The Cottage Orné Quilt

The Cottage Orné Quilt
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Monday, 12 May 2014

Keep Patching!

Have you heard of Boro?  I had vaguely and now there's been an exhibition at Somerset House in London all the great and the good will be now be fully aware of them?  It was also a selling exhibition with pieces starting at £5,000, so probably too late to start a little collection?

These are the pictures that first caught my eye and encouraged me to follow up the many links in search  of something new to me in textiles - maybe they will spark your interest too?


Boro can be translated into English as ‘rags’ and is the collective name for items, usually clothing and bed covers,  made by the poor, rural population of Japan who could not afford to buy new when need required and had to literally make ends meet by piecing and patching discarded cotton onto existing sets, forming something slightly different each time they did so.

If you are as interested in this as I have become, here are two really good videos that explain and show examples -



I would like to think that the trend for re-cyling fabric grows and becomes fashionable, because, apart from it's green credentials, it seems to draw people to the craft.  It's a very appealing concept, but newcomers then come up against the commercial might of the fabric, gadget and machine manufacturers and cannot always find their way to like minded folk.

I myself feel very out of step these days. I won't bore you again with my opinions, but it was inspiring to learn how old, distressed, but still beautiful things are so appreciated.  I only wish that our own Welsh quilts were so venerated and granted an exhibition at Somerset House! 




6 comments:

Jan said...

When I first visited Japan about 18 years ago, there were piles of boro textiles in the flea markets in Kyoto. However, in the last 10 or 12 years, the interest and appreciation of these pieces have soared and if you can even find desirable pieces, the prices are exorbitant.
I found a book you might be interested in, 'Boro, Rags and Tatters from the Far North of Japan', on one of my visits to Japan. Written in both Japanese and English, I have seen it on Amazon.

Diane-crewe said...

found this fascinating x thanks for the links and info x.. always good to know the modern world has room for the traditionsowhilen from x

audrey said...

I love how timeless this style is. Some of the pictures I've seen are just beautiful.

susanhal said...

hello mary, i don't think you are out of step at all and i like to hear your opinions, if you didn't have any your blog would be majorly dull !
there is an article in 100 edition i.e. this month's 'quiltmania' magazine about this rag thing which they call chiku-chiku .apparently there is a shop in tokyo called 'blue and white' where you can buy them. i had never heard of it until this month but doesn't it remind you of prince charles's coat that was all over the news not long ago ? it does me.
i actually don't like it , having something of a phobia about old clothes, well other peoples old clothes anyway ! i think it stems from reading about lice hiding in the seams of clothes and the recommendation in the first world war was that they would survive the wash and you should press all the seams with a very hot iron. yuk !
i bet you could get somerset house to put on a welsh quilt exhibition...you could write and ask the P of W to help.

Mary Jenkins said...

Thanks Susan!
Ugh - I don't like the idea of lice in the seams. I suppose now you would put things in the freezer! Glad I can't afford them! Regarding Welsh quilts at Someset House, next time I'm talking to HRH I will mention it!

Nancy said...

I don't know much about boro, have just begun seeing photos and learning a little. I wonder if the people who layered the fabrics to make them realized at the time how beautiful some of us would consider them. Did they have an artistic eye or was there little consideration of that and the effort was pure necessity, limited by the availability of fabric and the need to cover a hole.

Generally we don't seem to recycle, reuse, and repair like people of generations past did. I'm a re-user and recycler, but nothing I've done matches the beauty of these boro!

I have several very old holey quilts that I don't know what to do with. There is not enough left of them (or at least the top layers of them) to lay on a bed or even use for a dog bed, but I don't seem to be able to part with them. Perhaps this is the answer....

Thanks for sharing.