Tuesday, 3 May 2011

april reading

I didn't manage to read an entire book in April. I did, however, get through not only the introduction but also the first two chapters of this fascinating book - The Natural History of the Traditional Quilt by John Forrest and Deborah Blincoe.

From the BookDepository site:

"Traditional quilts serve many purposes over the course of a useful life. Beginning as a beautiful bed covering, a quilt may later function as a ground cover at picnics until years of wear relegate it to someone's ragbag for scrap uses.Observing this life cycle led authors John Forrest and Deborah Blincoe to the idea that quilts, like living things, have a natural history that can be studied scientifically. They explore that natural history through an examination of the taxonomy, morphology, behavior, and ecology of quilts in their native environment--the homes of humans who make, use, keep, and bestow them.The taxonomy proposed by Forrest and Blincoe is rooted in the mechanics of replicating quilts so that it can be used to understand evolutionary and genetic relationships between quilt types. The morphology section anatomizes normal and abnormal physical features of quilts, while the section on conception and birth in the life cycle discusses how the underlying processes of replication intersect with environmental factors to produce tangible objects.This methodology is applicable to many kinds of crafts and will be of wide interest to students of folklore, anthropology, and art history. Case studies of traditional quilts and their makers in the Catskills and Appalachia add a warm, human dimension to the book."

The book is fascinating not only because it is about quilts but the application of such a methodology to a needlework/textile product is great. I was particularly struck by an observation at the end of Chapter One: "Seam lines are also junctures at which variation (intentional or unintentional) can occur, and as such are instrumental in the analysis of creativity, reinterpretation, and irregularity in quilt design." (page 48) I really like the idea that it is at the junctures, even the decision-making junctures, that unintentional variation can occur and something new can be created; I love that potential.

I highly recommend this book and hope to report that I have finished it in May's reading report.

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