told me that that is one of the needle she uses to create TEMARI. She told me that she had tired different makers of needles. But only this handmade needles work perfect for her. She even provide it to her apprentices to use. “Sadly…” she continued and told me that this needles are no longer produced. Year by year, the price is going up. It tells us that the remaining stock is coming to the end. She told me that she has life worth stocks but it is sad to know such a good tools are disappearing.

It is a sad story to hear but at the same time it made me realized that I have not introduced about tools and materials of the traditional crafts much. There are so many layers to it.

The needle I was given became my treasure. I will learn how to sharpen it and use it till it is too short to use or I become too old to do stitching.

Where you can see works of Ms. Sogawa

The reason why her pieces caught my eyes is her ambitious work. TEMARI of course has traditional patterns but her work is now beyond the traditional patterns. Her pieces not only “WOW” me but also it tells how she enjoys and loves creating pieces which makes me smile. And she tells her apprentices to pursue to find their own world… but… I will tell you about it in other article. I think you will understand what I mean.

NEXT story coming up about Ms. Sogawa

“Talking with 2 creative ladies of Kagawa turned into receiving strong positive message to creators in all fields and all stages.”

*Please note that the title could change. *Next article updated could be different but next article about her will be this.

I visited Ms. Sogawa’s studio with Ms. Morimoto. The conversation we got into turned into very encouraging to creative people in every fields at any level or stages! Which made me almost cry. I wanted to cry but I held it because I did not want to worry them.

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