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Archives for December, 2008

Happy New Year

December 31, 2008

I join these two turtles—residents of the garden pond at Kyoto’s famous temple, Ryoanji—in wishing you all good things in 2009.

…and stay tuned for more postings throughout 2009.

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A Wonderfully Rustic Papier-Mache Basket

December 30, 2008

You can call this a boro basket of sorts: what a gorgeous, rustic and wonderful-looking thing.  This is a woven basket which is covered with a random smattering of pieces of paper, applied in many, many layers and all held together with glue.  It measures 10″, 25 cm high by 11″, 28 cm in diameter.

The brown patina of the basket could very well be the result of the application of kaki shibu or green persimmon tannin.  Kaki shibu was used on myriad household and everyday items in old Japan, including umbrellas.  Kaki shibu gives a very distinctive, rich brown color and it is the same stuff applied to sakabukuro or the very collectible sake straining bags.

The form of the basket is a kind of loosely rendered and squat cylinder.  The shape of the lip, however, is irregular and its backward curve suggests that the basket beneath the papier mache may have originally been a burden basket or a hanging storage basket.

In keeping with the spirit of recycling and reuse, the backdrop for the basket in these photos is a trio of panels of  hand woven zanshi cotton, zanshi being a kind of cloth which is woven from the leftovers of spools of yarn.  Of the many varieties of Japanese folk textiles, zanshi ranks near the top of my personal favorites and I will be offering these pieces on my website in the near future.

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