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We asked our contributors: What do you love about the handmade?

arie Taillefer


Despite travelling to the US often and sharing a language, I am continually wrongfooted by cultural differences. The International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe had been on the periphery of my consciousness for at least a decade but I had dismissed it because my perception of Folk Art was mismatched. Last summer however, when I found myself in the South West kicking my heels, I took the plunge and arranged a visit.

Rarely do we find something that strikes a personal chord. I have spent the last 20 years visiting exhibition and craft fairs searching for something new to satisfy my curiosity. This event outstripped my expectations and some. Many of the 150 artisans exhibiting were already friends, including Nilda Callanaupa from Cusco, Peru (issue 68) and Rupa Trivedi of the ADIV project in India (issue 70). But what captured my imagination was the way the community had embraced the event and overcome the logistical challenges of bringing artisans from so many countries together in one place. I am delighted to announce that Selvedge has accepted an invitation from the International Folk Art Market to bring a similar event The Selvedge World Fair to a UK audience in July 2020. We are excited and a little apprehensive about the enormity of the challenge ahead and call upon the support and generosity of our readers to assist with the fundraising, to spread the word, encourage artisans to apply and volunteer their time. To find out how to donate and volunteer please see

In the issue, we visit New Mexico’s key sights with the Alexander Girard Folk Art collection and the wardrobe of Georgia O’keeffe. We also celebrate the work of artisans who will be exhibiting at the Selvedge World Fair in London, including Porfirio Gutierrez from Mexico and Bhairvi's Chikan from India. Also in this issue, we explore the ideas around cultural appropriation, as well as the British tradition of Morris Dancing. In the more immediate future, we will be visiting Bath again on 30th March and I hope to see you there.

Polly Leonard, Founder



My love of handmade textiles grew out of my training as a poet. In every cloth I touch, I sense the narrative being told by its maker. Sometimes it’s an everyday sort of conversation, and sometimes it’s an intense tale of imagination and survival. Sometimes, like Porfirio Gutierrez’s modern Zapotec rugs, it’s a story of holding on to what’s important from the past — even as the maker invents and reinvents himself in the context of an everchanging world.


Hou im


As an Art Historian, it was a great surprise to me that my research took me into the world of textiles. My mother had taught me to sew, as all mothers did in the 1940s, and I made an occasional skirt and at least one dress. But I quickly learned that I could find off the peg clothes that pleased me and out went the pincushions and pinking shears. But these bumbling, teenage experiences with cloth helped me appreciate what Georgia O’Keeffe accomplished with her needle and thread as a young woman.


For me textiles are sensual texts where one can touch and feel the history of a place and the talent of its people. I am especially fond of textiles woven with hand-spun yarn where I can feel the imperfect touch of the maker, their daily struggles, the traces of their rural lifestyle. One of my favourite pieces is a Mexican huipil made on the Coast of Oaxaca using handspun cotton dyed with indigo, and cochineal. Its geometric structure, the sacred colours of Mexico and even the smell of the earth and the sea, make it a real treasure.


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