Date of this Version
Published in Textile Society of America 2014 Biennial Symposium Proceedings: New Directions: Examining the Past, Creating the Future, Los Angeles, California, September 10–14, 2014,
In the city formerly known as Canada’s Steeltown, the economic recession of the 1990s, suburban sprawl, and the collapse of Hamilton’s steel industry had a devastating impact on the city’s vitality. An exodus of commercial retail and corporate tenancy from the core of the city left many buildings vacant. In the last decade, Hamilton’s creative community has emerged as a major force in downtown renewal, neighbourhood building, and civic engagement and pride. How do histories of manufacturing and processes of deindustrialization permeate local maker culture? How does a city’s history of industrial production intertwine with contemporary local craft and textile-based initiatives and activity? This paper will examine intersections of textiles, DIY and place among artists and craftspeople in Downtown Hamilton. Using Pulling Strings, a collective and its quarterly textile event and lecture series as a vehicle for research and community building, findings will be presented that reflect on the collective’s first year of grassroots work making an accessible and dynamic space for critical dialogue and a place for practitioners from across disciplines to come together around a shared material interest in textiles. This research questions how post-industrial communities carry the collective memory of industry forward into creative practices of the present.