With only one delay and no missed flights, we made it back to the Midwest (and the cold) at half-noon. Rebecca and I both wish we didn’t have to face the next few weeks of school–the semester is very nearly over. But there was pleasure in returning to the house and sorting through the piles of mail. Far too many Christmas catalogues, but also a new issue of American Patchwork and Quilting, with the first of the new back page series on global quilting.
This was on palampores, richly colored fabrics originally imported to Europe from India during the 1700s. In order to write the piece, I interviewed Carolyn Ducey, curator of collections at the International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln, NE. Carolyn pointed out that before palampores were imported , Europeans had never seen such vibrant hues: their fabrics were dull browns and greens and rusty reds because they didn’t have the know-how to create color-fast textiles. They also didn’t have access to cotton, so not only was the rich palette eye-opening, but the cool cotton appealed to Europeans previously familiar only with scratchy linens and wools.
My favorite part of talking with Carolyn was her passion for fabric in general, and her comments about the way that textiles affected the world economy. She said that when trading with various cultures for spices, etc., explorers learned that textiles were often valued as highly as gold. I just love that through the ages the colors and textures of fabric spoke to people in a way that still resonates today.