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Archives for October, 2009

Happy Halloween!

October 30, 2009

Heather1aI usually don’t write seasonal posts, but when a very nice client sent me these fabulous Halloween creatures of her own making, I couldn’t resist showing them off.  And, they are kind of boro, aren’t they?  They do seem to fit in with the spirit of this blog and what I usually show here.



Enjoy the holiday–and make sure to go out and scare someone!

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A Magnificently Boro, Very Large Kaya: Cotton Mosquito Netting

October 26, 2009

Today I am showing a really marvelous, country textile—a six-panel, cotton mosquito netting, or kaya—that is intensely patched and mended.


The color of the kaya, or mosquito netting, is dark green, however it’s interesting to note that the green color is the result of age, oxidation and years of exposure to smoke and dirt: the actual color of the kaya, as can be seen by the unfaded, bottom edge, is a deep, indigo blue.


The array of patches is dense and they are made of various materials: the largest patches are hemp, the smaller patches are of stencils resist cotton.


This kaya, as the name suggests, was used in summer as mosquito netting.  However, the kaya was also used year-round within the house as it also served as kind of insulation in the winter months.  This is one of the most fabulous kayas I have seen, and its large size, 67″ x 80″,        1.7 m x 2 m, is something rare to see.


I am lucky to have this piece and other fragments of one and two panels from the same kaya, which I will offer on my website at some point soon.


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Part Two: An Exhbition of Japanese Country Textiles at the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin

October 22, 2009

I just received installation shots from the exhibition of Japanese textiles currently on view at The Douglas Hyde Gallery at Trinity College in Dublin.  I’ve introduced the exhibition in an earlier post, so please scroll down and have a look.

Above are shown, from left to right, an Ainu elm bark (ohyo) attush, an Okinawan banana leaf fiber (bashofu) kimono, an indigo dyed shifu or woven paper noragi or work coat, a sakiori or rag woven hanten with sashiko stitched cotton sleeves and a very fine okusozakkuri or work coat woven from hemp debris.

Above, to the right of the okusozakkuri shown in the first photo are a hemp stitched indigo dyed cotton boro noragi and, finally, a kogin stitched kimono from Tsugaru, Aomori Precture at the Easternmost tip of Honshu Island.

The director and staff of The Douglas Hyde Gallery did a marvelous job installing this exhibit and I’m terribly proud to have collaborated with them on this show.

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Touching Paradise

October 15, 2009

Over time, disparate sets of friends in Japan have told me that Joruriji, a Heian Period (794-1185) temple, was their favorite in all Japan.   On this recent trip to Japan, with two good friends, on a cool autumn day amid beautifully diffused light, I visited Joruriji.  I now understand my friends’ feelings: Joruriji, remote, soulful and still, is a remarkable haven of peaceful beauty.


The temple, above, is located in the countryside of Kyoto Prefecture and houses nine remarkable, large scale gilt wood images of Amida Buddha in supremely peaceful postures.  These images of the Buddha indicate the nine levels of enlightenment and suggest the paradise which awaits in the afterlife.  The nine Buddhas are housed in the perfect place for this purpose as this is a stunning location.

Feral cats–many of them–have the run of the place, as this one does.  The carp and turtles in the temple pond seem curious about him, although they must know him: this blond tom seems to be one of the more dominant cats of the group.


This is the approach to Joruriji.  Notice the rustic, almost unkempt feeling: this “natural” look is beautiful, and is unlike most of Kyoto’s countless other temples which are impeccably maintained.


The golden sheaths of rice, above, indicate autumn, as do the wild cosmos, below, which were seen in profusion around Joruriji and its environs.  Just lovely.


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An Exhbition of Japanese Country Textiles at the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin

October 11, 2009

Dublin’s The Douglas Hyde Gallery–Trinity College’s contemporary art gallery–is currently showing the exhibition “Japanese Country Textiles.” I was fortunate to collaborate with The Douglas Hyde Gallery by lending works and by writing the essay for the catalog which accompanies the show which runs from 8 October until 18 November.
The exhibition showcases traditional natural materials which in the past were used to weave Japanese rural textiles.  The exhibition features eight garments woven from materials such as hemp, ramie, cotton, paper, elm fiber or ohyo, Okinawan banana leaf fiber or bashofu, and okuso, or the waste produced by hemp yarn making, which is seen in the remarkable okusozakkuri, or garment of okuso, above.


Pictured above is a wonderfully good, indigo blue sakiori hanten with intricately sashiko stitched sleeves, the sleeves most likely were recycled from another garment.

I’m thrilled to participate in this exhibition, which hopefully will allow a broader audience an understanding of Japan’s rural past and the ingenious cloth made by the women in old Japan.

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