The Glass Kimono

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“This is the first in a series of four freestanding life-size kimonos representing the four seasons during different times of the day. This kimono is made of 19 separate pieces of woven glass supported by a metal mannequin. At 125 pounds, it is the largest woven glass structure in the world.”

When Eric Markow and Thom Norris took their first fusing class at the Weisser Studio few could have predicted how they would soon take the art world by storm! Their stunning works of woven glass are in private collections and galleries around the world, and they have been featured in countless magazines, as well as on the CBS News show Sunday Morning.  For the past four years, they have been working on a series of four life-sized woven glass kimonos representing the seasons, the first of which debuted at their solo show at Weisser Gallery in 2009. Their third kimono will be unveiled at the November 2012 SOFA exhibit in Chicago.

The kimono is a Japanese traditional garment. The word “kimono”, which literally means a “thing to wear” (ki “wear” and mono “thing”),has come to denote these full-length robes. The standard plural of the word kimono in English is kimonos, but the unmarked Japanese plural kimono is also sometimes used.

Kimono are T-shaped, straight-lined robes worn so that the hem falls to the ankle, with attached collars and long, wide sleeves. Kimono are wrapped around the body, always with the left side over the right (except when dressing the dead for burial) and secured by a sash called an obi, which is tied at the back. Kimono are generally worn with traditional footwear (especially zōri or geta) and split-toe socks (tabi)

“The word ‘kimono’, literally means a ‘thing to wear’

Autumn Sunset is the first in a series of four freestanding life-size kimonos representing the four seasons during different times of day. The kimono features the endless color changes evident in both an autumn changing landscape as well as an ever-changing sunset sky. Autumn Sunset is made of 19 separate pieces of woven glass supported by a metal mannequin. At 125 pounds, Autumn Sunset kimono is the largest woven glass sculpture in the world. Autumn Sunset is followed in the series by Winter Twilight, Spring Dawn, and Summer Zenith.

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Kimonos are traditionally made from a single bolt of fabric called a tan. Tan come in standard dimensions—about 36 centimetres wide and 11.5 metres long—and the entire bolt is used to make one kimono. The finished kimono consists of four main strips of fabric—two panels covering the body and two panels forming the sleeves—with additional smaller strips forming the narrow front panels and collar. Historically, kimonos were often taken apart for washing as separate panels and resewn by hand. Because the entire bolt remains in the finished garment without cutting, the kimono can be retailored easily to fit another person.

Autumn Sunset is made up of 19 separate pieces of woven glass supported by a metal mannequin. The kimono weights 125 pounds and is the largest woven glass sculpture in the world.

Traditionally, kimonos are sewn by hand; even machine-made kimonos require substantial hand-stitching. Kimono fabrics are frequently hand-made and -decorated. Techniques such as yūzen dye resist are used for applying decoration and patterns to the base cloth. Repeating patterns that cover a large area of a kimono are traditionally done with the yūzen resist technique and a stencil. Over time there have been many variations in color, fabric and style, as well as accessories such as the obi.

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