Archive for the ‘Pojagi’ Category

recent pojagi

September 26, 2010

Just finished a pojagi-style piece as a gift for the generous mother of a friend.  Used lightweight linens and cottons, damask, and an open weave fabric.  I was trying for some spontaneity in this one and mostly free-cut and built the composition as I went.  Very badly photographed, however.  Ah well.  Will have to do, since the gift is already sent off.

With light through it, but the colors are not accurate; size is approx. 18"x18"

color is more accurate in this one

The "back" of the piece where I left the french seams not sewn down. Like the texture this gives.


light thru the subject

February 24, 2010

Realized as I was working that I’ve been piecing this stain quilt in a rhythm similar to the pojagi style I like.  Of course most pieced work like this will look like pojagi when held to the light.  But these are just regular seams so the effect is softer and less dramatic than the French-seam I use for pojagi (or any of the authentic Korean enclosed seams).

Fun to see in the light like this, but it will definitely be a quilt… though quilts are wrappers, too, like pojagi has traditionally been.

stain quilt in window 24feb2010

light thru stain-two pieces-24feb2010

improv pojagi

September 5, 2009

This summer I finally started the large pojagi piece I wanted to do in lightweight fabrics, but not using the half-square pattern I thought I would originally.  This is more improvisational, and it started with some pieced scraps from earlier experiments, years ago.  Palette is still mostly cool neutrals, with a few warmish tans.  But the piecing is more similar to large traditional pojagi.  And the fabrics are a mix of light cotton and light linen, with some small pieces of vintage damask linen. So far, though, it looks a bit Arts & Crafts.  Surprising in the way the whimsical riff on a Korean wrapping cloth started looking like a Victorian crazy quilt. But now when I look again at my collection of pojagi photos, I can see that there is indeed a kind of arts&crafts-frank-lloyd-wright aspect.

early stage of first large pojagi attempt - looks very Arts&Crafts. jeez.

early stage of first large pojagi attempt - unexpectedly looks very Arts&Crafts - size at this stage is about 60x45inches

Detail of center of large pojagi piece; damask, sheer linens, open weave, and lightweight cotton

Detail of center of large pojagi piece; damask, sheer linens, open weave, and lightweight cotton

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.

a palate palette

August 18, 2009


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

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

nothing new in this world

July 23, 2009

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.