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The Yellow~Ribbons Project - Quilters who care

Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 10:55:37 -0400
From: "Candace Perry" <candace@schwenkfelder.com>

Along these lines, but not, (does that make sense???) I have been
very
curious about fraktur (PA German decorated manuscripts) in our
collection
that have a very intriguing foliate design. I ran across a catalog
of
fraktur of the Ephrata Cloisters that discusses how some of their
work may
have been influenced by textile design books of the 17th and 18th
centuries.
I'd have to find the Ephrata book to get the references, but if
anyone's
interested, I'll dig it out! (Cinda and Barb Garrett know how horrid
my
office is)
Candace Perry
Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 11:21:39 -0400
From: "Jodie" <jodie@ga.prestige.net>

Pat and Connie,

This is a timely discussion for me. I am in the very early stages of
working
with a central African country who is setting up not-for-profit
sewing
schools to give these proud women a skill. They then need, of course,
a
product for these women to make in village-centrific cottage
industries. I
was approached with the idea of creating a business to have them make
quilts
and home dec items for importation into the U.S.

After the initial excitement at the opportunity to help empower these
women,
I examined all angles and got a bit worried that it would be assumed
that
our quilts were made like the Chinese quilts. (And I did some
research and I
lean way on the side of believing that the Chinese women working in
those
factories aren't just working in early industrial
revolution/pre-trade
unions conditions. Then again, we needed to go through our pains to
get
where we are today, so is not buying any Chinese-made products really
thing
to do? Dunno. Of course, the bigger issue of how China views human
rights
muddles that thinking totally.) We will be paying the women what to
Americans will be low wages, but it will be more than fair wages for
that
country and the only way they can make cash in the totally
barter-based
villages (and will certainly have huge ramifications as they will be
making
money and their husbands, well, there will be a growing need for
sewing
machine repairmen, etc.) so the quilts will still be inexpensive
compared to
American-made. For our situation I believe a strong PR program will
certainly help. (And we may just have a major partner whose presence
will be
the kind of endorsement that will snuff any naysaying from the
get-go.)
Being a quilter of 25 years I feel it important to also educate
people as to
why this quilt is $500 versus this foreign made quilt at $150. People
who
discover I'm a quilter ask me all the time about the $100 quilts.
They
wonder why they're so cheap. This may be an opportunity to get the
message
out. Personally I see nothing wrong with using a less
expensive/quality
quilt for everyday wash and wear. People just need to know the
difference
and cherish and care for Grandma's quilts properly.
Thank you so much for bringing up labeling. Excellent, excellent
idea. They
should be permanent labels sewn into the backing or even printed upon
it.
And they can even tell the story of the sewing schools, etc., perhaps
show
where the country is on a map and have the signature of the maker.
GREAT
IDEA!

Jodie Davis
http://www.iejodie.com

-------------------------------

Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 10:13:18 CST
From: jocelynm@delphiforums.com

On Tue, 18 Jun 2002 11:21:39 -0400 "Jodie" wrote:
Jodie,
I've bought items made under similar situations. One thing I always
wonder is: who designs the work? Are these traditional designs, or
did
someone tell the women, 'Make this, it'll sell a lot'?
Unless you're planning on doing mass production of a design, I think
that
a label that answered that question might add to the 'value' of the
quilt. Something like: 'Based on traditional designs, by Anna' or
'The
Baobab Tree', or 'An experiment in nontraditional colors' (the latter
for
quilts made in colors to harmonize in American homes). Maybe a small
bio
of the quilter? Something like, 'By purchasing this quilt, you are
helping Anna to afford to send her 5 children to school'. (For a good
cause, I believe in guilting people into contributing! <G>)
Jocelyn

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 10:41:18 -0700
From: chrisa@jetlink.net

Perhaps this has already been said, so I apologize if I'm repeating
it here.
This discussion brings to mind the work of the women in Wales and the
North
Country of England following WWI when the depression set in. The
government
provided training and materials and buyers, as well as quilt
exhibits, to
facilitate the professions of making quilts for purchase. The
quiltmakers
were entitled to keep all of the money and it went to help their
families
which were often living in the struggling coal mining towns.

