Katazome allows me to separate the production of the image from the application of color, a process more akin to printmaking than to painting. The stencil itself is made from several layers of thin mulberry fiber paper, which have been laminated with persimmon juice and smoked, yielding an aromatic brown paper. It is brittle and easy to cut when dry, but leathery and tough when wet. A layer of silk mesh lacquered on the top surface protects even the most intricate stencil from damage when the rice paste resist is spread through it onto the fabric. Then the fabric is either dipped into the indigo vat, or stretched like a hammock and dye painted. The pattern emerges when the resist is soaked off. I began carving stencils using mostly traditional Japanese patterns and they taught me much about cutting techniques and the layout of the design. This “apprenticeship” ultimately enabled me to design my own stencils, inspired by the images which speak most deeply to me.