Contemporary Boro 001_5

Contemporary Boro | By Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya

The word of “Contemporary Boro” may confuse you a bit. But let me try to explain.

Boro is a type of Japanese textile that has been mended and/or patched together over and over. The appearance of Boro implies that the textile is old and very used, like a torn rag. Therefore, I initially thought the combination of words, contemporary (current/new) and Boro, might confuse the audience. Boro is the result of repetition of stitching over time found in from the past. The Japanese, who lived in a small village surrounded by mountains, had to repair the fabric by hand-stitching because of limited resources. They didn’t have enough money or logistics to get the new fabric from the market. In other words, they had to repair instead of replacing the fabric. They patch a hole one fabric, then kept using it. When they find another hole, they patched it or mend it. The repetition of hand-stitching repairing made a great art piece, and it is called Boro.

*Boro in Japanese means a completely torn rag textile. Sometimes it means “No Use.”

 

Introducing the word of Contemporary Boro is one of our challenges to share the beauty of Sashiko. We believe that Boro artworks by Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya will wide-open the possibility of Boro Art.

 

Contemporary Boro 001_1
BORO_001US (Keiko Futatsuya)
Contemporary Boro 002_2
BORO_002US
Contemporary Boro 001_2 Contemporary Boro 002_1
Contemporary Boro 001_3 Contemporary Boro 002_5
Contemporary Boro 001_4 Contemporary Boro 004
Contemporary Boro 001_5 Contemporary Boro 002_3
Contemporary Boro 001_6 Contemporary Boro 002_6

 

 

 

Contemporary Boro For Sale

 

These are the Boro Artworks created (mended, repaired, patched and stitched) in 2017 by Keiko Futatsuya’s hands. Keiko mended holes on the big torn Boro fabric, which will not function as textile, and patched the other small swatches of Boros into the big art piece. Since Keiko performs Sashiko on the Boro in 2017, we call it Contemporary Boro. Although there are numbers of beautiful Boros in the antique markets, it is rare to have a Boro art piece repaired in 2017, by hand-stitching as the Japanese used to do in 19 century. Keiko is a Sashiko artist who can recreate the Boro. It is my pleasure to introduce Keiko and her works to the world.

 

Enjoy Clean Boro hand-stitched in 2017

 

Sometimes, a piece of Boro art can be dirty and dusty. It is no wonder because the Boro may have been kept in the storage room for many years. However, there is a problem of cleaning Boro. Since no one touched the boro for many years, some parts of Boro fabric is completely damaged and the washing process, even gentle hand wash, can destroy the Boro piece. From time to time, the dirt function as the adhesive and washing makes the boro into pieces.

 

We know that from experience

We purchased a 100+ years old rain jacket from an antique market. They used to make a rain jacket by inserting water-resistant paper in between fabrics. They made 3 layers of fabric-paper-fabric to make the water resisting cloth. This is the fact we learned after we purchased and washed it. By washing the piece we purchased, the weight become 1/3 of the original fabric. The water-resistant paper and other damaged fabric were washed away with the dirt on the fabric.

 

The Contemporary Boro we introduce is washable. We repeatedly washed the original Boro, then mended and repaired as the Japanese used to do. The fabric may be very fragile, but not dirty or dusty. In fact, we believe the true value of Boro can be found in usage in daily life. We think this boro can be a great wall-decor, but also you may use it as home-decor like a table runner or placemat for flower vase. Again, it is washable. (Please wash gently with hand).

 

We don’t know how many these Contemporary Boros we can make throughout our lives. However, we are working on collecting the boro pieces and mending them to introduce more of these beautiful artwork we are proud of.

 

 

 

 

Sashiko Instagram

Sashiko Instagram | Photos from Sashi.Co & Us

We started an Instagram Account about 2 years ago and haven’t been active so much until recently. Since our Sashiko Instagram Account starts getting some attention, we enjoy sharing our Sashiko arts and hear from followers their opinions. Your voice is always our encouragement to continue Sashiko. Let’s enjoy Sashiko more by sharing the photos of Sashiko Achievement.

