Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Let the tea ceremony begin!
The three little geishas of "Nippon Textures" by Gail Hendrix are robed, coiffed, and ready to pour!
I knew that stitching the hair of these ladies would be a bit tricky, so I first did a little research into how these hairstyles were actually constructed. I discovered that Japanese women began styling their hair in an up-do called a shimada, or traditional chignon, in the 17th century. Of the four main types of shimada, two are represented here. The geishas in the center and right are modeling a taka shimada, a high chignon worn by younger women. The geisha on the left is sporting a style resembling a divided peach, worn only by maiko or apprentice geishas, that was either called momoware or "split peach."
Maiko geishas always used their own hair in these hairstyles--the use of wigs only began much later toward modern day. Arranging these hairdos was such a complicated and time-consuming procedure, the geisha was trained to sleep with her neck on a small support called a takamakura. Rice powder was sprinkled around the support. If the geisha's head slipped off the support, the rice powder would adhere to the pomade in her hair and she's know it was time to go back to the hairdresser.
These geishas' hairdos are styled with black Silk & Ivory in long stitches. I first determined the logical break between sections of hair, according to photos I had studied, and then stitched each section separately. I was careful to follow the natural line of the hair--away from the face--and occasionally had to fit in some vertical stitches to make the turn from the right to the left side of the head. The beauty of the Silk & Ivory was that it covered the canvas perfectly, even in sometimes very long stitches, and provided a natural loft that resembled human hair.
The crowning glory to these hairdos were the elaborate haircombs and hairpins, or kanzashi, which were stitched primarily in Kreinik tapestry braids. I used the same gray Vineyard Silk for the combs on the left and center geishas, and stitched the flower of the right geisha in French knots of the yellow Vineyard Silk.
What a fun diversion this canvas was for me! Thanks, Gail, for giving me a "busman's holiday"--let's do it again sometime!