Spring vibes - Wabi-Sabi and Boro & Shashiko

Hello people, spring and summer is here at last, almost at the same time here in Ireland and it's been a long while since my last post. I've been very busy though in the background, what with my day job, needs must, to keep a roof over one's head, and also making new things and learning more and more about botanical printing and innovative methods of natural dyeing and incorporating my dyed fabrics into garments. I learned to sew and I am delighted to be able to create interesting, original garments with the fabrics I design.

The inspiration this spring came from the humble, ubiquitous but powerful dandelion and also from old Japanese clothes mending called Boro & Sashiko . Take a peek at the samples I made, and the dress and jacket I created with these:





I love the Cocoon dress, it's comfy, and stylish at the same time, with handy in-seam pockets. That's me, wearing it in the studio! And the Japanese Kantha jacket, for which I got the inspiration from the amazing and fun Shibaguyz,

https://www.designz.shibaguyz.com/sashikoboro.html the Boro & Sashiko stitching duo, but I just didn't have the patience for all that slow stitching so I just quilted it. The top side was dyed in madder dye (Rubia tinctoria) and the lining is a velvety soft french terry, printed with the first leaves of spring, elder, blackcurrant, etc.

The black sample with hints of gold and green is going to be another Kantha jacket for sale, printed with Dandelion flowers and foxglove leaves. And an indigo dyed scarf, the only natural true blue dye.


So, what's with all this Japanese stuff, I hear you say...well, the world is definitely shifting and people's interest in ethical and sustainable clothing, slow fashion and alternative, indie designs and brands is on the increase. This is where the inspiration from Japan comes. Shibori dyeing, Sashiko stitching and WABI -SABI, the enduring Japanese concept which celebrates imperfections, simplicity and sustainability.

"Symmetrical, new, flawless - these words have defined our approach and ideals of beauty in the Western world for hundreds of years. But what if beauty described the exact dichotomy between these aesthetic trademarks? In Japanese philosophy, the definition of beauty defies an eagerness for perfection, savouring the simplicity and the random, and overall accepting the transience of nature. This concept of finding beauty in the ordinary and imperfect is known as wabi-sabi.

The concept of wabi-sabi stems from Zen Buddhism and the rituals of Japanese tea ceremonies. Originally a term to denote lonesomeness, today "wabi" essentially signifies 'less is more' and a reassurance in simplicity. Its counterpart 'sabi' denotes finding beauty in ageing and relishing visible signs of impermanence.

In fashion, the style often denotes subtle colours, visible stitching and the use of raw or organic materials. In the high fashion world, fashion designers have also pinpointed the Japanese aesthetic as inspiration for certain lines (Valentino's Pre-Fall 2019 collection, Robert Geller).


In his book, Wabi-Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence, Andrew Juniper explains:

"The use of natural dyes and hand weaving of the material ensures that the textiles have an added dimension of interest lacking in the consistency of most modern machine-made fabric."

[extract from Mending Matters by Katrina Rodabaugh - artist, author and crafter - https://www.katrinarodabaugh.com/books]




As textile artists, we enjoy creating unique pieces that boast longevity and character and are more likely to be worn numerous times.


Here's a photo of my take on the mend and stitch (Boro & Sashiko) with a Japanese knot bag, with fabrics I dyed and printed. Work still in progress, the hand stitching takes a lot of time!





And finally, a few photos of custom made work for friends and clients. As it is very time consuming for one body- that's me! to create a clothing range in many different sizes, I end up making things on request before I get the chance to make more sizes of one garment or other accessory.

Here's a bespoke wool and silk shawl made to match a dress and shoes fro a wedding, after many trials and errors!



And this is a vintage linen table runner custom dyed for a dear friend.



And last but not least, a Cocoon dress made to order.




That's all from me for now. I hope I managed to inspire you with my work and the interesting articles and books quoted and maybe you will try your hand at mending that old pair of jeans or shirt with simple but visible stitches and give it new life!

We may struggle to define or fully understand wabi-sabi, but trying to adopt the principles of this diverse philosophy can help us find a sense of calm in this fast paced and ever changing world. And wearing clothes like the ones shown here can make us feel more rooted in nature while also adopting an individual style, not found among mass produced clothes.


Feel free to leave a comment or feedback.


Till later. Gabriella

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