 

Sashiko Instagram | Photos from Keiko & Atsushi

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The photos are displayed in an order of the numbers of “likes.”

Find your favorite photos by clicking “load more” and click the like button so we understand which photos are more attractive to the followers. Your action encourages us to make more Sashiko arts.

Sashiko and Boro are both our focus. In fact, we believe, the Sashiko is a process of appreciating the fabric, and the Boro is the result of its appreciation, repetition of Sashiko. Our goal is to introduce the concept and products of Sashiko. By sharing the beautiful arts/crafts of Sashiko and Boro, we hope to influence to the society, even a bit. In the fast-speed society, this slow-life may help some people to realize the importance of appreciation by reconsidering what we have. We appreciate fabric by repairing, mending, reinforcing and strengthening instead of replacing them and throwing them away. Mottainai – they are too good to waste. We, the Japanese, had a beautiful mindset with appreciation.

 

Join our slow, powerful, yet small movement to appreciate what we have. It is beautiful. It may be the next trend in the Fashion. Tired of wasting? Bored with looking alike all the time?

Let’s enjoy our life by appreciating it.

 

 

Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair 1

Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair Project

Since 2012, I have been using a Sashiko card-holder as a wallet to carry my debit/credit cards. After repeating putting my jeans pocket so many times, even the Sashiko fabric start getting torn. When I share the photo on Instagram, many people reacted to the photo how interested they were to see the process of repairing. It became like a Boro mending, so here is my Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair Project.

Repair it instead of Replace it

My wallet looks like the photo. There are some holes. The edge of wallet started fraying. Soon or later, the wallet will be completely torn and it will not function as the card-holder. Replace it, or repair it to reuse it.

Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair 0

 

First, the most important step. Preparing the Sashiko fabric to patch. I prepared several kinds of Sashiko fabric to see which one is the most appropriate fabric.s

Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair 2

 

Choosing the “right” fabric for the project is very fun part. I spend good amount of time to decide the one would be great on Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair Project.

 

Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair 3

 

After selecting the fabric, the repairing stitch start. Unlike the Sashiko running stitch, repairing takes more time, one stitch by one stitch. Since the needle go through several layers of fabric, it is so hard to push through the needle. The pain of my finger is the by-product of this beautiful Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair.

Here is the photo of before and after.

Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair 0 Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair 1

 

The repair for inside wasn’t necessary much. I made a few stitches to reinforce the patch I made outside. The few stitches look pretty unique as well.

 

Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair

 

The Concept of Wallet Sashiko Boro Repair Project

“Upcycle” and “Repurpose” are the keywords on our projects. When I realize my personal belonging (besides pairs of jeans) requires the Sashiko and Boro mending project, I was excited to repair that. The more I repair the fabric, the more I feel the attachment to the item. Using one item with care instead of replacing them every time you see the damage is the key concept of our activities.

 

The Wallet looks a bit like a Boro piece. By repeating the repairing, it will be more beautiful like the other famous boros. We, whoever interested in Sashiko and I, are creating the future Boros.

Sashiko Patchwork 1

Sashiko Patchwork and its Concept

The Japanese used to say; “When you have a piece of fabric as large as the size you can wrap three soy beans, you should keep it so the piece of fabric may be useful in repairing.” We respect this concept in appreciating the fabric. We repair Boro with the small fabric, and we make a larger fabric as the Sashiko Patchwork.

 

A way to appreciate fabric: Sashiko Patchwork

The Japanese have an interesting word, which became quite famous outside of Japan, “Mottainai(もったいない).” This term conveys a sense of regret concerning waste. Personally, I would like to translate this term to “appreciation to the resource” instead of “regretting the waste.” When a person throws away the food, we say “Mottainai.” Although it indeed describes the regretfulness of the waste, I prefer respecting the concept behind the regretfulness of the word, the appreciation for the food as the limited resource.

The same concept applies to the fabric. We try to keep as many small pieces of fabrics as possible. By using them in Sashiko Patchwork or Mending Projects, we intend to give the fabric another purpose. Our main activity is to repurpose something which could be just a piece of garbage. Turning waste to the beautiful & useful things are the basic concept we follow.

