The Thimble Project

The Thimble Project is an invitation to honor a woman in your life for the work she does.

Participation is simple:

  1. Think of a woman whose work you want to honor.

  2. Choose a handmade ceramic thimble from the shelf and put it in a black velvet bag.

  3. Leave a thank you note in place of the thimble telling us who you are honoring (first names only, please) and why.

  4. Give the thimble to the woman you wish to honor and thank her for her work.

  5. If you want to share stories or photos of this process, use #thethimbleproject

Questions and answers:

What do you mean by “work”?

For this project, the definition of work is very broad. Women often engage in labor that goes unnoticed or is not recognized as work. For this project, I encourage you to consider the quiet, unseen work a women in your life undertakes in addition to the bolder, more public work she does. Think about the hidden creative, intellectual, and emotional labor the women in your life take on, and, if possible, try to include these less recognized forms of labor in this process.

Why thimbles?

Thimbles are a traditional symbol of women’s work and both the oppression and liberation of women. Needle work like embroidery, cross stitch, quilting, and clothing repair has historically been taken on by women. This kind of work could be completed in the home and required extreme commitments of time and skill. Today the needle crafts are being reclaimed as forms of craftivism (craft as activism) and repurposed as displays of the time and skill women are willing to commit to the cause of social justice for all.

The thimble is a tool for protecting one’s finger from the sharp stab of the needle. In the ongoing battle of women’s work, thimbles are our shields. They remind us that work is dangerous and that we must take care of ourselves and others. In the context of this project I see the acts of recognizing, showing gratitude, and bestowing honor as shields and buffers. They are a kind of thimble, a form of protection from the thousands of sharp little pin pricks working women face each day.

Why beeswax?

Beeswax is often used to waterproof thread and preserve needlework that is being heavily used or exposed to moisture. It is also use to coat the inside of thimbles to provide extra grip. In this project, I am thinking about the thimble as a way of protecting the worker and the beeswax as a way of protecting the work. The messiness and fluidity of the wax also mirrors our not-so-tidy definitions of work.

I am also a beekeeper and have great admiration for the bees—all worker bees are female, by the way—who produced this wax.