Natural dyeing. The process behind the label


Five years after typhoon Haiyan, weavers from Basey, Philippines are still weaving their lives together.


Viahera stands for fairly made, fairly sourced and above all ethically produced accessories.The process is the base foundation of Viahera’s products and naturally dyed plant fibres are used to create beautiful accessories like scarves and bags.

In her own words, designer Jeanny Buan explains the process and here is what she says:

  1. The process starts with harvesting the raw material- pandan, abaca or tikog when it reaches the proper maturity. Younger plants are not used as they tend to be shorter and softer.
  2. Removal of thorns- the sides of the leaves are manually sliced off, leaving just the middle part.
  3. Drying- Depending on the weather, the leaves are sun dried between 2-7 days. The hotter it is, the faster it dries up. This poses a problem during typhoon season (end of May- September) as the weavers cannot constantly dry the raw material
  4. Flattening/ pounding manually using flat sticks- the dried leaves are manually pounded and flattened using logs of wood in order to prepare for weaving
  5. Drying- 2nd drying process that can take 2-7 days depending on the weather
  6. Plant based dyeing process- the dried leaves are submerged in dye. This can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
  7. Drying- Dyed leaves are sun dried for the third time
  8. Flattening- To ensure that the consistency of the thickness and width is the same, the dyed leaves are flattened again and then cut into equal portion of strands
  9. Weaving- Once the weavers have lined up the dried and dyed leaves, the make the designs according to Viahera’s requirement

An experienced weaver holding freshly harvested tikog grass


  1. Plant based dyes are manually planted in a local farm in the Philippines such as indigo, turmeric, mahogany and cogon grass
  2. Dye is extracted by boiling the leaves, barks of trees or the plant itself
  3. Natural yarns made from pineapple fibers or organic Philippine cotton is soaked in the dye- detailed ikat dyeing discussed below
  4. Yarns are air dried
  5. “Warping” is done with hands- this is the process where the yarn is stretched on a loom to ensure the tightness before the weft is manually weaved, this is the first stage of the weaving process.
  6. Heddling and Reeding- Two of the most crucial parts of a loom is the heddle and reed. The heddle allows the warp thread to be separated so the weft can be added while the reed looks like a comb, which is used to push the weft in between the threads during the weaving process. Instead of using a loom, the threads from our scarves are manually inserted one by one.
  7. Weaving- once the heddling and reeding is done and the design is finalizes, it is then tightened using a loom.



Ikat is a beautiful dyeing process which is widely seen in South Asian and South American countries. It is a dyeing technique where bundles of yarn is wrapped or tied together and dyed as many times as it needs in order to come up with the desired pattern. Unlike other dyeing techniques where the dye is applied to the fabric already after woven, ikat is a process where dye is applied BEFORE the yarn is woven together.

Once the yarn is dyed, it is then sun dried between 2-10 days depending on the weather. After it has dried, the thread is lined up together to form the desired pattern.

Ikat weaving


Shop Viahera

Can we thread identities through colour?

As an immigrant myself I am well aware of the shifts and turns of an ongoing identity that finds its way through language structures, social behavior and a constructed understanding of what surrounds us.


A dislocation of the self, as painful as it may be, can also lead to a break through of the system opening up new possibilities that may lead to productive shifting mechanisms operating within our environment.

Engaging the viewer/consumer in a process of questioning and considering is what drives my interest in terms of empathy for the making. Empathy for the process, empathy for the wearer who will ultimately engage and react to the object. A visceral reaction… because it was created from a visceral set of experiences. Without a reaction from the viewer/user I believe there is no purpose to Fashion. Fashion with a purpose, Fashion made FROM empathy through its process of creation FOR the consumer/viewer/user, Fashion made to last, Fashion made to question. A piece of clothing that engages, that formulates ideas and connections and takes the consumer to a place of participation.

Any aspect of tangible Fashion starts with a thread. A thread that might become cloth, a thread that might become an embroidered embellishment, a thread that has colour, a thread that has life and means something because it was spun and dyed by someone. Who made this thread? Who coloured this thread? where does the colour come from?

