Discover more from craft + reverie by mollie donihe
on piecing bits together
an art release, a summer installation, and some thoughts on using what we have
thoughts on the importance of using what’s at hand
my upcoming installation, themed “The Kindom of God, Within us, Among us”
an overdue announcement of an upcoming art release
Knowing our various histories makes us better at crafting our various futures.
Last week, I posted on Instagram about a box of old quilt pieces from 1940. I shared about how the practice of piecing scraps together is a practice that has an immense amount of historical precedence, and yet many modern sewing trends would have us buying more fabric than necessary to create a project, all toward the goal of having enough clean, new textile real estate to lay out our patterns.
So often we're surrounded by offcuts, waste, scraps, and pieces we deem too small for use. Capitalism compels us to keep buying more and more, with no concern given to excess. But if we look at the traditions of craft and handiwork passed to us by our ancestors, we'll see that ensuring we have more than enough material is a very new practice, and perhaps one that lacks creativity.
Taking what we have, considering all the parameters and limitations, and making something new out of it? That is the kind of creativity that truly transforms materials—and also perhaps our lives.
I’m definitely not suggesting that we should look uncritically to the practices of our ancestors for wisdom. But knowing our various histories makes us better at crafting our various futures. Creating with limited resources (in the necessitated way of craftspeople for hundreds and thousands of years) sparks innovation. When restricted to a box of vintage quilt pieces or a stash of repurposed denim,we discover new ways of using and combining materials that might otherwise be discarded. Constraints breed creativity. Rather than seeking perfection, we learn to appreciate the unique qualities that emerge from reusing and reinventing what already exists.
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Making do with what we have at hand helps build resilience. It teaches us to see possibilities rather than obstacles. We develop an eye for hidden potential and a willingness to work with the quirks and imperfections that give handmade creations character. These lessons spill over into how we live our lives and engage with the world around us. They shape a mindset of sustainability, thriftiness, and gratitude.
My Interactive Installation this Summer
I am excited to share with you that I’ll be one of five resident artists creating an interactive art exhibit for the Summer 2023 General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The theme for the assembly and the exhibit is “The Kindom of God, Within Us, Among Us.”
For my portion of the installation, I’ll be creating a large textile piece in my usual scrappy style. Fabric items donated by people all over—many of whom will never meet one another—will come together into one work of art representing the interconnectedness of the kindom of God. This piece will celebrate our kinship with one another, grieve the pain we carry collectively, and lament the ways we are isolated and separate from one another.
I am collecting donations for this project from anyone who is interested in helping me out! I’m gathering:
Any piece of fabric (that you're willing to part with) that has belonged either to you or to someone else in your life.
This could be an article of clothing, a pillowcase, a kitchen towel, a sock, a tablecloth, a tote bag, a pillow, a handkerchief, a tie, a cleaning rag... ANYTHING that is made out of some kind of fabric.
A short handwritten note about a memory associated with this item or its owner. This should be written on one side only of a piece of paper. The paper can be anything you have: a notecard, a sticky note, a torn page from a journal, part of a paper bag, etc. These memories you share may be joyful, painful, or anywhere in between. Submitter names will not be shared in the installation.
How to Submit
For more information, example submissions, and instructions for submission, please visit https://www.molliedonihe.com/submit.
Calling all pastors and church leaders!
If you’re a part of an art-loving congregation who would like to help me collect materials, I would so, so greatly appreciate it. I’ve put together a bunch of shareable resources for you: https://www.molliedonihe.com/congregations
Please let me know if you’d like to help out with this project or if you have any questions!
Art Release Next Week
I’ll be stocking my shop with a small selection of pieces next week! Since you’re a newsletter subscriber, you’ll get early access on Monday, April 3. The shop will open to others on the 4th.
In addition to art pieces, I’ll also be releasing a digital offering: a beginner-friendly video course on quilting by hand.
Here’s a sneak peak of what’s to come:
Talk to you soon! Lots of love,
Check out this blog post from American Duchess to see some photos of extant historical garments that have been pieced up a storm.
If you are not familiar with the work of the quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, take a few moments to check out their work. Their quilts are phenomenal, and theirs is a story of creativity in necessity as Black women in the rural Jim Crow South. Their quilting continues to this day, and many of their works have been featured in prestigious museums such as the Met—which also begs the question: why is it that these creations, once stretched out over the beds of loved ones, are considered fine art after they are “discovered?” Perhaps we’ll take on the behemoth topic of colonialism within the art world and subclassifications such as “folk art” another day. But for now, I’ll observe a moment of silent appreciation for the Spirit that compels people to create beautiful things, mostly never acknowledged, even under the weight of hateful and dehumanizing structures.