Friday, April 19, 2019

Working In a Series: Japanese Boro Stitching

   I have always admired artistic work done in a series. It is interesting to see where people started and what the initial impetus was,  where that initial piece of work led them, and what they gained from the experience. 
   I always seem to jump around a lot in the type of work I do. I am constantly looking, gathering ideas, being inspired, and wanting to try new things.
   But now, I really want to settle in and begin to explore things a little more in depth to see what I might possibly learn by working in a different manner. Instead of finishing a piece and instantly rushing into the next project on my design board, I want to slow down and more fully contemplate what value or lesson each piece holds.
   I think the biggest change over the years in the way I approach making my fiber art is to learn to completely enjoy the process.

I began with this one little sample of different fabrics appliqued onto a background of hand dyed navy and black fabrics. The linen patches are printed from hand carved stamps I have made. As I worked on this piece, I realized too late that I really liked the negative spaces without any stitching. My eyes beg for a quiet place to rest.

  So began my little series of four pieces. I will try to explore something different in each one. Maybe the next one will have only a few thoughtfully placed stitches in a very simple manner.

Japanese Boro stitching was common in 18th-19th century Japan as a way of mending worn clothes to make them last longer. It has become popular as an art form in itself these days.
   So, these are the parameters I used in setting this up:
- all pieces had to be the same size at 8.5" squares
- they had to be in 3 basic colors: black, red, and white but could include shades or tones of these colors
- the samples should include different textures and should include silk, cotton, and linen, but not necessarily all 3 fabrics in each piece
- I can only use one basic stitch: the running stitch.
   It is so much easier to prep all these pieces at once so I don't have to dig everything out again. That way I only have to clean up a big mess once. I am working on Sample #1 now. Sample #4 is finished.

    I have been doing lots of hand embroidery over the last four years or so. The funny thing is, the more hand stitching I do, the more I want to simplify my design aesthetic. The work is not at all about how complex, concentrated, or perfect the stitches are, but it is much more about the texture the stitches create on the fabric, the way they catch the light, and the way it feels in your hands.