Sunday, April 18, 2010

Reflections on local history in sashiko

Above: study for sashiko textile reflecting on San Jose history and culture
Sashiko stitching has fascinated me since I was a child. I saw it on old plantation work clothes hanging in relatives closest, on patched quilts and on purses and on Christmas ornaments. I knew that the origins of this now decorative stitch was in practicality;  its function stemmed from the need to repair and reinforce cotton and hemp work clothes.

I suspect that the Japanese agricultural workers in Santa Clara also used sashiko stitching in their work clothes. It will be interesting to research this. A few years back I learned that the current San Jose airport was once a cauliflower field. Japanese Americans were the primary laborers.

In 1940 a bond passed to fund the airport construction. In 1942 Executive Order 9066 let to the removal of Japanese Americans from Santa Clara County. After Internment, many San Jose Japanese Americans returned to Japantown. Today, San Jose's Japantown  is the only California Japantown which returned to its exact prewar location.

In the digital sketch at the top of this posting, the bounding line between the blue and while background represents the this time of transition in 1940 and 1942. The circular shapes on the loop tracking back to the cauliflower represents the Japanese returning to  San Jose to create a Japantown on its original location. I would like to create a sashiko piece reflecting this history. I took images of young cauliflower as reference for this a few years back and have been stewing on this project. Recreating in sashiko stitching the fractal like patterns of the plant would reflect on culture, the past agricultural economy and the technology industries which replaced it.

More of these thoughts are at my textile blog:

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I just taught sashiko Workshops for the Santa Clara Valley quilt guild and I came upon your wonderful website while looking at sashiko I absolutely love your caulifower image and the story that goes with it. Very inspiring! I am fasinated with the traditional as well as non-traditional applicaitons for sashiko and have barely scratched th surface of possibilities. To view my work:
    Sylvia PIppen