Category Archives: Boro

Edo period katazome patches and sashiko

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At first glance these patches seem ordinary. The first is a patch of small sashiko stitches and the second a normal enough blue patch with haphazard stitching holding the two pieces of fabric together. When you turn the piece over it reveals two beautiful patches made from beautiful Edo period katazome.IMG_2432

This patch is decorated with an amazing fern design often seen in late Edo and early Meiji tsutsugaki and katazome fabrics.  IMG_2434

The next patch has a beautiful double design of black leaves and branches on an indigo ground, as well as, resist dyed cherry or plum trees with stylized blossoms. I can’t even begin to understand the process of dying something like this.IMG_2433IMG_2439

I think these patches elevate this beautiful Edo period katazome, and I am in complete reverence of the masterful hands that created these fabrics so many years ago.

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Antique furoshiki made from a nobori

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This is a furoshiki, or “carrying cloth” made from three sections of an old Japanese banner. It was produced in the early to mid 20th century. and was dyed using fermented persimmon dye. The kanji was produced using a technique called tsutsugaki. This furoshiki is a great example of the Japanese idea of mottainai or “nothing wasted.”  Notice the third section of the furoshiki where the kanji are upside down. IMG_2420IMG_2421IMG_2419

The darker portion above is where the banner would have been attached, via a fabric tab, to a pole  that held it aloft. It remained dark while the rest of the banner was sun bleached. IMG_2418

Early Meiji katazome

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This early Meiji period katazome is made of indigo dyed cotton that has been hand spun and hand woven. The fabric is thick and has been worn soft by years of use. This piece was probably the top of a futonji and has been pieced together from 15 small pieces of the same fabric. It has also been mended with several large patches. IMG_2404IMG_2406IMG_2407IMG_2405

This last photo shows the irregular hand spun threads that produce a fabric with such amazing weight and texture.

Crane furoshiki

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This furoshiki or “carrying cloth” dates to the Meiji period and was made from hand spun and hand woven cotton fabric. The crane was expertly dyed using natural indigo. This type of decoration is known as tsutsugaki it was created by a dyer who used a paper cone or “tsutsu”. The tsutsu was used to apply a mixture of ground rice bran, rice flour, salt, and water onto the fabric to create a resist. This resist was washed away after dying to reveal the design. It must have taken several applications of rice paste and many dips in the indigo dye bath to create the colors in this furoshiki. IMG_2350IMG_2349IMG_2353

This furoshiki may have started its life as a futonji or “padded futon cover”. The symbolism of the crane was one often used on items made to be given to a bride and groom as a wedding gift. It has several large repairs that attest its use over the years. The repairs have all been mended using hand spun and hand woven cotton. The large patch in the middle of the furoshiki is made of very thick course homespun. IMG_2354IMG_2351

Sashiko

Sashiko is a form of traditional Japanese embroidery originally used to reinforce garments and as a means of repair. In the northern regions of Japan garments were made stronger and warmer by layering cloth and stitching the layers together with long running stitches. This embroidery served a utilitarian purpose but also became a way to add decorative patterns and interest to garments and carrying cloths. IMG_2303 IMG_2304 IMG_2305 IMG_2306

Three of these sashiko furoshiki were created from hand spun and handwoven cotton which has been dyed with natural indigo. the forth furoshiki with the star pattern is made from hand dyed commercially produced cotton. 

Nothing Wasted

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This small tsunobukuro or “horn bag” has been made from leftover fabrics. The outer over dyed indigo green fabric once displayed a family crest of crossed feathers. It was dyed using a process called tsutsugaki. The green color was achieved by being dyed with indigo first and then being over dyed with a yellow dye to create the beautiful blue green background color. The inner fabric is a beautiful deep indigo kusari or “ikat”. Both fabrics are hand spun and hand woven cotton. The outer fabric was more than likely a furoshiki or banner before it was reworked into this bag.IMG_1763

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This bag was more than likely used for caring a lunch box. I love the pattern produced by the reuse of the outer fabric. This bag represents the Japanese value of mottainai or “nothing wasted.” This item can be purchased at:   https://www.etsy.com/listing/115393181/antique-japanese-indigogreen-boro-cotton?ref=shop_home_feat

Tsunobukuro on concrete

IMG_2055IMG_2056This tsunobukuro or horn bag was used to hold grain. It more than likely comes from Northern Japan and it is made from linden fiber or shina. The bark is removed from the linden tree then it is bound and boiled with wood ash. After boiling  the fiber is washed and separated before being spliced together to form thread. The threads are then spun and woven into shinafu. As shinafu ages it darkens in color. This bag is a deep red/brown color and has the feel of very stiff course linen. It is patched with cotton thread, white cotton cloth and several other bast fiber patches.IMG_2057

The bag is resting in the shade of some lemongrass.

IMG_2058I don’t know what this patch states. I can only make out a few of the kanji.

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