Pre-Phase 1 "New Encounter"
Distilled into the most basic of the art's techniques, this Pre-Phase New Encounter was designed to be more appealing and less intimidating for beginners of Japanese embroidery. Several novel effects not covered in our textbook were taught for the design at Teachers Class 2005. Teachers, and later students, will be able to choose motifs while stitching the design. In class, motifs will be divided among the teachers so they may try stitching different novel effects.
Just as the two fans in the design meet, we hope this will become the stitcher's encounter with a new lifework, new friends, and a new self.
This design is available from the link below.
0102 Hana-kago - American Basket
This phase 1 design is named "American Basket" as it was modified for classes in America around 1970s. Since then, it was loved by many students around the world.
0101 Hanazume - Flower Circle
This phase I design is designed by Master Iwao Saito. It is filled with traditional flowers with basic techniques. Students will also enjoy the traditional colors which was developed throughout 1600 years of history.
First of all, we thank everyone who participated the New Students Class/All Phases Class last week!
All JEC instructors had a great time having you!
Here's the Phase I design explanation which the new students worked on during the class.
Phase 1 "Bouquet from the Heart of Japan"
In Japan it's traditional to give a person a bouquet of flowers when he or she begins a major new venture. This bouquet is given to the new student to begin their training in Japanese Embroidery. It is a gift from the Heart of Japan.
This design is composed with primary colors, red for the dianthus, blue for the iris and yellow for the valerian. To these fundamental colors, the feminine color of purple was added along with green. Dark brown was used to add depth to the design, while white offers a sense of spaciousness. Gold provides a touch of luxury.
0210 Celebratory Dance
Phase 2 "Suehiro"
The cypress fan was used by court nobles, and symbolizes elegance and opulence. Sue means "end" and hiro means "expand." Fans open from the pivot outward; the expansion symbolizes prosperity and expansiveness, concepts that also apply to each student's progress in Japanese embroidery. This phase 2 curriculum builds on the techniques used in phase 1. In addition, new techniques such as couching and braided cords are introduced, preparing the student for the next phase.
Phase 2 & 3 Hiogi
This design was created by Master Iwao Saito and has been loved by numerous members around the globe.
Phase 3 "Venerable Friends with Chrysanthemum"
Venerable Friends represents the way that we observe the knowledge and experience of our predecessors and associates through their books. Also, our favorite books, those that we read and reread, those that shape our personalities and outlook on life, come to be dear old friends.
This phase emphasizes stitching the designs on top of an embroidered foundation. This is a special set of techniques generally not found in other types of embroidery.
For more details, please visit below link:
Blue purple represents the endurance of sorrow and troubles on the spiritual battlefield.
Reddish purple, which normally symbolizes an extreme fashion statement for ladies, is used for this masculine armor to express an ingenuous young samurai.
Even after eras, we all must confront our inner weakness strongly and bravely, at any time on any occasion. Young Samurai enfolds the wish that a boy grow into such a courageous young man.
May is the month for boys in Japan. May 5th is a day set aside to respect children's personalities and to celebrate their happiness.
Phase 4 design
In this phase, stitcher will reinforce the couching techniques which is done by koma (spools).
Burgundy colored fabric really matches with gold metallic threads with realistic effect flower motifs.
This was a design for obi in Japan.
Embroidery Sculpture 刺繍の彫刻
Using the combination of delicate embroidery techniques and thick metallic threads (#8 and #10 silver and gold) on top of thick padding, we’ve challenged the dynamism of the three dimensional expression.
The depth is shown by physically raising up the design as well as the effect of using the color and the embroidery technique. The combination of these two methods emphasizes the world of three dimensions.
Stitching Embroidery Sculpture focuses on how to manage corners using such thick metallics, and how to control koma so we can maintain the maximum shine on the metal.
Phase 5 "Resonance Cords"
When you examine a Mobius strip, the front of the strip eventually becomes the back side of the strip, which will become the front side once again. So it is with our lives, the reverse side becomes the front side, which will become the reverse side before you know it. Moreover, when the center of the Mobius strip is cut lengthwise, it becomes a larger circle instead of separating into two pieces. It is our wish that the human bond be the same.
Here the student learns to stitch cords. The success in stitching the double central braid depends upon the student's skill in couching a smooth and evenly spaced outline before the cord is actually stitched. Much of this skill is gained in couching the leaves in phase 4.
Closeup photo of wood duck. Techniques are selected to express the atmosphere of feathers etc.
Phase 6 "Eternal Grace"
A beautiful lady contemplates a beautiful flower. At the same time the cherry blooms, the blossoms begin to fall. Even such a beautiful lady cannot maintain her beauty forever. While the lady contemplates the fallen cherry blossom, she must wonder, "what type of beauty is not lost, but deepens with time."
This phase is an alternative to the Loving Couple. It is designed to practice flat and twisted silk foundations, short stitch holding, and line of staggered.
