Monday, May 13, 2013

100 acts of sewing...

One of 100 dresses by Sonja Phillip
Sonja Phillip, craft artist, decided to make 100 dresses in 365 days. That might be seen as an ambitious project, but if you had been in the building that collapsed in Bangladesh or in the fire that recently killed 8 in that same nation, more than 100 sewn garments would have been only part of your daily work. It is odd that the simple act of making something to wear can be an expression of humanity, or can be distorted as a means of human exploitation.

Sonja Phillip says:
"It may be unrealistic for everyone to make their own clothes, but everyone should know how to sew. At one time students did learn in home economics. I went to an international school overseas where all students – male and female – took needlework and cooking, as well as woodwork and metalwork classes. Maybe it was this experience that informs my thinking – that even if a person doesn't make their own clothes, knowing how to sew leads to appreciation of skill and recognition of quality. It also enables people to mend or modify the clothes they purchase, helping extend the life of the garments.

"The act of making anything by hand comes from a place of contradiction. It will probably always be cheaper, faster, easier to buy a mass-produced item. It's the way the market functions, economies of scale.

"To go counter to that comes from a place of concentrated attention. Can we begin to see labor and craftsmanship as valuable? Can we go beyond labels and logos? Can we determine value in the context of provenance, memory or lineage?

"We need to fill our lives with meaningful objects and not simply quantities of stuff."
The point of "making your own stuff" is not always about the "stuff." When we become engaged in making something, developing skills, growing in understanding of materials and techniques, we are engaged in the construction of self. What we do in the making of self, effects our own lives, and reshapes our relationships with all those whose lives we touch.

As you can see in the photo at left, I continue to make boxes. These will be chapter 5 in the new book and will have drawers. The top panels are basswood, that has been textured and painted, either with spray paint (black) or milk paints. A similar sized box will be made with dovetails.

Make, fix and create...


  1. I agree with Sonja, if the whole world could sew a lot less clothes would be wasted. So much material could be patched up instead of thrown away. So many clothes could be made by people for themselves, not by child workers in God Knows Where.

  2. Good for Sonja. She makes a good point and beautiful things too.


    PS So, packing tape, masking tape on the corners and then the rubber bands? Interesting.