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a metaphor for life

January 4, 2014

my stitching has taken possession of me

kesa 001working on the idea that this will become a kesa

I think of it as a meditation shawl

the kesa is a part of a Buddhist priest’s robes

designed originally to represent rice paddies and stitched from rags

worn like a shawl over one shoulder

they have a long history, have become museum pieces

and long ago left the rags behind for exquisite silk brocades

kesa 002the fabrics I will use are cotton and linen – from the stash

some handwoven but mainly dyed and/or stitched

returning to the original idea of humility in rags, patches and scraps

of course there are some rather rigid rules regarding the making of kesa

I’m afraid I’ll be breaking a few

but – I’ve worked out the measurements from an old formula – the distance from my elbow to the tip of my middle finger

all the stitching is hand done

with no knots – knots tie one to this earthly  plane

seven panels 27.5 cm X 112 cm (10.75 in. X 44 in.)

kesa 003an old piece of e-gasuri (picture kasuri) bought at the market in Kyoto in 1987 used as the center piece

stitching together pieces collected over time, reminders of people, events  and places

will make this piece very special indeed.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. January 6, 2014 6:09 am

    waiting in wonderment for its conclussion


  2. January 5, 2014 12:15 pm

    This is going to be a very special piece! Slow Cloth indeed.


    • January 5, 2014 12:58 pm

      Louisa – all the seams are triple stitched by hand(french seam) but I’m surprised how quickly it goes once you get started. I’m looking at natural dyed 2/16 cotton and trying to decide if I will weave the lining. Using more stash – but producing more in the “finished stuff” stash!!


  3. January 5, 2014 6:06 am

    Lovely, Jean.


  4. Judi Bushby permalink
    January 4, 2014 8:57 pm

    I look forward to watching the progression of this kesa. What a wonderful idea.


    • January 4, 2014 10:36 pm

      Judi – the idea has been in my head for years but it will take more appropriate fabric than I have available so it will be some time before completion.


      • Judi Bushby permalink
        January 5, 2014 8:23 pm

        You need another trip to Japan maybe. I hope to get back to the best exotic indigo hotel later this year.


      • January 5, 2014 9:44 pm

        Judi – how wonderful, I will be envious. I would always be ready for another trip to Japan but the budget on a pension isn’t!!


  5. January 4, 2014 4:39 pm

    this looks like it will be inspiring to make and to see. or are you maybe joining the priesthood?


    • January 4, 2014 4:56 pm

      Velma – well, I did get kidnapped (just for a day) by a nun in Kyoto. It was an interesting experience! but I don’t think they would have me.


      • January 4, 2014 5:30 pm

        ha! i can see a tiny japanese nun kidnapping you!


      • January 4, 2014 6:35 pm

        Velma – ha — I was totally blinded by her silk robes, a soft blue grey that looked like beaten metal and– she offered to show me the holy relics which weren’t open to the public. My Japanese classmates (who were translating) were green with envy (not a recognized Buddhist emotion!)


  6. January 4, 2014 4:25 pm

    You are indeed an inspiration, as always! Happy New Year, Jean!


    • January 4, 2014 4:37 pm

      Lorrie – inspiration comes at the most unlikely times from many varied places. Happy, creative new year to you.


  7. January 4, 2014 2:23 pm

    I love the details and symbolism at the heart of this–especially that there are no knots. It will be beautiful.


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