Waste Not Want Not: Creating Through Recycling

7 September 2011 to 12 March 2012

Lauren MacDonald curator, under the supervision of Dr. Arlene Oak and Vlada Blinova.

This exhibit was created by the Clothing and Textiles student Lauren MacDonald as a part of her Human Ecology Independent Study course completed in June 2011. Under the supervision of Dr. Arlene Oak and Vlada Blinova, Lauren studied the commodification of hobbies during the Great Depression, with a focus on quilting. The exhibit is an offshoot of the larger project, as it focuses more specifically on how perspectives of recycling are revealed through material reuse in
the Rosenberg Quilt Collection. It looks at relationships between the reuse of textiles and social views on recycling and reuse. It examines how perspectives have changed in the past 80 years.


In the past, materials were reused out of necessity. They could provide useful and beautiful goods for little cost. Textiles were expensive, so quilts could often be constructed for much less than the price of a blanket. Today, perspectives on recycling have shifted. It is no longer a necessity for most people. People recycle for many reasons; because they care about the environment, because there is financial benefit, or because it is convenient. The development of disposable single use
textile products such as paper towels and hand wipes made reusing textiles for household purposes somewhat obsolete. The garments on display are made entirely from recycled materials, including books of discontinued fabric samples, bed sheets and old shirts. They explore traditional quilting techniques such as piecing, as well as machine and hand embroidery. Lauren used these techniques and materials to relate the garments to the larger issues explored in the project.
She tried to imagine how these quilts were constructed; the process of putting together small, forgotten pieces to form a unified whole. Designing these garments forced Lauren to challenge her pre-existing ideas about materials and techniques used in garment construction.