potty mouth quilts

Chawne is a multi-craftual quilter who channels all her nervous energy into making blankets and quilts to keep folks warm. She blogs about the processes at Completely Cauchy.

This post comes with a language warning: [be prepared for some thought provoking (some might say shocking)  images – ed]

The diversity of the crafting world can often surprise crafty folks and astound non-crafters. Among us there are young and old, male and female, able-bodied and physically challenged, tall and short, and conservative and liberal. The public stereotypes are blown away by visits to sites such as Mr X Stitch and Craftster, where featured crafter-artists are shown expressing themselves in unique ways. There is a sense in which one need not self-censor if there is a principle to explore and more of us ought to embrace this spirit of individuality and fearlessly show it in our work.

Did you know that some crafters verbally express themselves using curse words? This is the non-stereotypical behavior (by that I refer to the externally constructed stereotype) that currently interests me.

With the publication of Word Play Quilts, more and more quilters are including text in their quilts, whether to emblazon with the name of the giftee or to send a sweet special message. It has opened up a whole new way to express oneself in textiles. But are there boundaries? One must eventually wonder if quilts are somehow a sacred space on which certain profanities must not be uttered. My own recent quilts have tested this in a small way. Reactions have been mixed and, surprisingly, the negative reactions are deeply personal even when the message is a positive affirmation.


Find out more about this quilt pictured above: Chawne has written a follow up post on her blog 

I needed to know how other crafter-artists felt about the act of cursing in cotton. So I invited a wide swath of textile artists in the US, Canada and England to participate in an ongoing communal Give a F*ck quilt project back in November 2011. Using a variety of techniques—patchwork, embroidery, and filet crochet—they are expressing their potty-mouths by making profane quilt blocks. There are few restrictions, including a size range, a “decency” level, and the requirement that the word “fuck” appear somewhere so that it is legible at a nice distance.

The diversity of interpretations of the request has been impressive and will make the ultimate quilt all the more interesting.

Sample Block Artists: Daniel Rouse :: Corrine Bayraktaroglu :: Jeni Baker 

The blocks are still arriving in the mail, but the artists have been telling me of their experiences while making them. Most common are comments about the cathartic effect, releasing anger or frustration. Yet others express youthful glee about doing something they perceive as “naughty.”

The blocks will be assembled into a quilt, likely a cacophony of f*cks. And we will then see what it is like when several crafter-artists express themselves at once. This project aims to face the issue of language boundaries head-on so that we can all return to free and nuanced expression in the future.


Edited to add: Chawne has written a follow up post on her blog – head over there to read more about her work.

Please read my response to the comments on this post here and Chawne’s response here.