Ancient Japanese printing technique chusen for tenugui production.

In 2014 we visited on foot the 88 buddhist temples along the Shikoku pilgrimage in Japan. In the first temple we were given our first ever tenugui, a humble looking handkerchief with traditional prints. It was during this adventure that we discovered its versatility, from drying towel in the spa-onsen to accessory around the neck for the sushi dinner evenings. Since then, we always carry a tenugui in the bag.

We tried different methods and fabrics to create the Keith Khan tenuguis in Spain and although we had very attractive results the end product didn't have the characteristics of the Japanese original. That is why we decided to work with artisans in Japan to create our tenuguis on proper Oka cotton and with the traditional chusen dyeing technique.

Using natural materials such as persimmon juice and paper to create the stencil or algae paste to control de distribution of dye on the cloth, the chu-sen technique allows to print with different colours and with the same quality on both sides. Thanks to the vacuum used throughout the process, the dye doesn't seat on the fabric so it retains its soft touch and the designs achieve definition.

Here you can see images of how Keith's designs were made into lovely Japanese tenuguis.

My favourite part is the drying; metres of little people hanging in the sun and the fresh air of Japan.

Tenugui making chusen dying

Stencil made with paper and persimmon juice.

Tenugui making chusen dying

The circular dams made with algae paste is where the different colour will be applied.

Tenugui making chusen dying

Oka cotton drying in the open. The tenuguis will be cut later and also pressed before packaging.


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