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Archives for October, 2011

Mottainai: The Fabric of Life at the Portland Japanese Garden 4-27 November

October 29, 2011

I’m really pleased to say that the Portland Japanese Garden has asked my close friend and colleague, Kei Kawasaki of Gallery Kei in Kyoto, and me, to mount an exhibition which will run through November.The show, called “Mottainai: The Fabric of Life, Lessons in Frugality from Traditional Japan,” opens on 4 November and is on view until 27 November.Both Kei and I are planning to show some of the highlights from our collections and we will be exhibiting some extraordinary and rare pieces.  In order to illustrate the breadth of traditional Japanese textiles Kei will be showing bast fiber textiles: wisteria, linden, hemp, ramie, paper, paper mulberry, etc., and I will be showing cotton boro textiles.  I’ll be exhibiting a range of types, from everyday utilitarian textiles to large, complex garments.The images here are details of some of my pieces which will be in the show.We’ll both be in Portland this coming week setting up the show: I’m really looking forward to it.  Kei has produced a beautifully illustrated catalog for the show for which both she and I have contributed essays.  I’ll let you know when it is available.I will be updating the webshop as per usual this Wednesday at 11 AM New York time.  *As I’ll be in Portland until 5 November, any order placed from 30 October through 5 November will be shipped on Monday, 7 November.*If I’m able to do so, this coming week I’ll blog some images from the set-up at the Garden.  Stay tuned….

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A Wonderful, Very Large Ralli

October 26, 2011

When I choose a ralli, the quilted cotton patchworks of Sindh, I choose them not for their proper front, but for what is meant to be their back.  I’m showing a smashing one here today.To me, this arrangement of color and form is really sophisticated and marvelous, and I prefer the “wrong side” of a ralli to its intricately patchworked and appliqued side, shown here.Here’s another in my collection with a really unbelievably beautiful “wrong” side.Rallis come in all sizes and shapes and, therefore, they are used differently according to their size: large ones such as the one shown here are bedcovers; smaller ones like this, could have been a sitting cushion or perhaps a dowry bag that has been opened.This one measures 78″ x 66″ or 198 cm x 168 cm.  It was most likely made in the mid-twentieth century.  And of course it’s completely hand stitched.

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An Unusual and Elaborately Mended Boro Futon Cover

October 22, 2011

Beautiful, isn’t it?  The base cloth is hand spun, hand loomed cotton and some of the patches are commercially produced cotton pieces, which tells us the cloth that comprises the futon cover has spanned at least one generation.


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Some Indian Textiles

October 18, 2011

I really like the square-shaped Sindhi ralli hanging on the wall above the Japanese tansu.  To me, it’s wonderfully empty: the decorative border around a central void is kind of sophisticated.There is a stack of four Bengali kanthas on the right of the photo, above.But back to the cotton ralli–it’s probably a sitting mat.  It’s about four layers thick and its densely, intensely stitched.  The border is printed with banners that read “makuja nipokee.”  Does anyone know what that means?And standing here are two Rajasthani cotton turbans, dyed by pleating and twisting and called mothara.   I really like some of India’s folk textiles and I try to find those that talk to Japanese folk cloth.   I think these do.

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Three Old Temari

October 15, 2011

Temari, literally “hand ball,” are gifts made for children.  Temari were originally made from left over yarn or string, both cotton and silk floss were used.A ball was created from wound threads.  Sometimes a written wish for the child was placed at the center of the ball, or other times some rice grains or a bell were the center of the ball, placed there to create a rattling or jingling noise, depending.  The pink and white ball shown here has a rattle center.These lovely old temari date to the 19th century.  The largest is the size of a grapefruit.


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A Zanshi-ori Yogi

October 10, 2011

I’m just back from a buying trip to Japan and today I’m showing one of my recent acquisitions: a simply beautiful indigo dyed cotton zanshi-ori yogi, or a sleeping kimono that is made from cloth which is woven from left over yarns.I am showing the inside of the yogi.  In its original state the yogi was stuffed with cotton wadding: both the lining and the wadding have been removed, so what we see here is the “shell” of the yogi.For those who don’t know, a yogi is a kimono shaped sleeping cover, a duvet.  It was not worn, but rather it was laid on top of and splayed over the person, the sleeves and the sides of the kimono falling over the body to add extra warmth while sleeping.This one is wonderful: the hand woven texture, the deep indigo color, the extremely good condition.  I plan to offer it on the webshop in the near future.It probably dates to the first half of the twentieth century–maybe mid-century.  It measures 57″ x 51″ or 144.5 cm x 129.5 cm.

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October 4, 2011

When sourcing textiles in Japan, everything looks like textiles.

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Children of the Rice

October 2, 2011

There I was, having just finished sourcing some new fabrics, minding my own business and walking toward the train station past rice fields which are about to be harvested, and I saw this.  Anyone would do a double take.And anyone would think of Children of the Corn by Stephen King–wouldn’t they?

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