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comfort. Creating quilts, clothing and domestic textiles from these precious scraps also satisfied a desire to adorn the lives of their families.


As children, my generation benefited from mothers and grandmothers who, having experienced the austere war years, continued a tradition of re- using fibres; constructing clothing, blankets and household furnishings with minimal basic materials, a ‘make do and mend’ philosophy being essential in this time of hardship. In passing on these skills our female predecessors equipped us to do the same for our children.


“The use of traditional often time consuming process alludes to the devotion of a mother” (Ruane, Karen. Visual Culture and Society 2006). My own work, whether in the form of an infant’s ‘wrapping cloth’, an elaborately embroidered memento, a wedding favour, a bride’s bodice or merely a set of hand embellished buttons, is concerned with reinforcing these traditions.


40 | ukhandmade | Autumn 2011


The use of traditional hand embroidery and fabric manipulation techniques, coupled with intricate surface design inspired by vintage domestic linen, lays the foundation of my embroidery firmly in the history of women throughout time. Women who created for survival and women whose sole creative purpose grew from a desire to enhance the lives of their families. It is my desire to continue this legacy in contemporary form whilst at the same time giving recognition to my own female predecessors.


To find out more about Karen Ruane and her work visit: www.karenruane.blogspot.com


Images courtesy of Karen Ruane of Contemporary Embroidery


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