Archive for the ‘Boro’ Category

accidental dye

November 14, 2009

For over fifteen years I’ve wanted to make a quilt from just the stains in old linens.  Haven’t gotten beyond a couple test pieces, but I’ve been collecting examples all along.  The stains are a kind of ‘natural dye’ that has story behind it.  Something spills while I’m paying more attention to what you’re saying across the table, or while that young man is flirting with the new visitor.  Or the old gentleman who insists on pouring the wine though he has trouble seeing whether the bottle is over the glass.  Also, I always wonder what goes though the mind of the host when the spill happens.  Dismay?  Who-cares,-we’re-having-fun? It’s so generous, isn’t it, to invite people to mess up your stuff?  But what if it’s not really messed up?

I love how the perfect circle is right over the flower in the damask weave.


a beautiful stain peeks through a hole in the cloth

Equally beautiful, and often found on the same cloth, are repairs like boro.



I like the juxtaposition of this repair next to a round element in the damask.


a long stain pointing at a half moon hem repair


bookmark sketches

October 22, 2009

An exercise I’ve turned back to again and again over the last couple years is one that begins with almost nothing and builds.  This originally started with trying to see whether very narrow cut offs and selvages could be sewn together in any way.  Playing around.  I liked the way it looked, tried some more and soon had several ribbony strips that looked like bookmarks.  They work well for that too. Have given a bunch away, but continue making them for myself.  They are like sketches, quick and gestural.  Or collages.  Or boro.  Little compositions, very improvisational.


these are between 1.5" and 2" wide



between 1.75" and 2" wide


just under 2" wide


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.)