“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
- Arthur Ashe
There is a growing movement toward repair and remaking of textiles to combat the waste and mindless consumption that is so toxic to our world. My interest in mending goes back to when I was very young and spent time with my grandmother sewing and mending. The next pivotal piece occurred when I was ten, I visited the Watts Towers and immediately knew that I too wanted to create from the forgotten and discarded detritus of life.
Even the architectural trellising company greenscreen®, which I helped create, was an attempt to connect the natural world to the built environment using an existing found trellis screen which we adapted for weaving plants onto buildings. The waste and pollution caused by industry and textile production in particular can be daunting. In light of these immense issues that are so overwhelming, I found myself constantly questioning; what can I do to add to the repair of the world?
“We need to mend the crack nearest us.”
— MICHAEL MEADE, mythologist
Mending in Community
While mending my grandmother’s appliquéd quilt with a wonderful young woman I was mentoring a realization came to me. Mending in community, healing that torn fabric, making the simple repairs that are possible metaphorically and practically addresses some of these issues. As the mythologist Michael Meade expressed, “we need to mend the crack nearest us.” If we form community and connection and see beauty in everyday life, we can embrace the idea of kintsugi or “Golden Mending” which celebrates the story of the repair and the visible mend increases the value because of the care it is given.
Slow stitching in a fast-paced world is bringing people together to not only repair textiles, but to tell stories and slow the pace down. Out of these circles new webs are forming and menders are going out into their community with a new lens. Mending seems to touch on something mythic and ancient and yet very universal, practical and of this moment.