A PROJECT SUPPORTING THE REVIVAL OF NEEDLEWORK SKILLS

BACKGROUND

In years past when paper was not as available for public consumption as it is today, many children's books were made of cloth, either commercially produced or handsewn at home. The cloth books were appealing - made from fabric remnants or scraps, they were soft, personal, inexpensive, and washable.

It was a time when needlework talents were valued, and sometimes endured (itchy woollen sweaters!) - whether lacemaking, embroidery, Aboriginal quill and beadwork, needlepoint, knitting, or many other creative sewing art forms including wonderful samplers made by young girls honing their embroidery skills.

Time moved on. Knitting machines now produce intricate patterns in record time and children's paper books are readily available. Today, not only professional artists, but ordinary people as well, are returning to needlework as a form of creative expression. They welcome the opportunity to slow down, and yet be challenged. And men are not excluded! From those who believe they are unable to actively participate in the revival, there is a growning admiration for the sensitive handiwork of others who do.

As the ecologically-minded Brazil Publishing House, "Maco Books" has noted,"Maco cloth books require no trees to be cut down."

THE CLOTH BOOKS PROJECT

The needlework project, CROSSING GENERATIONS TO SEW FAMILY TIES focuses on the creation and sharing of handmade one-of-a-kind cloth books with a variety off themes for all ages and educational purposes including specially made cloth books for disabled children. We recommend that sewers do as much handwork on their books as possible. We prefer that sewing machines only be used in the assembly of covers and pages.

Besides encouraging and assisting all those who are interested in making personal cloth books, we also invite anyone who owns an old handmade cloth book to contact us. The condition of the handmade cloth book does not matter, but the amount of handsewing does.

We are planning to have a Cloth Books Exhibition featuring many of the newly handmade cloth books. As well, we look forward to exhibiting a number of heritage handmade cloth books. Although all cloth books made at our workshops become the property of the sewer, we may request the loan of selected cloth books for the Cloth Books Exhibition. These books will be returned to the owners at the conclusion of the exhibition.

 



"Considering the rich oral history of the Inuit people and their recognized sewing skills we can see a true affinity with this medium. It could be a productive tool to engage pre-school children not only in English or French but similarly important in protecting the Inuktituut language." T.P. Ryan, Director, Dorset Fine Arts

"In our multicultural Toronto, sewing and cooking are the two things that bind women together, across all races...Cloth books facilitate this binding, this oneness. It's a contemporary world-wide event." Senator Nancy Ruth, coolwomen.ca

"The nature of the project - telling tales from around the world in a tactile and easily accessible manner - is a wonderful way to share stories and communicate globally." Michael Hollett, Editor/Publisher NOW Magazine

"These beautiful works incorporate tales from across the globe with textiles and small artifacts, creating powerful connections between people and places. The work constitutes its own language of understanding and is worthy of a far greater dissemination." Vanda Henriques, Program Director, Working Women Community Centre

"The Cloth Book Exhibition project is particularly important as it profiles a medium of expression that is not well know in this city or country. The books themselves represent powerful, beautiful stories of hope." Anjula Gogia, Toronto Women's Bookstore

"Ruth's ability to inspire creative ideas by bringing suggestions, unusual materials and ideas together with the learner's needs and desires, makes her workshops extremely special." Darlene King, Literacy Coordinator, Native Women's Resource Centre of Toronto