Progress report

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These panels still need “boro” patches and “sashiko” stitches. Some of the panels will be stitched together with a sewing machine, and the weight bearing stitches will be sewed together using bookbinding techniques.

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I’m getting pretty quick with the sashiko stitches so despite achy fingers and the occasional blood drops on the paper, I feel confident that Untitled (sashiko no donza) will be ready to hang on May 10. If I do get behind, I’ll just sneak into the gallery space like Janine Antoni did with Gnaw and add more stitches to the piece until the show on May 13.

I’m excited!!

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Display

I like the way the fisherman’s jackets are on display in the photos above. I just reserved a photography backdrop stand for displaying my piece. The height os adjustable, so I can either use it to suspend the jacket or use it suspend a wooden dowel that runs through the piece. I think using a wooden dowel will enhance the aesthetics of the artwork.

Pattern

I wish I had someone to take a photo of me at JoAnn’s Fabrics looking through the pattern books with all the old ladies. It totally brings memories back to when my mom used to sew clothes for me. Instead of going to the clothing store, we went to the fabric store to pick out the materials for our school clothes. Being poor is really lame, but having custom made clothing is kind of cool.

Back to the project.

I didn’t find a pattern I liked at the sewing supply store so I did an internet search and found the pattern on the left side. It is for a long men’s kimono and a traditional sashiko no donza is a short jacket. Easy adjustment.

I used the pattern to make a copy of it in Adobe Illustrator. Then I used a projector to get the pattern up to the scale I needed it to be.

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I just tacked the paper to the wall, traced the lines and there you have it.

Artist Statement

I spent a lot of time working on the artist statement. I followed the advice of Dr Hersko to explore on my personal connections to the piece. This was not an easy task. I wrote about my parents and grandparents… you can just read for yourself.

 

John Konno

 

Untitled (sahiko no donza), 2016

 

Recycled paper and textile.

 

 

Based on the subject of water, Untitled (sashiko no donza) is an exploration of the link between extinction, tradition, and my connection to my family. Traditionally, Japanese fishermen in coastal villages wore these types of quilted jackets in the late 1800s and into the early 1900s. Typically sewn by female family members, the garments are constructed from cotton and then dyed indigo. The jackets have added warmth and padding for rowing oars from hand stitched quilting known as sashiko.

 

The threads of the jacket in Untitled (sashiko no donza) flow out from the garment and on to the floor as a metaphor of my bond to the past through memory and tradition. The threads serve a twofold purpose: they prevent the paper garment from breaking under its own weight and the stitches connect the viewer to the piece as it breaks out from the display and into the room. The fisherman’s jacket is life-sized and wearable, however, should it be worn on the open ocean, the jacket would rapidly break apart and the wearer would be left with only a bundle of string.

 

Untitled (sashiko no donza) is dedicated to my mom and dad. My father’s family is from Japan and is a descendent of generations of fishermen, sailors, and surfers. We are traditionally connected to the sea and my happiest memories of my dad involve being in, on, or around the ocean. My mother, now retired, worked as a seamstress like her mother. In order to help support her growing family, my grandmother took apart a pair of work pants, drafted a pattern from it, then made her own pants and sold them to workers from the Philippines who came to Hawaii to work on the pineapple plantations. The machine she used to sew the work pants was paid for by installments and prior to that my grandmother had never sewn before. My industrious mother worked long hours using the same skill in order to contribute to the family finances. My parents are the hardest working people I know.

 

A stitch in time saves nine

I have no idea what that saying means. But I have spent hours… HOURS! making stitches in paper.

I literally fell asleep with the light on and an embroidery needle in my hand and started stitching away the moment I woke up. In the photos above is a machine stitch to repair a paper tear, a WIP photo of a sleeve panel and me sewing away in my bed.

Surrounding: Artist advice

I get to help out Julie Goldstein with her big projects a few times a month as a studio assistant. I learn a lot about her process, color theory, and printmaking. She was also a source for a great idea.

I was actually hesitant to talk about my project with her. She makes art for a living. I was kind of afraid that she would think my idea was silly. But she doesn’t. In fact, before we even got to work, as I am walking up to her studio she said, “I have been thinking about your project.” Then we spent a good half hour looking at websites she found involving “boro”.

“Boro” means ragged in Japanese. These beautiful textiles were made from indigo dyed cotton. Many times the patches are added as a necessity, in order to repair and increase the longevity of a garment. Popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, these hand stitched fabrics are now viewed as valuable works of art.

I am going to use “boro” style patches to repair the tears in the paper I made!