Boro is a Japanese term meaning something tattered or repaired. During the Edo period (1603–1867) only a select few could afford silk and cotton fabrics. Boro came to signify clothing worn by the peasant farming classes, who mended their garments with fabric scraps, eventually resembling patchwork after decades of mending.The use of indigo dyes exemplifies the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi, in that the fabric reflects the beauty of natural wear and use.
Ruby Silvious’ reimagined version of the boro is made up of over 800 used tea bags. After the dried tea bags are emptied out, they are disassembled and ironed flat. Using printmaking techniques with various stencils and mark making tools, random designs are created and printed on the individual tea bags using an etching press. Intaglio inks in shades of blue replicate the indigo dyes resulting in the chambray effect.
To simulate the sashiko stitching used to mend the Japanese boro, Ruby painted faux stitching with blue and white gouache. Sashiko (meaning “little stabs”) is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching, commonly found on the boro patchwork.
Exhibited at the Albany Institute of History & Art, 2020, and at the Stockade Garden Show, 2018.