Re: Tribal Repairs

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Posted by Michael Wendorf on April 15, 1999 at 15:24:48:

In Reply to: Re: Tribal Repairs posted by Marla Mallett on April 15, 1999 at 10:10:42:

: Dear Steve,

: So what should we do with a bag with a quaint crocheted repair that's not a nice matching color as in my illustration, but instead a gaudy bright green or pink? Not on the back or edge so that we can turn it under? A repair done by a young woman on her mother's or grandmother's nice old natural dyed piece?

: Is our desire to "fix up" or "pretty-up" the textiles that we collect related to our broader desire to romanticize nomadic and village life? To perpetuate an unreal vision of that world?

: On the other hand, after their initial astonishment, how would those country folks react to seeing that bright green repair removed and the hole neatly rewoven? Perhaps with pleasure that someone had given it such attention? I've always tried to put myself in those other women's shoes and imagine how I'd like to see my own work treated. I know for sure that I'd rather have a piece I'd created left raggedy than botched up with bad reweaving. But I'd view skillful treatment differently--and might be quite pleased. So as collectors, what is the most responsible attitude?

: Marla

Dear Steve and Marla:
The logical extension of Marla's original question might be that we should not even wash these ethnographic or utilitarian objects. On this score, I tend to wash. I have observed, however, that sometimes something I thought I saw in the item seems to be stripped out in the wash. Anyone else have this experience?
On the repair issue, my general rule is to leave what I refer to as field repairs alone. These are repairs made to extend the use or life of a bag, usually not reweaves but patches and darning, unless they really impair my ability to read, see and enjoy the item. I find myself less tolerant with old repairs, generally reweaves, made to rugs.
Regards, Michael

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