Weaving an enhanced sense of self and a collective sense of self through creative textile‐making

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [Tufts University]On: 04 November 2014, At: 08:00Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: MortimerHouse, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Journal of Occupational SciencePublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rocc20</p><p>Weaving an enhanced sense of self and a collectivesense of self through creative textilemakingJill Riley aa Doctoral student &amp; lecturer, Department of Occupational Therapy , Cardiff University ,Wales E-mail:Published online: 26 Sep 2011.</p><p>To cite this article: Jill Riley (2008) Weaving an enhanced sense of self and a collective sense of self through creativetextilemaking, Journal of Occupational Science, 15:2, 63-73, DOI: 10.1080/14427591.2008.9686611</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14427591.2008.9686611</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the Content) containedin the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose ofthe Content. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of the Content should not be reliedupon and should be independently verified with primary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shallnot be liable for any losses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and otherliabilities whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to orarising out of the use of the Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematicreproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in anyform to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &amp; Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rocc20http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/14427591.2008.9686611http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14427591.2008.9686611http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p></li><li><p>FEATURE ARTICLE</p><p>Weaving an Enhanced Sense of Self and a CollectiveSense of Self through Creative Textile-Making</p><p>Historically, the occupation of textile-making has fulfilled basic human needs. It also offers a means ofexpressing cultural and personal identity and developing self-awareness. Drawing on an ethnographyof a British guild of weavers, spinners and dyers, this paper explores how a sense of self is enhancedby becoming and being a textile-maker through creative doing, and a collective sense of self developsfrom belonging to a guild. The findings indicate that a sense of self comes from an intrinsic need tomake textiles that is closely connected to ones personal background, affinity for materials, skillmastery, passion for rhythm and process, spiritual commitment and continuity with the past. Acollective sense of self is related to sharing occupation and working together as a part of a group. Thisbrings about a sense of belonging, which in turn enhances quality of life and perceptions of well-being.</p><p>Key Words: Becoming, Identity, Collective sense of self, Textiles, Weaving</p><p>Jill Riley</p><p>As a craft discipline, textile-making can beperceived as multi-media and amongst the mosthybrid of contemporary crafts, incorporatingtechniques such as embroidery, knitting,weaving, spinning, felting, dyeing and basketry(Colchester, 1991; Gale &amp; Kaur, 2002). Inwestern cultures, individuals who engage insuch crafts have consciously chosen to expressthemselves through a set of establishedpractices and traditional principles, which arehistorically constructed (Greenhalgh, 2002).The ability to choose and to selectively engagein particular occupations in this way, definesindividuals as having a sense of self(Christiansen &amp; Townsend, 2004; Harvey &amp;Pentland, 2004). </p><p>In occupational science, creative self-expression through textile-making has beenaddressed by Reynolds (1997, 2004) andReynolds and Prior (2003) in theirphenomenological studies of women withchronic illnesses. Dickie (2003b), in anethnography of American quilting guilds,focused on the centrality of learning aspects ofthe craft, and in a later paper, the importance ofcreativity as a part of the process of making(Dickie, 2004). Together with Howell andPierce (2000), who explored the restorativevalue of quilting, these authors offerconsiderable insight into the dimensions oftextile-making as meaningful occupation. </p><p>This article aims to add further insight into thedimensions of textile-making as creativeoccupation. It draws on the findings from anethnographic study of a guild of weavers,spinners and dyers, where I, as the researcher,am also a member. The wider study explored</p><p>occupational engagement in textile-making andits influence on health and well-being, in thecontext of contemporary British culture. Here, Iinitially explore the nature of textile-making associo-culturally situated, skilled andmeaningful occupation, and its historicalrelationship with health and well-being. I thengo on to outline the methods and my role as aninsider researcher. Finally, themes relating tohow textile-making can enhance an individualssense of self and how belonging to a guilddevelops a collective sense of self are presented.