When Tuttle offered to send over a copy of Wrapping With Fabric for me to review, I was pretty excited for an excuse to use the many furoshiki I had brought home from Japan with me. Oh the things I would wrap and how lovely they would look!
What I discovered is that, 7 years and 5 moves later, your furoshiki collection is not going to be easy to find. In fact, feel free to comb through boxes of vintage kimono, take a little time to visit your kokeshi collection, spend a little time with your memories of Japan, because those furoshiki will not reveal themselves easily. Or, at all.
But you might just find that homemade furoshiki you made 4 or so years (and 3 or so moves) ago and it will do just fine (though not quite as fine as the ones you were really looking for).
And then, when you do finally get to open the book, the foreword by Amy Katoh might just make you a little weepy - your own memories of life in Japan mingling with her furoshiki-wrapped ones.
Anyway, I digress. Let's talk about this lovely book!
Do you know furoshiki? Essentially, a furoshiki is a square (or, as the book explains, not quite square) piece of fabric used for wrapping any and every thing. The practice of wrapping items in fabric has been practiced in Japan for more than 1000 years and has gained momentum again, both in Japan and overseas, as we've moved away from plastic bags towards more eco-friendly forms of packaging and carrying things.
Wrapping With Fabric is written by Etsuko Yamada who comes from a family of furoshiki makers and now works as the art director for Kyoto Wa-Bunka Institute MUSUBI in Tokyo - the first shop specializing in furoshiki in Japan. You really couldn't find someone more qualified to write a book on this subject!
The book itself feels like a Japanese craft book - which is, indeed, a good thing. Clear and simple step by step instructions. Plenty of pictures. Beautiful editorial shots mingle with clean studio shots.
The front section of the book features a handy photo index, instructions on the basic knots you will need to recreate the various wrapping methods, and lots of examples of the versatility of furoshiki.
The middle meaty section of the book features 40 step-by-step wrapping methods from how to wrap a books, bottles and boxes to techniques for carrying watermelons. You can learn how to turn a flat furoshiki into a purse or a backpack as well as how to use them to decorate your home.
Finally, the back part of the book has some handy reference pages on furoshiki sizes and styles as well as a bit of history. It's quite interesting!
As for me, limited by the size of my furoshiki, I went simple! Errand wrapping, or otsukai tsutsumi, is a lovely way to wrap a box or book. Don't you think this would be a great way to wrap a gift? No garbage and the furoshiki becomes part of the gift. Perfect!
Who will enjoy this book? I think it's a great choice for people who are interested in furoshiki and want to learn a variety of different techniques, have a love affair with all things Japanese or are interested in finding sustainable options wrap or carry items beyond the reusable grocery bag.
How about you? Are you interested in furoshiki? Have you ever wrapped something in fabric?