Meet the Artisan, Tokutaro Yagi

Tokutaro Yagi was the Kyoto master of Japanese marbling (suminagashi) in the 19th century. He perfected methods of floating colors and then carefully manipulated them either by blowing on them directly or through a straw, fanning the colors, or carefully using a human hair to stir the colors.  Yagi developed a method that uses a split piece of bamboo to gently stir the colors, resulting in concentric spiral designs. A sheet of washi paper is then carefully laid onto the water surface to capture the floating design. The paper, which is often made of kozo (paper mulberry), must be unsized and strong enough to withstand being immersed in water without tearing.

In 1913 Tokutaro Yagi, a successful Japanese marbler, dictated this book to a professor of a textile college in Kyoto so that his special suminigashi techniques would not be lost. Yagi describes colors, tools, water, chemicals and techniques for marbling both paper and silk. There are directions for creating twenty different suminagashi patterns.

Luckily his knowledge was not lost and was an English edition was published in 1991 by Heyeck Press in an edition of only 200 books.

Suminagashi-zome (1991) by Tokutaro Yagi,
(translated by Kyoko Muecke)

This book is bound in hand marbled silk. The handmade Twinrocker paper was made especially for this edition. The 16 point metal type is Centaur with Arrighi used for italics. A small printers flower has been printed in silver to replace colons in lists in the text. Three wood engravings by Rik Olson and twelve hand marbled samples by Robin Heyeck illustrate the book.



With cloth covered double-tray drop-spine box, $1000
With slipcase, $950

Posted in Artisans, Books, News, Suminagashi