September Introduction to Chado

Introduction to Chado class
Starts on Wednesday, September 13, 7:30-9:00 pm. 10 weeks

The essence of Japanese culture is contained in Chado, the way of tea.
Students in this class will learn the etiquette of how to be a guest at a tea ceremony, the basic order of the tea ceremony and how to whisk green powdered matcha ceremonial tea. Students will also participate in 6 Japanese tea ceremonies from informal to semi-formal tea gatherings. An overview of Japanese arts and how the tea ceremony has influenced Japanese culture will be presented. Students will also be learn about tea ceramics, Japanese gardens, calligraphy, kimono dressing, and incense ceremony. They will also be introduced to zazen meditation and discuss how to put tea practice into every day life.

Places are limited. Reserve your spot with at $50 deposit. Use the button at right.
Fee: $250, includes all materials, tea and sweets for 10 weeks
Location: The Jasmine Pearl Darjeeling room, 724 NE 22nd Ave., Portland, OR 97232

For more information contact Marjorie Yap, Instructor
Phone: 503.645.7058
email: margie[at]issoantea[dot]com or use the contact form at the bottom of the About page here

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Stencils and indigo

Last Saturday we held the Katzome workshop with Tyler Peterson, textile artist. It was a cloudy overcast day which was a relief from the triple digit weather we have had over the past week.   After Tyler introduced himself he talked about how katazome (stencil resist ) is used in kimono and other clothing.  He showed us some photos of his work

We talked about making the resist paste with recipes and sources, and then we got to work hands on by helping him make a batch of paste.  The ingredients were mixed and formed into a doughnut shape and put in a steamer to cook.  While the paste was steaming, we took a look at some historical stencils, modern adaptations of stencils,  books of stencils and Japanese motifs. Tyler then gave us the opportunity to draw and then cut our own stencil designs using mylar and x-acto knives.  Everyone had a chance to show their creativity.  Big, bold, or cute or delicate, traditional or modern. While we were working on our designs and stencils, the paste was cooked and Tyler showed us how to add the other ingredients and and using the suribachi (Japanese mortar and pestle) to grind the paste and incorporate the ingredients and finally thin it to a good consistency.

When the paste was ready he showed us how to squeegee the paste through the stencil so that the patter came out on the cloth.

We hung the cloth to dry the paste.  Meanwhile, Tyler talked with us about indigo dyeing.  He had two vats, one natural indigo and synthetic. Keeping a vat going means feeding and caring for it.  Things that I did not know about is that indigo is the only natural vegetable source of blue color, and that the dye lays on top of the cloth, not penetrates into it.  So you can layer indigo through several dippings to get darker colors.  Also like blue jeans and denim the color can also flake off and run. 

When indigo comes out of the dye vat, it is this greenish color but  we dipped it in water to reduce the oxygen it turns that beautiful brilliant blue.  Subsequent dippings can make it darker and longer times in the vat you also can get ombré effects by how slowly you dip and take out the cloth. To dip the cloth without gloves, we used these thin bamboo sticks that have a needle in each end.  The bamboo is flexible so you can bend them and attach them with the needles to make handles to dip the cloth. Again, the cloth comes out green, but dip it in the water and it gradually turns blue.  Magic!

When the stenciled paste was dry we got to try our own hand at making handles, and dyeing.  Once the cloth is dry, you can soak it in hot water to remove the paste.  Here is my finished piece.  I wonder what I can make with it — a handbag?

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Katazome workshop

Please join us for an introduction to Katazome workshop with textile artist and instructor Tyler Peterson. Fee $35 covers materials. To sign up see Margie or use the paypal button on the right to reserve your spot.  Registration is very limited so sign up early.

Katazome is a surface design process used for centuries in Japanese textile decoration, especially with cloth destined to become kimonos. For centuries artisans created a resist paste made from a rice flour mixture and applied this paste to cloth through the use of elaborately hand carved stencils. Wherever this paste is applied will resist the dye, creating a pattern. Traditionally Katazome is paired with indigo to create the iconic white and dark blue of many Japanese textiles.

During this 3 hour crash course we will dive into the basics of katazome. We will cover the preparation of the fabric and the resist paste, the making of stencils, the application of the paste onto fabric, and the dyeing of the fabric in a natural indigo vat. Along with having access to vintage stencils from Japan we will also discuss advanced forms and non-traditional DIY methods that one can use at home.

