Antique Komon–Juicy Purple Waves

Wild Crashing Waves On Sheer Woven Deep Purple Silk.

Today was hot and humid. I think it’s been a pretty standard August here in Chicagoland so far, in spite of the weather being insane in other places. Although, sometimes the air quality isn’t great because of the smoke blowing over us from both the West Coast wild fires and the Canadian ones. I gotta tell you, it’s weird as fuck to walk outside in Chicagoland and say “Smells like there’s a fire in Canada.” I hope everyone out there is as safe as they can be. Out here, at least, it’s another fantastic day to showcase a summer weight item. So here we have this delightful ro (a sheer silk weave that skips lines) kimono. A komon, not to be confused with “kamon” (family crest), is a casual kimono meant for everyday wear. They are often decorated with an all over pattern that can be basically combination of things. This one is just big, dramatic, crashing waves. It’s so goddamn simple and I love it.

I’m not a huge fan of komon usually. Tiny all over patterns make me dizzy. I have a distaste for anything I can describe as “flower barf.” But I do like things that are especially striking. I like motion and flow, and this one has it. Maybe I just like larger patterns.

This komon is made of silk, as I confirmed with the burn test many moons ago, but I do not have provenance on it. I barely remember where I even got it from, although I do know that I purchased it direct from Japan. I want to say I remember it being called an antique then. The large pattern and the length of the sleeve drop make me reasonably sure that this is a Pre-WWII kimono. My best research suggests that we stopped seeing such long sleeve drops on casual items post war for a number of reasons. Materials, labor, country in shambles. You know, war shit.

This piece was a colossal pain in the ass to photograph. I had to do color correction on the body of the kimono, so I apologize if it seems a bit processed. I’m not a great photographer to begin with, but I am a Photoshop expert. I mean that literally. The kimono photographs blue. It’s purple. The damn thing is purple. So that was a thing I had to handle. I wanted it to appear correctly, and while I couldn’t make my camera do the fucking needful, I can just fix it later. The big white nami (waves) are as accurate as they are in person, though. So I’ve got that going for me.

I’m not sure if I would call this a restoration, although several of the people I talk to about my restorations told me that I should. I did some stain removals and I basically had to sew all of the front panels and the collar back on. Unfortunately, I did that like…eight years ago. So I don’t have any record of doing it. I didn’t take a singe picture of the stains or attempt to record my process at all. Although I think I probably have an old-ass Facebook messenger log that mentions me putting it back together when asked what I was doing.

Isn’t it weird how we remember random shit like that? I don’t remember much about the circumstances under which I bought it, but I remember rattling on a bit about sewing it back together to someone who rattles back to me about their crafts. It’s that–I like hearing about my people’s projects. I like when my friends bombard me with pictures of their creations. It makes my day every time, and I’ll remember what I was doing when they showed me their fucking victories.

Maybe that’s why I like this kimono. It reminds me of happy conversations on quiet hot nights. Up in the middle of the night, like I always am, with someone else who can’t sleep so they create stuff instead. Those are good nights, I think.

Oh hey! This is a really good time to illustrate what ro vs. sha is in the context of summer weight silk weaves. Check this shit out. This is ro:

Pictured: YOU CAN’T SEE ME

And this is sha:

Pictured: Peek-a-booo

Ro is defined by its horizontal lines that skip a space a every few. Sha is more of a smooth gauze. And of course, there are outliers, but this is basically the two you’ll encounter the most in terms of summer weight weaves.

The coming weeks are going to be exciting as fuck because I’ve been taught how to work with some dyes to correct more issues than just black, and I will soon have everything I need in my possession to do these things. That means being able to fill in fades on colored silks, redraw patterns, and god knows what else. Shit’s about to get weird, and I’m super stoked.


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