Abstraction in Sashiko and Iron Age Art

I ventured into Sashiko embroidery for a while. Sashiko, Japanese traditional pattern stitching, is an interesting geometrical and embroidery challenge. Equally interesting is discovering the meaning of old Japanese patterns that Sashiko uses; some refer to nature scenes. Like ‘Linked Plovers or Chidori Tsunagi’:

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Do you see a flock of birds, flying from down-left to upper-right?

Or look at ‘Wind blowing Grasses or nowaki’,

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And there is ‘Diamond Blue Waves or hishi seigaiha’.

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With the help of transparent geometrical templates bought Aliexpress, I copy and design the Sashiko patterns on paper and later transfer them to fabric. What I also like about the stitched geometry of Japan is the level of abstraction of the designs. Iron Age artists mastered abstraction too; think about the Uffington White Horse in the UK.

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As I love using details and details in details, abstraction is a nice challenge to me. Which lines can you erase and still have a flower, a bird, or a horse? Which lines are essential? And how does a geometrical design help the human brain to perceive abstract images and connect them to our life? Sashiko is a creative challenge and from there you seem to develop more and more creativity.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Dutch Artist and owner of http://www.mindfuldrawing.com living in Utrecht.

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Paula’s Etsy shows her commissions, original drawings, some embroidery and art prints.