For centuries women have used cloth as a tool of comfort and as an expression of beauty within their homes. Creating cloth for warmth, cloth for shelter, our female predecessors embellished these linens with hand stitch using laborious and time consuming techniques thereby enhancing the functional beauty of objects which enveloped and protected their families. Inspired by these women I hope my creations pay tribute to and recognise the devotion expressed in cloth by our female ancestors .







''the use of traditional often time consuming process alludes to the devotion of a mother''. c K. A. Ruane 2007







Tuesday, August 30, 2011

first cloth....


Something slightly different for you today. I say different, the reason remains the same yet the cloth, stitch and surface are completely different to 'now'. These are the first two 'wrapping cloths' I made way back when, 2004 to be precise. At that time I was studying the theory surrounding the history of women and cloth going way, way back as far as Biblical times. At the same time, my eldest child Helen had gone away to University. I was bereft. I missed her, I was floundering as I would no longer be able to physically hold her close, keep her safe. I had a desire to wrap her up, keep her safe, keep our relationship precious. So the first cloth emerged....over 300 buttons sewn on by hand, a life size piece, the same height as the height of my daughter at that time. The fragile pink thread, only just visible hanging free in the second image, a thread I removed from the hem of one of her infant gowns and painstakingly stitched by hand into the fabric of this cloth.

The second cloth, for my youngest child James. Again an awareness of his growing and developing into an independent adult. Another human sized cloth, the fractured surface revealing precious metallic silk. In truth this represents the protective cover I wished to provide wearing away, almost being torn away against my will. Applied to the surface of my cloth for James, torn and worn fragments from his baby blanket. A precious blanket, vintage when he first received it, a gift from my maternal grandmother.
I have revisited these cloths for the purpose of my class. I am so happy I did because now I can share them with you. I hope the explanation wasn't too 'heavy' for you...




If you are taking my class you have seen these before.........That doesn't matter because you shouldn't be here anyway!!! You should be sewing!!


28 comments:

fabriquefantastique said...

Certainly was not too 'heavy'....in fact, informative and delightful

Rachel said...

The idea of sewing on 300 buttons gives me the heebie-jeebies - Karen, even if you were missing Helen, how on earth did you manage to do it?

deanna7trees said...

well i am here. waiting for the next lesson. my favorite part of these 2 pieces is that pink thread you stitched into the first cloth. thanks for sharing these beautiful and meaningful pieces.

JP said...

I love this idea

Miss 376 said...

I, for one, won't complain about seeing them again. Plenty of food for thought

connie said...

Thank you so much for sharing Karen!!! They are lovely and I do so appreciate the story behind them. I am in that place with my children and I soooooo understand your feelings of wanting to keep them close and "wrapped. I would so love to see more of them!!!

You are a true inspiration. :-)

Lois Evensen said...

How very beautiful and with such heartfelt meaning. I understand why you love them.

Postcards from Wildwood said...

Ah, so this is where it all began with the wrapping cloths, Karen. They are beautiful and I'm sure will be treasured for generations to come. (Of course you could have saved yourself the trouble of sewing on 300 buttons and just sent Helen a freshly baked cake ebery couple of weeks.... I'm just saying......!!!) :)

Carol Q said...

ye gods 300 buttons. lovely stories about how the pieces were created Karen and it makes them so meaningful for you.

stitchinglife.com said...

What a fabulous story. Thank you!

Debi From the Pacific Northwest said...

Oh so beautiful my friend. Lovely cloths and an even lovelier story to go with them. I adore all the buttons and the pink thread you sewed onto your daughter's cloth. I'm so glad you found these to share with us!

;-) Debi

Gina said...

They are beautiful and all the more special for knowing the story behind them.

Els said...

Lovely to see the love sewn into them !

Elizabeth said...

Just fantastic to see and I really dig the buttons. Me and buttons go well together although they appear seldom in my work, hmm.

Doreen G said...

Karen I feel priveleged that you have shared this story with me and I love how you gave stitched special pieces of your babies lives into each piece.
Truly inspirational.

Flaming Nora said...

Beautiful Left me feeling a bit weepy . Wish some one would make me a wrapping cloth.
Been away and seems I have missed much. Shall be back tomorrow to explore the colour.

jennyflower said...

Aww, I want to go and cuddle the kids- but they are asleep, and I am touched- but not mad! Thanks for sharing the gorgeous cloths and gorgeous thoughts. x

Emmy said...

and sewing that is what I did today thanks for sharing these stories
I am a fan for so long and now I am working with you and I must say
I love it

Jill said...

Thanks for sharing these wonderful pieces and the stories behind them.

MosaicMagpie said...

Well, I am sitting here with tears running down my face. I just took my youngest daughter off to college a week ago. Oh, the part of you that wants to stay and wrap them in a cocoon is so over whelming. The tiny pink thread is so symbolic. Fragile and strong at the same time. You used your emotions to create a tribute. A tangible memory to hold on to. I on the other hand have been cleaning my house....I think your idea is the better one.
Thank you for sharing this with us. I have said it before and I will say it again, I am so happy that I found your blog.
Deb

Suztats said...

As I was reading, I was reminded of the Foundling Cloths, pieces left by their mothers to identify the child should they be able to re-claim their children, and I was struck by how those cloths were torn and given in hope,and with love.
Your wrapping cloths were formed from cloth pieces made of your children's history, and created with love and hope, to protect them from the harshness of their new adult life, as they moved forwards and away, and out of reach of their mother's loving and protective arms. And so the cloth of life continues, sewn, torn, adorned, and sewn back together again, holding love and hope for the future.
Thank you for sharing. Hugs

Tammie Lee said...

I love how creative you are!

Joanna said...

Makes me feel like a mean mother but I have actually enjoyed watching my children flit the nest but I love the idea of having mementoes sewn into cloth of their childhood

Jackie said...

this is so refreshing to read the explanation without hi-faluting art speak.

underatopazsky said...

WOW! I can't get over how much you've done since my last visit (which wasn't that long ago) and it's all absolutely beautiful. I love the raised puffy bits and the pink paper. And those stripy rouleax loops look for all the world like rows of Christmassy candy canes! Wonderful. :o)

jan b. said...

I LOVE hearing the stories behind works of art. Thank you for sharing yours with me/us.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

I was a bit surprised when I first looked at these because they are a departure from your current work. Reading the how and why of them made it clear. Lovely!

Dee / Cloth Company said...

my two are still in high school, but between touring colleges this summer and hearing about other parents' dropping their kids at school in recent weeks, this process of letting go and both mourning and celebrating the changes is very much on my mind... you do such a beautiful job, not just with your handwork (which is exquisite), but with taking history, ritual, feeling, family, and rolling them into your work. Beautiful!