Sun, 28 Dec 2008
This Christmas we caught a fleeting glimpse of the state of American quilting. Joanne T. has worked in photography and various crafts for many years. In the past three years, she has taken up quilting. Quilting is an entire universe with a history of patterns, a large network of quilters, and many levels of accomplishment.
This month Joanne upgraded her quilting machine. Pictured below, this machine can sew quilts up to ten feet wide. Except for binding the edges, it performs the last step in the quilting process, sewing front and back sheets together with the batting in between. The operator can follow a pattern using a laser guide as Joanne is doing in this picture (see the detail below). Or the operator can sew free-hand, in which case the handles on the opposite side of the arm would be used.
A quilt finished with her previous machine is shown in the next picture (along with her granddaughter, to whom she gave it).
Joanne lives on a small farm in Washington Parish, Louisiana, and sustained major losses in Hurricane Katrina three years ago. As we were about to leave, she pointed across a pasture to the woodlands. The new green growth underneath the sparse canopy of mature trees represented seedlings germinated from the seeds of trees destroyed by Katrina. This is just visible in the background of a photo I had taken earlier (see below).
I see an analogy in this. Just as new seed sprouts after Katrina, there is a resurgence of skilled activity in the land where the once proud textile industry was laid low by globalization.
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