Stories vintage fabrics can tell us

Stories vintage fabrics can tell us

I am working on a new series of work which incorporate pieces of vintage fabric - mostly embroidery but also Japanese and Chinese silks.

When I am working with pieces of used, worn and loved pieces of embroidered table cloths, napkins or handkerchiefs all I envision is a woman hunched over a worn piece of linen in dim light - stitching with her tired fingers wanting to create something beautiful but also something useful. What would she make of me cutting up her lovely work? I have to believe she would be happy that it is being repurposed in some way to give joy.

Some of the bits I have are from my own grandmother. An interesting woman who created everything from blackcurrant wine to detailed watercolor landscapes of the Norwegian country side. She of course embroidered too - pillow cases, lamp shades, tablecloths, napkins - I have a lot of material! It took me awhile before I could bring myself to cut in to

some of it - felt like she may not have loved that so much, but I really am a big believer of holding on to only what really gives you joy and making these collages gives me limitless joy. Maybe she would have accepted that.

This work is nod to the past, to the women who came before us and all the beautiful things they created. Things of beauty they used in everyday life. Did my grandmother or any of the other women who's work I hold in my hand really give themselves credit for the beauty they created? I am not sure, but I do hope so.

I have also found bits of embroidered fabric that are imperfect, maybe done in a hurry - children to be tended too, maybe? Skipped stitches, different colored threads - wonky shapes - these are often the bits I love the most. So many of us have such a habit of wanting to do things so free of imperfection without realizing how interesting those mistakes, those happy mistakes can be.

In the piece to the right here, I have included a scrap from a summer dress I found in my grandmother's things when cleaning out her house after my grandfather's death. The bright colors, transparent fabric and imperfect stitching make me smile. I flipped the piece inside out so you could see the messy hand stitching on the hem. From a time when most clothes were made by hand. A simpler time when we had less, reused what we had and made what we needed.

I love doing this work and will be at it all summer. If you are interested in coming by for a look, please contact me and we'll find a time!

My studio shop will be open soon with all these lovelies available.

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