One of the things that I have really relished about working on Laura Ashley (plc) has been the enjoyment that it has caused for other people thinking about their first steps in patchwork and quilting. When I did my talk to the North Somerset Quilters last week, I introduced the topic of Laura Ashley by producing a piece of hexagon patchwork that my mother started. As soon as I whipped it out of the distinctive dark green plastic bag there were sighs and grins of recognition.
I belong to the school of management research which comes under the label of ‘critical’. Although this refers to a particular group of 20th-century thinkers and has a specific meaning, it could also often mean just plain critical as in ‘whatever it is I’m agin it’. And a lot of my work has been in that vein.
But Laura Ashley has been rather different. It has been joyful. Not entirely: I have some wonderful data, for example, on how it felt not to be able to fit into the dresses which is some of the purest, sincerest data I have ever collected, but often the presenting stories are of happy times. I will write about this in subsequent posts, because the point I want to make here is that social sciences are usually about terrible things which do need investigation: oppression, violence, exclusion, injustice and so on, but just for once I has been lovely to hear some happy stories.
So, imagine my delight when I received this through the post:
It was a pack of tiny pieces of fabric given to my long-term quilting friend Hermione by her friend and she sent them onto me. Some of the scraps are tiny, and unusable in conventional patchwork, but I think they will work wonderfully as they are, and I know exactly what I am going to do with them following my trip to the Treasures of Heaven exhibition at The British Museum (glorious, glorious, glorious, including Derek Jacobi’s sonorous audio guide).
I was delighted to have another colourway of the wonderful swan fabric (so now I have blue, red and brown):
and a lovely dated selvedge:
But I was thrilled to get the patch at the top of this post with its rusted-in pin. I am working on the final Threads of Identity piece which features a rusted-in needle which will have to be sprayed with water to try to get the effect, but here, through the post is the real thing. Strange the sort of thing which delights me.
And so I return to a familiar theme in this Laura Ashley work: making is connecting. And I love the hidden message on the paper – included just for me.