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In the 20 year period between 1770 and 1790 cotton production in the UK increased ten fold. This marked the beginning of the industrial revolution that eventually changed the way the world’s population lived and worked. Between 1990, when the first website was launched, and today we have seen a similar 20 year period of rapid and fundamental change. Technological growth has been – or at least seemed – all consuming but some of the effects of this radical shift in the way we communicate, connect and consume have been surprisingly ‘cosy’.
Pre-industrial society relied on individual artisans working in rural locations and selling their wares directly to local customers. There was no recourse to a commercial infrastructure of wholesalers and retailers beyond the nearest market town. As populations shifted to urban centres the distance between maker and point of sale increased, first within countries and then on an international scale. Globalization might have the ring of a modern phrase but Charles Taze Russell coined the term 'corporate giants' in 1897 so the idea, and the concerns that surround it, has been around for some time. So who would have expected a computer network first hailed, and reviled, as an anonymous virtual playground would become a route for individuals to connect through a shared love of craft or textiles and rediscover products with a sense of history. Yet incredibly the technical revolution has resulted in craftsmen returning to rural locations, honing their skills and selling their products direct to the customer with the aid of websites like etsy and ebay. Jane Audas explores the resurgence of the artisan in the technological age, pg 50, and we offer advice to makers eager to launch their careers, pg 54.
Thanks to the shrinking global community we have been able to build relationships with makers in all corners of the world, but in this issue we also look at subjects closer to home. Author and broadcaster, Amanda Vickery, explains the significance of linen in the Georgian home, pg 22. While Gloria Nicol shares her love of vintage clothes pegs, pg 16, and Jen Edgar from Eucalan offers us advice on stain removal, pg 19. We try to sweeten the annual spring clean with a round-up of cleaning products, pg 13, that are both useful and beautiful – William Morris would approve. Which leads us neatly to our article on aesthetic dress, pg 38, and a glimpse into Whistler’s love of fashion, pg 96. If they inspire you to live a more ‘beautiful life’ we’d suggest a visit to the Selvedge Spring Fair, Saturday 2nd April see pg 57...
Polly Leonard Editor in Chief
We asked contributors for their favourite website...
AMANDA VICKERY, pg 22
AMY BARICKMAN, pg 20
TIM PARRY-WILLIAMS, pg 88
The photoblog of Finnish artist Liivia Sirola is mystery – I don’t understand Finnish but every post is a hymn to everyday details. Closer to home, loyal mention has to be of the Georgian textiles in my husband's online exhibition, http://vialiivia.blogspot.com, www.threadsoffeeling.com
Amy Powers’ InspireCo. is a creative treasure. I met Amy at a conference and visited her wonderful blog soon after and enjoyed her amazing ezine. A visual feast of modern craft with vintage flair, I found myself wanting to make every project. Be inspired. www.inspireco.com
I’m not a blogger, but have just discovered a Japanese site giving insights into the lives of makers and general musings. In the vein of traditional folk crafts theory. It celebrates hand-made, functional everyday objects, materials and quiet, simple aesthetics. http://teshigoto.jp
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