Weaving and quilting have been practiced throughout history. Both of these traditional arts offer the comfort of ritual and the benefits of relaxing, meditative activity. These arts have been shown to improve concentration, develop fine and gross motor skills and visual/spatial skills, and increase energy.
In my art therapy practice, I have often suggested weaving and quilting activities using collage. Collage doesn’t require any particular fiber arts skills, and collage materials are readily available (magazines, newspapers, photos, cards, cat food labels, etc). Paper can be cut or torn. Throw in a glue stick, maybe a ruler, and you’ve got all you need.
All of these activities (weaving, quilting, and collage) can contribute to reduced depression. Research shows that actually just moving our hands activates areas of our brain’s frontal cortex, leading to increased pleasure.
Weaving involves pattern, texture, and structure. It can be a metaphor for the fabric of our lives. The process accommodates a broad range of content and style.
Quilts , with their associations of sleep and comfort, are made of specific patterns that are pieced together, and thus give clients a template or structure to work within. In addition, they can be practiced as communal activities, with group members contributing squares constructed in the same pattern. These squares are all done in a nine patch pattern, and you can see the range of expression the template encourages.
Without requiring a lot of skills, paper weaving and quilting can promote organization, self-expression, creativity, and satisfaction for clients of all ages.