The towns Jodie talks about and the idea of an outside prganization
setting
them up to be able to make needlework items to sell, sounds the like
same
approach to helping. A label saying such would increase the value to
me
personally and would make me more inclined to purchase their items. I
think
it would be a tribute to the women as well as be helpful to future
quilt
historians.

Good luck to you Jodie. Where do you think they would be sold? Would
it be
a mass marketing like the China quilts? Perhaps the marketing plan
could be
more specialized and still cover a wide audience. Attention to
presentation
from the get-go, like you imply, could make a great deal of
difference in
how they are received and valued.

Kim Wulfert
www.antiquequiltdating.com

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 13:05:51 -0600
From: Xenia Cord <xenia@legacyquilts.net>

Wouldn't there be a difference between setting up quilt cottage
industries in a country where quilts were a part of the cultural
background, and doing the same in countries where quilts have never
been
a tradition?

There's certainly nothing wrong with helping women to better their
condition by assisting them to make textile items for trade. But it
seems to me that it would be better if the items represented the
cultural traditions of the group, and were marketed as such. Am I
looking at this in the wrong way?

Xenia

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 12:59:28 -0700
From: Gaye Ingram <gingram@tcainternet.com>

The questions Joycelyn raises seem pertinent to any consideration of
quilts
made for a mass market.

One thing that interests me about the suggestion, which I suspect
most of
this share, is that once again we are seeking personal identity in
quilts.

The issue of creativity seems important---are these designs which
have been
mandated? And if so, what is the reason for the choice?

For instance, I would be interested in purchasing a quilt that was a
reproduction or even closely based on a traditional design, were
reproduction fabrics used and the resulting item labeled.

After all, we do this with furniture---witness the various museum
reproductions. Kittinger's reproductions at Williamsburg come first
to mind
because I think they were pioneering efforts. They are exact
reproductions,
liscensed by Colonial Williamsburg, and they are clearly labeled.
They are
distinguished from adaptations made by the same company. Always
expensive,
now they have a special value in their own right. They are hand made
and
beautiful and dated. They are not identified with the name of the
craftsman
who made them, of course.

Quilts differ in many ways, of course, and maybe we desire the
personal
identification more with them.

gaye

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 13:07:20 -0700
From: Gaye Ingram <gingram@tcainternet.com>

Re Xenia's note
>
> Wouldn't there be a difference between setting up quilt cottage
> industries in a country where quilts were a part of the cultural
> background, and doing the same in countries where quilts have never
been
> a tradition?

I think it would make a big difference. Creativity, the element of
the
personal, the play of the imagination.
>
> There's certainly nothing wrong with helping women to better their
> condition by assisting them to make textile items for trade. But
it
> seems to me that it would be better if the items represented the
> cultural traditions of the group, and were marketed as such. Am I
> looking at this in the wrong way?

Indeed.

But I wonder exactly why we feel this way?
>

>

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 11:34:07 -0700
From: chrisa@jetlink.net

<<Wouldn't there be a difference between setting up quilt cottage
industries in a country where quilts were a part of the cultural
background, and doing the same in countries where quilts have never
been
a tradition?>>

When the Rural Industries Bureau decided to help women earn money for
their
families through crafts they did a survey to determine which crafts
would
help them make the most money. Was it basket weaving or needlepoint
or
weaving etc. They determined, based on a survey done by Mavis
Fitz-Randolph,
that quilts would bring in the greatest amount of aid. The decision
doesn't
appear to have been determined by their ancestry of quilting, but by
the end
results being met. Also, the quiltmaking trainings were for quilters
and for
women who had never quilted before.

It would seem unlikely that women in another culture entirely, would
make
quilts that didn't reflect their materials and design preferences in
some
way at least. And perhaps the arrangements would allow for a great
deal of
their culture to show through the bedcovers they make. An example
would be
the quilts sold in Marrakech and India's import stores.

Personally for me, I wouldn't care what they actually look
like,quilts,
bedcovers, African or colonial, I would pick one in colors and
materials I
most enjoy and buy it or them to help the cause. Assuming they
presented it
as a cause and not gone about it like the Chinese made ones.

