|image credits: mira eng-goetz, runninginheels.co.uk, lynnchapman.blogspot.com, inspiredphoenixinhk.files.wordpress.com|
this week's blog post assignment challenged us find an everyday artifact that carries a message of revolution and then deconstruct the design language of that artifact to better understand its cultural meaning. wandering around my house, i was surprised by the amount of objects i could associate with revolutions, whether they be sexual, political, intellectual, technological, financial or alimentary (tampons, passports, books, an i pod, a dollar bill, a salt shaker...). in the end, i chose to focus on the little piece of embroidery that i've been carefully stitching for far too long now. the embroidery is in the traditional sashiko style, which began in the farming and fishing villages of japan during the edo era (1615-1868) when all fibers were hand spun, woven and dyed in a labor intensive process.
sashiko was a quiet revolution born out of necessity and developed by the ingenuity of women who recycled old clothes in order to endure the cold winters and physical labor of rural japanese life. in the face of a hard existence, women managed to create beautiful and unique clothing with what little they had to express a pride for their lifestyle and history.
the images above illustrate the geometric patterns and indigo dyes used to create quilted work garments of cotton or hemp. the consistent use of blue and white in sashiko textiles is evidence of a socially imposed "uniform" designated for laborers who were restricted from wearing bright colors or refined fibers such as silk. a simple running stitch of white cotton thread binds layers of fabric to increase the warmth of the garment and convey family heritage through regional patterns often depicting elements of nature. the photo above depicts japanese women collecting cedar trunks from the steep mountain just outside their village. their sashiko work jackets are reinforced along the shoulder line where the heavy timbers rest as they climb down the mountain.