Genue Inc.
December 27, 2018

Katazome Paste Resist Printing

Katazome Paste Resist Printing

Katazome stencil and design, Indigo dyed, Kiriko Made


Katazome is a traditional Japanese rice paste resist. It is a surface design technique that has been used for centuries to create multi-layered, colorful designs on fabric. Like many traditional Japanese textile techniques and processes, Katazome requires a tremendous amount of patience, time, precision and attention to detail.  But the results can be absolutely stunning!


Katazome is shorthand for the entire Katazome paste resist process. It is a multistep process which first involves making the fermented paste resist from rice flour and water.  Next, a detailed stencil is cut – traditionally by hand – and applied to the sticky rice paste through the stencil onto the fabric you wish to print. Once the paste has dried, color can be applied either by hand painting, or immersion dyeing. Oftentimes this process is repeated many times for one design, each time to incorporate an additional color to the patterns.


The traditional Katazome stencils are called Katagami stencils and they are beautiful objects in their own right. Handcut and hardened with the tannin-rich persimmon or pomegranate juices, they develop a rich, almost lacquer-like, finish over time and with many uses.


Katazome Paste Resist Printing

Hand cut Katagami stencils


Although time-consuming, one of the original benefits of the Katazome process is that it was far less expensive than the intricate woven brocade fabrics of the early 16th and 17th centuries. The prints allowed for all over coverage, and the fabric could be dyed with indigo–the only naturally occurring blue color.  Because of that, over time, the Katazome process gained prestige in its own right.


Today, a few modern printers are starting to use Katazome in their work. Tyler Peterson is an artist based in Portland, Oregon. Utilizing these traditional textile techniques, he makes modern work that respects the craftsmanship and passed down traditions of Japanese textiles.  Peterson also wrote this very informative, step by step guide to the Katazome process for anyone who wants to try a new way to create a repeated pattern.


Like Peterson, Graham Keegan is a California and Vermont based artist who has mastered the Katazome process through his work designing prints for the apparel industry. You can see a bit of his work for inspiration, and see his step by step guide to Katazome here.


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