Kim Wulfert
www.antiquequiltdating.com

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 17:33:51 -0600
From: Xenia Cord <xenia@legacyquilts.net>

Kim said: <When the Rural Industries Bureau decided to help women
earn
money for their families through crafts they did a survey to
determine
which crafts would help them make the most money. Was it basket
weaving
or needlepoint or weaving etc. They determined, based on a survey
done
by Mavis Fitz-Randolph, that quilts would bring in the greatest
amount
of aid. The decision doesn't appear to have been determined by their
ancestry of quilting, but by the end results being met. Also, the
quiltmaking trainings were for quilters and for women who had never
quilted before.>

I am lucky enough to own a copy of Mavis FitzRandolph's Traditional
Quilting (1954), in which she reviews the history of the Rural
Industries Bureau in reviving and developing the quilting industry.
In
the introduction she says that a rural industries survey in 1920-23
found almost no mention of quilting, ..."yet at the time when that
survey was made there were certainly dozens of village quilters at
work
for their livelihood and perhaps hundreds of quilt clubs in
profitable
action. They were so little known beyond the circles of their local
customers than none of the authorities whom the investigators
consulted
in each county thought them worth mentioning if, indeed, they knew of
them" (p.7). (emphasis mine)

FitzRandolph says that in 1928 she "carried out an investigation for
the
Rural Industries Bureau with the object of discovering some home
industry among the women of the stricken mining communities which
could
be developed for a market beyond those areas. The traditional
quilting
was the obvious answer to this problem in County Durham....

[In Wales] (t)he Bureau was persuaded to risk, somewhat reluctantly,
the
sum of thirty pounds on materials and wages, and orders were sent to
the
most promising Welsh quilters." (p. 50)

FitzRandolph says that then the Bureau began to offer classes in
stitching (the book is about quilting, making whole cloth quilts in
which the artistry is in the quilting designs). Classes were
necessary
because of the success of the early project, leading to demand, but
there were not "enough quilters capable, without some further
training,
of the very high standard of work which would be needed for the
London
market." "... the importance of maintaining the native tradition was
always insisted on." (p. 53)

All of FitzRandolph's remarks would seem to be predicated on the
existence of traditional quiltmaking skills in the areas surveyed,
before the Rural Industries Bureau was made aware of them. And she
seems to say that expanding what was already a traditional strength
was
a way of infusing the communities with needed funds.

Xenia

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 19:24:26 EDT
From: Kittencat3@aol.com

It's also true that a lot of African countries have their own
quilting
traditions; Dahomean patchwork, for instance, can be traced back a
couple
hundred years. And many types of kente cloth are woven on narrow
looms and
then pieced. Some "American" patterns might not be too far off from
what the
workers are already accustomed to making.

And when it comes to quilts turning up in unexpected places...there's
a 13th
century painting by Cimabue of the Madonna and Child surrounded by
angels. A
couple of the angels are holding up a red brocade drape adorned with
black
and white pinwheels behind the Madonna...and if you look closely at a
good
reproduction, you can tell that the red brocade drape *is actually a
pieced
coverlet of some sort*....

Said painting is at the National Gallery in Washington, DC. I've
known about
it for years, but I finally realized that it isn't appliqued, it's
pieced,
about six weeks ago. Talk about being blind to what's right in front
of me!

Lisa Evans

------------------------------

Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2002 01:39:15 +0000
From: deedadik@att.net

Hi all, This is a question for Cinda or anyone else who
has info on the topic. Are wide 3/4" stems a feature of
applique to only your area during that period? Have
seen them before and heard them talked about in one of
the classes I have taken but can't remember the
details. Thanks, Dee

--

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 22:41:47 -0400
From: "Jodie" <jodie@ga.prestige.net>

Jocelyn,

Excellent point. I'll be designing the quilts and that is in fact
important
information to include. The project will first involve one village,
so it
can't at all be classified as mass production.
It'd be wonderful if when the women become skilled quilters they
create
their own designs.
The way this is proposed, a percentage of money earned will go
towards
building clinics and schools, both of which don't exist currently.
That
should be on the label. Boy, it's getting to be a LARGE one!
Great points. Thank you!

Jodie

 

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