by Sharon Cooper Murray
The Community Rag Quilting Preservation Initiative is an emerging nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the Gullah textile tradition of rag quilting and developing employment opportunities based on the cottage industry model. I often speak about the cottage industry concept and have found that many people have never heard of this work model. I decided to introduce this work model in my article this month.
The Cottage Industry model was prominent in England during the 17th and 18th centuries and was based on the law of supply and demand. It has been termed by some as capitalism in its earliest stages and by others as a “Putting-out” system. Merchants and other innovative individuals served as coordinators providing the raw material to the workers. While mainly rural workers manufactured by hand cotton and wool into cloth. The workers performed their tasks from their home thus the name Cottage Industry was adopted as the title for this work force.
The process for a textile cottage industry consists of six primary steps:
Rural workers were professionals with unique skills. The workers generally owned their equipment, worked from their homes and had control of the pace, amount and quality of their work. They generally performed these tasks during the non-farming season. The cottage industry model was primarily used for textiles.
Today we look to the cottage industry model of the past as a strategy to promote sustainable preservation and create employment opportunities. The Community Rag Quilting Preservation Initiative seeks to establish this model and fortunately our close proximity to Charleston, South Carolina affords us a unique opportunity to introduce rag quilting to our state, national and international visitors
We invite you to view the work of rag quilting artisans from Wadmalaw and Johns Island, South Carolina. Upon review it is our hope that you find these pieces as interesting and creative as we do and that you would contact us at 843-471-5130 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also invite you to like us on FB at The Gullah Lady. We offer workshops and lecture/demonstrations and are eager to share Rag Quilting with you and your community. Until next time....