Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Hand Made Tales: Women and Domestic Crafts

If you have time before the end of March, you must try and squeeze in a visit to a wonderful exhibition currently showing at the Women's Library in London about domestic crafts. This is how they describe it:
"(Hand Made Tales: Women and Domestic Crafts) is a timely exhibition focusing on the role domestic crafts play in many women’s experiences. It draws on the connections between the current revival of domestic crafts such as sewing, gardening, and cooking and the historical roots of the domestic arts within the home. The exhibition will allow visitors to explore and learn the stories of crafts and the women involved in them through personal tales and fun interactive projects. Come and discover treasures that share the intimate bond between generations from the once mundane to the now treasured heirlooms of families past."
I was lucky enough to have the place to my self and spent ages reading every label and sign, as well as taking some sneeky shots for our blog ( I didn't use flash). Here are some of my favourite bits:

This notice really spoke to me. In my navel gazing moments I do think about how and why I make things. I used to be a milliner and have had the experience of making things to sell. I eventually grew tired of endless repeat orders of my more popular hats and no longer sell the things I make. These days I make things for myself but more often they are presents for family and friends. This is one of my main outlets for my creativity and self expression. I jump for joy when new babies are born and I can whip up a bib. I love it when visiting friends I come across things I've made for them or their children. It can give me quite a shock because I am rubbish at documenting what I make and often forget about them. It's like bumping into someone familiar. Very few people see the things I've made and that does make it intimate. I promise I won't ramble on any more.

Look at this patchwork! The notice said that paper was quite precious in those days and was always reused. It was kept in the patchwork, not removed as we do today. Think of the history on all those scraps of paper.

I love Pearly Kings and Queens.

There are so many ways to store craft materials and tools, often very personal to the owner. I inherited my grandmother's silk threads in her own home-made  sort of fabric roll. I rather like this idea too.

This one made me laugh the most. I own a copy of the Patricia Roberts book. My grandmother knitted me one of the fantastic cardigans in it. I don't think either of us realised that we were tapping into the 'sub-cultural trends of the late 1970's and early 1980's, such as "Two-Tone, post-modernism'!

We were invited to leave a craft tip on the washing line. These are my favourites.

Well that's my small snap shot of it, there's lot's more about the Women's Suffrage and the WI . It's well worth a visit. It's rare to find such a personal representation of domestic craft. It made me think of all the time I've shared with my grandmothers, my mother and father and many many friends, just making things.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Hair Today. Gone Tomorrow.

One of the things I love about Make Believe Cafe is how easy it is to pop up, make and go.  When we cover the tables and unpack our boxes, it's like opening a charm; something alluring and warm spills out, women appear at the dark doorway, shake off the damp evening and step into the light.  We all sit together, just for a couple of hours.  We chat, laugh, drink, make and suddenly it's late and time to pack away the fabric, scissors, thread, beads and possibilities until next time.
It was lovely at Wickle - easy, really quite productive and so uplifting.

Lou x