The above collage is the beginning of my Enso series. Enso represents the Japanese circle, and my search for completeness. There are also aspects of the placement of handmade papers (like setting stones in a Japanese garden) and Boro. My interpretation of Boro in my work involves hand-painted rice papers placed in a quilt-like fashion using my sense of balance, contrast and unity.
Recently, the Japanese Gardens in Portland Oregon hosted a show of Boro. They called the show MOTTAINAI which means 'waste nothing' in Japan. Many years ago, the very poorest people in Japan saved every scrap of cloth, thread, paper and patched or quilted 2nd hand cotton garments from city dwellers who traded for rice or vegetables. Two of the biggest collectors of Boro in the world sent samples of their Boro collection to the Portland exhibit.
One of the biggest collectors of Boro in the world has a gallery and showroom/shop in Kyoto on Teramachi Street. Her name is Kei Kawasaki and you can find her website here
These very poor Japanese people in pre-industrial Japan would patch together bits of cloth out of necessity. Every small patch was like treasure to them.
the hands know,
the materials too,
quite apart from your imaginings,
less is more than your intentions -
following the pattern that emerges,
the story as it tells.
--- Jane Whitely
The other collector of Boro is Stephen Szczepanek, who also participated in the Portland exhibit.
This is his showroom in Brooklyn, NY. You can find his blog here
. His website is called Sri and he is very well known in the Boro and Japanese Textile world.
In his showroom above, a workcoat called boro noragi,
is patched with pieces of cloth as small as a postage stamp.
Here you can see an example of the intricate stitching used in Boro patching.
The Japanese people created these quilted clothing out of necessity. Of course they did not know that someday their old, patched and quilted items would become treasured and exhibited in galleries, showrooms and museum exhibits.
Above is some indigo dye... I read that the Japanese used indigo... especially firemen and their work jackets... because indigo fabric will not burn.
And finally, Sibella Court has a new book: NOMAD, A global approach to interior style. I have received my copy and it is wonderful with a beautiful chapter on Japan. The book is available at Amazon.com and Anthropologie.com.
There is nothing like returning
to a place that remains unchanged
to find ways in which
you yourself have altered.
--- Nelson Mandela