The camellia blooms at year’s end, creating a decorative accent in an otherwise bleak season and heralding the advent of spring. The evergreen leaves survive even in severe and cold weather and allow the beautiful flowers to bloom. The flower, fruit and trunk are used for various practical purposes, such as camellia oil, lumber for high quality craft products, and charcoal for polishing lacquer. It is also known as a symbol of longevity; there is a 400-year-old camellia tree still flourishing in Kyoto.
This design incorporates the realistic techniques that are based on the long and short stitch.
Phase 7 Pansies
Motifs from the realm of nature have always provided inspiration for Japanese embroidery designs. Nowadays, realistic effects are employed to incorporate color changes within a motif in a manner that may be either stylized or causal. In order to achieve the most natural look, technique Rr (Realistic: random long and short) is used. Technique Ra (Realistic: alternating long and short) gives a more stylized look.
This particular design has various colors using several different realistic effects techniques.
Phase 8 "The Queen of Flowers"
In Japan, we have a legend about the Lion who reigns as King of all the animals. In the flower world, known for her stately splendor,the Peony reigns as Queen of the Flowers.
This phase teaches the "fuzzy effects". The embroidery is composed of straight lines of stitching, laid along the valleys of the silk crepe fabric. The vibrant realism of the technique is created by varying the size of the thread, the method of couching, and the color of thread. We have tried to capture the dignity and grace of this majestic beauty with the sophisticated fuzzy effect techniques.
For more information about design, please visit link below:
0801 Crane with Reeds
This phase 8 design focuses on Fuzzy effect. This allows the background fabric to show through and creates an extremely subtle effect. As you can see, even with silk threads, combination of colors and thickness of threads creates three dimensional effect.
0915 Konbuin-no-fukusa - Treasure Ship (full design)
Konbuin series were first created around mid-Edo period, Japan. As there was a long peace after Tokugawa shogunate ruled the nation, art of embroidery was developed greatly in techniques, designs and colors.
Please visit below link for more information about this design:
Phase 9 "Seasonal Poems"
In Japanese history the Heian Period was a time symbolic of great beauty and elegance. Representative of that era is a series of poems known as the 'Shikishi of 36 Poets'-'shikishi' is a beautifully decorated piece of paper specifically used when writing poems. On the motif itself you will notice that there are five different papers. The four lower shikishi represent spring, summer, fall, and winter. The fifth (top center) represents the cosmos, or eternity.
This new phase IX piece has been designed to reinforce techniques superimposed on a weft foundation.
0911 Konbuin-no-fukusa - Sake Box (full design)
This phase is a copy of one of the Konbuin Fukusa, a gift cover, which the fifth Shogun of the Tokugawa line, Tsunayoshi, used to wrap the gifts he presented to his wife Zuishunin, during the Edo period. The most skilled embroiders of the time were chosen to create the work. This work is known as an excellent sample of Edo embroidery because of the quality of the design, the color, the technique selection, and the stitching technique.
Among scholars, the Konbuin Fukusa are considered "the highest quality of embroidery and representative works stitched during the Edo period". The motifs, designs, color schemes, and techniques are so outstanding that embroiderers want to try stitching at least once during their lifetime.
In Phase 9, the student is challenged to demonstrate their skill with these works, which are designated as Important Cultural Properties in Japan."
Phase 10 "Kusudama"
Kusudama, was designed for a graduation piece which encompass all techniques. All the stitches not previously worked are included in this beautiful design of two flower balls of the type used at New Year's for decorating a Japanese house.
Phase X Double Cypress Fans
The design and color scheme reflect typical atmosphere of Heian period (A.D. 794～A.D.1192).
This design includes most of the technques of Japanese embroidery, and is used as the Phase X (teacher graduation) piece.
For more detail about this design, please visit:
1103 Yushoku Summer (full design)
After learning all forty-six techniques in ten phases, students step up to a new stage and learn "sensitivity." From phase 11 through phase 14, we are not only learning the technique itself but also the color feeling of the four seasons. Yushoku is a stylized motif typical of Japanese embroidery. It means "people with knowledge/occupation." The pattern was only used for the nobility.
The design, color, fabric and techniques used in Phase 11 are specially selected to express the typical Japanese summer feeling. The idea is to give one an impression of coolness at the same time one feels a bit of the heat of summer. The fabric, called Ro, has a line of holes in the weft valley, to allow the breeze to pass through.
Summer is a time of vitality. The rice plant grows bigger leaves because of the intense heat and sunlight, it is similar to the younger days of human beings when they can develop their talents."
For more details, please visit:
1201 Yushoku Spring
Delicate cherry blossoms, and the young-green bamboo, create a subtle spring- taste enhanced by the plum, camellia, and chrysanthemum flowers of early, mid and late season. The variety of plants demonstrates that spring is not just one month or one flower. In addition, the Imperial Family is called to mind by the carts in the background.
The rectangular shapes in the foreground are poem papers used for writing poetry in one's best calligraphy. The beautiful patterns on the paper enhance the overall presentation of the poem.
