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Maki Aizawa & Tsuyo Onodera & Women's Sewing Collective | Sonoma Cultural Exchange

Hands gather to create, protect, and sustain community

Tsuyo Onodera, a master kimono maker, has been in the kimono industry for fifty years. Together with her daughter, Maki Aizawa, they have been making “haori” and “hanten”, kimono-influenced jackets and coats from denim, linen, paper, and cotton. Kimono are often worn in Japan for important public holidays and festivals, as well as for formal occasions such as weddings and funerals. Maki’s vision is to put a contemporary spin on kimono traditions, creating designs that can be incorporated into everyday use. Tsuyo’s mastery of kimono sewing skills and Maki’s creativity combine to create kimono and kimono-influenced garments that preserve the traditions of kimono-making and the appreciation of traditional textiles.

Tsuyo and Maki make natural indigo dye with “sukumo” from Tokushima, Japan, as well as use locally farmed and fermented indigo from Sonoma, California. “Jigokudate” is an ancient recipe to make indigo dye, using a traditional technique of fermenting sukumo in ash lye, calcium hydroxide, and wheat bran. Fermentation takes eleven days. They also make “kakishibu”, persimmon dye for fabrics. Once the fabric is dyed, which can include using the shibori method, it can be embellished with traditional sashiko or kogin embroidery, or even hand-painted. The fabric is then hand-sewn into kimono designs Tsuyo and Maki dream up together.

Tsuyo has trained hundreds of students to become licensed kimono-makers through five-year- long apprenticeships at her school in Sendai, Japan. Her daughter, Maki, is a Sonoma, CA, based artist who grew up in her mother’s kimono-making school. Maki studied floral design, calligraphy, and the koto, a traditional Japanese stringed musical instrument. Tsuyo and Maki have led multiple yukata (a casual summer kimono) making workshops in the U.S. including at the Workshop Residence in San Francisco, the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, and Sonoma Cultural Exchange.

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