Boro at Mondo Cane

Last Thursday, I went to the opening of a small boro show at Mondo Cane in Manhattan. It’s a tiny little gallery-cum-shop, so there were only four pieces of textile on display, all bedcovers, in varying stages of raggedness.

My first impression was of the stitches–they were huge and the thread was thick. Indigo or white thread. Parallel rows.  Rectangular patches. Some ikat fabrics, some stripes and lots of solids.

I found myself ambivalent about the show. Beautiful rags? Would I want them hanging on my wall at home? What did the cloth have to say for iteself?

Surprisingly, very little. A faint murmer of “oh, please. We are so ragged.  Please don’t stare…” Embarrassed cloth?  I think so. There is something uncomfortable in the thought of an affluent population, the New York gallery scene, staring at these artifacts of practical poverty. It’s a bit like signing on for a tour of the slums of Calcutta.

I might have felt better about meeting these cloths in a museum, studying them in their social context, appreciating them as the cloth that kept someone warm. I guess their beauty should be acknowledged, but their utility should be praised.


In another time and place

Life intervenes, and takes time away from weaving and mending. At times like this, I think about one of my French ancestors who was a weaver. He lived in a time and place where this was an honorable and necessary craft, like that of the miller who is my most distant ancestor, and even the watchmaker who was the last of the family to have a trade.

What would that weaver-ancestor think of my strange cloth? Would he be grateful that someone in the family still knows a shuttle from a reed, or would he despise the strange, coarse fabric that I create?

black bean dye

Just so we all remember:  the silk was pre-mordanted with alum, 25% wog, heated up and then let to sit overnight. The beans were soaked in water, also overnight. Then, I took the dye off the top of the pot of beans, and let the silk sit in the cold dye over another night.  Rinse and dry.  That’s it.  The pearl grey is unmordanted silk.  Just because I was curious.