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Archives for September, 2009

Going to Japan on a Buying Trip

September 30, 2009

…and I’ll be back here on October 12th.








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Three Fine, Vintage Temari in Sunlight

September 27, 2009

I’ve posted on temari before, but I was compelled to show this trio, which I think is handsome—and which looks so good catching strong, warm sunlight.

Temari as they were originally conceived were balls wound from leftover threads; they were meant to be enchanting amusements for children, and very often the heart of the ball would contain a small note of auspicious content for the child, or sometimes a little bell would be at the center of the ball.


Today temari have evolved into a less homey production than in the early days, and now many hobbyists and artisans around the world enjoy making temari, some of them showcasing designs that are quite accomplished, complex, flashy and non-traditional.


These temari with their very bold, geometric designs probably date to the mid-twentieth century or slightly earlier, and they are made of cotton threads.  And they’re beautiful.

I’ll be offering them on my website later this year, but do inquire if you are interested.

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A “Trans-Generational” Boro Futon Cover

September 24, 2009

Today I am showing a boro futon cover whose lifespan seemed to have bridged a few decades.  The futon cover is hanging next to a spectacular Indian kantha.


I call the boro cloth “trans-generational” because the base of this textile is of faded and worn, hand woven and  hand dyed katazome cotton which is likely to be about 80 years old–and you’ll notice some of the patches are of a brighter, newer, more commercially produced fabric that were sewn on in the years after the original futon cover was made.

I think this contrast of old and new, bright and dull, hand woven and power loomed cloth is visually delightful—and extremely artful.

The meandering mending stitches on the two large patches are noteworthy.  Have a look at the photo, below, for a better view onto them.

Below, have a look at the turquoise colored patch onto which is written “1/8.”  Obviously, in old Japan, prior to, say, the early part of the 1900s, Arabic numerals like this would not have been used.  With the opening of Japan during the Meiji Era (1868-1912), Western influences started making their way into Japan.  This turquoise cloth, however, may be from the 40s or 50s.



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A Length of Sakiori with Rag Warp and Weft

September 21, 2009

When I was in Japan in July I picked up this unusual sakiori cloth–I say it’s unusual as both the weft AND the warp are made from rags.
Sakiori is commonly–usually exclusively–woven of a cotton or hemp warp against which a rag weft is fed.


This sakiori length is woven loosely and in a rustic manner–and it illustrates the importance of frugality and re-use in old Japan.  Have a look at the selvedge edge to see the torn rags that are used as weft material.

I will be offering this beauty for sale on my website soon.  Stay tuned…


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Some Contemporary Indian Hand Brooms

September 15, 2009

I just love these wonderful, contemporary brooms from India.  The handles are made from twisted and braided rags and the bristles are probably some kind of palm leaf: for some reason, the fragrance from the bristles is exactly that of fresh, green tatami.

They are hanging against a patched Japanese, hemp mosquito netting, which I am offering for sale on my website, here. I think it’s a good combination.

I like the way the brooms can be hung on the wall; they make a nice decoration in addition to being useful…



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An Avian Emissary from the Artist Ann Wood

September 11, 2009

Yesterday a mysterious box arrived from Ann Wood, the marvelous artist and, I am proud to say,  fellow Brooklynite.  Ann fashions small birds from perfectly chosen scraps of old cloth: her creations are so animate that they feel uncannily “alive.”


Inside the box, in a beautifully packed in a free-form “nest” of shredded paper, I found the jaunty gentleman who perched himself on a stool in my showroom, below.


I think he’s on-the-go as he is carrying a sleeping mat slung over his shoulder–and his little, hand made tag reads, “Pearl, Camper.”  Check out his tweed outfit and his little acorn cap!

I think his scarf is made from old, Japanese indigo dyed cotton.

He’s standing on a Japanese step stool or fumidai next to two balls of Thai hemp, one indigo-dyed, the other, un-dyed.  I think he’ll stay right here for a while.

To see more of Ann’s work, make sure to follow the Ann Wood link on the “…of interest” blog roll that I have listed to the right of this post and click on the the highlighted words at the top of this post to go to Ann’s wonderful blog and website.

If you don’t yet know Ann’s work, you will soon become a fan.  I know I am.

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A Patched and Stitched Indigo Dyed Sakiori Vest

September 9, 2009

This marvelous sakiori vest is a very good example to illustrate the life–or many lives–of a single work garment.

The vest itself was woven from torn, “recycled” garments, bedding and other household textiles; this kind of shredding and weaving is called sakiori. From its inception, this vest represents re-use and re-purposing.

Over time, as the vest was worn and used for work in  fields and forests, it required some additional strengthening, which is why we see the applied patches and the profusion of stitching all over the vest, both inside and out.

What is wonderful about this particular vest is that it is made from all indigo dyed cotton material, which some feel makes the most desirable sakiori items.

It’s hard to date this piece as this kind of work clothing was made in Japan from the late 18th century up until the early-to-mid 20th century.  My guess is that this one was woven in the early 20th century, but this is just a guess.  The warp is cotton; were it hemp, this could indicate the piece was older as rural people didn’t have wide access to cotton threads in the 19th century.  As well, if the warp is hemp, it could indicate the piece was very rural, as hemp thread was still being plied in rural areas until relatively recently.


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An Intensely Sashiko Stitched Sledge Hauling Vest from Yamagata Prefecture

September 1, 2009

The entirety of this indigo dyed cotton vest is densely sashiko stitched, including the dark, indigo cotton bodice, whose texture is the result of an intensive piercing by tone-on-tone stitching called kakurezashi or hidden stitch.


This unusual and beautiful work apparel is from the Shonai Plain, or modern-day Yamagata Prefecture in eastern Japan.   As the title of this post says, this vest was constructed and stitched in this fashion for the purposes hauling a sledge: the diagonally-placed, reinforced chest band would have provided protection against the friction and weight of the strap of the burden.



Both the diamond and persimmon flower sashiko motives are stitched onto this late nineteenth century or early twentieth century garment.  Obviously, the stitching serves to further strengthen these areas of the vest.


See a similar example, “Japanese Country Textiles: Victoria & Albert Museum, Far Eastern Series,” Anna Jackson, Weatherhill, 1997, page 109, fig. 78.

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