The Empowerment Circle

 Global Shokunin's resident cultural anthropologist, Tiger (yes, that's her name) who is a researcher by day, moonlights as a rescuer of animals and has a passion for artisan crafts.  She recently attended a weekly handcrafting circle at Gotham Quilts (GQ), a fabric store specializing in quilter’s cotton and sewing supplies.  GQ is owned and operated by two Shokunins, Andrea and Ivete who call themselves "fabric nerds" and decided that even in a big city, a store modeled on sustainable growth could germinate and thrive. Instead of getting a business loan, they both saved and invested an equal amount and brought their talents to the table. Andrea is a textile designer and Ivete is a computer programmer. They met years ago at one of Andrea’s quilting classes when Ivete fell so hard for quilting, she finished three quilts during a 6-week class. 

Image source: Ivetes first quilt

They have been great friends ever since, and that was the birth of Gotham Quilts. They believed that NYC & modern quilters everywhere were waiting for a store like Gotham Quilts and they were absolutely right! 

The founders Andrea (left) Ivete (right)

They host regular evening craft circles with only one requirement, the project must be worked on by hand.  So, the sewing machines stay in their cubbies and electronics except cameras are left at home. There were six other women besides Tiger that night at the workshop. Nanette worked on quilt blocks she made using free form embroidery based on watercolors she had created. Eva was piecing together a block for a Dear Jane Quilt. The original Dear Jane quilt is a civil war era quilt made by Jane Stickle, which now resides in at the Bennington Museum in Vermont. It is comprised of 169 blocks that are five inches square surrounded by 56 triangular border blocks with each block being an original non-repeating design. There is an astounding total of 5,602 pieces in this quilt. One quilter became so fascinated by the designs she recreated the quilt for herself and published the designs that have now been copied by thousands all over the world.

 Image source: Image of Original Dear Jane Quilt

Tara was working on cutting up fabric for a doll and showing off one of the pineapple pincushions she made for friends and family during the holidays. They had a group discussion about what is the best type of filling to use (rice or flax seeds) that would not attract mice.
Sara was decorating a small wall quilt with beads she was about to enter into a Quilt show the following day.  We now have plans on attending the quilt show to see Sara’s quilt completed.
Reina was concentrating on making piecework tassels for a jewelry manufacturer who could always use more skilled laborers. While our team member worked on her knitting project, she has knitted multiple Pussy Hats during the Women’s marches this year.

It wasn’t until the next morning that Tiger realized the importance of this amazing cultural practice she had been party to and decided to share her experience with our readers. Tiger felt that while it may not have been the most productive evening, the company and the conversation nourished her soul. The women at the craft circle exchanged ideas and gained inspiration for their next projects, learned of new sources for their supplies, discussed upcoming craft events, and even a potential new job. 

Tiger felt like she had taken part in an important tradition that perpetuates globally and creates support networks for women. And what made the evening more special was the feline discussions since Tiger lives with her menagerie of furry paws in Brooklyn, including her cats, LilyBeth & Tiger Jr. (aka JamPot) in the image below. Other cats are Shaynahleh (beautiful little girl), Isabella Blessing, Dott & Merx.  She also fosters Tito, Cookie & Cocoa (the snack twins) who are looking for their forever homes.

Tigers Cats LilyBeth & Tiger Jr. (aka JamPot)

LilyBeth on quilts

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