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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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Mottainai The Fabric of Life: Lessons in Frugality from Traditional Japan

November 6, 2011

The exhibition at the Portland Japanese Garden, Mottainai, The Fabric of Life: Lessons in Frugality from Traditional Japan opened on 4 November.  Here are some installation shots.
I’m exhibiting with my friend, Kei Kawasaki of Gallery Kei in Kyoto.   Kei and I decided that I would show indigo dyed cotton boro pieces and she would show bast fiber and paper pieces.  The items I have contributed to the show can be seen below.Above and below is a large, woven cotton boro mosquito netting or kaya.

Above and below are sashiko stitched pieces.  Centrally place above is a large, sashiko stitched kotatugake.  To the left and right are garments from Yamagata prefecture.Stitched aprons and zokin can be seen above.

Above and below are sakiori garments.

Above is pictured a boro yogi or sleeping kimono, while below you can see noragi or work coats.Below is a fantastic boro futonji or futon cover.This piece, below, a shinafu or linden fiber tsunobukuro or horn bag is filled with balls of shredded indigo dyed cotton yarn and twisted paper yarn.   Kei brought this to the show to act as a transition between her bast fiber textiles and my indigo dyed cotton ones.  It’s an amazing object.  Kei’s other textiles can be seen in the images below.

Above and below are some woven paper garments.  On the photo, above, situated on the right is an okuso zakkuri or a coat made of woven hemp waste.  Below, seen in the middle, is a fujifu or woven wisteria garment and a shinafu or linden fiber garment to its left.

Below are two elm fiber garments: to the right is a traditional Ainu attush, to the left is an unusual dochugi or traveling coat, made from ohyo or elm fiber.  Since this dochugi is made from traditional Ainu cloth, we can assume that the cloth was traded with the Ainu by a merchant from Honsu island.

A marvelous, resist dyed ramie kazuki from Yamagata prefecture can be seen above and below.  A kazuki is a kimono-shaped veil which was worn on the head by upper class women.Below are repurposed paper items. A splendid bashofu or banana fiber kimono from Okinawa can be seen below.All of the pieces are for sale through the Portland Japanese Garden.  If any are interesting to you, please let me know and I will put you in touch with the Garden.

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