I blogged for quite a few years at Red Thread Studio, where I began to develop and write about my concept of Slow Cloth in 2007. I’m not adding new posts there right now but the archive remains and I invite you to browse. I gave a talk to the Textile Society of America at their 2012 symposium on Slow Cloth – downloadable in PDF form here. I also maintain a Slow Cloth community page on Facebook where I share many links on global textile art, craft, and culture. I’ve also written extensively on sustainable and organic apparel and textiles.
My experience with the concept of Slow Cloth in the textile community has been and continues to be an interesting one. My aim in 2007 was to outline a set of characteristics that I hoped would inspire and foster a way of thinking and a rich, inclusive, and sustainable textile culture. I gave it a name that seemed appropriate at the time to both honor and acknowledge what had been done in the food community and to distinguish it from what I saw as the trendy but unsustainable commercial craft world. And in the seven years since then, I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more misunderstood about a well-intentioned project. People either didn’t get it or thought it was so obvious that I had no right to it. So I put some of my larger vision for Slow Cloth (organization, membership, magazine) on hold.
For the record, I have nothing to do with any “Slow Cloth” boards on Pinterest, or any blogs or articles — other than those written by me — that talk about Slow Cloth. I developed my original concept of Slow Cloth long before many of the other “slow” brands, and was careful to give it a context and substance that would make it more than a buzzword. Unfortunately, the slow concept has lost most of its more nuanced meaning and it may not be very useful any longer as a defining adjective.
Many good things have happened in textile art and craft in this technology-driven century. More people than ever before are learning or re-learning how to make things for themselves with fiber and fabric. Sewing, knitting, quilting, weaving, embroidery, dyeing – especially working with natural dyes – it’s just an incredible renaissance, and there is a wealth of talent, creativity, skill, and resourcefulness in the textile community. More people are seeking textiles and garments made in their own countries, and more people are creating businesses to revive the textile industry. A new consciousness around the idea of “fibersheds” – local systems to grow, process, design, dye, finish, and produce textiles – is deservedly generating a lot of interest and excitement. It’s all very exciting, and with 50 years of making things with fabric and fiber under my belt, there’s a lot to celebrate. I have my own list of concerns, too, but will save those for another time.
I still own a Slow Cloth URL and still ponder whether there’s something more to be done with it. In the meantime, please do enjoy the Red Thread Studio blog archives and like the Facebook page.