 

Sashiko Patchwork 2

 

 

Needless to say, it is easier to use a sheet of fabric to make a bag.

Patchworking with small fabrics is a troublesome and time-consuming process. However, we believe the beauty of Sashiko patch working can influence many people who love arts, and contribute to the sustainable society by up-cycling and repurposing the limited resource.

 

The bag is made by Keiko (Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya).

One of Keiko’s specialty is to find the best small patch from a pile of “To be waste fabric” and create the beautiful piece. Keiko and I share the same goal of bringing the old fabric which people no longer need (use) back to the main stage of fabric. The main stage as the items being used by us.

 

 

Another way to appreciate: Repairing and Boro

A process of repairing the fabric with Sashiko and the resulting in Boro is another way to appreciate the fabric. We also repair Boro. Please spare some of your time to read another section of this website. We share many stories and projects of Boros.

 

 

Keiko Futatsuya Sashiko Designer

Keiko Futatsuya | Genius Sashiko Designer

Keiko Futatsuya is a founder of Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya and a Sashiko artist herself. What makes her so special is her Sashiko designing sense. She always surprises me with her new Sashiko design. I believe she is a type of genius in Sashiko designing.

 

30+ years of Sashiko experience

Keiko studied a dressmaking in vocational school after she had graduated high-school. When she was in early 20’s, she married to Yuichi Futatsuya, who was the second generation of Sashiko business. First, she wasn’t allowed to make Sashiko art pieces for sale since she was an outsider and didn’t share the traditions. However, regardless of strict restriction, she learned how to stitch from other Sashiko artisans and enjoyed the beauty of Sashiko. Even when her products didn’t line up on the store shelve, she kept making Sashiko art. It is simply because she liked Sashiko.

After so many years of Sashiko experience, Yuichi and I decided to shift the Sashiko business from “making many small products as craft” to “making one-of-a-kind art.” In the process of making one of a kind art, Keiko’s sense of Sashiko designing finally got a spotlight.

 

Keiko Futatsuya Designing Sashiko Jacket

 

It isn’t easy to anticipate the result in Sashiko

In terms of Sashiko stitching, she doesn’t have the best skill. Although her Sashiko technique is sufficient to call her artist, her significance is to anticipate the result in Sashiko and Vintage Fabric combination. For example, a woman in her 70’s, who is also a part of Keiko’s Sashi.Co team, has the supreme Sashiko technique. Her hands move like a machine and Keiko strongly depends on her skill. However, the supreme Sashiko technique doesn’t connect to the ability to make a beautiful Jacket.

*Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya is a group of Sashiko artisans. Not all the Sashiko stitchings are done by Keiko, but everything is supervised by Keiko.

 

 

Sashiko Jackets Collection Keiko Futatsuya

 

Keiko’s basic knowledge of dressmaking, her 30 years of observing and enjoying Sashiko, and her design sense make this completely exclusive collection possible.

It isn’t easy to anticipate the result of Sashiko product. It may look on a paper, on a computer screen, or even on a process of matching the fabric and thread. However, the result can be very different from what we imagined after stitching Sashiko on the actual fabric. It is the beauty of hand-making art.

 

Things Only Keiko Futatsuya can do

In addition to her Sashiko designing sense, she has a great technique to repair the BORO.

The 2 photos below is the Boro of before and after. In order to complete this challenging repair project, the artist has to have an understanding of the vintage fabric, good Sashiko techniques, and the sense of matching all the vintage fabrics. By looking at these results, I cannot change my mind that she is the genius in Sashiko stitching and Boro repairing.

Boro Artist Keiko Futatsuya -1 Boro Artist Keiko Futatsuya -2

 

 

Keiko Futatsuya is a supervisor of Upcycle Stitches LLC operation regarding Sashiko such as workshops, tutorials, and articles. If you have any questions about her, please contact us. She doesn’t speak English, but I am happy to translate your question and ask her on behalf of you. Please be advised that the question and answer may be shared on this website after getting the permision.

