Plant based botanical dye has usually been applied to textiles or paper. Many of Kitayama Eita’s pieces are dyed with extracts of plants, which he managed to fix onto wood. The plants he uses most often are pomegranate, bayberry (wax myrtle, photo image) bark, and camellia flowers. All of them are locally and sustainably grown or foraged.
Interestingly, the artist has never tried to use urushi-lacquer, persimmon tannin or even indigo leaves, which have all been widely used in Japanese crafts. He chose to apply less tested botanical dyes instead, with extra work through trial and error. The artist said he preferred not to categorize his works in the traditional Japanese crafts framework.
And the results are stunning: gorgeous chestnut brown, charcoal with a purple hue, ash gold with a hint of green, and endless variations of graphite grey (the photographs do not do them justice. You will need to see the actual pieces with different angles and lighting). “It is a great joy to choose the dye to (or not to) apply, thinking about how the finished piece would look when mixed with the wood’s original colour and character. Sometimes it is so hard to decide that I would leave the turned piece to rest for a while”, the artist said.
Amongst all the source materials for his dyes, camellia petals has a special place in his heart, as it’s the first plant that he tried to dye wooden items, with the flowers from his grandfather’s garden trees.
What is Liquid Glass?
Liquid glass has been attracting attention from many woodworkers in Japan. It is a relatively new nano-technology coating formula using the same materials used in glass.
Liquid silica quartz soaks into the grain of the wood, then vitrifies and protects the wood at the nano-fibre level. It is invisible, so it won't change the appearance of the wood; bio-degradable, water resistance, food safe and stain free.
Many of Kitayama's wooden pieces are finished with liquid glass. This not only makes them food safe and maintenance free, but also that they will retain their colour from natural dye for many years and are unlikely to decay.
Read the following blog article about the artist.