Archive for August, 2009

A really good book

August 27, 2009

I’ve a thing for traditional patterns.  Especially basic geometrics. They never seem inherently boring to me, though I admit I’ve seen boring things done with them. But the possibilities are infinite for design riffs using basic traditional patterns.  They’re endlessly adaptable to some new interpretation, and the proof is their universality.

Very related to my fondness for geometrics and patterns, whether in traditional form or improvisational composition, is one of the most beautiful design books I own, the elements of design, by Loan Oei and Cecile De Kegel. I keep a copy both at work and at home for the inspiration it always brings.

In this simple book of photographs, which is divided into basic element categories like textures, dots, lines, circles, planes, etc., traditional patterns and some extraordinary variants are on almost every page.  I even discovered recently that it has an example of pojagi and I simply had not registered the name well enough to remember it when I learned of the existence of pojagi traditions this past year.  The book is an endless fount.


boro variant

August 22, 2009

Can’t remember exactly how I discovered Japanese boro, but probably while searching around for Japanese textiles some years ago.  Possibly about the time I started thinking of making the indigo quilt.  At some point, of course I found Stephen Szczepanek’s Sri Threads and could really begin to follow the variations and learn more about the history – along with a good deal of other cultural and textile information on Stephen’s website and blog.  Not long after learning about boro, I started seeing it in other things like stacks of fabrics that happen while working on projects.





Maybe such stacks are too regular and not gestural enough to be compared with boro.  But there is a kind of unintentional composition that happens.  Not to say that boro never involves compositional intent.  You can see that it does sometimes.  (Check Sri Threads for lots of beautiful examples of real Japanese boro.)


a palate palette

August 18, 2009


Straight-from-the-garden veggies suddenly rhyme with the pojagi scarf I’ve been working on.

daily round

August 13, 2009

Like Jude Hill, I’ve long been moonstruck by circles and dots.  I can’t explain it in any way that’s meaningful to me.  Yes, the art things about dot being the base mark for all other marks, and the universal philosophies about circles standing for infinity, wholeness, etc.  The circle with dot representing merged female/male.  Or the cintamani, an ottoman motif of three circles arranged in a triangle, and meaning “auspicious jewel,” a mark to ward off evil.  Symbols are good.  But that’s not what I love about circles and dots.  I don’t know what it is about them except they are always fascinating.  The worst part of the fascination is that I can’t figure out quite what I want to do with them.  For a couple years I’ve gradually been creating a small collection (two dozen or so) of pieced circles using Fassett shot cottons.  I love them, and I have many sketches of how I might use them.  But so far, I haven’t  started any of these ideas.  It’s still germinating.  dot.

quarter-round pieced circles, 6in squares

quarter-round pieced circles, 6in squares

I’ve named this incipient whatever-it-is Sarashina Moon (how can it have a name before it is?) after paintings by Hiroshige and Chikanobu, poetry by Basho, and an 11th century writer whose real name is not known, but who is called Sarashina Nikki (or Lady Sarashina).  Historically, Sarashina district was famous for its autumn moonviewing and the paintings of this are spellbinding.

Moonviewing at Sarashina by Hiroshige

Mount Kiyodai and the Moon Reflected in the Rice Fields at Sarashina by Hiroshige

which tradition do we have here?

August 11, 2009

During the pojagi class with Chunghie Lee in Feb/March 09, she encouraged creative approaches to the traditions, which is about all I can do anyway, not being Korean but still subject to long traditions in my own culture(s).  I decided to create something very whimsical from scraps of old silk shirts, using mostly just the button plackets, collars, sleeves, and cuffs.  I bridge-stitched the pieces together without turned seams, just butted the already hemmed edges together.  I backed it in purple silk from the same stash of old shirts, and made the traditional wrapper tie from long button plackets with the buttons still on them.  The form is a very traditional Korean wrapping cloth, but the method is a riff on that tradition, echoing the contrasting stitches between pieces, sometimes very improvisationally pieced arrangements, and very colorful.  But the result actually turned out to look more like a Victorian crazy quilt, something I’m only occasionally drawn to in general.  When I shared this piece in the class, everyone including Chunghie, was distinctly underwhelmed.  Ahem.  Okay, either it isn’t very good, or the whimsy of it just appeals to me.  It was great fun to do, in any case.

pojagi wrapper, traditional form, but whimsical style

pojagi wrapper, traditional form, but whimsical style

detail of the pojagi wrapper riff

detail of the pojagi wrapper riff; note contrasting stitching between pieces, a reference to similar technique in pojagi

How a pojagi wrapper is tied when in use

How a pojagi wrapper is tied when in use

learning piece in class, using contrasting silk thread and traditional Korean fabric

a sample learning piece in class, using contrasting silk thread and traditional Korean fabric; handsewn with very close overcast across raw edges of fabric pieces that are ironed out flat afterwards