My Thread My Word, 2016


About My Thread, My Word, 2016. My Thread, My Word was a year-long travelling communal sewing project that I started in the early part of 2016. It welcomed participants to gather within a specific space to sew some art together. Its sole aim was to collect moments of gathering between people using this traditional craft and medium.

Sometimes, people opted to sew in silence. Some others, they used the time to chat and make new connections. Either way, there was often a collective surprise or awe expressed when the communal fabric was unwrapped, revealing the art made by previous participants. There was also very often, a similar expression of ‘wow’ when it was time to stop. During this time, participants would often look on at their completed piece: seeing their own artwork, now existing alongside/beside/around/on top/below/with another person’s art.

The single piece of fabric also meant participants had to work with the pulling and pushing of the fabric, as others try to sew their mark onto it. This sometimes came in the form of waiting while the other completes a certain process, or opted to synchronise with the other despite the pushing-or-pulling of the shared fabric.

Things that have surprised me throughout this project:
1. When adults say “I don’t know how to sew”, often they come to mean “I don’t think I can sew something beautiful/good/pleasant”. When children say “I don’t know how to sew”, they are indeed asking for assistance in the technique of sewing: How do I tie a knot? What type of needle should I use? How do I sew my fabric art onto the communal fabric?
2. The range of fabric artworks. From 2d-collage to 3d-like objects (e.g. bags filled with wool, stuffed fabric that made sounds when pressed…), minimal (coloured strings to represent ideas), symbolic (e.g. separate felt pieces intertwining to capture a certain emotion), to representational (a portrait of a friend seated close by). It is pretty amazing how, not providing a specific theme opens up so many possibilities.
3. Meeting warm creative wonderful people, as well as seeing the art made by participants who initially exclaimed “I don’t know how to sew”:-)
4. Trying something new. As a somewhat seasoned crafter or someone who sews a lot, I find that there were lots of interesting processes and ideas made by a person with little to no experiences with craft or sewing. They were interesting because they approached the medium from a very different perspective, where the traditional or long-held rules no longer apply. We are always learning to get better at something. Sometimes, getting better at something involves un-learning what we’ve just adapted to or mastered, in order to gain fresh insights.

This marks the end of My Thread, My Word, 2016– the travelling communal sewing project. It feels very much like, it has bloomed in its own way and now marks the time or phase to develop new art projects from the lessons and experiences of running My Thread, My Word, 2016.