I love boro style. You can see some examples here, and you can do a search for “boro style clothes” and find all sorts of other images. It reminds me of the clothing in my all-time favorite book, Native Funk & Flash, and of the bohemian hippie style of the 60s that my conservative parents wouldn’t allow me to wear.
The problem is that creating an entire garment in this style would take me, I estimate, about 7.5 years. Maybe a little longer. Maybe more like a couple of decades. All those patches! All those stitches! Sure, I know that they don’t have to be done all at once, that the actual workers’ garments were not decoratively patched in a weekend sewing marathon fueled by gallons of tea. Still: to get the look I want, it would take a lot of work.
I’ve been thinking about how I might incorporate this–the random stitching, the denim patches–into something I own, and as I worked on this series of altered sweatshirts, I came upon a navy blue one with a fake undershirt–it looks like there’s a white t-shirt underneath, but it’s not an actual t-shirt; it’s just the neck. Kind of lame, so what’s to lose? I used scissors to start fraying the neck for stitching, and I cut a couple actual slits in the shirt itself–again, what’s to lose? I added some patches and stitched them, and I’m so pleased with the results that I’ll keep patching it–I plan to wear it a lot, wear it out, and then mend it over and over.
And that, of course, is another good thing about a series: it allows you to try out another style, another technique, something that you don’t want to do as an entire piece–at least not yet–but that has piqued your curiosity, like boro style clothing has mine. It’s more of what I talked about here.
Are you intrigued by metal but not ready to do a large, mostly-metal piece? Think about adding smaller metal parts to a collage. Want to work with fabric but feel intimidated by the sewing machine? (And let me tell you right here: you are SO not alone. I’m always amazed by how many people are completely terrified of the sewing machine, as if it will recognize their lack of experience and turn on them, gnashing its little gears and tearing their fabric to shreds.) Hand stitch some scraps onto a journal page. In fact, a journal page can be a lot like a garment you already own: it doesn’t require a big commitment and so allows you to try out things you might otherwise not attempt.
Ricë also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.
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