Saturday, January 26, 2008

Furoshiki - now we can get rid of those plastic bags!

I don't even know how I got to this website. A link from a link from a link. But this reminded me of my days in Misawa, Japan.

When I was stationed in Misawa in the mid-70's, plastic "T-shirt" bags had yet to be invented. When you went to the store off-base and bought anything - no matter how big or small, it was wrapped in paper. Not just any paper, but Origami type paper. And the ladies wrapping it didn't use the first piece of string or tape. It was so folded that your purchase was inside and with a flick of a finger, the whole thing would unwrap. It was fascinating to behold.

But since those days, Japan has become Westernized. They use somewhere in the neighborhood of 60,000,000 plastic bags a year! This is an island nation. Part of it is very mountainous. The flatter sections are very populated. They just don't have room for trash. The Japanese government is promoting a throwback craft. Furoshiki (Fu-roshe-kee)

It's the art of taking cloth squares and wrapping things in it. You can make totes, purses, baskets and carriers from cloth that are very functional. It requires no stitching, beyond hemming a square of fabric. Once hemmed, you just fold and tie it to cover whatever it is you're looking to cover. And when you no longer need the item wrapped, the cloth is good to go for another item.

The squares are made of cotton, silk, or any combo of fibers. You don't want a stiff fabric, but one that is easy to knot and unknot. They are any size from about 12" squared to 72" squared. The most common size is the 27" - 41" range. I've been playing with the wrapping techniques by using a 17" square napkin I just happen to have.

Here is a link of wrapping techniques:
This chart of folding techniques is read from top to bottom, left to right. About 1/2 way down the page is a second way to fold, so there's 5 columns with 2 tips each.

Here's a second link with some history and more background info:

Here is a YouTube link of a Furoshiki shop in Japan. Part of it is in Japanese, but part of it is in English. Enough that you can understand what's going on. He's showing how to make a purse/bag/tote from a 42" square of cloth.

And last, but not least, here is a really cool video on how to fold a t-shirt. It's two folds and it's done. It took us a couple of tries, but we can now do this ourselves! The lady in the video takes about 10 seconds to fold the shirt - and that's only because she's demonstrating it to us.
Here is the video on YouTube:

And here are the written, translated instructions:


LizBeth said...

I've got one. Somewhere. It was purple and white. Now I know how to fold it.

LizBeth said...

Hey! This is my favorite furoshiki link. I watch them sometime (without the annoying music) just to relax. Better than bedtime stories!

Do you remember the Pack 'n Wrap near the BX? I loved to watch the little ladies hmm and haw over how to wrap a package. I sent a guitar back before I ETS'd out. They wrapped and wrapped and tied it like a mummy, and it got home just fine.

LizBeth said...

Okay. One more. I probably deleted this one too quickly, too. It's a video I found on a site from Misawa --- down at the bottom of the page: