Monday, June 2, 2008

Hawaiian Flag Quilts

My friend Kathy looks like and Irish cop's daughter from Chicago with a temper to match. But her heart is in Kaui despite the fact she now lives in the big apple.

Ever since she learned I like to quilt she has done her best to teach me about Hawaiian Flag Quilts. Most quilting enthusiasts know about Hawaiian quilts which are these beautifully worked tone on tone needle turn applique pieces all about the natural elements found in the quilters environment. It almost looks like the quilter made a paper snowflake gone amok since they are both vertically and horizontally symetrical. These quilts are finished with the most intricate needle work. They are echo quilted (by hand) with no more than an gap of an inch between each line. This quilting technique was a kick in the pants to the missionaries that introduced quilting to the islands. Hawaiian women couldn't understand the purpose of patchwork (cutting whole cloth into smaller pieces to sew them back again into blankets that are too warm for Hawaiian weather) but they did understand decorative work and instead adapted applique to their own traditional uses and arts.
The Hawaiian Flag Quilt is of a different nature entirely and I never heard of it until Kathy Mentioned them. After the overthrow of Queen Lili‘uokalani , the Hawaiian Royal Flag, that represented the country of Hawaii (and not the 50th state) was banned. In order to keep the memory of sovereignty and independance alive, women turned the Hawaiian Flag into quilts to remember their own history.

I am very proud of Hawaiian women and of women everywhere who continue to let their voices speak through art. We are once again in a revival of handmade products. Everywhere you look you see somebody knitting, crafting, sewing. It certainly makes people appreciate what they have more. Once you learn to knit, you can no longer even look at a scarf or hat without full comprehension of how much time it took somebody to make that. We are talking from raising the sheep, to processing the wool, spinning, dyeing, and finally making it into something wearable. Hawaiian women put there heart into those flag quilts. I'm proud to say that I'm at least one person who still hears it beating.
Thank you Kathy

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