February 5, 2012

Textile Stories

A train of thoughts prompted by comments about my tapestry adventure:

Wouldn't be great if these wonderful textile elders could sit around the hearth and tell us their stories!  Just imagine the places a 500-year-old tapestry has been, and the hands that have touched it and taken care of it.

While I was working on it, I was musing about the people who made this piece, and how they had no idea, of course, what the world it now lives in is like.  Just look at their clothes for starters!  What would any of them think of me bending over it and sewing, wearing jeans and a baggy purple sweater, no hat on my head!

Oh, and let's not forget that the tapestry found its way to the New World, then just a fuzzy concept of a wild, unexplored land, now full of tall cities and iPods, and people who speak an English nearly as different from the English of that time as any truly foreign language.  (Here's a cool history of our language, including the Great English Vowel Shift (!), which was in flux right around the time that this tapestry was made on the continent.)

And I was also musing about how things will turn out for some object that is being made today that ends up being restored by someone in 2512.  Whatever will the world be like then???

Whenever someone brings me a family quilt for repair, I always suggest that they write down the history of the quilt and quiltmaker - the ancestor's name, where she was living and what her life was like at the time she made the quilt, how it came to them, etc.  They can keep the information, with a photo of the quilt attached, with their other important papers.  It's a start at least, and might inspire future owners to continue the process.

This goes for any quilt at all, not just something so spectacular that a museum would be panting to own it.  We don't have any idea whether anyone then thought this tapestry was finer or more worthy than any other.  And here it is, still giving lots of joy.  So don't discount your grandmother's plain old quilt.  If it happens to be the one that's well-cared for and survives through the generations, it'll be just as much a marvel as this tapestry.

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