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Stencil, Ferns and Swirls

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.

  • Katagami, Bamboo
  • cut mulberry paper treated with persimmon tannin and silk thread.
  • Gift of Helen Snyder.
  • 1976-103-226

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Its dimensions are

30.5 x 43.2 cm (12 x 17 in.)

Cite this object as

Stencil, Ferns and Swirls; 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.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Stencil, Ferns and Swirls |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=1 April 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>