Spring is the time for planting rice, putting seed in the ground and forming sprouts and roots. In the same way, childhood is the time of formation for the person. After birth we start to be interested in the world and our ideas about the world and life begin to take shape. It is a time of energy and learning.
For more details:
1105 Summer Hydrangea Scroll
This phase 11 piece can be a hanging scroll during the summer season. Stitcher will take on a challenge to stitch on special summer obi fabric called "Sha" which has holes between the weave and allow the breeze to pass through. Stitcher will step up to a new stage and learn "sensitivity." From phase 11 through phase 14, we are not only learning the technique itself but also the color feeling of the four seasons.
to a new stage and learn "sensitivity." From phase 11 through phase 14, we are not only learning the technique itself but also the color feeling of the four seasons. Yushoku is a stylized motif typical of Japanese embroidery. It means "people with knowledge/occupation." The pattern was only used for the nobility.
This is an actual design of Noshi. Noshi tie which we mentioned yesterday can be refer to this motif.
1401 Yushoku Autumn - Maturity Season
This obi design is one of our favorite created by Master Iwao Saito.
You can almost hear the hand taiko drum for dance performance in the midst of autumn season.
From phase 11 through phase 14, we are not only learning the technique itself but also the color feeling of the four seasons. Yushoku is a stylized motif typical of Japanese embroidery. It means "people with knowledge/occupation."
1402 Ties of LIfe
Among design motifs such as shippo, shokko, and sayagata patterns, which are the traditional designs created by human hands, only the kikko pattern can be seen in in lotus pods, honey combs, heads of tsukushi (field horsetail), and scouring rush, in the world of nature.
This design shows important stages in a person's life. Starting from innocent babyhood, (battledore and a shuttlecock), the time for academic discipline, (books), burning our hearts with love as fragile as the cherry blossom, (letter), and next, marriage (shell box). You eventually strive for social success (treasures), encountering the enrichment of the life, (rice plant and a noisemaker), various events, living together until you have gray hairs, (takasago), a bloom and a bamboo rake representing lifetime spouse.
For more details, see:
Rhizomes, reaching out to one another beneath the earth,
Support each other against even a gale,
invisible yet firmly.
Wildflowers, bloom amidst the grove,
Whenever the time comes, even in the shade,
Plainly and inwardly.
Nature teaches us
Without any words or any letters.
This is a closeup image of previous design "Silent Communication" (Same design with gold leaf) Each stitch needs to be laid neatly in order to express the serenity and unity you can feel in bamboo forest.
Even more enlarged image of "Silent Communication"
I enjoyed stitching this design, although I had very hard time aligning straight bamboo lines as they get distorted when framed. Actually there are numerous needle holes after unpicking threads on the right bamboo. Left bamboo is filled with gold leaf so less embroidery work 🙂 My favorite part was bamboo shoot; realistic effect for foundation and couching and line of held with gold threads. Every stitch had to be laid appropriately to create a tranquil atmosphere of bamboo forest which was quite challenging. I'm really satisfied with the final result.
Phase 16 Venerable Maple Tree
This is one of the representative work of Master Iwao Saito. It requires artistic sense to express the texture and color of trunk. I used this design as a reference and was extremely hard! Although it was such a precious experience to follow the skills of great predecessors.
Phase 17 "Ise Shrimp"
This type of ornament is used to decorate during New Year event.
The ise shrimp wears a full suit of red armor and moves slowly and heavily, but powerfully across the sea floor. He looks like a venerable old man bent with age, but when something happens he can move swiftly and decisively. The shrimp is a product of the sea while the rice is a product of the land and the countryside. The fern is a symbol of prosperity. Taken together they are symbolic of the riches of Japan and signify congratulations.
The pine, bamboo and plum are the three friends of winter, which are tied together with gold and silver paper strings. The design as a whole signifies good fortune and congratulations, and may bring to mind good wishes for a New Year or some other happy event.
1801 Itinerant Couple
At the spawning season
the itinerant couple work together.
The female carp climbs and slithers,
fighting her way up the waterfall.
The male carp pushes her up with all his might and main through the turbulent current.
This phase 18 design requires both rationality and sensitivity to accomplish the complicated scales and water expressions.
Also, it is important to study the spirit of the message to depict the energy that audience receives from the design.
1902 Faded Treasures - Mirrors
At the completion of Phase X, students have had some experience with all of the techniques and with a variety of ground fabrics. In their continuing study they work on ro, metallic fabric, and other unusual fabrics. While the ideal is to continue to take these classes in sequence, some leeway is allowed for individual needs. Designs for more advanced students continue to be added each year. In addition to the phase pieces, many practice designs and a small selection of especially challenging designs are available. These may be worked as students feel that their skill is suitable for the piece. Mr. Tamura also creates special designs to meet individual needs.
2001 1600-Year Collage
Japanese traditions reach back 1600 years. Each collage represents the character of different periods, such as Edo, Momoyama, Keicho, Heian, and Asuka Nara. Also, the design is taken from Ainu culture. Through the artistic license of embroidery, all these periods are united in one design.