This object has no known copyright, and as such we offer a high-resolution image of it. See our image rights statement.


See more objects with the tag water, plants, leaves, vegetal, lattice, spirals, movement, curving lines, thread.

See more objects with the color sienna darkolivegreen rosybrown tan or see all the colors for this object.

Object Timeline


  • Work on this object ended.


  • We acquired this object.




  • You found it!

Stencil, Ferns and Swirls, late 19th–early 20th century

This is a Stencil. It is dated late 19th–early 20th century and we acquired it in 1976. Its medium is mulberry paper (kozo washi) treated with fermented persimmon tannin (kakishibu), and silk threads (itoire). It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

Delicate, curling bracken fronds seem to follow the swirling course of some river or stream in this serene composition, representative of the Japanese art of Katagami. The creation of such stencils involves a long and laborious process, whereby several sheets of paper, taken from the inner bark of the Mulberry tree, are layered together with persimmon juice lacquer to form a strong yet supple support. The design is then carefully cut out from this stencil and held together using silk threads. Typically, the completed stencil would then be used in the katasome resist-dye process on textiles to obtain a printed motif on a kimono, for example. This involves placing the stencil on the dyed fabric and covering it over with rice paste. The motifs were often abstract interpretations inspired by nature – such is the case for this one.

This object was donated by Helen Snyder. It is credited Gift of Helen Snyder.

Our curators have highlighted 15 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

Its dimensions are

30.5 x 43.2 cm (12 x 17 in.)

Cite this object as

Stencil, Ferns and Swirls, late 19th–early 20th century; Japan; mulberry paper (kozo washi) treated with fermented persimmon tannin (kakishibu), and silk threads (itoire); 30.5 x 43.2 cm (12 x 17 in.); Gift of Helen Snyder; 1976-103-61

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Making Design.

This object may be subject to Copyright or other restrictions.

You are welcome to make fair use of this image under U.S. Copyright law and in compliance with our terms of use. Please note that you are responsible for determining whether your use is fair and for responding to any claims that may arise from your use.

For higher resolution or commercial use contact ArtResource.

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Stencil, Ferns and Swirls, late 19th–early 20th century |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=11 December 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>