Blog Post: Katie Schwab 

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L:R: Quilt in progress; Risograph print; Quilt sample; Floor mat in progress (indigo dyed cotton dustsheets. Fabric dyed with Sarah Johnson); Knotted sample (cotton warp); Dulux paint samples; Quilt Sample; 100% post-consumer recycled polyethelene; Quilt

Blog Post: Katie Schwab


19 June 2018

The accompanying text is a series of notes that detail some of the research behind the works.


  • This perfectly wretched quilt has nothing to recommend it technically or historically: its top was very crudely and incompetently made around the turn of the century; its elements were imprecisely measured and assembled, the blocks badly joined at the inner borders and the design schemes of those bands haphazardly violated; its color combinations show a complete disregard for, or inability to create, chromatic grace or harmony. [1]

  • ICI was formed in 1926 following the merger of four major British chemical companies. It’s constituent companies… produced chemicals, dyes, explosives, fertilisers, fibres, nonferrous metals and paints, and the group went on to produce a wider range of chemicals, paints, pharmaceuticals, synthetic fibres (especially polyesters and nylon) and plastics. [2]

  • In 1939 Marianne Straub constructed a Leno weaving employing cellophane for Helios Ltd. [3]

  • Let us assume you have had a sudden urge to plunge into natural dyeing. What cupboard contents might be useful as sources of dye? Spices, teas, herbs, vegetables, berries and fruits all yield color. [4]

  • Plastic… embodies none of the genuine product of the mineral world: foam, fibres, strata… It is a ‘shaped’ substance: whatever its final state, plastic keeps a flocculent appearance, something opaque, creamy and curdled, something powerless ever to achieve the triumphant smoothness of Nature. [5]

  • Recent advances in the production of synthetic fibres and new textile finishes are having a profound effect upon the weaving of cloth. [6]

[1] Jonathan Holstein, Abstract Design in American Quilts. A Biography of an Exhibition (Louisville, Kentucky, The Kentucky Quilt Project, Inc., 1991), p.202

[2] Encyclopaedia Brittanica, Imperial Chemical Industries PLC, URL: (09/06/18)

[3] Fiona McCarthy & Patrick Nuttgens, Eye for Industry (London: Lund Humphries Publishers Ltd., 1986), p.30

[4] Ida Grae, ‘The City Dweller and Natural Dyeing’ in Natures Colors: Dyes from Plants (New York, Macmillan Publishing Co. Ltd., 1974), p.43

[5] Roland Barthes, ‘Plastic’ in Mythologies (London: Vintage, The Random House Group Limited, 2000), p.98

[6] Anni Albers, ‘Weaving, Hand’ in On Weaving (London: Studio Vista Publications, 1974), p.21