A component of the Handmade Meaning exhibition will be a community embroidery project.

This project is inspired by the quilts women often made for various community fundraisers during the late 1800s and early 1900s. During the Victorian era community members and/or local businesses would sponsor a square, purchase a square, and/or embroider a square to be included in a simple patchwork quilt.  Often the quilt was then auctioned or raffled off and the funds were donated to a local cause.  Depending on the guidelines of a particular fundraiser, participants had select designs to use for their square.  Examples of themes or imagery used include: business logos, floral motifs, embroidered signatures of supporters, stock imagery found in magazines and catalogs, etc.

Redwork Quilt

Many of these fund-raising quilts, which can be found in the collections of historical societies and museums throughout Wisconsin, were made in the style of redwork, a style of embroidering that utilizes only red thread to outline the images depicted on white fabric. One redwork quilt dating back to 1900 from the Milwaukee County Historical Society will be featured in this exhibit.

The Handmade Meaning embroidery project is an opportunity for avid DIY-crafters and those with limited crafting experience to come together for a contemporary community effort.  What better way to gain understanding of what a hands-on craft activity has to offer!  Visitors to the exhibit, as well as followers of this blog, will get to follow the progress of the squares come together to make a quilt.  Once the quilt is finished, we will present it to the Wisconsin Historical Society for consideration for their collection.

We are encouraging anyone from the community, no matter what their skill level, to participate by picking up a packet from the Watrous Gallery or Stitcher’s Crossing, stitching a design, and returning it to the gallery during the exhibition.

More details about the packets, images of the custom Handmade Meaning designs, and guidelines for the squares will be posted over the next month.  The designs for this exhibit merge together styles of contemporary DIY imagery, crafting materials, and Victorian motifs.  A sneak peek of two of the designs can be seen in my sample squares below.  Be sure to check back soon for more information.

We are also seeking people with sewing/quilting experience to help assemble the quilts (all fabric, batting, etc. would be provided – we even have space for you to work!)  If you are interested in helping with this task, please keep an eye out for how/where/when to sign up.  Assembly will need to happen in February 2011.

–Posted by Andrea Miller

Handmade Meaning

Handmade Meaning