I’ve been working on a project for a client involving an antique kimono which was unfortunately damaged in a flood. The client has requested the kimono be used in a large wall hanging to honour the memories she has of the family she received the kimono from. While the scale (huge), the fiber (silk), and the process (assembling relatively large pieces of cloth) are all very different from my those I use in my artwork, I have been enjoying working with this beautiful garment.
My first step was to take the kimono apart, stitch by stitch. I was amazed to find the whole garment had been stitched together by hand with silk thread. As I worked at carefully removing the threads, I wondered about the artisan who had created this beautiful garment. I was curious about what part of Japan they lived in, and when the kimono was created. The quality of the silk is incredible, and given the age, it is still a strong and vibrant piece of cloth.
Next, I pondered for quite some time how I could create something which would showcase the delicate patterns on the surface of the kimono. With some trepidation, I began to carefully cut sections of the kimono, putting the sections back together like a puzzle to create a new arrangement of the kimono sections. Soon the wall hanging will be ready for adding texture in the form of machine stitches. I’m excited to be able to present the finished wall hanging to my client in the next month or so. In the meantime, I am pleased to be carrying on the slow cloth tradition in my own artwork, albeit in a very different form to the tradition of a hand stitched kimono.