ABOUT ZUSETSU'S SNOWFLOWER FUROSHIKI
Snowflower: made in Kyoto, designed by Zusetsu!
Snowflower: Our First Zusetsu Furoshiki!
Hello everyone! We are beyond excited to announce our first ever Zusetsu original furoshiki, Snowflower!
As a furoshiki store, we always dreamed of one day having our very own, unique furoshiki. We also knew that our furoshiki would need to be absolutely perfect and truly represent who we are. It took more than a year of hard work, but we couldn't be more proud of our Snowflower❤️
The design and the name hold so much meaning to us. Most importantly, Snowflower is made in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. Our furoshiki is screen-printed by hand, using the traditional techniques passed down by generations. Here we'll share our Snowflower journey - from the prototypes to the final product.
We hope you fall in love with Snowflower the way we did too x
Meet the Designer
Cathy in the poppy and daisy fields near our home in the Cotswolds
Hi, I'm Cathy! I'm the founder of Zusetsu and the designer behind our new Zusetsu Snowflower Furoshiki. I’m a children’s book illustrator with over 30 years experience of illustrating books for top children’s publishers, educational publishers, and magazines here in the UK and also Europe and the USA.
When I began Zusetsu, my dream was to make a connection with the incredibly skillful artisans based in Kyoto and further afield in Japan, and to provide a platform for their products.
I love how artisan skills have been honed to the highest level and passed down through the generations. I love the high quality of the furoshiki print and textiles that we stock instore, and as I learned more about the processes I was keen to design our first Zusetsu furoshiki.
The Inspiration: Kyoto in the Snow
It was January when I visited Kyoto to establish Zusetsu. I learned to fold and tie furoshiki in the city and met with furoshiki companies. One Sunday morning I stood in the Imperial Palace Gardens as tiny flakes of snow began to fall, breathing in the early sweet scent of the first plum blossoms. I wanted our first furoshiki to capture that moment.
Kyoto plum blossom on a wintry January day in 2019.
Plum blossoms covered with snow have long been regarded as exquisitely beautiful in Kyoto: the Heian diarist Sei Shonagon, lady to the Empress Teishi, describes them in her list of 'Elegant Things'.
The Inspiration: the Cherry Orchard
We have a very beloved cherry orchard that we walk to across the fields at home in the Cotswolds, and every winter we look forward to the trees flowering once more.
We begin to walk that way, and look for the progress of the buds.
The white-flowering trees look like snow, especially as the petals scatter to the ground.
The Art Brief: A Gift-wrapping for Special Presents
Yukki and I wanted our design to be perfect for gift-wrapping special presents. We realised that furoshiki look spectacular in a formal table setting, and so we designed our first furoshiki to look especially elegant as a wedding table favour gift-wrapping; for wrapping bridal party gifts; and for creating little confetti furoshiki ring bags for flowergirls and bridesmaids.
The snow white background, and the understated simplicity of the cherry blossom design combines with the skill and artistry of the Kyoto craftspeople, to create a memento truly unique, that creates a beautiful table focal piece.
Snowflower was designed to look especially elegant in a formal table setting.
For this Easter wedding, we wrapped small boxes of wedding table favours in our bunny ears furoshiki wrapping style. The pink of Snowflower was echoed in the table flowers, and looked so romantic!
If you would like to enquire about furoshiki for your wedding, contact us, we would love to help you on your special day!
The Design: From Sketch to Print
On one of our walks to the orchard I picked up some of the fallen blossoms and made sketches of them, which over time evolved into our sakura design.
Sketches of the cherry blossom
Next, I used our original Japanese colour palette with which to paint the sakura petals. The pink is actually called sakura iro ('cherry blossom colour') on the Japanese palette chart. I've used it in two shades - there is a paler version of the same pink running across the design. I wanted the flowers to look like falling, tumbling snow-shapes.
A screenshot of our Snowflower furoshiki being designed with a Japanese palette!
We experimented with a lot of different variations of this cherry blossom design and created various prototypes. It was very important to us that we achieved the correct colour combinations, and for us to see how the design would look when tied as a gift wrap.
This was our first prototype design!
We created a design that is elegant and understated, with scattered cherry blossoms in two shades of pink on a snow white ground. This truly brings out the beauty of the textured shantung fabric :)
The beautifully textured cotton of Kyoto furoshiki
The Creation: Screen-Printing in Kyoto
It was important to us that our furoshiki is authentic and of the same high quality as the other Kyoto furoshiki that we stock. We partnered with Mashu, a professional furoshiki screen-printing company in Kyoto, to create our design in the traditional way.
Our artwork has been transposed onto two screens, and the artwork is applied traditionally, by hand.
Isn’t it amazing how the cloth is laid out on these huge horizontal supports, and how each furoshiki screen is applied individually, one after the other!
They very kindly sent us these photos of our first furoshiki being created, and they took my breath away!
Kyoto company Ino-kichi screen-print the cotton for
the Pochette Gamaguchi Shoulder Bags in a similar way, by hand.
We are very much looking forward to visiting the workshop
in Kyoto in the future!
The Name: Snowflower
Yukki with Snowflower :)
Now all that was left was to name our dear furoshiki! This was an easy decision as Cathy always knew she wanted to name the furoshiki after Yukki, her Zusetsu partner :) Yukki's name in Japanese means "snow flower". This name truly suits our furoshiki as while sakura are typically regarded as spring motifs, we also wanted to capture a snowy, quiet Japanese winter scene with a few delicate flower petals in the snow. The simple yet elegant design makes it perfect for winter gifts as well as weddings too x
The Finished Product!
If you can't tell, we are thrilled to bits with how our furoshiki turned out. It's been tremendously exciting to launch Snowflower here in our Zusetsu online store!
But we have an update to our Snowflower story! Owing to your wonderful support, and Snowflower Pink's popularity, we have been able to launch Snowflower in a beautiful blue.
Screen-printed by hand in Kyoto in just the same way, our Snowflower Blue is a gorgeous colourway, combining a beautiful rich blue with a soft, pale gray-blue. You can read more about Snowflower Blue here!
We are passionate about creating furoshiki designs that inspire us. We aim to continue to work closely with our highly-skilled artisan Kyoto furoshiki printers and friends. We are honoured that our furoshiki are made where furoshiki originated all those centuries ago :)
We hope you have enjoyed reading our Snowflower story!
Thank you for reading, and see you soon!
Cathy and Yukki