I am currently enamoured with all things Japanese. I am re-learning the language, forty years after I first did an intensive 12 month course, and I have a trip planned for later this year. So I wasn’t surprised to notice that a number of the new screens I have made recently have a distinctly Japanese theme to them.
Sashiko stitching is a traditional style of running stitch usually done in white on an indigo background. I must confess that traditional sashiko just doesn’t appeal to me much – the traditional designs are very precise and orderly. While many people find repetition and symmetry pleasing in designs, I am afraid I am not one of them. To me, same, orderly = predictable = boring, no matter how artfully executed. I like eccentricity and asymmetry – it takes far too much effort to be perfect!
So I took a traditional sashiko clamshell design and in Adobe Illustrator, drew free-hand clamshells then used a seed stitch brush to simulate the stitches. I turned this into a thermofax screen, and voila – instant, quirky sashiko ‘stitching’. I made a zippered pouch of the fabric, and backed it with some complementary Japanese patchwork fabric.
I played with the idea a bit and made a few more designs, including a traditional hexagon, some random, wavy stitching lines and then interspersed straight lines with circles. These remind of of the sand/gravel gardens at at temple in places like Kyoto.
I have printed these onto some indigo fabric that I dyed using 60% reduced indigo from KraftKolour in Melbourne. A very quick and easy way to get into indigo dyeing if you would like to give it a go. These pieces only had one dip in the vat, so aren’t very dark, but I like this shade of blue.