2023 Okinawan Prefectural Scholarship Cohort【Stephanie Mai Brittle】

1. Self Introduction

Name:Stephanie Mai Brittle
Nationality:United States of America
Roots in Okinawa:Mother (Urasoe), Grandfather (Motoubu), Grandmother (Kumejima)
Favorite Place:Izena Island

2.What are you studying in Okinawa?
I am studying Ryukyu Kasuri, a type of weaving and textile, at Ryukyu Kasuri Business Cooperative Association. For the first 5 months I was learning how to weave and prepare my own loom to weave a hanobi. For my remaining time, I am learning how to create 2 kimono lengths rolls of my own original design from beginning to end. This will include creating the design, calculating and spinning the amount of thread needed, creating the vertical and horizontal Kasuri, dyeing, setting up the loom, and weaving. I am so excited and very grateful that the Kasuri workshop created this special design class for me. I am learning the process with my former teachers and friends I have made at the workshop, so I am enjoying my time every single day. When I am not in the design class, I am working on weaving Haebaru hanaori. It is very challenging, tedious and requires a lot of concentration, but I am having a lot of fun.
Outside of weaving, I have enrolled myself in shima taiko and 2 bingata classes at a local culture school. For 3 months I was also in a fue class, but I am unable to attend class at the moment. Hopefully I can enroll again once my schedule is a little more relaxed. 

3.Goals once you return home 
I really don’t like to think about going home yet, as there is still so much I want to learn in Okinawa. Of course, I will have to do things like job hunting and take some time to re-establish life in the USA. However, when I return my goal is to start sourcing a loom and figuring out how I will continue to do kasuri in the US. I think that the way I will produce kasuri will be a little different from now, but continuing in my own way is my goal. Through markets and continuing kasuri, and maybe bingata, I would like to teach others about the beautiful culture of Ryukyu/Okinawa. My sister has connections to someone who organizes bipoc maker’s markets. It is my short term goal to join my sister in a market selling something very small, like coasters. Additionally, my long-term goal, and hope, is to set up workshops for kasuri/bingata and mini lectures about Ryukyu/Okinawan history and culture.  

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