Uncovering everyday learning and teaching within the quilting community of Aotearoa New Zealand : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Arts at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Massey University
The Author
This thesis explores the social and cultural phenomenon of everyday learning and teaching within the communal activity of quiltmaking. Home-sewn quilts are rarely associated with the needleworkers’ high level of knowledge and skill; yet, the quilters’ act of knowing is practical, inherently social, and intentional. This research study examines the collaborative processes of “quilting together” to understand cultural patterns of participation; and investigates the participants’ meaning-making experiences to facilitate an analysis of collective knowledge practices. Using an ethnographic methodology, this research investigated the lived experiences of quilters within the situated context of two quilting groups, located in Aotearoa New Zealand. Observations were made of participants’ engagement in quilting activities as they interacted with each other, material artefacts and quilting tools. These observations took place during regular quilting sessions and special events. Interviews were conducted with founding members to gain an understanding of cultural-historical processes, as well as a purposively selected sample of ten participants who shared their personal quilting experiences. Observation notes, conversation commentaries and interview transcripts were analysed in relation to the research question and two guiding questions. Key findings are related to a variety of contextual issues surrounding the process of informal learning and teaching as it materialised through the quilters’ engagement in idiosyncratic community practices: the practices of which are generative of quilting knowledge and vice-versa. Firstly, through social integration quilters developed a sense of belonging and responsibility. Secondly, cultural patterns of social interaction consisted of multi-directional learning with quilters having complementary roles. Thirdly, due to the tacit nature of quilting knowledge, embodied experiences and material mediations were essential for thinking and communicating with others. Fourthly, a constellation of knowledge practices co-existed in the quilting community. Finally, the quilters’ informal learning was organised and supported within the community. The study contributes to a body of locally-based and international research concerned with informal learning and teaching theory, situated in a quilting community-based setting. The emerging conceptual framework, “Apprenticeship Model of Craft Community Learning”, develops and extends participation-based approaches to learning. In addition, the quilters’ collaborative designing process of inquiry advances understanding of knowledge creation within craft maker cultures.
Quilting -- Study and teaching -- New Zealand, Quilting -- Social aspects -- New Zealand, Folk art -- Study and teaching -- New Zealand, Art and society -- New Zealand, Group work in art -- New Zealand, Non-formal education -- New Zealand, Participant observation