</p><p>The Nature of Textile Crafts as Occupation</p><p>In its broadest sense, the term occupation refersto all purposeful activity in which humansengage in the context of community, society,culture and time (Wilcock, 1998; Yerxa, 1993).The textile crafts can be traced back to thebeginning of civilisation and throughouthistory textile products have catered to thehuman need for protection, clothing anddecoration (Colchester, 1991; Geijer, 1979).Consequently, as a form of occupation, textile-making offers a good example of how peoplehave fulfilled basic human needs and adaptedto environmental change. In the 21st Century,and particularly in western societies, textilesalso have a central place in fulfillingpsychological and spiritual needs throughdifferentiating and personalising space (Graves,2002).</p><p>Textile craftsmen have had a place in everysociety and their skills have been widely sharedand communicated. Textiles continue toprovide a perfect vehicle for establishing,</p><p>Jill Riley, MSc, PG Dip, DipCOT,Doctoral student &amp; lecturer,Department of OccupationalTherapy, Cardiff University, Wales </p><p>Correspondence to:rileyjm@Cardiff.ac.uk</p><p> 2008 Association for theJournal of Occupational Science</p><p>Journal of Occupational Science2008, 15(2), pp 63-73</p><p>63J O U R N A L O F O C C U P AT I O N A L S C I E N C E V O L 1 5 ( 2 ) , J U L Y 2 0 0 8</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Tuf</p><p>ts U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 08:</p><p>00 0</p><p>4 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>expressing and maintaining cultural identity (Gale &amp; Kaur,2002, p. 91). They are also a part of our personal identity,signifying social status and role (Gale &amp; Kaur). For instance,the textile fabrics we wear whether by choice or sometimesout of necessity, make a statement about ourselves. Textiles area fundamental part of everyday dress and individuals utilisedress to create expressions of who they are in relation toothers (Goodman, Knotts &amp; Jackson, 2007, p. 102). Textilesthen, have almost limitless potential for communicationexpressing issues such as poverty, opulence and sexuality(Schnieder &amp; Weiner, 1989, p. 1). As such, textiles andtextile-making can be a strong enabler for knowing oneselfand knowing ones being (Hasselkus, 2002, p. 17). Thiscomes about through actively engaging in occupation, inother words through doing (Wilcock, 2006).</p><p>Textile-Making as Purposeful and Creative Doing</p><p>Textile craft is intimately bound up with making, which is anaspect of doing. For Fidler and Fidler (1978), doing conveyeda sense of performing, producing or causing (p. 305).Collingwood (1938) described a craft as being exercised uponsomething, a raw material for instance, with the aim oftransforming it into something different; weaving cloth fromyarns or spinning a thread from raw fibre. As such, it is bothpurposeful and goal directed, leading to an end product in theform of a crafted object. </p><p>Textile-making is complex, creative and revealing of humaningenuity (Schoeser, 2003, p. 7). It can involve the creationof the ingredients, such as yarn from fleece or natural dyefrom plants as well as utilising natural materials such aswillow for basket making and wool for felting. In this way, itcan be considered as the mastery of material (Constantine &amp;Larson, 1985, p. 8). Like other crafts, such as ceramics, wood-turning or glass-blowing, it requires a high degree of controland development of skills and knowledge that take time toacquire (Metcalf, 1997; Sutton, 1982). This is particularly thecase for spinning and weaving where, from my personalexperience of learning these crafts and becoming a textile-maker, I am aware that the process must be understood andrules assimilated through practice before one can beinnovative and creative. Dormer (1994) referred to this formof practical or tacit knowledge as craft knowledge (p. 11),something which is acquired through doing. For example, it ispossible to combine natural and synthetic fibres whenweaving in ways that can lead to new textural and visualeffects in the finished cloth, but this can only be achievedthrough understanding the fibres themselves and how theyreact together in the finishing process. </p><p>Creativity in craftsmanship comes from imagination and risktaking: experimenting with unfamiliar materials in unusualcombinations and modifying equipment. Curiosity,investigation, rule-breaking and lateral thinking are thefoundations of creativity (Sutton &amp; Sheehan, 1989, p. 158).However, skills and processes must be mastered before theycan be reconsidered (Sutton &amp; Sheehan). Weaving, forinstance, progresses from the bottom up and requires pre-</p><p>planning and the ability to pre-visualise in order to constructcloth or tapestry sequentially (p. 37). Tapestry weaver BobbieCox described learning to design in ways that respond tosequential construction, the unique language of weaving(Kumar, 2004, p. 164). With this understanding and withthorough knowledge of the equipment, the weaver canovercome limitations and think creatively.