Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Boro on holiday


I have long admired the beauty and honesty of boro fabrics - the wonderful, much-mended surfaces of late nineteenth and early twentieth century Japanese workwear.  Often using indigo dyed cotton, these materials have taken on a life of its own, becoming distorted, fragmented and re-coloured over time through multi-layered patching and hand stitching.   Designs are the result of happenstance and necessity, the mending changing what were once utility fabrics into unique records of toil and endeavour. 

My patching of broken ceramics with fabric and stitch requires precision in terms of stitch and construction.  There is a degree of spontaneity in the way that colour and pattern plays out as I rebuild my pieces, but boro has been a lesson for me in letting go.  Letting go of planning, precision, control and neatness.  The more you let go, the better the piece is.  I still have some way to go.

It is also a meditation on materials.  Thread and fabric are worked through your fingers. Your touch affects their state; edges roll, sections fray and you begin to know their properties intimately.  A gentle, very satisfying transformation of the surface begins to happen through the repetition of stitch; individual fabric layers start to combine and weak sections regain strength.  As you stitch, time slows and you can tune into your heartbeat.  With no fear of going wrong, you can loose yourself, letting the mind wander in a wonderfully restorative way.

Courtesy of Mari and the Made on Holiday team, at a craft retreat in Tuscany later this summer, I will be sharing the joys of mending and reworking fabrics with a small group, helping to create functional and decorative textiles items based on boro.

Textiles can accrue meaning and significance, acting as triggers to people, places and times, but all to often they lie in limbo, unused, to precious to throw away but in need of a new purpose.  This week could be the opportunity to rediscover and celebrate these materials, reviving a worn-out favorite item or creating something completely new.

So to whet your appetite for all things aged and patched - a few photos of some recent boro explorations, urban inspiration and ceramic patchwork.  If you are interested in joining us in Italy, see www.madeonholiday.com



 
 
 
 
 
















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