Restoration In Progress–Taisho Peacock Furisode

This furisode is so screaming red, that if you look at it for too long in bright light and then look at a white wall, nothing happens. But I had you for a second, didn’t I? Another adventure in buying domestically, I think I probably paid too much for this one. But it’s so rare that I see both a peacock and a peahen, and they both just look delightfully pissed off. I’m guessing, with its age and its overall colour, that this is another example of a layer of san-mai-gasane. Which means somewhere out there are at least two more pairs of these two doing a mating dance that they’re both just really bitter about having to be around for. What can I say? I have a soft spot for sassy motherfucking birds.

Pictured: My sassy motherfucking bird.

I go over these very closely when I receive them, because oftentimes the original seller doesn’t think to inspect them as closely as I might. Little things get lost to eyes that don’t know what they’re looking at. I make it a point not to shit on people for not knowing what they have. I’m only ever legitimately upset if I find that I’ve been deliberately misled. That has really only happened once, and I was still able to repair it. I like to be clear about this because I do like making jokes about the strangeness–to me–of some of the “repairs” some of these kimono arrive to me with. It’s not meant to take a crap on anyone for doing it. It’s more of a “Well alright, I’ll add that to the list, teehee.” No bitterness, no anger. It’s important to me to be clear about that.

With that out of the way…YELLOW.

These stitches came out without having left any damage to the fabric, and so I don’t have much else to say about them. I was a bit more distressed about the SAFETY PINS that were holding part of the sleeve on. I took them out and smoothed the fabric around the holes to make sure that the pinholes weren’t otherwise damage to the cloth. They aren’t, and it’s good. But whew. Point to the seller, I knew they were there when I made the decision to buy it. It wasn’t a surprise.

Pictured: Not the Safety Dance.

As I’ve stated a few times now, I’ve gone about stain removal in a number of ways. I’ve been known to touch a stain to my tongue to see what it is, because having an idea of what it might be can tell me what will be most effective and safe at removing it. Since it’s still Pandemicing outside, this isn’t the year to fuck around with that. Because, suffice to say, I’ve been able to identify some foods, sauces and other…fluids. I do not recommend doing this. Do not do this. Wait, hold up. Is that mud?

Pictured: …the fuck?

… … … -Scratch scratch scratch, wipe wipe- … … …

Pictured: …hm.

Yes. Yes it is. That’s okay. I like mud. Mud typically just scratches right off and doesn’t leave any marks behind, unless it was fertilizer or clay or something. Just regular old mud is no problem at all. I think that probably most of the stains that I’m encountering on this beast are that. They scratch right off. Here’s a little trick I use when I need to get into those deep, sweet chirimen (crepe style) texture bits to remove dirt: a kneaded eraser. Make sure it’s clean. I have one I use for just this kind of stuff, but as an illustrator, I have a lot of these just lying around anyway. It picks up a lot of things. If you think it can adhere to another surface, don’t get it wet and try to scrub it away, scratch it off and pick it up with something tacky. Not poster putty. Fuck that, it’s oily.

Pictured: Sven the spider sees what has been done here, and they are not sins he will soon forget. The day of reckoning is coming, and the streets will flow with the blood of the non-believers. LOL Look at my plush spider.

Inside of the sleeves have cute little butterflies on the edges before the lining meets. There’s a stain no the inside of one, and it’s responding well to the vinegar stain removal treatment that I discussed in this post. Remember to first test an inside seam before doing this to make sure that the dye won’t run or fade–or you’ll cry. A lot.

Pictured: I wonder if it tastes like soy sauce or blood?

My biggest challenges with this piece are going to be the fraying and wear at the hem. Most of the kimono is very solid and sturdy. Even up where the sleeves are becoming detached from the body, that’s just some shit that happens sometimes. Most of my work with this furisode is going to be sewing, and I’m cool with that. But down at the hem, we’ve got some significant wear.

Those weren’t well documented in the seller photos, and I didn’t even see them until it was an inch from my face. I’m not totally convinced that it’s shattering, because…well, it’s a touch thing. If you could come over here and touch a piece that has problems with shattering vs. this, I think you’d catch my meaning. I think this got dragged around on the ground one too many times. My plan is to take some fabric from the inside of the seam allowance and mount it behind the wear. I’ve gotten pretty good at doing this in a way that makes these spots almost invisible. If it’s shattering, this is cosmetic. If it’s wear, it can be considered a structural repair. I can’t be sure until I redo some of these seams, but I’m pretty sure this piece is going to be sturdy enough to wear.

Now that we’ve pretty well covered what all is wrong with this kimono, let’s talk about what’s right, because there is actually quite a lot! First, the embroidered embellishments on both peafowl are just perfect. Look how fucking angry they are to be perfect:

There isn’t a spot on them that I can find. And I really had to look, because as you can see, this fucker kimono is quite wrinkled. Well…and it will be until I’m done with stain removals.

I learned the hard way that you don’t apply heat to anything you want to remove unless heat is required for that specific stain. Therefore, one of the last things to be done with a kimono that I purchase with the intention to restore is iron it. That will happen before I sew it back together and after the stains have been removed. Anyway, I pointed that out because there’s a lot of shadows cast all over the place on this piece, and those shadows are lying to me a lot. It’s cleaner than it looks! I can’t find any fading problems or sun bleaching, either. The red is even and solid everywhere.

Another perfectly intact detail are the tiny threads of gold woven into some of the eyes of the peacock’s tail feathers. Not every eye has them, but lots of them do. When the kimono fabric turns in the light, they glitter. I checked each individual item for wear, fraying, or popped stitches, and couldn’t find any. That was a colossal pain in the ass, but it was worth it, because these are beautiful goddamn details.

Pictured: SHINY.

There is no kinsai (gold paint) on this piece to begin with, and therefore there’s none to repair. Thank. Fucking. God. Because I’ve just about finished the kinsai restoration on this piece, and if I had to do another full furisode’s worth right in a row, I might just burn the fucking building down instead. Which isn’t to say that I hate doing it. I wouldn’t keep doing it if I hated it. It’s just…well, you might love chocolate ice cream, but you wouldn’t snort it, would you? Something like that.

So! Seeing as how most of the stains are just kind of scratching off, and the other damages are sewing related, this is probably going to be a pretty quick restoration. It’ll only take me a few hours to redo the sleeves, and most of the other seams are intact. The fraying is going to take a little special attention, but it’s also something I’ve done several times before, and therefore I’m feeling pretty confident about it. I won’t start that until I’ve finished the furisode I’m working on. I’m entering the home stretch for that one, so probably soon.

Last thing. This kimono was packaged as though it was getting ready to be sent through a goddamn battle zone. Like, in a box, covered in peanuts, then in packing tape, over large bubble wrap, that was on top of plastic wrap. Inside all of this was the kimono, stuffed in as small a package as possible. By the time I made it to the layer that was actually making contact with the kimono, I was laughing so hard I could barely see it.

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