Edited on July 6, 2010, to add: Someone is eagerly searching this blog with the question, "Is Slow Cloth trademarked?" That process is underway, and to repeat, the material here is copyrighted and I originated the concept in 2007.
It's been a while, hasn't it? Between some unintended consequences of the Facebook group on Slow Cloth, and a few other things, I've been disheartened -- I just haven't been able to bring myself to post. And work/life has been very busy.
So. The Facebook group? Facebook is a mixed blessing at best. The group was meant to be a placeholder while I developed a foundation for Slow Cloth as a more formal organization, but it grew much more quickly than I expected and seems to have become something else. Now all I seem to do is try to correct misconceptions about me and about my work, and all that was good and joyful fo rme about this blog seems to have been subsumed by it.
Quite a few people seem to have made up their own idea about what Slow Cloth is, and a few have been downright abusive to me when I ask them to link back to me so people can read for themselves what it's all about, to give me credit when they adopt the idea, or to stop writing outright fiction about it. On the one hand, I'm glad that it's captured people's imaginations. On the other hand, it's frustrating as hell to have to keep saying the same thing over and over, and to have to defend my right to attribution for my work. And I'm sure, dear readers, that endlessly reading about this same frustration on this blog is not fun for you either.
So. One last time, for those who may need it:
1. Slow Cloth is my creation. I began writing about Slow Cloth here in December of 2007, and was talking about it to friends and colleagues before then. I'm a good researcher, and I researched the term thoroughly. Nobody was using it, at least not in a publicly visible way. For me the term emerged from my familiarity with and respect for the principles of Carlo Petrini's Slow Food organization, and from nearly two decades of serious work in the organic foods and natural products industry, and it's influenced by the principles of the Slow movement as well as more than four decades of being an artist and maker myself.
2. After I began to write about my Slow Cloth concept, someone suggested that I write a manifesto of sorts. I did that with my 10 Qualities of Slow Cloth. The work and the words are entirely my own; it isn't just me writing about someone else's generic idea. It isn't the end-all, be-all of what Slow Cloth is or can be--that's still evolving--but it is the fundamental framework of it. Yes, obviously there have been theories of craftsmanship and design before, and the principle of quality in design has been advocated by many people; I'm not claiming to have invented the idea of quality, but I created this particular framework in this context.
3. My work is copyrighted. Enough said. I've been writing professionally for many years; I know exactly what the risks are of writing for free and putting work on the Web, but I also know what my rights are. If you don't understand what attribution means, or the Internet etiquette of linking back to your sources, you should learn before you write public material. This goes for the Hand/Eye article as well as the writing on my blog or the Facebook group - please attribute it and link it if you quote it or reference it. And yes, I'm aware that a well-known textile artist has changed the name of the concept slightly and is using similar language to mine with some slight repackaging, and without attribution.
4. Slow Cloth is not a technique or a project. It's a philosophy and a set of guiding principles for giving meaning to working with textiles. If you think that my way of defining it is too vague, well, expand your mind. Those who are blogging about their "Slow Cloth project" are furthering this misconception. I intended Slow Cloth to be a framework as much for the professional sustainable design and art community -- entrepreneurs, designers, and thought leaders -- as for textile artists and craftspersons working in every medium.
5. Slow Cloth doesn't necessarily mean handstitching. Quite a few people are associating Slow Cloth with what Jude does. Jude is a very, very fine artist and craftsperson and a friend, and I support her wholeheartedly and greatly appreciate her support of my work and her references to Slow Cloth as a way of talking about her work. But you don't have to use her particular method of working -- handstitching with cloth fragments and telling a story -- to embrace Slow Cloth. It's her approach to her work that makes it Slow Cloth, regardless of technique, because quality, skill, integrity, and all of the other qualities of Slow Cloth are inherent in the way she works.
6. I am not "just the person who started the Facebook group." I read that the other day. Slow Cloth is also not going to be a Yahoo group -- not now, not ever. The person who has been writing that is mistaken. There is a Slow Cloth group on Flickr; it's a request-to-join group managed through the Facebook page. However, I do have a lot of ideas and plans for a Slow Cloth organization, publication, possibly a retreat. If you're interested in knowing more about those things or being on a mailing list, let me know.
8. I've put a lot of valuable time and skill into the writing I do on this topic, the Facebook group, speaking at events, and having conversations with people I've never met. Most of it is rewarding and I'm incredibly grateful for the people I meet and for the wonderful feedback I've gotten. I've been public with my blog, public with my email address, public with my Facebook page, and generous with allowing reprints, sometimes to my detriment. That's left me open for disagreement and criticism; that's fine. But it doesn't give anyone the right to be abusive and disrespectful to me in personal emails.
9. Yet I'm truly glad that what I've written has inspired some people to look at what they do in a new way. If you are sincerely interested in having me write or speak about Slow Cloth for your publication or organization, please contact me. If you'd like to talk with me about a vision of what Slow Cloth can be in the world of textile art, craft, culture, design, and sustainability, contact me. If you'd like to be a part of it, that's wonderful and amazing. If you don't, no problem. If you prefer a quick-easy-cheap approach to making, or just don't want to think about it, it may not resonate for you. No problem at all; it's not meant to be for everybody. But please don't attack me for it, or to try to reduce my concepts to something you like better, or decide that I don't need to be credited for my work.
10. Please do not send me a message about how I should "relax" or "lighten up." Just don't.
Questions? Contact me. Now back to work, back to creativity, back to art, craft, culture, cloth, sustainability, integrity, truth, and other things that matter. Will Slow Cloth continue? Yes. Will the Facebook group continue? I don't know. Will this blog continue? In some form, no doubt. But right now a few essential ingredients are missing, so I have to right the ship.