Monday, May 18, 2009

Inspiration: Necessity is the mother of invention ...

Sometimes reading a book can provide inspiration. When very young, I remember seeing this pink booklet – it was only many years later (for a final assessment in a textile course) did it get remembered and provide an initial inspiration for a stitched ‘Make-Do-and-Mend’ project - World War II based.Whether it was the phrase ‘Make-Do-and-Mend’, the iconic doll and logo of ‘Mrs. Sew-and-Sew’ or just something within the contents of the booklet but something inspired research of the topic … and specifically the subject of textiles and fashion during World War II. Maybe because personal memories of ‘MAKING DO’ had always made me question ‘HOW, WHY or WHAT’ but I found the subject fascinating. And initial research soon highlighted something else of particular interest! So to discover more, a greater in-depth investigation and research was needed.

Conducting personal and group interviews (both historians and local residents who could remember what was done during the war ‘to make do’), I also read a variety of narrative and factual books and made samples. This continued with further research of documents and other actual samples in museums and it wasn’t long before a reasonable amount of useful facts, recollections and copies of samples had been collated. (Today I continue to collect snippets of additional information and add to that already recorded.) It also became gradually apparent that one main reason for the lack of previously detailed/recorded information (and samples) was that it had just been lost … burnt during wartime damage - given away (during and after the war) for re-cycling and/or charity events - or just disappeared through wear and tear ! Plus, during the war years 1939-45 or soon after in the 1950-60s rebuilding of the country/countries, it appears to have ‘just vanished’. Many records being swallowed into a variety of ‘lost and forgotten’ company archives – no doubt because it’s content appeared to be of little use in a post-war world.

From information I’ve seen, read and been told … from personal recollections to museum exhibits … from wartime archives to narrative books …I discovered that this particular period of 1939-45 was one of immense imagination and inventiveness. Indeed, “Necessity was the mother of invention” - many people's aims were to brighten up a drab and indefinite wartime existence as well as ensuring all rations lasted for far longer than required. I also discovered that many ideas issued for this war’s use were not new but had also existed during 1914-18 in World War I … they had just been reissued or redesigned!