working with a really good bad idea, and cultural inspiration/”appropriation”

I don’t think i would have enjoyed this as much if it had been stitched together “properly” from the start!

At first too, thinking i would be able to “fix” this, all the holes were going to be lined up and centred, equidistant and regimental, formal. Bah. Life is not that way, and never has ever my art been that way, so why now? Embrace the wonk: there are no straight paths, no flat hills or level valleys, no one way only signs. Journeys shouldn’t be the most direct path between two points. Unless it’s grocery shopping. I hate grocery shopping. (Hell, i hate shopping, period.) And i bet as the crow flies, supposedly a straight line, that there are plenty of diversions along the way too : how do you know they didn’t land in several places? They just get there faster because they’re flying.

See what i just did? I wandered off the path, with the crow…..

It’s got outies and innies:

But i want to be a little more adventurous too.

Lately, as i’m learning new stitches and trying new methods, i’ve been looking at a lot of “ethnic” embroideries–and don’t slam me for that term: it generally lumps in everything from Hungarian and Lithuanian,  Aboriginal and Asian to African and Indian, (in other words EVERYBODY) and includes antiquities, primitive, geographical subgroups and historical use examples.

 “pertaining to or characteristic of a people, especially a group (ethnic group) sharing a common and distinctive culture, religion, language, or the like.”

Rather unfortunately though, the word comes from Middle English, meaning “heathen”………. pejorative and condescending to say the least!

Today’s love is the embroideries of Swat Valley, in Pakistan. When i first saw these, i thought they were black lines of embroidery on red cloth.

Wowzers, look at all that satin stitch!


Source of images is from commercial sites selling antiquities, found by Mr Google, but there’s specific information here about the Swati embroiderers.

I’m of course, more interested in the black lines, and while i won’t be using a newly learned stitch type (or maybe i will..), i love those motifs. I don’t look at this as “cultural appropriation”, but drawing on the past, the work of skilled artists and a sharing of modern adaptation.

Let’s face it; Canada has a poor history in regards to textile traditions unless it was brought from the Old World by the many immigrant ethnicities, or unless you use more North American “traditional” techniques involving hides, fur, pine needles, grasses, porcupine quills and natural materials. (And i ain’t knockin’ those either, just not my area of expertise.) My family passed on no traditions from Ireland, England or Soviet Ukraine, and the only piece i inherited is a 1930’s hand sewn Dresden plate quilt made from cheap recycled cottons. (I treasure it, made by my Great Grandmother, but it’s neither a work of art, nor stunningly beautiful.)



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