Follow the Thread

a textile & costume history blog from the Design Center at Thomas Jefferson University

Katagami, Part 2

05.18.2023

T&CC 1984.68.39, katagami stencil

Click here to read Katagami, Part 1.

by Emily Radomski

Here at the Design Center, we are incredibly fortunate to house 44 unique katagami stencils. Donated by Jack and Helen Bershad in the 1980s, it was noted that these stencils likely date to the Meiji Era in Japan which would place them between the years 1868-1912. The beautiful botanical and geometric designs the katagami stencils feature had a resurgence in popularity in the late 20th century and early 21st century.

T&CC 1984.68.5, katagami stencil

In fact, our very own katagami stencils were displayed in an exhibition here at the Design Center in 1985.  Their display was an attempt to bring awareness to this incredibly special craft. The exhibit, titled “Katagami: The Art of Japanese Stencils,” included a selection of our stencils that were carefully mounted and hung on the gallery walls for attendees to view. A variety of photographs were also displayed and depicted the process of dyeing with these historical stencils. Below is the announcement for that exhibit and some images that were on display.  

1985 exhibit announcement

My final project as a Collection Intern here at the Textile and Costume Collection was to unearth our katagami pieces and digitize them.  This involved photographing and cataloging each one. It has been a great opportunity to expose myself to the wonderful design elements these stencils have to offer. They are truly inspiring. Our hope is that they can inspire other students who may discover our collection digitally and we encourage scheduling a visit to the Design Center to see their incredible detail in person!

1984.68.29, katagami stencil

To view all of our katagami stencils, please visit our online JSTOR collection.

Collection Intern, Textile & Costume Collection, The Design Center, Thomas Jefferson University

Images of objects in our collection are copyrighted by Thomas Jefferson University. For inquiries regarding permissions and use fees, please contact: thedesigncenter@jefferson.edu.