 

 

TOKIYAMA-SASHIKO-_-8

Boro from Ground ~ Tokiyama Sashiko

Keiko Futatsuya, my mother / a Sashiko artist in Japan, visited an unbelievable place regarding a hidden Sashiko culture – Tokiyama Sashiko (時山さしこ). In a small village called Tokiyama, where there are no grocery stores around, the people discovered their own Sashiko culture in 1990’s from ground. They tried to pass this culture down to the next generation by exhibiting Sashiko/Boro pieces and sharing Sashiko workshops.

Since the people in Tokiyama knew Keiko from her previous work, the designer in Hida Sashiko. they warmly welcomed her and share their story with her and her friends.

 

Yes. I mention it right. Discovered Boro from Ground

We, who live in the 21st century, value BOROs as a beautiful art piece. Patches and repeated stitching make unique visual art like abstract drawing. In the past, a few hundred years ago, the Japanese had a different feeling comparing to the value we had. The feeling was opposite to beautiful value, the shame. Regardless of its beauty, the BOROs were the symbol of Shame.

 

In Tokiyama village, Sashiko repaired Jacket represented poverty. People considered the more a family possesses Boros, the poor they were. They felt ashamed of wearing Boros and repairing Sashiko jacket, which they didn’t have any choice not to do. When they had a pile of Boros and mended clothes which they couldn’t repair much any longer, they bury Boros in the ground to hide the shame they held.

 

In 1990’s, people learned that there was a Sashiko culture in Tokiyama hundreds of years ago, dug these BOROs and Sashiko jacket from the ground. Indeed. They have BOROs from Ground. Some of them transformed its touch, the cotton became like a felt after getting the pressures under the ground.

 

Tokiyama Sashiko 1 Tokiyama Sashiko 3

 

 

 

Unbelievable Testimony of Sashiko by Tokiyama Sashiko

Sashiko formed its culture in many places in Japan, where are rural places with a lot of snow and severe winter. In these places, they developed their own Sashiko culture where Sashiko was a work for women to repair men’s jacket. Regardless of the numbers of culture’s footprints, it has been very challenging to make a research about Sashiko. 

Tokiyama Sashiko gave us a hint of understanding the difficulty of discovering the history of Sashiko. People felt ashamed of having the Boro and Sashiko Jackets. This great opportunity with Tokiyama Sashiko opened up the possibility to learn more about Sashiko.

 

We will visit them again, ask questions, and try to pass “Sashiko” down to the next generation together, without burying them in the ground.

Wait for the update!

Sashiko Dish Towel

Sashiko Dish Towel ~ Practice Sahiko on Sarashi

Sashiko Dish Towel with using Sarashi Cotton Fabric is one of the most popular items in Sashiko stitching. There are many kinds of dish towels with Sashiko. If you are interested, google the keyword of “Sashiko Fukin and execute the online research. You will find many beautiful dish towels with Sashiko. Many books with Sashiko Dish Towels are published in Japanese as well.

 

 

Why Dish Towel with Sashiko stitching?

In past, Sarashi Cotton Fabric was relatively easy to get. The Japanese layered the Sarashi fabric and made dish towels for their everyday needs. It was an era people couldn’t waste anything. Of course, there were no paper towels. They tried to strengthen the fabric so they can use the towels repeatedly. They used the towel to wipe the dishes after rinsing. When the towel gets a bit dirty, they used it for wiping the table and other furniture. When the towel started torn or looks filthy, they used the towel to clean the floor. After these process, when the towel looks completely dirty, then they used it for cleaning toilets. I believe it is another form of Boro (if we can find the filthy dirty dish towel after they cleaned their toilet.)

In the process of shifting purpose for Sarashi towel, Sashiko always stayed there. Sashiko not only repair the fabric but it also strengthens the fabric.

Sarashi fabric absorbs water very efficiently. It is easy to clean. Therefore, the Japanese used the fabric for daily needs with Sashiko stitching.

 

Sashiko Dish Towel 4

Good practice fabric for simple running stitches and overlay stitching

In modern society, the needs for using a towel so many times repeatedly declined. Paper towels are so easy to use. (although we use the Sashiko Dish Towel in our days.) In our experience of producing Sashiko products, we realized that Sarashi fabric is very easy to stitch, soft to hold and loosen enough t0 practice the overlay stitching.

