Join me in following The Fabric Thread around the world, where we will discover textiles telling stories about culture, art, and travel, as well as books telling stories about textiles. We will meet artisans, designers, artists, and makers. We will hear the stories in the hearts and minds behind the hands who make, use, and wear the world’s textiles.
The Fabric Thread
To follow this thread, we have to find the loose end first. In this episode, I will introduce myself, let you in on how I started following the Fabric Thread, and give you an idea of where it is going to lead us. Textile, fabric, cloth, material – so many words to describe that which we use to wrap ourselves in, decorate our homes with, and use to make social, cultural, political, and fashion statements with. In this series, we are going to hear some of these stories.
Where it started
The Fabric Thread started as a general blog about textiles – any and all sorts of textile, textile people, and textile events. Over time the focus moved to cultural textiles, textiles in fine art, and textile books because that was the things I was naturally drawn to – travel, culture, art, books, all of it wrapped in textiles. My own textile story started in South Africa where I was born and raised. Then, in the early 2000s and in my mid-thirties, we became expats when my husband’s job took us first to Uganda, then to the UAE, and eventually to Australia.
The language of textiles
It was only once I left my own culture and learned about other cultures, traditions, and ways of life, that I learned the language of textiles. My first introduction to barkcloth in Uganda, kikoys and kitenges in neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania opened my eyes to how textiles tell stories about place, culture, demographics, tribal alliances, and history. As I was travelling, learning about textiles, and understanding who made it, what it is made of, and what it is used for, I learned about culture. The symbolism, the ceremonies, the connection to land and place. And above all, I learned about the significant role textile plays in everyday life.
I started writing about it. First, to share this newfound language with my family and friends in the form of email letters, then a blog and eventually, a website. My first article was published in 2011 in HandEYE Magazine. Today I have been published in many magazines, and I am a regular contributor to several others.
On this podcast, we will travel across the globe. I don’t plan to restrict the conversation to any geographical region but to just follow the thread and see where it leads. As textiles are inherently a visual medium that must be experienced with all our senses, I am going to experiment in the ways I present these stories. As podcasting is an audio medium only, I will support each episode with a written post, images, and where possible, video footage to enhance the textile experience and to tell the full story.
I invite you to follow this fabric thread with me.