Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Blog Carnival: on the matter of materials

my fellow blogger dirksen dabbles invited me to be a part of the blog carnival that she is hosting and i'm excited
to be a part of it! the chosen topic is: the quality of artistic materials. how it works is that each participant makes
a post on their own blog with their individual insights on the chosen topic. the host then gathers
together the best of each as an overview and introduction to everyone participating.
dirksen dabble's main post can be found here—ENJOY and
please feel free to explore and comment on as many of the different posts as you like!

i use a lot of old materials. it's true, i can't lie. i like old stuff better because it already has its own built in history, a story if you will. we also call these materials "vintage" of course and i'd like to take a moment to tell you a story about why i prefer that old stuff:

my grandmother made wedding ring quilts for each of her four children when they were married. the quilts were useful because they kept us warm when we needed to bundle up, safe when our parents were out on a date, and comforted when we needed to cry and snuggle. but they were also beautiful because of the wide variety of colors and textures she used. granny never went out and just bought material for quilts—each child's blanket included scraps of up-cycled fabric from pants, dresses, housecoats, shirts, and coats that she had made for them as they grew up. they were quite poor but she was a talented seamstress and saved all the garments as the kids grew out of them to use in these amazing blankets.
because of this, each quilt is much like a historic record of the life of the individual that they were made for. i loved having my mom's blanket on my bed because it meant a very special kind of bedtime story. i would point to a particular piece of fabric and she would tell me all about her memories of granny making it for her and all the places she remembered going to in that outfit. every quilt piece was a new story, another fragment of their lives and therefore my own too.

as i got older i came back to sewing because it relaxed me, it was better therapy than i could ever pay for! the problem was that i didn't always have the money to go out and buy pretty and new fabric so i needed to be thrifty just like my granny and all the women who came before her in our family...pioneering immigrants from denmark and germany, mid-century housewives, victorian seamstresses taking in darning work to help their families get by. they used what they had to make beautiful and useful objects because that was survival and i am able to honor them and their talent by creating items of similar practicality with materials that would otherwise go to waste in our all too fast-paced world. choosing these fabrics allows me to tell my own story in a much more personal and rich way and then share that valuable story with you, the customer. that is the heritage of handmade items and i cherish it and try to incorporate it into all my pieces. i have cut up everything from sheets and curtains to prom dresses to make the items for my shop but perhaps the gvk draft stopper best exemplifies my method:

(for example: that striped black fabric on the end is actually up-cycled from a skirt i wore in high school and is paired with quilting scraps that would otherwise go to waste.)

the fabrics i use for the draft stoppers are ever-changing since you can only cut up an old shirt so many times! this makes them unique unto themselves though and you just can't find that in stores...something special that is so practical and old-fashioned for survival, but also beautiful in a way that cannot be replicated in large numbers. and that folks, is the story of kat!


maureencracknell said...

Oh, I LOVE it! I am a big fan of reusing fabric from old clothes, as well. As always - beautiful work!

Bethany Dirksen said...

You're writing is extremely fluid and readable. Thanks again for your part in this project!

geschichtenvonkat said...

thank you maureen and bethany, your comments have completely made my day :)

cabin + cub said...

oh how lovely about the quilts. i love the idea of re-using fabrics, and that each piece holds significance, warmth and meaning. awesome you are carrying on the tradition too! ;)