Tyler Peterson is an artist and educator based in Portland, OR. He graduated with his MFA in Applied Craft + Design and was awarded the program’s 2015-2016 Fellowship position. He has shown work in Oregon, Colorado, and Tennessee and recently finished a residency with c3:initiative and Pulp & Deckle. Since 2014 he has been an instructor for WildCraft Studio School teaching classes on natural dyes and traditional Japanese textile processes. You can see examples of his work at the Jasmine Pearl Tea Shop, 724 NE 22nd Ave., Portland, OR 97232


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Gathering of the tribe

That is what my husband calls tea events, whether it is Hatsugama, an anniversary celebration, a koshukai, a convention or a large chakai, we get together with other chajin and enjoy tea, sweets and company of our kindred who understand “that we are the lucky ones whose hearts were stolen by tea.”

Recently, I had the good fortune to attend the Wakai 35th anninversary event here in Portland last month.  It was held in the famous and newly renovated Portland Japanese Garden.  Even though the temperatures soared, the garden was much cooler for the abundant shade trees and higher elevation above the city. I loved the toriawase in that some of the utensils were those I had studied with Minako sensei and had not seen since she passed away.

There were two seki,  Usucha and Koicha.  The Usucha seki was held in the large pavilion inside the garden and it was air conditioned.  This lovely pavilion overlooks the city of Portland in a picture postcard framing with Mt. Hood in the background. The Koicha seki was held in the lovely Kashintei tea house in the lower part of the garden. Kashintei was built in Japan in the 1960s, taken apart, shipped to the U.S. and reassembled on site. It uses traditional building techniques of joinery and wood pegs — no nails or screws.  It is a yojohan, 4 1/2 mats and built as a presentation space so it has an area for chairs for people to observe what is going on in the tatami mat space.

The new part of the garden, designed by Kengo Kuma and dedicated only this April, consists of a large open plaza, buildings housing offices, library, the Japanese Garden institute, gift shop and tea cafe.  There is also a bonsai terrace and soon to be a chabana garden. While the anniversary events were going on, the Behind the Shoji gift exhibition was going on featuring Japanese and Japanese inspired art and crafts.

After the Japanese Garden events, there was a banquet at the Chart house with a lovely view of Portland and the Willamette river. I especially appreciated that the organizers of the event had mixed the seating arrangements so that our table mates were from different places and we introduced ourselves to some people we had not met before.

I think it is wonderful that so many people get to travel to see other people to renew acquaintances, see old class mates, meet people in person who they have only met on online, and meet people for the very first time. We all share a love for the way of tea, and there is no explanation needed for how long it takes to study how to make tea, or why you want to dress up in silk to sit on your knees until your legs go numb. Indeed is a gathering of the tribe.

“In tea, there are no strangers.”

*Sorry for the blurry photos


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An evening with Margaret Chula

An Evening with Margaret Chula, Internationally recognized Haiku and Tanka poet

Please join us Monday July 24th, for an evening with Maggie Chula. She will discuss haiku, tanka, senryu, and haibun and also read from her own work. At the end she will encourage students to write their own poems. She will also have some of her books of poetry for sale. Tea and sweets will be served. Seating is limited. Please sign up with Margie, or go to:

Margaret Chula lived in Japan for twelve years where she taught English and creative writing at universities in Kyoto. Her books include Grinding my ink (Haiku Society of America Book Award); This Moment; Shadow Lines (with Rich Youmans); Always Filling, Always Full; and The Smell of Rust. She has published poems in Prairie Schooner, Kyoto Journal, Poet Lore, America’s Review, and Runes, as well as in numerous haiku journals around the world. One of her haiku appears on Itoen tea bottles sold in stores and vending machines throughout Japan. Her one-woman performance of Japanese women poets (“Three Women Who Loved Love”), premiered in Krakow, Poland in 2003 and toured to Canada, Japan, and the U.S. From 2010 to 2013 she was Poet Laureate for Chamber Music NW.

Margaret lives in Portland, Oregon, where she continues to teach and give work- shops at universities, poetry societies and Zen centers. Grants from Oregon Literary Arts and the Regional Arts & Culture Council have supported collaborations with artists, musicians, photographers and dancers.

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