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December 24, 2007


Dear Karen, thank you. I imagine you have many great textile stories from PNG. I have a friend who travels there often and has sent me pictures of the skirts made from leaves that the men wear for firewalking ceremonies. And there is gorgeous batik, too, of course. I'm looking forward to SharonB's challenge as well and I'm glad to know you via the Internet.

Dear Lee, yes, it is Slow Food that led me to think about Slow Cloth. I've realized, though, that not everyone is familiar with Slow Food, so there's been a lot of very literal interpretation of Slow Cloth. And I too have almost every issue of Threads magazine. It's an incredible resource -- even though it's a completely different magazine now. But that just leaves room for the rest of us to pick up the thread - so to speak. Happy New Year and welcome to the blog.

I am so pleased to see someone else who remembers, saved, and still refers to the old Threads magazines. I spent a happy month re-reading them all, issue by issue, going backwards, and found much of use. I was struck by the number of plaintive requests there were for people doing other esoteric crafts - particular forms of knitting or weaving or embroidery. It felt like many of the old forms were dying without younger people to take them on. What a huge difference 20 years makes! When I look at the blogosphere now, I feel very old, but extraordinarily well-connected.

As for Slow Cloth - I assumed it was related to Slow Food. Take the time to do it well, rather than extra points for inefficient use of time....

I am really enjoying following the exploration of this topic. When I lived in PNG many years ago, the making of bilums (native bags) was done in this sort of community environment. Rather like the quilting bee. I suppose now that we have more transient societies/communities, we try to form this sort of community through our online contacts.
If I am honest, it is part of the reason I signed up for Sharonb's challenge for this year.
Many people may try to justify their crafts as art, in which case, they seem to be loosing the plot.
The traditions which come with slow cloth allow us to draw from the past in order to create the future in what we do now. In some respects, too, it is making our own traditions. Those of us who have no family tradition in this respect must draw on the traditions of others. I feel a great respect and gratitude towards those others that they feel enough care about their work to share it so that people like me can learn and incorporate it.
Now I have to teach my children and grandchildren, so that somewhere it becomes "my" family tradition as well. And maybe one day we can spread it out to the world as well.

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10 Qualities of Slow Cloth, by Elaine Lipson

  • I defined Slow Cloth several years ago on this blog. Read the original post at http://lainie.typepad.com/redthread/2008/01/this-must-be-th-1.html. (Copyright Elaine Lipson 2007-2011; all rights reserved).
  • Joy
    Slow Cloth has the possibility of joy in the process. In other words, the journey matters as much as the destination.
  • Contemplation
    Slow Cloth offers the quality of meditation or contemplation in the process.
  • Skill
    Slow Cloth involves skill and has the possibility of mastery.
  • Diversity
    Slow Cloth acknowledges the rich diversity and multicultural history of textile art.
  • Teaching
    Slow Cloth honors its teachers and lineage even in its most contemporary expressions.
  • Materials
    Slow Cloth is thoughtful in its use of materials and respects their source.
  • Quality
    Slow Cloth artists, designers, crafters and artisans want to make things that last and are well-made.
  • Beauty
    It's in the eye of the beholder, yes, but it's in our nature to reach for beauty and create it where we can.
  • Community
    Slow Cloth supports community by sharing knowledge and respecting relationships.
  • Expression
    Slow Cloth is expressive of individuals and/or cultures. The human creative force is reflected and evident in the work.


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Books and Reports by Elaine Lipson

Selected Articles by Elaine Lipson