Makers of contemporary Irish linen homewares hand dyed in Belfast using traditional Japanese techniques
Mottainai is a creative craft studio making contemporary Irish linen homewares hand dyed using traditional Japanese techniques. Combining the minimalist aesthetic of Japanese design with enduring quality Irish linen we produce timeless unique designs for the home. The term ‘mottainai’ in Japanese is used to express a sense of regret when something is wasted. Our aim to counteract our throwaway culture by producing textiles that will enhance people’s daily lives and become an enduring part of their home.

After studying Textile Design for Fashion at Manchester School of Art, Catherine Quinn moved to Japan to study Japanese textile crafts. She became inspired by handcrafts and began studying indigo dyeing with an indigo master, learning the traditional Japanese techniques of Shibori and Katazome. Upon returning to Northern Ireland she wanted to combine her love of Japanese and Irish textiles. She promotes Japanese indigo dyeing by teaching workshops in her Belfast Studio.

“I am inspired by the minimal aesthetic of Japanese design and draw inspiration from the delicate repetitive patterns created in their culture. I love the historical connection in using Irish linen as well as indigo and find the process of dyeing a fascinating and ever changing process.”

Catherine Quinn.

The Design Process

Shibori is when the fabric is manipulated into a 3-D origami shape using various types of folding, hand-stitching and clamping techniques, which creates a resist before hand-dyeing. Due to the nature of Shibori, each piece is unique and the same technique can produce various results. In contrast, Katazome is an ancient stencil technique whereby rice paste is pushed through a hand-cut stencil and when dry, prevents dye from penetrating the fabric.

We have two large indigo vats running continuously in the studio. When each piece has been prepared for dyeing they are dipped into the indigo vat. When the fabric is taken out of the vat the colour transforms from yellow to green to blue, this is an oxidation process which fixes the indigo pigment to the fabric. The number of times the fabric is dipped the darker and richer the colour becomes, therefore fabric can be dipped and oxidised anything up to fifteen times.

We love the historical connections in using these century old techniques with linen, a fabric steeped in Irish history.