Collection: Japan | Botanical-Dye Silk Scarf-Stole | Whisper Collection

Japan: Nature's Pure Botanical Colors 

Sakura Cherry Tree Pink Blossoms Japan

To understand the secrets of the natural, pure and vivid colors of Japan and the Whisper Silk Stoles | Scarf you must first look to nature herself, because she is the keeper of the secrets.  The secret recipies that bring natural, vivid colors into everyday life!

Meet the Dye Studios 

For Mr. Maito and Studio, Maito Design Works, extrating the colors from natues's bounty all starts with a "secret recipe." A recipe that combines human ingenuity with the ingredients of the earth: twigs, buds, bark, leaves, grasses, roots.

Hand-Dye CraftArtist Mr. Maito Japan

And bringing nature’s vivid colors to life is what makes Maito Design Works, (Mr. Maito pictured here), together with related studio, Yumezaiku Dye Studio, unique.

Though Japan’s traditional hand-dye culture may invoke images of dull earthy browns and grays, that is not quite the case.  In fact, literature from Japan's Nara and Heian periods (710-1185) contain lengthy descriptions of a vibrant, color-rich past. A past that speaks of bright, vivid colors in everyday life and celebration. Heian Period literature, “Tale of the Gengi,” in fact, references about 80 different names of colors!

Today, a renewed interest in Japan's color-rich dye history motivates contemporary, plant-dye artisans to draw from the past and experiment with new combinations as well.

100% Nature's Dye

Natural Dye Materials Japan

Natural Dye Makes a Difference

It might be easy to add just a little bit of artifical, synthethetic, or chemicals dyes to imitate the pure colors of nature. But this is not authentic, or truthful, or real, is it?

According to Hand-Dye CraftArtist Maito, some dye studios claim 100% natural, when in fact they are adding something to artifically enchance a color!  But to Mr. Maito and studios, authentic craftsmanship and quality actually mean something. By remaining true-to-craft these studios instead drew on years of personal experience, and built on knowledge of Japan's natural dye processes gleened through the knowledge of generations of hand-dye craftArtist throughout Japan. With this strict adherence to quality, and authenticity, they were able to achieve the natural bright colors using only 100% natural ingredients – the authentic recipes that brings nature’s colors, and Japan’s bright colors, to life.

Case Study:  Finding Sakura Tree Pink 

Sakura Tree Blossoms Japan

In Japan, the pink bloom of the Sakura (cherry) tree signals the arrival of spring. In the past, however, a sakura-like pink dye, was actually derived from other plants! Some dye from this plant or that bark could cleaverly mimic the soft, sakura pink color, but dedicated craft-artist remained frustrated by these impersonators.

Though some color can be extracted from the Sakura, Cherry Tree, the dye contains a great deal of orange and beige.  But where is the pink? Many Japanese dye artist tried over and over, but this trial and error led no where.  So for many, believing it impossible, just gave up.

But Yumezaiku Studio did not.

Where Was it Hiding?

Sakura Buds Japan Cheery Tree

So where was the dye hiding? Finding the tree’s hidden color and perfecting the “recipe” meant asking the right questions: questions about the climate, the yearly weather, a colder-than average-winter or a warmer-than-average spring, the humidity, the late or early bloom of the sakura flowers - these were only some of the answers needed in order to solve the mystery of the elusive dye.

To compound the challenges, a Sakura tree (of course) only blooms once a year, so finding the answers took an incredible amount of time, investigative energy, persistance and...patience - those qualities that best describe a true craftArtist.

Other questions then also had to be addressed: What part of the tree would produce the color – the bark, the leaves, flowers, roots? What methods and techniques would consistently and reliably draw it out? Does the extracted color need to set, cure -- and for how long?  And many more.

Found It! How Pink is Produced

Maito and Sakura Dye

Many thought it could not be done, but Yumezaiku Dye Studio is the first in Japan to reliably produce soft, Sakura Pink using 100 percent material from the Sakura tree. The gentle sakura color was finally found hiding only in the tiny twigs that were closest to the maturing cherry buds. Yearly weather, the nuances of a particular tree, water used in the dyeing process, the craft-artists' hand-swish of the silk material through the dye, and many other factors all played a vital role in the quality of the Sakura color that was at last consistently produced.

To extract the color, the twigs are alternately simmered, then cooled, in a process lasting around 40 days. The resulting solution is then aged up to another 90 days. The textiles (such as 100 percent silk) are then, one by one, hand-dyed to produce the Studio’s signature color of spring: pretty, delicate, Sakura Pink.