Friday, February 22, 2013

The historical record

Japanese shibori fabric.  Precise tied resist.

Recently, I had the chance to reply to a friend who thought that it was vain to label her beautiful woven work with her name. I couldn't disagree more!
Kuba cloth called Kasai velvet, literally woven
 CASH in Zaire.

I am very interested in the history of textiles in several parts in Asia, Africa, the northern Americas and of course I often study how Europe influenced all of these cultures and their textile practices.

As a hobbiest, I am what is properly called a "living historian" but more popularly: a colonial re-enactor. We strive to get things as close to correct for the period as possible so that merely by looking visitors to our encampments and demonstrations can learn.

As a living historian, I (and others in my club) try to spend short periods actually living under colonial conditions as closely as we can represent them for the public. I do time studies on spinning, linen processing and  weaving and try to extrapolate how valuable a piece of cloth was to a farm household... you get the idea.
Tape weaving with linen thread on a reproduction 18th Century tape loom.

I am delighted to hear that your Aunt labeled her weaving with her own name- and Aunt Marvel was certainly the right name for her!! I'm glad you are doing the same. Because so much of the work of women was not taxed or marked in account books, the value of their contributions to the economies of the past (and today) are lost (read the diary of Martha Ballard in A Midwife's Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich to get an idea of how important weaving was to a town's economy and how it was only peripherally recorded in the account books as raw materials ordered).

When you get your next set of labels made, may I suggest that you add your maiden name if Peterson is not it? Quilt makers have adopted this notion and it makes tracing an artist's contributions so much easier then we have two family names to search!

You are not vain, you are contributing to the historical record!!

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