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"Floating Gourds" Katagami Stencil
vintage katagami stencil

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Sumie Brushstrokes
Our Price: $99.00
Material: Paper
Length (inches): 48"
Width (inches): 18"
Condition: Very Good Vintage

Quantity in Stock:1
Shipping: Orders received before 11am EST ship same day via USPS. Otherwise, next business day.
Product Code: 0619STENCIL9

This vintage – possibly antique – katagami stencil was likely used to create tenugui - Japanese cotton hand towels. Tenugui have been made for decades as sight-seeing souvenirs or as promotional or thank-you gifts given by companies, municipalities, banks and the like to employees and patrons. Tenugui stencils are much like the ones used to make kimono, but these are longer and each is used to make a full length tenugui. The dye process is also different from kimono fabric dyeing – see the video below for a fascinating look into this traditional craft.

This is one of our favorites! Gourds were once used as vessels for travelers - carrying water, food or valuables along the Tokkaido Road... These gourds seem to float along the stencil, connected by cords that twist and turn. It looks more like a sumie ink painting than a carved length of paper. We especially love that the silk screen threads got "scrunched" over time and so created another layer of design - the wispy creases that seem to be part of the original patterning, but were not! You might stretch the stencil to remove these creases or frame it as is …

Katagami are cut by hand, either with a free-hand knife or a sharp and tiny punch tool. They are made from one or two sheets of heavy washi paper covered with persimmon tannin to add strength and moisture resistance. (For delicate designs, two sheets of paper were stacked and cut together, then a thin silk screen was placed between them before fusing the papers together with the tannin.)

Nowadays, more durable plastic versions are used, but these older paper stencils are often still usable in addition to being a work of art. See photo example of a framed stencil. Email us if you’d like cost and dimension details on how we had this custom-framed.

Enjoy the video below that shows how these stencils are designed, cut, and used to make tenugui. We also recommend this book, Carved Paper by Suzanna Campbell Kuo, as one of the best English reference books on katagami.

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