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I marveled at the strangeness of my efforts. A four by four grid of two inch pineapple blocks. Each block bloomed around a bright cherry red center, the "pineapples" gracefully unfolding in tiny quarter inch increments, sunny pastels of blue, yellow and orange. The density of the stitches made me swoon, the build up of fabric steps yielding texture to both see and feel. The finished piece crinkled with the foundation papers I'd used to guide my sewing.


I had spent a month of quiet, early mornings cutting down large pieces of fabric into 800 tiny pieces to sew back together into a final “fabric” eight by eight inches in size. Why such an effort, I wondered? Three years later I look at the piece and remember those mornings, the details caught up in the folds of fabric, the orderly seams: cool morning air drifting through the window, the sewing desk with a view, green with rigorous vines strangling the fence line, the steamy sigh of the iron and the perfume of freshly pressed cotton. Meditation and memory-making, a sweetening of my time before the day-to-day that needs to happen but needn't overtake me.


What did my "why" have in common, if anything, with the makers behind millennia of painstakingly detailed handwork that came before me? This question has launched me on a reading adventure long overdue into not just the history of textiles, their creation and evolution, but also the mind and matter behind why we do this work, what keeps the maker moving her fingers when the task at hand can all too often lose its spark or be bitterly dull. Understanding this history has given me a spectacularly deeper love and pride in my textile practice than I had ever imagined possible. Textile art is human heritage and every effort to carry these traditions into the future matters.






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