Sashiko Dish Towel

 

Sashiko with Dish Clothes is a form of culture because of reasons.

When you want to experience Sashiko in the traditional way, considering to make dish towel is a good option to enjoy Sashiko more. 

 

 

We prepare the sample set to make Sashiko Dish Towel

I wanted to make it simple. I just wanted you to try the quality of Sarashi fabric and the fun of stitching.

We prepare a set of

  • A dish towel size of Sarashi Fabric (the edge trimmed for less trouble)
  • A small skein of Sashiko thread
  • A Sashiko needle

 

No need to follow our Sashiko techniques to use a unique Sashiko thimble or worried about making overlay stitching. If you could just enjoy the stitching and get interested in Sashiko, that is our pleasure.

 

The set is available on this website as well as our Etsy Store.

 

 

 

KUON Special Order Boro Jacket

Wow. WOW!! Look at this fantastic jacket, KUON Special Order Boro Jacket. Just stunning. Keiko (Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya) mended with Sashiko stitching on the boro fabric. We are so happy to be a part of the production of this super cool jacket.

*All the photos are cited from KUON Website; http://www.kuon.tokyo

 

KUON Special Order Boro Jacket

KUON Special Order Boro Jacket | Amazing

KUON Special Order Boro Jacket

KUON is a fashion brand appreciating the Japanese traditional hand-crafting techniques in Japan including Sashiko, Boro and a lot more. They combine the beauty of Japanese vintage fabric and technique to modern fashion design. This collaboration of the vintage textile and modern fashion was my dream while I was working in Sashiko family business. We knew how to tailor jackets in Japanese traditional way, but we weren’t modern tailor or fashion designer. It is just amazing.

 

KUON means “eternity”,  “remote past or future”, and “permanence”.

While appreciating the history and culture of vintage clothes or textiles, KUON always seeks for permanent, simple, authentic value, not bound by traditional values.

KUON challenges the existing traditional notion on vintage clothes and revitalizes it with the new value.

New things get old, but beautiful things stay beautiful.

I am so happy to work with them, and they are (will be) the center of attention soon.

Sustainability, Upcycle, Repurpose, Boro and Sashiko

The words of sustainability, upcycle and repurpose represent our concepts in making Boros and Sashiko products. However, in depth, we would not want to forget that we are making fashion item. People like the fashionable and stylish product. When people use these fashionable products, it repurposes the fabric. It means we upcycled it. As a result, we contributed the sustainable society in the textile industry.

We believe that the Boro is the result of human instinct to be beautiful. 

 

It is very important to avoid confusing “result” and “process.”

We do not make Boro and Sashiko because we would like to focus on sustainability, upcycling and repurposing. We enjoy the style of Boro and Sashiko as the result of upcycling, repurposing, then it becomes a sustainable circle. It is less meaningful if we make something “not-stylish” yet “perfectly sustainable.” We would like to engage in making “very stylish and sustainable.”

 

KUON is brand leading which is leading this beautiful market. Let’s appreciate the fabric, and enjoy the most stylish thing ever.

BORO | Textile Art from Ancient Japan

Every time I host a Sashiko workshop in NYC, I hear the word of BORO.

The word of “BORO” became famous in these 15 years or so. People in the art industry discovered the beauty of Japanese vintage fabric, especially those were used and repaired repeatedly. As a Japanese who grew up with a lot of textile in the traditional Sashiko family, I remember the trend with BORO was somewhat surprising.

 

In Japanese, the word Boro (襤褸)means;

  1. A piece of useless fabric after using repeatedly
  2. Torn cloth with holes and patches. Squalid garment. (Usually, the negative image with the word of Boro)

The Japanese sometimes call it Ranru with the same Japanese written character. Ranru means a garment with many damages, tears, and patches.

