The Opposite Of Patchwork = Holework?

I believe from our use of the word ‘patchwork’, surviving ancient textile remnants and the myths and legends that surround the notions of traditional patchwork, that it all originated in the world of mending.

As a newbie in the world of quiltmaking, I learned how to draft and construct traditional American geometric patchwork patterns to any size.  Like most, I was instantly hooked, and still love a well made traditional quilt.  However, since I met freehand or improvisational piecing, that has been my go-to technique. in which fundamentally line is a seam, think it, do it.

From my family background, and standard for my age, came education in the practical skills of sewing, mending and dressmaking, from a mother who believed every woman needed to know how to use a sewing machine for her home and family.

From my early interest in stitch and its potential as creative embroidery came appreciation of applique techniques in textile art.

I’ve been consciously thinking of holes for some time, but realise now that I’m considering ‘patch’ as the opposite of ‘hole’ and in fact have already unwittingly combined them:


So should works featuring holes be called lace, or ‘holework’?

3 Responses to “The Opposite Of Patchwork = Holework?”

  1. Pat Findlay says:

    I wonder if the difference/ definition of the Holes vs lace would be based on the method of construction of each. Holes are created in a substance, such as a textile, while Lace requires the construction of a substance around an area that becomes open.

  2. Alison says:

    Yes Pat, I’m sure you’re onto something with ‘intent’ though not all holes arise from intended actions, do they? I have said before that at times I wonder whether the chief characteristic of ‘lace is the holes or the medium in which the those occur – intentional or not let’s just say. Doreen Bayley’s sculptural basketry, see my previous post, had me reading through her statements in various online places to learn that the interior spaces in her basketry constructions, which she calls ‘enclosed volume’, are her principal concern. Thinking about this has given rise to further thought on ‘lace’. I’ve previously pondered whether ‘holes’ or the medium of its construction (which surround the holes) are the principal characteristic of ‘lace’. And to this I could now add, thanks to your comments, does ‘lace’ require deliberate intent?

  3. Pat Findlay says:

    Good question. Certainly, in nature, we see the creation of “lacey” appearances, be it through decay or action of the elements. Both of those, in my opinion, lack deliberate intent, but do result in the creation of holes. How are we defining “lace”? I tend to think that what we generally refer to as being “lace” suggests an element of repetition, or pattern, that would require a degree of “intent”.

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