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A “Boro” Shimacho: Stitched Stripe Album

Written on June 1, 2012

Previously on this blog I’ve written posts on shimacho, or the albums of (primarily) striped hand woven cotton swatches that were kept by families as inspiration for weaving.   Shimacho are usually made by pasting swatches into a recycled book, often a ledger book or something similar.The one I am showing here today is a shimacho, but unlike other shimacho with glued swatches, in this book the small swatches of cotton cloth are stitched to each page.  The stitched effect is beautiful–and kind of “boro.”The book is as delicate as it appears: turning the pages requires patience and care, as you feel that the leaves may crumble under your touch.But exploring this book is irresistible–and the shimacho is probably more stable than I think.I have two books like this, veritable twins, and undoubtedly made by the same hand.  Funny, though, I had seen these on a previous trip to Japan and passed them by, thinking them to be messy, old, very destroyed shimacho that may not be able to be salvaged.  On this recent trip to Japan in March, I saw them again and noticed they were stitched–and I seized them.  Until that time I had never seen stitched shimacho like this.Unlike most of what I show on this blog, this book and its twin are not for sale.  I’m planning an exhibition and I’m hoping to show these at that time.There are probably about 30 pages in this book.And I love the multicolored stitching: why did the maker of this book change thread colors on each page?  Did she have multiple needles, each with a different color thread?  I doubt she threaded a new needle each time she changed colors…..such are the questions that arise when you inherit something personal like this, and when there is no background information to guide your thinking.

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9 Comments

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  1. Comment by Karen Miller:

    I would imagine they saved and reused thread from taking kimonons apart to clean them. That kind of thrift defies belief today.

    June 1, 2012 @ 11:31 am

  2. Comment by velma:

    i am stunned by these. unbelievably perfect, and oh, the unknown story…

    June 1, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

  3. Comment by Jeannine:

    A first glance at the pictures of these albums took my breath away, A gasp in wonder!

    June 1, 2012 @ 8:26 pm

  4. Comment by onesmallstitch:

    the stitching threads appear to be different weights – possibly using thrums as well as kimono stitching thread? I try to imagine someone carefully putting these together – and how many generations used them for inspiration.

    June 3, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

  5. Comment by indigo:

    Bonjour, superbe, tout ce que j’aime, je voyage au Japon assez souvent, ma fille vit à Tokyo. A bientôt

    June 4, 2012 @ 7:06 pm

  6. Comment by Ann:

    Just amazing. The thrift which the book so forcefully shows us is a lesson. I am grateful to you for sharing. I would never have known of such things otherwise. Ann

    June 4, 2012 @ 8:48 pm

  7. Comment by anne m bray:

    Incredibly beautiful and inspiring

    June 17, 2012 @ 6:47 pm

  8. Comment by Becky:

    I have never seen anything like this before…so amazing, the stitched background with the script is as beautiful as the quilted effect on the front.

    July 23, 2012 @ 12:22 pm

  9. Pingback from Sri Threads Love | pigeonroofstudios:

    […] yet, one day I will go to New York and visit the show room. I’m in love with this sample book posted on their blog, called a “Boro Shimacho” stitched stripe […]

    August 10, 2012 @ 4:26 pm