 

The contemporary BORO culture spotlight not only the ordinary Japanese definition as old garments but also the vintage fabrics with many patches and repairs. Many Boro pieces are found in forms of Kimono, Noragi  (Japanese style outer Jacket), Futon (Japanese style blanket), Shikimono (Japanese style rug) and so on. They look dirty comparing to the new fabric, but the color created by hundreds of years of time and the combination of patches with repairing are beautiful. BORO sometimes looks like an abstract painting.

 

Boro 1 Boro 2

 

 

 

At Random Beauty?

Some people say that Boro is a product of at random chance. The people found out the beauty in Boros in the 21 century. It was lucky for the textile culture of Japan that the BORO was discovered. The unique culture of Japan, such as Mottainai (regret concerning waste) contributed to the process of creating Boros. 

Yes. The Japanese had a unique culture of saving and appreciating not only the fabric but also everything around them. Speaking of Mottainai culture in fabric, a mother told a daughter that, if she has a large piece of fabric enough to wrap 3 soybeans, she should keep the piece so she will be able to repair the other fabric. In the process of economical growth in Japan, some Boros were thrown away because of its nature… it is literally a piece of filthy, useless, and fragile fabric. I agree that the Japanese didn’t introduce the artistic aspect in Boros. However, I do not think that the BORO is a product of at random chance or accidental art. They tried to be beautiful.

Boro is Designed fabric by ordinary farmers.

I think, and I know, that the process of creating Boro requires a lot of thinking and designing. If Japanese people only needed to mend the fabric, why didn’t they use mono-color thread and plain solid color fabric…? Using simple thread and one colored fabric throughout their life would have their family finance much easier. Instead, they designed the Boro to enjoy her/him more fashion in their limited resource.

The ordinary farmers in Japan tried to enjoy the fashion and arts within the capacity of what they can. This is human nature to dress their up. The fashion sense of Japanese people is the origin of Boros, I believe.

Boro 3 Boro 4

BORO as the result of Sashiko

The Japanese people created BORO by repeating the process of mending the fabric. I believe that we call the process of mending “Sashiko.” Sashiko is not only a form of hand-stitching but also the process of stitching with focusing on design and function simultaneously.

Many people are interested in Sashiko as a technique to make decorative stitching. Sashiko became more decorative stitching after the Japanese started enjoying enough amount of fabrics and threads. However, as a Sashiko artist, I would like to introduce the beauty of mending, and the aspect of Sashiko which can make your garments more special.

 

My mother Keiko started the project called Sashi.Co & Keiko Futatsuya to revive the old fabric to contemporary fashion/art by Sashiko. It is impossible to make “new BORO” in this century because the BORO requires the color fade-out with hundreds of years and repeated repairing the fabric. What Keiko focus now is to find the Boro (or Boro like, vintage, and antique fabric) and repair the BORO. We believe this is one of our responsibilities to pass down the culture to next generation as Sashiko artists.

Learn Sashiko, share your Sashiko project, and let’s enjoy Boro-like fashion starting in 21st century.

 

Boro 6 Boro 5

 

 

 

We are a team to make Boro-to-be in the next Century.

One of my goal of this website is to make Sashiko open-source matter. I want as many people as possible to know what Sashiko is, enjoy the process of stitching, and feel satisfied by the result. We have some online tutorials and online store to start learning Sashiko.

The Sashiko doesn’t limit your project by rules or regulation. You can do whatever you want. My hobby is to mend jeans, and many people enjoyed my Sashiko mending workshop in NYC.

 

 

By the way, when I say I wear a garment with mending, people may think that I am against to the mass consumption society.

They may think I care the ecology more than the fashion. Some may think I am in need of… and saving money for food. It is wrong. Again, I believe it is human instinct to make us attractive throughout fashion, and the mending with cool fabric can be a good way to attract the others. I am proud of my ancestor, who cared the fashion no matter how in need they were.

 

I hope you can join our team to make “Boro to be” in the next century.

Although I don’t know if our descendants find it beautiful or not, as long as we enjoy the process of appreciating the fabric, I am pretty sure this trend will be another fashion culture in 2xxx. 

 

What you need to join our team are simple of two mindsets.

Passion for the fashion and appreciation for the fabric.