Sunday, September 30, 2007


After seeing the "Architecture of the Quilts of Gee's Bend" exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art recently, I was inspired by these beautiful work-clothes quilts. The women of Gee's Bend, isolated in a small town in Arkansas and several hours' from the nearest town, used the materials available to them as inspiration for the quilts that kept them and theirs warm.

I'm using old jeans to make a rag-rug, onto which I will print cotton in bloom. The rag trade was integral (and is) to the lives of immigrants in America, a way where anyone, through hard work, could make a living and rise into the working class. Industry created workers, workers make money, producers become America's best consumers.

But with the rise of outsourcing, the move of the source of our manufactured goods, well, anywhere but here, the rich history of mills and sewing machines, advent of jeans and sewing machines, immigrants camoflaging into American society, and thriftyness of the American households in lean times....these things are things lost to us.

In building my school's sukkah today (yes it's late, don't ask), the topic came up and it occured to me that so few of us ever do without...without food, without music, without information, without something to do or somewhere to be. It's in that spirit that I'm making a rag rug from denim, sturdy and practical, hard-working and reflecting of the working class.

That being said, the denim braid is much harder on the hands than anything else I've braided with, and I'm wondering how big a rug I can really make with the amount of tension I'm putting on my fingers. We'll see!


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