Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Wrapping It Up
Last January, I started a project in which I made one furoshiki/wrapping cloth each week. Today, I finished the last of the 52. The furoshiki originated in Japan, but it is also found, although in a slightly different form, in Korea, where it’s called a pojagi (or sometimes bojagi). In both places, it is cloth that is used to wrap a gift or some other object that could be more easily carried if wrapped (e.g., bento—lunch--boxes in Japan). In Japan, it is a specially designed cloth made just for this purpose; in Korea, it is more likely to be pieced from other cloth, more like an American quilt is pieced. The sizes vary, depending upon what is being wrapped.
I came to wrapping cloths in the gift wrapping form. I imagined a beautiful cloth loosely wrapping an exquisite but small gift: maybe a perfect apple, or a luscious chocolate bar, or a small hand-made Shaker basket. My idea was to make one a week during 2009, using different techniques, and then to send them out as Christmas 'gifts' in December, leaving the recipients with the option of keeping them as gifts for themselves, or as wrapping for a gift that they were giving to someone else.
I had very few rules for myself in the process of making them. They were to be 16 inches square; they were to be made of ordinary fabrics that I had around; they were to be lined; they were not to be quilted; and no more than 8 cloths could feature a single technique. As it turned out, there are a few that are unlined because I had some beautiful linen pieces that were previously hemmed and I didn’t see a way to line them. Otherwise, the rules held. I found different themes interested me over time. There are a half-dozen that are related to ways of mending and closing fabric: these include classic mends/darning as well as buttonholes and buttons. There are a number of takeoffs from traditional Japanese art forms: Haiku (in my version, the fabric forms/components are arranged in a 5-7-5 design); flower arranging; and sand raking (in which stitching lines take over for raking lines). There are a number of cloths that feature indigo dyes, shibori dying, and various Asian silks (Thai, Chinese, and Japanese).
All 52 of the furoshikis can be seen here. At the upper right corner of the flickr page, there’s a ‘slideshow’ choice, which is a nice way to see them individually, but for information about the individual cloth, you have to click on the individual picture.
And now they are all gone. The first, which did indeed enclose a small hand-made Shaker box, went to a granddaughter for her 13th birthday. I kept one for myself, a genuine Japanese furoshiki (whose photo is not included in the set) given to me by a quilting friend who knew I was doing this project. But the rest have all flown away throughout the U.S.
And now, there's only a week to figure out what kind of project 2010 needs to have.