June 16, 2020 at 2:25 pm

Alumni News | Frisch Reduces Material Waste With Quilting Business

Frisch with the star quilt she made. Courtesy of Janice E. Frisch

by Alex Paoletti ’20

Following graduation, Janice Frisch ’07 studied at Indiana University Bloomington and earned her M.A. in Folklore and her Ph.D. in Folklore. There she had the opportunity to work with the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska for her research on shifts in American quilting styles. Her work was published in the chapter on “Pieced Quilts” in American Quilts in the Industrial Age, 1760-1870, edited by Patricia Cox Crews and Carolyn Ducey.

Afterwards, Frisch worked at Indiana University Press as the Acquisitions Editor for books in Folklore, Music, Film, and Gender Studies. She also volunteered as the sponsorship chair and a board member for the Indiana Heritage Quilt Show. Currently, she owns her own business, Tangible Culture, LLC, which she started in March of 2019. She makes memory quilts, gives lectures and teaches classes on quilt history and quilting techniques. Before designing custom quilts, Frisch works with customers to determine what they would like to see in their quilts. She says she enjoys every part of the process, from the planning to the creation.

Frisch also explained that her custom quilts are zero-waste. She says textile waste is a huge problem in the world right now, and she works hard to reduce the waste produced by her business through recycling old, worn clothing into comfortable quilts that can be passed down through generations and using all the scrap material generated by the process.

Copyright Janice E. Frisch, 2019

“Memory quilts can be many different things, such as a t-shirt quilt made from your college shirts or a throw quilt for your couch made from you mother’s or grandmother’s blouses, sweaters, and pants…” says Frisch.

Frisch’s motivation to help reduce textile waste came in part from a book she read in an anthropology class at Ohio University that discusses global trade and the negative impact of America’s second-hand clothing market on other countries. With any leftover fabric, Frisch makes wall hangings, small lap quilts and play mats that she sells on Etsy. Too-small scraps go to a friend of Frisch’s who uses them to stuff pet beds for her local animal shelter.

Her OHIO Experience

Frisch’s love of material culture began at Ohio University, where she earned her B.A. in History and her B.A. in Anthropology. Through cultural anthropology, archeology, and women’s history courses, she found an interest in the way textile designs move between cultures, continents and mediums. As an undergrad, she worked with the Navajo weaving collections at the Kennedy Museum of Art, which taught her about object-based research and the stories these objects tell. A part of the Honors Tutorial College,  her thesis examined the way Navajo weavers incorporated Euro-American quilt designs into their traditional art form of weaving in the late 1800s.

While conversing with customers for her quilting business, Frisch puts the interview and research skills she learned at OHIO to use. She knows to listen carefully and ask questions to create something she’ll be proud of and her customers will be happy with.

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