Tuesday, September 13, 2016

towel brush etegami

The town of Senshuu (known for being the origin of towel production in Japan) is calling for etegami painted by "towel brush," so I thought I would give it a try. A towel brush is basically a chopstick or other stick that has a small piece of terry cloth towel wrapped around one end, fastened tightly with rubber bands.

There are no hard and fast rules about how to make a towel brush, but I basically followed the directions in the image posted below. The merit --or charm-- of using a towel brush instead of a regular ink brush is supposed to be the coarseness and sloppiness of the lines. I certainly had difficulty affixing the towel tightly enough to the stick to use it with any control at all. And I quickly learned that, when dipped into my sumi ink bottle, the towel brush soaks up the ink so fast I have trouble keeping the bottle filled. It feels kind of wasteful, to tell the truth...

The dragonfly (top photo) was my first attempt. I hated it. But later it started to grow on me. The words are from a children's song about dragonflies and sunsets.

The next three attempts. I hated these too. The cucumber says "(Summer is over but) I still have a role to play." The open jar says "I let the fireflies go."

I was pretty disappointed with my towel brush etegami attempts up to this point, so for the next three I made even simpler images. I also used a gel pen to write the words, because I had to fit too many words on each card to attempt it with the thick towel brush. Each quotes a line from a different poem by Japanese poet Kudo Naoko. Top left is a yawning cloud. Top right is a grape dreaming of becoming the moon. Bottom middle shows scattered pieces of a broken heart waiting to be picked up. I hate these too, but I'll look at them again next week and maybe I will feel differently.

Obviously I need lots more practice. Especially practice making towel brushes. The sample art on the poster (top photo) is quite charming though. I wish I could produce something like that. We'll see.


  1. I like how you changed your feelings about your attemps. I will give a try too :)

  2. I think they all have a charm about them, that comes from giving up some control. I love all of your work, just lovely. ♥

  3. Let them rest for a while and you will see them in different perspective. And you won't hate them - they have their charm and your hand is clearly visible :)

  4. I think it's always good to try something new and I like the results, specially the grape's dream of becoming the moon