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Altar Cloth

Curated Submission
Winnipeg, Manitoba
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
320 x 39.8
Materials & techniques
Cotton; Embroidery, cutwork
Gift of Verniece Vouriot
Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library 827.00
Craft entails a certain reverence for the past. This is evident in the way traditional methods of making things endure and are sustained, even in the face of faster mechanized processes. Beyond this, those with a love of craft have shown a long-standing desire to recycle. Valuable fragments of older objects are reused and repurposed, adding additional beauty and meaning to the new creation. When an article of clothing was worn out, the cuffs, collar, lace edging, and beadwork were often removed to be reused. This tendency to save treasured decorations can be seen across cultures and time periods and does not merely represent a desire to save time and money.
This piece, dating to 1907, is an example of that impulse to preserve the past. It was originally a petticoat hem, extensively worked with fine satin stitch embroidery and cutwork. Years later as the Saint Vital Catholic Church was built in Fort Garry, parishioners struggled to raise money to decorate the church. The petticoat’s owner transformed this beautiful garment into an altar cloth that was used in the church for five years. This was not only practical thrift but also a way of giving back to her spiritual community by sharing a treasured heirloom.
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