Time for a Handkerchief…handmade, of course!

Being a regular dog-walker and outdoor person, there are many occasions when a good old fashioned handkerchief would be just the ticket. Launder once a week or sooner if you like. Took the quest to heart and searched for some women’s handkerchiefs and found that they are simply unavailable in local stores. So, I decided to make some, — a great way to share a little eco-conscious gesture with friends, family, and those who want to make the purchase at Iowa Artisans Gallery or on its website.

The challenge: a handkerchief that is attractive enough but can withstand regular washing with ordinary clothes. The solution: use 100% cotton (batiste) handkerchiefs, available in lots of a dozen at Dharma Trading. Look at some of my 36 silk screens and use several to print using Pro-Chemical’s pro-fab textile paint, heat set and wash. Avoid using dyes which complicate the laundering-in-all-temperatures and with-all-clothes mission. Labels printed on New Leaf’s 100% recycled paper using banana fiber waste (available at Office Depot). Note: all images are based on my own drawings. Here are the results.

When I was ready to post this piece, I ran across the acceptance speech that Roumanian novelist Herta Muller recently gave at the ceremony honoring her Nobel Prize for Literature. Entitled, Every word knows something of a vicious circle, Herta begins this lecture, “DO YOU HAVE A HANDKERCHIEF was the question my mother asked me every morning, standing by the gate to our house, before I went out onto the street. I didn’t have a handkerchief…” It’s a touching and compelling piece detailing life in iron-curtain era Romania. Born in 1953, Muller and I are the same age – her young years are very different from mine.

By the way, my handkerchiefs are not ecologically perfect- they are hem-stitched in China and the cotton is not organic. I am on an organic cotton quest for my own art quilts- this is still carried on in conjunction with people like Harmony Susalla, but there are trade-offs in getting all of us to adopt new habits, and moderation in price and availability are a major incentives.

PS- the crow design came about from watching crows eat the discarded, old popcorn in the snow, —from my kids’ Sesame Street-time snacks. The kids are gone. The silk screen lives on.