Noticed: Boro

By Kathryn Clark

Are you seeing blue patchwork everywhere these days? It all goes back to the Japanese. Boro, meaning “rags” in Japanese, are patched and mended farmer textiles found throughout rural Japan.

Boro detail from Sri Threads

Many of these textiles were made with easy to forage, durable fibers like hemp and ramie because cotton was unaffordable. The reason why they’re blue? Indigo is a natural insect repellant.

Asa boro from Sri Threads

Considered too shameful to share, boro are now coveted and inspiring artists and crafters in their own work. Denham the Jeanmaker, based in Amsterdam, repurposed actual boro in their Boro Spy Jacket.

Denham Jacket

Sophie Truong’s stunning repurposed tea bag quilts were created after acquiring a few boro.

Blue Tea Bag Quilt by Sophie Truong

I, too, have a little boro hanging in my studio, an old sake straining bag. It’s affected my work as well.

Kathryn Clark Atlanta Foreclosure Quilt

Sri Threads, a Brooklyn textile gallery that specializes in Japanese folk textiles has a frequently updated blog that is definitely worth perusing. Talk about a niche! He has many boro for sale, some of them actually affordable. His online shop is updated every Wednesday. But get there early, they sell fast!


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