nothing new in this world

In the summer of 2008 I asked Stephen Szczepanek of Sri Threads about a photo of a couple textile pieces he has on his homepage.  They looked to be made using an enclosed seam like a French seam.  In fact they looked like a small scale version of what I’d been working on with the summer spreads idea.  But they looked to be ramie or linen or hemp.

Stephen said they were examples of Korean pojagi, and that they were indeed ramie.  The technique is centuries old and has been having a resurgence in recent years, both among collectors and makers.  There are some beautiful examples around on the web, mostly modern versions of the technique.  I highly recommend visiting Stephen’s website and his blog to see and learn more about some of his antique pieces.

But the big thing for me in this discovery was learning that what I thought I was inventing for myself is actually ancient.  That summer I tried my hand at a small piece (it became a table scarf) using handkerchief-weight linen.

first pojagi test piece

first pojagi test piece

Looks okay, but the seams aren’t fine enough.  I felt I had to move on to a large-scale piece as a single layer summer spread, using very lightweight cottons like Fassett shot cotton or batiste or lawn.  Whites and cool neutrals.  I was thinking along the lines of an old computer sketch I had of diagonal half-squares.  I wanted the effect to be of floating, flickering, cool light.

But…by January of 2009, I still hadn’t started the pojagi summer spread of the previous summer’s thinking, but did register to take a workshop series with Chunghie Lee on pojagi and Korean textiles.  It was held at The Korea Society in NYC in association with a pojagi exhibition they were having at the time.  I did try to work on another small piece, a scarf using Fassett solid cottons in red tones.  Only got halfway with that by the time the class started.  Hope to get back to it someday.

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