Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Japanese calligraphy

Today I'm giving my English student, Shiori-chan a chance to tell you about her hobby. Shiori is a very good student and an accomplished pianist too. She has many interests and last week she brought over this piece of calligraphy that she did for her calligraphy lesson. I found it fascinating and asked her to write about it.

Hello, my name is Shiori Yamagata and Tanya teaches me English. I’m in the second year of high school. I started doing Japanese calligraphy when I was in the third grade of elementary school and today I would like to show you my calligraphy.

Do you know what this is? This is called Shinsousenjinmon. It is a work of calligraphy written with brush and ink. This work is made of 1000 Chinese characters and together they make up different phrases. This particular piece of calligraphy is written in gold ink and I have to make the ink myself. Before I begin to write, I must mix together gold dust, gelatin and hot water. This gold ink (in Japanese it is called kindei) is easily affected by temperature and humidity and when the room gets cold, kindei thickens. When the air is dry, it evaporates and the ink won’t stay on the brush. Kindei doesn't go on paper as well as normal ink, so it was very difficult for me to use it. I wrote this using a very fine brush and it took me five months to write. The black paper is divided into 1000 squares and the squares are 3 centimeters. by 2.5 centimeters. Altogether there are 1000 characters and I practiced at least 1500 times. In total I wrote 2500 characters!!!! No mistakes are allowed when doing this work so if I made a mistake I’d have to start over completely! I didn’t make any mistakes but by the end I was going crazy!!!!

Right now, I’m practicing a work of 1700 words. It will be with normal black ink but still it is very difficult. However I’ll do my best!


Helen said...

Oh wow, what a great effort. Is it acceptable to make some of these characters into a quilt? Please tell Shiori-chan her English is very good. (She must have a great teacher)

anne bebbington said...

Gosh and we thought quilting could be exacting - those gold characters look so beautiful against the black

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

That is a stunning piece of art work! I am impressed with Shiori's patience and perseverance; plus, her English is excellent! Job well done.

Nancy said...

This is FASCINATING! Thank you so much for sharing it.

Nadine said...

Oh, this is awesome ! Congratulations for your patience and talent ! What a beautiful work of art !
Do you roll it, when finished in order to protect it from dust, sunlight, cold, etc.... ?

Thanks for sharing !
Friendship from Belgium.

gwen said...

My compliments to Shiori, with so much talent, she should start patchwork. Her english is very good as well, I wish my students were so good in French! Congratulations on the quilt you won, but I find it a shame as well that they didn´t put a label. So much lost forever.
Take care.

Fiona said...

What detail - Shiori has a lot of patience. What happens to the calligraphy? Is it stored like a scroll or framed and displayed?

keslyn said...

Hi Tanya,
I found your blog from Chooyblue, I've marked you as a favourite as I love Japan, we have friends over there, I have visited 3 times and can't wait to go back again. Keeping in touch through your wonderful blog will give me a little taste of Japan every week.
Your students Calligraphy works is amazing, Looking forward to following your life.

Shelina said...

This is so beautiful. It think I would be very nervous when I added more characters to it. I feel that way about quilts too, when I have to go to the next step, I am worried that I will do something to ruin the quilt. Most mistakes in quilts can be corrected easily though.

Your English is beautiful also.

Claudia said...