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Writer,Quilt maker,Folkartist, from Freestone County, Tx.


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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Reversible Improvisational Shawl commissioned by First Lady,Michelle Obama as a gift for First Lady Kim Yoon-ok of Korea.

See more of Laverne's quilts at the link below:


Kristina Kim and Dosa Staff members displaying  the American 
side of  the reversible  patchwork shawl to be given to the First Lady 
of Korea ,Kim Yoon-ok....by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Side one created from 38 patchwork panels constructed by Laverne 
Brackens ,African American Quilter of  Fairfield, Texas.

Side two...all white Korean patchwork  designed by Christina Kim of  


The shawl has two sides, one inspired by traditional Korean patchwork and the other an example of American improvisational quilting, ideally representing the coming together  of two peoples and two cultures.

The white patchwork side of the shawl represents Korea. Designer Christina Kim, a Korean-American, has long been interested in reuse, the employment of leftover materials and mending. Her childhood memories of Korea, a time of relative poverty not long after the war, are colored by an appreciation for the scarcity of material objects and an awareness of the need to care for them. But the notion of husbandry or mending was not merely utilitarian; it was also akin to aesthetic expression. The effort to artfully repair and object ,no matter how modest, suggested an appreciation for the beauty of the original and of the labor taken to produce it. Mending did not necessarily imply a seamless restoration; a repair could be clearly visible or completed with materials different from those of the item being repaired. Mending demanded effort, often handwork, skillfully applied. The visible mark of a well made repair could enhance the complexity and beauty of an object. Patchwork was often used to mend textiles, especially,jogakbo, a traditional Korean patchwork said to result from the resourceful employment of small, odd-shaped pieces left over after cutting the curved silhouettes of the hanbok garment from bolts of fabric. The use of varied and subtle shades of white also reference Korea, in particular, the muted whites of Yi Dynasty porcelain ceramics, a refined aesthetic, deliberately imperfect, expressing an affinity to nature. The irregular fabric pieces used for the patchwork shawl were cut from swatches and sample garments. This side has been hand embroidered with the hibiscus, the national flower of Korea.

The side of the shawl representing the US is sewn from remnants of quilted textiles made by Laverne Brackens to which roses have been embroidered. Brackens, from a six-generation line of quilt makers, practices a style of improvisational quilt making with a long tradition among African-American women across the South. She works some of her patterns out as she sews; others, she says,come to her in her dreams. Brackens' quilts have been shown in numerous museum exhibits nationwide and this year she was honored as a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment of the Arts. In 2004, Christina Kim asked Brackens to make one-of-a-kind fabric panels for Kim's colthing and housewares company, dosa, using off-cuts the company had collected in its sewing factory the previous five years. Brackens reworked bags of loose scraps reflecting the dosa color palette into something fresh and uniquely her own. Inspired individual expression is at the heart of improvisational quilt making as it is for many iconic American art forms; indeed, individual expression is often thought essential to the idea of what it means to be an American. Brackens' bold,colorful textiles were used to make shoulder bags, cushions, pillows and other items in the dosa line. Any off-cuts or leftovers were sorted and saved for future projects. Thirty-eight remnants of Brackens' textiles were sewn together for the American side of the shawl. Images of American roses, varieties both cultivated and wild, were hand embroidered on this side. A flower prized by American gardeners and botanists since colonial times; the rose is America's national flower.

Embrodered rose for the American side of the patchwork shawl.

One of Laverne Brackens' Improvisational Quilts.

Laverne Arella Brackens
b. 1927. From Fairfield, Texas.
2011 National Endowment for the Arts 
Fellowship Award recipient.


Dosa Designer bag created from African American Improvisational
Patchwork panels created by Laverne Brackens.

Scraps of cloth saved and recyled into patchwork by Dosa ,Inc.

The creative composition in its beginning stages.

Cutting and Sewing process.

Ironing and Inspecting Side One.

Side One front and back.

Signing the artwork is of utmost importance.

Beginning stages of  Side two-Korean Patchwork.

Side two piecing completed.

Side one and two laid out on table together.

The embrodery process.

Creating a protective covering for the shawl.

Finished Product....Sides one and two.

Shawl in its protective envelope.


Christina Kim, American, b.1957, Seoul, Korea, immigrated to US 1971; designer & owner of dosa, a Los Angeles-based company that designs and manufactures clothing  and housewares; years working with dosa; 28. Project responsibilities: concept, design, research, quilting and embroidery. Time spent on project: 5 days.

Hendrika Lamers, American, b. 1933, Wierden, Netherlands, immigrated to US 1958; educator, home economist, textiles, knitting, embroidery and applique, mother; years working with dosa: 13. Project responsibiities: hibiscus flower embroidery. Time spent on project: 2 days.

Irma Gudiel, American, b. 1953, Guatemala City, Guatemala, immigrated to US 1976; sample maker, mother; years working with dosa: 15. Project responsibilities: single needle sewing. Time spent on project: 1 day.

Jill Spurgin, American, b. 1930, Cheltenham, England; immigrated to US 1966; fiber artist, educator, mother. Her daughter, Karen, has worked with dosa for 15 years as an associate designer. Project responsibilties: rose blossom embroidery. Time spent on project: 2 days.

Mona Shah, Indian, b. 1966, Ahmedabad, India; testile designer; years working with dosa: 8. Project responsibiities: hibiscus flower embroidery. Time spent on project: 4 days.

Norma Galindo, American, b. 1961, Durango, Mexico; sample cutter, mother;years working with dosa: 4.5. Project responsibilities: fabric cutting. Time spent on project: 1/2 day.

Yoo~on Ahn, American, b. 1958, Seoul, Korea; immigrated to US 1984; quilter, seamstress, mother; years working with dosa: 24. Project responsibilities: jogakbo (Korean patchwork), embroidery. Time spent on project: 3 days.

Additional team members: Amanda Pulido, Caroline Jurovic, Elena Chien, Holly Smith, Jennifer Cheh, Lisa Faith, Meghan Murphy, Karen Spurgin.

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