Workshop Experience Begins [Part 2. Stuffing and Finishing]
After the first week of training, we proceeded next to the second week which will be focusing on the stuffing and finishing part of the production.
The most difficult part for me has to be the stuffing stage of production. It takes a lot of attention to detail and technique to be able to do this process correctly. I had the opportunity to stuff several different products, so it gave me quite a well-rounded understanding of this process.
The first product I did was the flat Ojami, but I face my first challenge in the Kyoto Zabutons. I had such a difficult time making sure that the corners of the Kyoto Zabuton get filled properly with stuffing. While the Ojami cushion's challenge was in it's stuffing layering technique. Layering the stuffing while making sure everything was balanced was not an easy task. This process was not just taking handfuls of filling and stuffing it inside a beautiful cushion case that I thought previously, but it takes a lot of time, care, and skill to make sure that the final product is filled as it should be creating a comfortable and balanced product.
My last two days of the week were dedicated to the finishing step of the production. On this step, I learned how to sew the closure of each product by hand and how to sew the middle knot that is in some of Takaokaya's products.
I really enjoyed the sewing part of the production. Having been able to fix my own clothes here and there I was able to implement my limited knowledge on the process which allows for a quick learning process. The important part was to make sure that the Cojami pillow that I was sewing has a straight closure in the end.
The middle knot sewing, on the other hand, was a completely different matter. For this process, I was able to try sewing the Ojami cushion and the Cojami pillow. The Cojami pillow was not easy, but the Ojami cushion was the real test. I remembered how hard it was just to push the needle through the cushion. Due to the density of the cotton filling inside the pillow, it took a lot of sweat and needle maneuvering of me to get it through. Even after all that it was also very important to make sure that the knot in the middle was tied beautifully to match the Takaokaya's standards.
Overall, I had an unbelievably fascinating two weeks of my life. I was so grateful to Shacho for allowing me to experience Takaokaya through the craftsmens' eyes. It provided me with a lot of understanding of our product and how special it truly is. And of course, to the craftsmen' took time out of their day to each and show me what Takaokaya is made of.