The Citizens' Hall was also showing an exhibit of oshie, a traditional Japanese art that's kind of a cross between a quilt and a mosaic. I dropped by the exhibit before the school's performance started, and the lady who organized it asked me to come back today for an oshie lesson. (She had mailed me an invitation earlier, but I was lazy and didn't reply by the deadline.)
When I showed up this morning, I was surprised to find a photographer present. It seems a bunch of foreigners (ALTs and exchange students) in town were all invited, and the photographer went around taking pictures of the whole process of the foreigners learning how to do oshie. I hadn't expected that, but I did want to learn this particular craft, so oh well. I have no idea where the photographs are going to wind up being published...I probably should have asked.
The first step is to draw a picture as if it were a mosaic and then cut each piece out of thin cardboard. This was already done for us before we arrived. Since it was only a demonstration, it was a simple picture of two gourds. (The pictures on display in the exhibit were MUCH more complicated.) The cardboard pieces are then each covered with cotton batting that is cut to the same shape. Once the cotton is trimmed, the piece is covered with decorative fabric and the edges are glued to the back of the cardboard.
The gluing is accomplished by using a bamboo skewer to spread a small amount of glue on the edge of the cardboard. The fabric is folded over onto the glue and then ironed down using a device called a kote. The kote (in the picture) is simply a wedge of metal with a handle that is left resting on a heat source until needed. Damp cloths are kept nearby to cool them off if they get too hot.
Once the fabric is completely glued down, the pieces look like the picture on the left. This particular kind of fabric is called chirimen and is a traditional Japanese textile. (Most fabric stores here sell it in small squares for crafts.)
Finally, the pieces are given the bows as a finishing touch and glued onto a flat board suitable for hanging on the wall. (The items in the exhibit had other more elaborate things done to them, such as having fine details painted on.) I thought this turned out well for a first try.