The Japanese word kimono translates loosely as, “clothing.” Traditional kimono are made of silk and are very expensive. Today such kimono are worn almost exclusively at formal or traditional occasions.

I love the attention to detail I find in the kimono’s woven and painted designs, patterns, texture and color. I often embellish my purses, scarves and accessories with beautiful pieces of vintage kimono. I also incorporate contemporary kimono silk in my designs.



Kimono pattern

A purse with this material


My purses, scarves and accessories are made with Japanese shibori fabric and fabric that I have hand-tied and dyed myself. Shibori fabric is “shaped-resist dyed.” Japanese artisans carefully hand tie cotton cloth before dying, creating fabric with beautiful texture and pattern that create a crepe-like feel.


A purse with this material

As an artist, I use shibori knot tying techniques to make textured and patterned silks. My textured silk fabric has a wonderful body and give. The luminescence of this silk reflects light in a way reminiscent of sunlight on water.




Natural dyes

Naturally dyed material has been in existence for thousand of years. Museums and private collectors revere these textiles, which have survived the centuries while retaining their impressive color. People throughout time, and in all cultures around the world have used plant life along with other natural elements to color their cloth.

Synthetic dyes were invented in the late 1800ís. Far less expensive than natural dyes, chemical coloring agents were created to meet the growing demands of an expanding textile industry. The craft of natural dying nearly vanished, yet today there appears to be a resurgence in creating with color derived from natural sources.

I have been creating with natural dyes for over thirty years. Obtaining dye colors from plants and other natural elements is a bit like cooking. I research different recipes, using them as guidelines. When fixing color with mordents, great attention to amounts, temperature, and time are crucial. Nonetheless, I do experiment when dyeing. Often I obtain richer colors by over-dyeing fabrics, using different shibori methods such as folding, tying and clamping. I also add metals to my dye baths to produce unexpected effects. All fabric I use when creating my purses, scarves, and accessories is light-fast.

Kimono fabrics

Wendy Lee Cooper  

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