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more shifu

December 16, 2013

Velma asked me about spinning shifu paper thread on a drop spindle

shifu 086

all the samples come from the same paper, cut at 3 mm.

an experiment that involved dyeing full sheets of kozo paper with indigo

not a great idea as the paper became very fragile and damaged in some spots

and I recklessly used 3 sheets!!

shifu 089

the spindles that I use regularly weigh between 10-14 grams

from the right;

a high whorl spindle from Houndesign, 14 gms.

the Akha , 12 gms.

Turkish spindle from IST Crafts, 12 gms.

the remainder of the first sheet, spun on my wheel

shifu 090

there is a difference in the quality of the finished thread

of the spindles the Turkish is my favorite, was the easiest to use  and spun the most consistent thread

the high whorl came next

but, sorry to disappoint anyone – the wheel gives the most even, tightest thread and therefore finest

as I use my shifu thread mainly for weft in fairly fine weaving it is how I always spin paper

shifu 091

 I was first introduced to shifu in 1987 while weaving at  Kawashima Textile School

the school didn’t teach shifu at that time and 3 of us did our own research

with the help of a shifu/kimono weaver and a paper shop in Kyoto

shifu 092we shared our samples

on the left is the end of my silk warp kasuri/ikat woven with paper cut at 2mm.

the small brown square is from an old obi found at the market, the paper thread was plied with a boucle silk

6 Comments leave one →
  1. December 18, 2013 4:44 pm

    and you’re using an ashford traditional wheel, i think?


    • December 18, 2013 6:23 pm

      Velma – I do have an Ashford but seldom use it. I spun the shifu on a Jonathan Bosworth ” Journey Wheel” I’ve had it since 1980 – signed and dated.


  2. December 16, 2013 10:07 pm

    thank you for sharing your comparative paper spinning experience, jean…..I want to touch all of that beautiful shifu in your photos ! when you make your really fine paper thread, do you steam set…..or immerse in boiling water …..or just go straight to weaving after spinning ? tomorrow i am going to test a spun sample in boiling water….probably wind it around a stick or try something MacGyver-ish…. i have no idea what i am doing, but my curiosity is pulling me into this project…..all I can think about is shifu.


    • December 16, 2013 11:00 pm

      Therese – generally I just wind it onto shuttle bobbins and weave. I tried plunging it into boiling water – on the plastic bobbins but it was messy and didn’t seem to make any difference. Occasionally I have dyed it – onion skins, walnut or something natural, then I dye and mordant at the same time.


    • December 17, 2013 1:11 pm

      therese, hiroko had me steam the finished thread on a wooden japanese bobbin/reel. i set it in s pot on a steamer and steamed for a short time, about 8 minutes i think, then let dry on the reels. then i unreeled onto bobbins or into skeins.


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