Handmade products are valued more than ever. For its rarity… possibly. But perhaps more than just the scarcity value.

We humans seem to feel at ease, warm, and close to those with human touch. The uneven surface, cracked edges, irregular patterns and smudges.

Something that’s usually considered “inappropriate” as industrial products becomes something to be praised for… and the admiration of imperfection is another wholesome topic of Japanese culture.

It’s not surprising that in the world of crafts, “handcrafted” works almost like a seal of approval or sometimes a pardoner for imperfections.

On the other end of the spectrum though, do we value less when crafts are “machine-made”? Is it an easy shortcut to perfection?

Arakei Orimono’s textile would be classified under the “machine-made” category. Yes, they use machines, i.e., electricity-powered looms… made about a hundred years ago. 

Arai at the loom

Arai stands by the loom to check if everything is going well. It is not uncommon to find a string cut off or pulled, which could result in ruining the entire piece as long as 14 metres or longer.

half wooden powered loom

The letters on the sign on the loom translate as half-wooden powered loom.

I sense the manufacturer’s pride in the declaration of “electricity-powered”. Imagine that, a century ago.

These half-wooden looms are no longer manufactured. Therefore if a part breaks, Arai has to find a way other than buying a replacement; it includes finding secondhand looms with the part they need, or making one by themselves.

Do these half-wooden powered looms produce perfect textiles? You guessed it right. Arai shows me some of the works he has said no to. And it takes me a while to see the misalignments he is pointing out for me.

I wonder if the current raving of handmade may blind us from the essence of creation. But the hope is in that we humans find comfort in the gradation in between. Not in the “intended imperfection” or “impeccable perfection” or… “complete lack of effort”. The history of creation proves that.

If you wish to visit their studio to see their works, and custom tailor your kimono with their textile of your choice, contact Hello(at)wisdomtoolkit(dot)co

Arakei Orimono Textile
Arakei Orimono Textile

Read more about Arakei Orimono

See more Arakei Orimono works


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