Volume 24 Issue 1 A Journal Dedicated to Natural Dyes Spring 2020

Book Review: John Marshall A Collector's Guide to Japanese Textiles: Indigo
Reviewed by Pamela Feldman

A trip to Japan at the age of 17 started John Marshall's lifelong exploration of indigo dyeing and Japanese textiles. Since the early 1970's, John has been studying and writing about indigo dyeing. He generously shares his in-depth knowledge of the subject in his new book, A Collector's Guide to Japanese Textiles: Indigo.

The book is beautifully designed with photographed samples of each technique cut in the shape of a Japanese kimono, with corresponding information on the opposite page. The introductory section starts out with an image of the many shades of indigo and their Japanese names and continues with an explanation of terminology and pronunciation.

There are many different types of textiles described in the book. One I found of interest is Hitta-Miura Shibori from the Arimatus district of Nagoya. Each square of this fabric is pinched into quarters and tied off to create a polka-dot pattern. The pattern itself is stenciled on the fabric using a very fugitive dye made from the leaves of the Aobana plant (Commelina communis). The stenciled marks completely disappear when the fabric comes into contact with water.

Photograph Copyright by John Marshall

This book is a companion guide to Singing the Blues, which was reviewed in the Turkey Red Journal, Volume 23, Issue 1. Even though this book is presented as a collector's guide, its in-depth writing on how each textile is made, the processes used for dyeing or applying the indigo, and the explanation of tools and terminology would be valuable to anyone with an interest in textiles who wants to expand their knowledge of Japanese textiles and their techniques.

I truly enjoyed reading this book. Even though I am not a collector, the knowledge I gained from reading this book answered many questions I have had about Japanese textile techniques.

The book is dedicated to Myrtle Tanaka Furukawa, John's first teacher in Japanese language and culture. A copy of the book can be obtained through John's website at: http://www.johnmarshall.to/I-book-GuideINDIGO1.htm.