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Archives for September, 2012

A Shallow Woven Basket: Mountain Grape Vine

September 29, 2012

The split vines of the wild mountain grape were a common material for fashioning baskets in rural areas of old Japan, and baskets were woven in various forms depending on their intended use.Although mountain grape vines were a commonly woven basket material in Japan, good examples are collectible today.  Other materials used to weave baskets were akebia vine, various types of sedge, rice straw, and other wild vines that could be foraged for on mountains sides and in forests.Often baskets were woven as deep, wide pouches that would be carried on the back, similar in shape to this one here.The oval-shaped, shallow basket with a handle is a bit unusual–and clearly it was woven in this form to serve a particular purpose.The photos above and below give a good sense of the individual fibers: tough, woody and strong.

This beauty measures 12″ x 21″ x 12″ or 30 cm x 53 cm x 30 cm and it probably dates to the mid-20th century.

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A Vignette: Wood, Paper and Delphinium

September 24, 2012

Today I’m showing a corner of my showroom: a cluster of wooden Japanese and Korean stools and bowls has been showered with fallen delphinium petals.  It looked so natural and beautiful I wanted to share.

That’s all.  Pretty nice, isn’t it?

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Translucency: Three Katazome Dyed Hemp Panels

September 17, 2012

I love showing patched hemp textiles against the light, and if you follow this blog, you’ve seen this set-up before.  Today I’m showing three patched fragments from summer futon covers, each hemp, each katazome or  stencil resist dyed.The two panels shown above are large-scale repeats from the 1920s or so.

The fragment shown above is a wonderful piece of old Omi jofu, or silk-like hemp or ramie weaving from present-day Shiga PrefectureHave a closer look at a similar piece here.

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A Miniature Cotton Kaya: Sewing Practice

September 13, 2012

Today I’m showing a miniature (14 1/2″ h x 13″  w x 12″ d or 37 cm h x  33 cm w x  30 cm d) kaya which is traditional mosquito netting found all over old Japan.  You can see that I placed a zokin under the kaya to convey a sense of its small size–but also to mimic what a futon cover would look like in full scale.  A full scale kaya is a tent under which a person would sleep during Japan’s steamy, buggy summers.It was customary in Japan, as it was in other parts of the world, to learn sewing skills by first producing small models.  This is how this mini-kaya came to be–it was probably made during the second quarter of last century.Traditional kaya were usually made of woven hemp fiber.  This model is made of cotton.You can see how the seams here are scaled-down versions of the traditional Japanese loom width of about 12″ – 14″ or 30 cm to 36 cm.
The rigging of this practice kaya is completely as it would be were the kaya actual size.Really remarkable in its detail: you know that the person–likely a girl–who stitched this was doing so under stern eye of a strict teacher.  Imperfection was not an option.Even the details, like the small brass ring, are intact and in scale to this model.Overall, this small kaya is in very good condition.  From decades of storage there is  wide band of  ingrained dirt around its center, as well as a few holes the size of match heads, but other than that, this is kaya is in good shape.

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A Patched and Re-Patched, Mended and Re-Mended Boro Sashiko Furoshiki: Hand Spun Cotton

September 8, 2012

I love the sashiko stitched furoshiki of old Japan.  These traditional, indigo dyed cotton wrapping or storage cloths are decorated with white sashiko stitching, usually on the corner areas, and they’re stitched there to reinforce the areas that would be tied and twisted together when the furoshiki is filled with goods to store or carry.As much as I like sashiko stitched furoshiki, when one is marvelously mended, as is this one, I like this boro version more than one that’s not boro.  This example has been used and mended hard over time, with layers of patches and lots of extra stitching.Have a look at the layered patches.  The layered mending stitches are gorgeous, and both blue and white threads are used in the stitching.

Notice the photo above and below.  Have a look at the mending patches.  And then see how the white sashiko stitched motif of the original furoshiki is carried over on top of the patch, for the sake of design continuity.You can see this also in the photo below.

So much texture due to patching, re-patching, stitching and re-stitching.

This furoshiki is large.  It measures 63″ x 61″, 160 cm x 155 cm and it dates to the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.

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Another Woven Fence in the Neighborhood

September 4, 2012

This is just for fun, and is meant to accompany the post below.  Another woven fence in Greenpoint, Brooklyn–this one rather extravagant in its size and technique!

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