Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Passing it on ...


Copyright Getty Images. Selecting fabric for clothes.

Do you ever get what I call “prickles”. That shivery feeling when you say something or do something that unbeknownst to you, is important?

My kid and her friends were all together yesterday. I was there as well, some of them are doing a research project on the Great Depression for school. The only way I found that out was because out of the blue my kid asked a question at the dinner table.

“Mum, did people really wear clothes made out of sacks during the Depression?”

As we all know, yes they did! I think she got a surprise when my eyes lit up and I went racing up to my studio, and found my feedsack book. I was able to show her pictures like the one above and then show her in my studio, the real feedsack pieces I have.

Fast forward to yesterday. I had taken  the book and a piece of feedsack with me, I knew a couple of the girls were doing the same topic.

Picture a room with 5 tweens, all lolling (that’s a great word), 2 with ipads, one on a laptop at a desk, two others in front of Youtube and all talking at the same time. This is how the following conversation went:

Me: Darlings, whose doing the Depression for English?

3 heads look up:

Me: I thought you guys might be a little interested. This is a book on feedsacks. Y’know how people used to wear sacks that flour and animal seed came in and how companies put patterns on them. Here’s some pictures of the sacks, and stuff people made and here is some real feedsack.

Eyes wide, mouths open.

Kid bouncy: Is that real?

Kid learny: is that a copy?

Me: Nope. It’s the real deal.

Kid bouncy: so when is it from?

Me: the Depression.

Huge intake of breath and now all 5 sets of eyes are like saucers including my kid who can’t pretend it’s not cool any more. 

All five kids: Wow!!!!

Then they all touch it.

Kid bouncy: but it’s so nice.

Me: the Pattern is lovely but it’s only in one colour and white so it would have been super cheap to manufacture. And it’s just a simple loose weave cotton fabric so again not to expensive but it looks great. 

General exclamations etc.

Learny kid: why did they do that?

Me: cause folks had nothing at all, and the printed patterns gave them dignity.

Cue “prickles” all round.

We forget that everything we make has a history. We mightn’t see it now but we will in the future and so will the folks who wind up with the stuff we made. These little mirrors into the past are important. And what’s more, it elevates the stories from being words on a page to living reminders. The girls got a taste of that yesterday. That’s cool.


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