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.

At Instagram

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

Nowaki: Wind Blown Grass Motif

Adding my nature experience to a Sashiko Pattern 

 

Sashiko is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching from Japan that started out of practical need during the Edo era. Sashiko works with modern and traditional patterns. ‘Wind Blown Grass Motif, or Nowaki’, is one of my favourite patterns. Nowaki stands for a late autumn (fall) wind-storm in the countryside, or a typhoon, especially one that blows from the 210th to the 220th day of the year.  Sashiko’s Wind in Grass is a static and repetitive pattern, yet it charms. 

 

‘Nowaki’ or ‘Wind Blown Grass’ Sashiko Pattern

The last time that I enjoyed looking at the wind playing with grass was during my summer holiday. I was standing in front of a window of a holiday cottage and noticed how the wind was playing with an ochre coloured field. The light was so special because it cause waves of wind to colour the cereal field deep ochre with silvery patches. Swirling patterns kept me wondering whether the wind was sending me a message, an unidentified written message in the most elegant but quicksilver characters that were erased as soon as they were written in the tall grasses.   

 

I liked making a ‘Wind Playing with Grass’ display that is closer to my experience in which the wind was writing a message, playing with the grass. I remembered that I tried to ‘get’ the message that the wind was writing in the grass, but of course I couldn’t. Or maybe I could. I concluded that the wind wrote, with in silvery waves, ‘Happiness’ in all possible languages in that mesmerizing field of cereals.

 

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist & Author  

‘Birds, Butterflies, Fish & Botany’

 

P.S.My booklet is at the moment less than 10 US Dollar. Be lucky and grab this low price! If you do, inform me, I will send you a lovely Mandarin Duck card.