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Red Work & Wit of the Stitch - Redwork Background and Context

posted on 2021-03-28, 13:21 authored by Rachael HowardRachael Howard
This collection brings together an extensive body of new textile works created for two exhibitions, Red Work in 2014 and Wit of The Stitch in 2016. Combining 19th century redwork techniques with digital printing, drawing and collaged ephemera, Howard explores new ways of communicating contemporary narratives

Background and context:
An initial study was made of the examples of redwork quilts made in the 1880’s, in the collections at The American Museum, Bath and Deborah Harding’s book Red & White (2000). When colourfast red dyed thread became affordable and readily available in the late 1880s, women used it to embroider their crisp white household textiles: dishcloths, towels and chair covers. The fashion spread to quilts made up of separate images patch-worked together. The images often referred to the use of the cloth they were stitched on, or told stories of everyday lives.

Detail of redwork quilt circa 1881
Redwork quilt at the American Museum, Bath
Sample square from redwork quilt 1881

Images used with permission of the of the American Museum & Gardens. The redwork items are a part of their permanent collection.

Photos provided by Rachael Howard.