The annual patchwork quilt exhibition is on in the church this week. I only had moments to spare for it before my bus was due. I'm no needleperson and although the display of quilts draped over the pews was impressive, in the absence of an explanatory material, such as who made them and whether they had any personal significance, they weren't of much interest to me.
This small piece, draped over the lectern, did catch my attention though. A note with it explained that the constituent pieces, all plastic, had all been picked up at local beaches and sewn together (with strands of plastic rope found in situ) following the Japanese technique called boro - the art of using patches to mend textiles.
"Meaning “ragged” or “tattered,” the boro style was favored by nineteenth and early twentieth-century rural Japanese. Cotton was not common in Japan until well into the twentieth century, so when a kimono or sleeping futon cover started to run thin in a certain area, the family’s women patched it with a small piece of scrap fabric using sashiko stitching.
Over generations of families, these textiles would acquire more and more patches, almost to the point of the common observer being unable to recognize where the original fabric began. "
Anything that makes a virtue of necessity appeals to me, and this kind of sustainable waste-avoiding approach to conserving resources and keeping costs down is exactly what we all need to adopt if we are to
prevent slow down the environmental catastrophe threatening our future.
Let's patch our clothes and be proud of it!
Some more about boro
Recent article about making your clothes last