In late summer, when the kaki fruits are still unripe, they are used to make Kakishibu dye (kaki: persimmon, shibu: tannin). Natural, sunlight-sensitive and darkens over time; this dye has been a great discovery for me this summer. Kaki has been my favorite fruit for years, even when I wasn’t aware of its dyeing properties.
The fruits are crushed, mixed with water and let to ferment for about a week, and then the juice (still green) is extracted and stored to continue the fermentation process for a minimum of a year. When ready, looks like the photo below, brown and ready to dye.
I took the leftover fabrics I used here, when I was doing some Edokomon, and dipped them in the Kakishibu to see what happened. The stenciled bits were made with a rice paste that had a black dye into it, so I wasn’t sure if it would work but it was worth trying.
I dipped the fabric in the Kakishibu and let it dry in the sun the entire day. I did this for a total of ten days and the coulour build up beautifully.
I washed the fabric, removed the paste and discovered that it had actually dyed the white ressited bits grey. This rice paste was different and difficult to remove, so I had to brush it and that left a vintage aspect to it. I think the grey-copper-vintage are a good combo!
Kakishibu has also been used over the years in Japan to preserve and reinforce paper; the paper used in Katazome for instance, to protect and paint wood, to clarify sake, to make soy sauce or traditional medicines. Kaki fruit was brought to Japan from China in the 7th century and is still deliciously eaten every late autumn and winter, one of the few things that make me look forward to the next seasons.