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Archives for February, 2012

Shibori Time

February 26, 2012

We really haven’t had winter here in New York.  It’s been warm and mild since November which is really, really strange.  And February is a month which can bring big storms, but nothing.  Yet.

It feels like spring here today, which is probably why I’m in the mood to show some light hearted shibori.  I’m as confused as the nesting birds and the budding trees (yes, budding.  In February).With its contrasting white-on-blue or blue-on-white patterns, shibori cloth often seems to shimmer or give light.  With this strange spring mood, I was inspired to hang a lot of it in the showroom, and here’s a group of five pieces that I think look good together.Some of you can recognize that the piece on the top, left, or bottom, center, is an itajime dyed diaper.  What’s interesting about this piece is that the six pointed sekka or snowflowers are configured into hexagon shapes which is kikko or the tortoiseshell patter, which, of course, means long life.

The two pieces, above, are beautiful and complex, and the cotton is of heavily hand spun and hand loomed cotton.  Unlike the cotton diapers shown here (there are two: if you look at the topmost image on this post, one is on the far left, the other is second from right) these pieces are on the pricey side.  I’ll be showing the cotton diapers on the webshop soon.  I have a small collection of them.On the image, above, you’ll see circular forms.  This is a broken shippo tsunagi or interlocking circle pattern.  The lightly dyed segments of the circles are the result of a piece of paper being stitched into the cloth before dyeing.  Somehow it helps soften the absorption of the indigo dye and creates a light tone as we can see here.The two diapers shown here probably date to the early-to-mid twentieth century and the other three lengths are probably date from around 1900 to 1930s or so.

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Two Pairs of Sashiko Stitched Akutogake: Heel Guards

February 23, 2012

Today I’m showing two pairs of beautifully sashiko stitched akutogake or heel guards.  These small, hand decorated cotton pieces are used to cover the back of the heel of the foot, for protection while working, walking or foraging for food.  They’re beautiful, don’t you think?  I really like the stark visual contrast of the blue-on-white patterns.   Anyone who has done hand stitching of any kind, whether it be mending or embroidery, knows the amount of time and skill that is necessary to create hand stitched work–even folk textiles, such as these, which were meant for utilitarian use.Although these akutogake were used for work and for everyday chores, of course they were intentionally meant to be as attractive as possible, and great care was given to the patterns and how they were stitched.

My hunch is that these heel guards were stitched somewhere in Tohoku, or north eastern Japan; they date to the early-to-mid twentieth century.

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