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DIY: Boro Textile Art

In today’s post I'm taking it back to an old DIY, in which I still get so many questions regarding. You might recognize the large scale art shown at the end of this post, from last week's blog post. I’m often remiss in my acknowledgement that most of you are new here. So if you're reading this and have just begun following along, you weren't around exactly one year ago today when I began working on this project.

Backstory time: When it was time move from our previous rental, I made sure to pack up all of the cut pieces of denim I had been saving all year. See initially, I wanted to sew a patch work quilt, using different shades of denim, and hang the piece as art. Only problem was: I don’t sew. And before you tell me, oh it’s so easy! I’ve tried. It doesn’t click for me. So for an entire year, I kept hoarding denim and eventually brought in warm toned fabric pieces that I wanted to incorporate. After giving up my beginner sewing dreams, I began to seek out an alternative. We move to our current home and I soon figured, “hey, those who cant sew, glue! Somewhere down the rabbit hole of Pinterest, I saw this photo:

Image Via

It was exactly what I was picturing in my head. I wanted THAT. That being the classic Japanese Boro... Apparently patchwork fabric sewn together is recognized in the Japanese culture as Boro textiles. I adopted the name out of respect to my findings and began calling my new DIY by its cultural name: Boro Art. I studied the photo (and many others) paying attention to the different fabrics used, how they were placed, proportions, etc. and ultimately came up with this pattern:

What's not pictured is the large piece of fabric underneath the placed cuts. I had a bunch of fabric remnants and used one of the larger sized ones to glue my pieces onto. After deciding on a fabric pattern, I took an iron (low heat) across some of the more wrinkled pieces. Gluing the each piece to the fabric underneath was the next step. Trail and error led me to use this industrial grade adhesive spray. The other fabric glues I had purchased were not strong enough for the denim.

(Things to note): The adhesive was quite potent. Use in a well ventilated area as I’m sure the can suggests.

Also, careful not to over spray. The nozzle had a strong spray output, and overspray was a reoccurring issue before I got my groove. Small quick sprays on the back of each piece will do the trick! I gave the glue a quick fan allowing the it to tack up, before putting it in place.

Here's a quick time lapse of me gluing the last pieces in place.

I originally planned to get a piece of plywood cut to mount the entire piece to. Then build a frame around it with narrow pieces of wood cut to size. This tutorial shows a process I intended to follow.

But during a trip to our local craft store I stumbled upon these mitered canvas stretchers. Typically used to wrap canvas, the pieces are mitered to fit together at the corners. I recognized the perfect opportunity to "fake" a frame. I chose 4 of the same length to create a 38' square.

All I had to do next was staple my new Boro textile to the back of the unfinished frame with my staple gun. (Tip: stretch the fabric taught so theres no bowing or rippling.)

I screwed picture mounting hooks into the frame to hang, and that was it. Or so I thought.

After some time passed I gave the artwork a makeover that better reflects my style. What's funny is, the final product ended up being completely different from the inspiration. I completely got rid of the denim element and replaced it with a thick black fabric. I gathered all the warmer toned fabrics I had to accompany the black, ending up with this simple design. Staining the unfinished frame with black stain, and simplifying the fabric pieces gave the art a moodier and more abstract feel.

A project that could’ve been explained in 2 paragraphs turned into a overly detailed dissertation style post because I like to drag things out. (Like that sentence.)

Would you ever try something similar? If you sew, try using a contrasting color thread on some of the pieces for an interesting look!


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