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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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Photographs of Indigo

February 19, 2012

Helen Quinn, an artist and stylist extraordinaire, asked to borrow some textiles for an indigo story she was planning with photographer extraordinaire, Burcu Avsar.  With the permission of Helen and Buj, I’m showing the extraordinary results here.

Fantastic, aren’t they?



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A Tower of Hand Loomed Stripes and Plaids

February 16, 2012

Showing a tall stack of hand loomed cotton plaids and stripes–they date from the mid-to-late nineteenth century through the 1940s or so: I love them all.

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A Long, Cotton Festival Cloth: Narrow Stripes

February 11, 2012

Today I’m showing a long, cotton cloth of narrow black and white stripes; the cloth measures 26 feet or almost 8 meters in length.Striped cloth like this, or similar to this, is associated with Buddhist temple festivals or local matsuri or celebrations.  Stripes lend a festive air to ordinary, functional–and necessary–accessories which are used during celebratory events.   In a previous blog posting, here, I showed a variant on this striped festival cloth.If you look closely at this one you can see that it has been folded twice laterally, that is, along its length, so, when folded, it would be a long, narrow, rope-like cloth.  This cotton length may have been used to dress or lead a horse–and the horse would have also been accessorized with hand dyed textiles in order to be gussied up for the occasion.I particularly like the end of the bolt, seen below, where the dye flows to the edge of the cotton in an irregular way.  I’m not sure if this cloth was resist dyed using rice paste or if was dyed using the chusen method, a technique that would employ stencils and suction to pull dye through a stack of cloth.  Chusen was often used to decorate tenugui.Most likely this cloth dates to the mid twentieth century.  I like it–and at some point soon I’ll be offering it on the webshop.


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A Beautiful Shibori and Katazome Mat

February 8, 2012

The indigo dyed shibori and katazome mat I am showing today is beautiful in its simplicity and straightforwardness–or at least I think so.   It is made of very nice hand spun,  hand loomed cotton, two loom widths, that have been hand stitched together.The shibori is stitched, quite a direct process.  The patch is a fabulously weathered piece of old katazome cotton cloth showing plum blossoms and pine needles.  The katazome cloth is most likely from the mid to late 19th century; the shibori is probably from the early 20th century.   The piece measures 44″ x 25″ or 111.5 cm x 63.5 cm.

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A Bowl of Stripes, A Ground of Arabesques

February 3, 2012

Some time ago I bought a group of diagonally striped, resisted cotton textiles: they’re one-loom width wide and they’re folded twice laterally, so they end up being narrow.  I don’t know what they are, and neither does the friend in Japan from whom I bought them.  Definitely they’re for a festival as striped textiles like this are brought at during celebrations, but we’re not sure if they’re unmade hanten collars or some kind of obi/sash.But don’t they look great entangled as they are, and set against a backdrop of karakusa, or arabesque?Once I give these textiles a good wash I’ll start posting some on the webshop.

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