You don't have to understand the world. You just have to find your own way around in it. - Albert Einstein

Saturday, 7 July 2012

of the Work of Nimble Fingers

These beautiful works of art were formed by the patient fingers of a generation of anonymous women.

I have no evidence that all these pieces were created by women, but I'm confident that it's a reasonable guess. In another generation, I might not be so sure.

I have found these treasures in op shops everywhere, with an eye out always for the pretty, handcrafted details on a tablecloth, pillowslip or doily. I can't bear the sadness of the thought of these items being unwanted. I scoop them up and take them home and adore them, and honour the women who have created art with needle and thread since the beginning of human culture. I wonder who the woman who created each piece was, what she was thinking of and hoping for as she stitched. I wonder whether, when she folded the piece for the last time, she knew that she was doing so. I wonder whether she is still alive somewhere, or has passed on.

I wonder at the circumstances of the creation, the adventures, and the eventual assignation to the charity bins of each piece. Some are stained or damaged, but some are so pristine and precious. I haven't often paid more than a dollar for pieces like these. Maybe three for the larger tablecloths.

I'm often asked, 'What are you going to do with them?' To be honest, my plans as such for most of these pieces involve some degree of cutting them up, turning them maroon, and/or turning them into other things. Is this a terrible desecration? Or is it a wonderful way of recycling beautiful things into useful things? Does it make a difference if the piece is damaged or compromised to begin with? I really don't know.

1 comment:

  1. It is amazing the work that all those anonymous women put into these small pieces to adorn their everyday lives. As my mother so often says, "People just don't have time to do those things anymore." I know that some people still do embroidery and other crafts like that, but certainly they are not as commonly practiced today as they once were. And it sad to see so many of these pieces languishing unwanted in thrift stores and often simply being thrown out. I am glad to see that some are getting a new home with you. No matter what you choose to do with them, it is still wonderful that they are being used and honoured once again.