The Odoshi Project
Silk odoshi has a special weave, the strands are compacted tightly together, yet the depth is very thin. This weave prevents the braid from stretching and allows it to be fed through the small holes in the armour plates.
Using alternatives like synthetic rayon or cotton will never delivery the same results. During the lacing process the braid is wetted with water and pressed into shape, cross knots become flat, the tips of the strands adopt a triangular appearance. Once dry the silk retains the shape. Synthetics expel the water making it impossible to create the same finish. Cotten braid is also not acceptable as the fibres fray and become fluffy after being fed repeatedly through the holes of the armour. It has to be silk, and it has to be the correct weave.
For years the only place to obtain odoshi was from Japan.
As a restorer I could never pre-empt what commissions were going to turn up, or how much odoshi I should stock. Exchange rates, order levels, delivery times, communication issues and availability were becoming increasing problematic.
Therefore in 2014 I decided to take on board a venture to produce odoshi in the UK. This was a massive and challenging undertaking for me as I knew absolutely nothing about the process.
For months I researched braiding machines on the net, youtube, talked to suppliers and manufacturers. By complete luck I stumbled upon the right contact who could custom make the machines and provide the training. I also fell on my feet when sourcing the raw silk. One of Japan’s leading silk manufacturers were impressed with my ambition that they agreed to supply me with pre-dyed silk in authentic colours.
In 2016 I was able to produce the first ever odoshi outside of Japan, made from authentic Japanese silk and weaved to exactly the same specifaction.