</p><p>With reference to Wilcock (2006), such skilful, purposefuland creative doing, which contributes to becoming a textile-maker through mastering skills and processes, is intimatelyconnected with being a sense of who we are a weaver, aspinner or a fibre artist for instance. This sense of being isdeveloped in the context of time, society and culture.</p><p>Temporal and Socio-Cultural Aspects of Textile Making</p><p>Occupational engagement is temporally and socio-culturallysituated (Kielhofner, 2002; Wilcock, 1998; Yerxa, 1993). Thetraditional materials, techniques and formats used in pre-industrial societies and cultures survive today (Metcalf, 1997;Schoeser, 2003). In her study of American craft workers,Dickie (1996, 2003a) revealed the paradox of engaging in pre-industrial craft production whilst being part of a post-industrial economy.</p><p>Although textile-makers continue to use the same materialsand techniques as their fore-fathers, the purpose of their workhas changed. In pre-industrial societies traditional crafts werebasically utilitarian, a product of human need (Lucie-Smith,1981). In post-industrial societies, however, crafts areproduced for many different reasons: as a means of self-fulfilment for instance, as well as for income or utility. Thereis also potential for traditional crafts to maintain culturalidentity (Gilbert, 1996).</p><p>Textiles reflect the attitudes and beliefs of the societies thatproduce them (Colchester, 1991). As the master Japaneseweaver, Junichi Arai (1989) put it: mankind has throughouthistory been deeply concerned with fabric from the cloth weare wrapped in at birth to the cloth we are wrapped in atdeath (p. 8). In between birth and death, the textiles we wear,use and display reflect our culture and arguably our socialstatus, and are a projection of the self, a part of identity(Colchester, 1991); they also hold meaning.</p><p>Textiles and Meaning</p><p>Meanings are personally and socially derived, coming fromthe individuals personal values, history, community andculture (Hasselkus, 2002, p. 3). Humans have an ordinary andfamiliar relationship with cloth (Gale &amp; Kaur, 2002) and theindividuals cultural and social domains will influence themeaning of that relationship. Indeed cloth and its decorationhave symbolic meaning in the context of the culture in whichit is produced and used. It can represent authority, wealth,birth and death (Schneider &amp; Weiner, 1988). As Gale andKaur (2002) put it: Textiles reach the senses, they provokeand draw on memories, they become familiar friends, they</p><p>J I L L R I L E Y</p><p>64 J O U R N A L O F O C C U P AT I O N A L S C I E N C E V O L 1 5 ( 2 ) , J U L Y 2 0 0 8</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Tuf</p><p>ts U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 08:</p><p>00 0</p><p>4 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>have even been a sign of terror (p. 10). In other words thefeelings that textiles evoke are linked to a context, whichforms the background that shapes the meanings ofindividuals life events (Russel, 2001, p. 10). For the womenin Reynolds and Priors (2003) study, all of whom had chronicillness, making textiles contributed to self-efficacy, self-imageand a sense of satisfaction. </p><p>For Christiansen and Townsend (2004), occupations are partof peoples life stories and gain meaning over time. Becausemeanings are socially, temporally and historically constructed,the meanings of textile-making differ, sometimes subtly, foreach individual maker. Weavers Alison Morton and Sue HileyHarris both live and work in Wales. They both deriveinspiration from the Welsh landscape for their work and sharea love of natural materials and the process of making, yet theirwork has developed in quite different ways. Alison weavesfunctional towels and table linen because she believes thatpeople should, where possible, find beauty in everyday things(Dames, 2004). In contrast, Sues recent work is three-dimensional and conceptual in nature, mathematical structureand form has meaning for her (Powell, 2007). For both,however, reviews of their work suggest that their love ofweaving contributes to their quality of life and sense of well-being (Dames; Powell). </p><p>The Historical Relationship between Textile Making,Health and Well-Being </p><p>Historical accounts of textile-making reveal that it could bebeneficial or detrimental to health and well-being. In Britain,the domestic textile crafts of spinning and weaving wereamongst the first to be mechanised (Lucie-Smith, 1981), andthe industrial environment where...</p></li></ul>