Part of my studio practice is the ongoing research in terms of materials. Locality has become an important aspect of my work as I keep developing a sense of belonging within my adopted environment.  I have started a dye garden a year ago and I am producing my own colours extracting the dye from my plants. It is a rewarding and a very satisfying process which generates no toxic waste and assists me to reflect about the love and empathy I have for process.

Working in my studio threading my identity through textile narratives




Weaving social links

Jeanny Buan

A lot has been said about the eco – friendly fashion movement and its efforts and strategies to put an end to practices that harm the environment. However, we are not talking enough about the communities who were once affected by this global over industrialized world and we are definitely not doing enough to re build them.

Weaving social links within the Philippines indigenous female communities is what drives Viahera’s founder and designer Jeanny Buan. Having grown up in Cordillera, Philippines, she knows first – hand what it means to struggle every day for the bare basics and has made social responsibility, ethical practices and sustainable values her main focus within her design practice.
Viahera story begins in 2011 when Jeanny Buan moved to Canada. The beauty of this new environment sparked a love for traveling and hiking in the wilderness, but it also made her aware of the importance of preserving and sustaining our world. And so, as Jeanny traveled around the idea of Viahera was born.

“I chose the name Viahera, also spelled Viajera which means “Female traveller” in Spanish. This name is close to my heart as I am mixed race with a blend of Filipino, Spanish and Chinese”, Jeanny explains.

Fashion and Heart had the opportunity to sit down with Jeanny and this is a little snippet of what she told us:
Fashion and Heart: “You already told us about your passion for sustaining our environment but where does the drive to create a brand that fosters sustaining indigenous traditional crafts come from?”
Jeanny Buan: “In 2013, two disasters occurred which totally impacted my views on  fashion and its implications for women and nature. First, typhoon Haiyan devastated Philippines and left over 10,000 people dead and shortly after the factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed over 1,000 employees. It made me think of a potential solution that can help women inspire other women to dress up without harming the environment. VIAHERA WAS BORN. Viahera is an eco friendly brand of handbags and scarves made by Indigenous women from my home country Philippines in Cordillera, Cebu, Negros and Basey; and accessories which are locally handmade in Saskatoon, Canada. Our aim is to back to the community.”
Fashion and Heart: “What are Viahera’s core values?”
Jeanny Buan: “Respect, commitment to the environment, giving back to the community, inclusion and creating opportunity.”
Fashion and Heart: “Can you tell us about your “giving back to the community” strategy?”
Jeanny Buan: “Viahera gives back to the communities where we do business and where our products are made. In Philippines we pay for the tuition, monthly allowance and one extra curricular activity for three grade 7 Viahera scholars; we pay fairly to the weavers who are making the products, we raise awareness about weavers from Philippines in social media and we have an Annual giving- For the whole month of January and February, where proceeds from the sale of any pink product (wallet, handbag, headband, coin purse or scarf) goes to the Red Cross Pink Day program (bullying prevention education). In Canada we focus on the importance of immigrant inclusion and creating opportunity by employing skilled refugees or new Canadians that can help them gain confidence and experience in the Canadian workforce.”

Leticia Sab-it, Ruth Sanoy and Jeanny Buan at Pines City National high School.

Thousands of kids in Phillippines are unable to go to school due to poverty. Jeanny Buan was a government scholar while attending High School. Her company has developed a scholar system with Pines National High School to give back to the community where her product is made.

Fashion and Heart: “How are these values connected with your upbringing in the Philippines?”
Jeanny Buan: “I was able to finish my education through scholarships and I feel that I have the moral obligation to “pay it forward” and provide students the same opportunity that I had when I was a child. In terms of respect, my family, being mixed race, treated everyone with respect regardless of how they looked like or what language they speak. I owe it to my family for raising me to look beyond skin colour. In regards to the environment, I grew up not having much, we only had water from the tap three times a week so we would fill big tanks with water to have enough supply for the whole week. Some of my neighbors did not have electricity, we “re-used, reduced and recycled” so caring for the environment came naturally to me.”

Florentina coin purse $20 Canadian dollars. Photo by: Titanium Photography.

Flora Wallet $35 Canadian Dollars. Models: Aida Gossa, Melissa Cheetham and Kyarra Sumners-Daniel, hairstylist: Tina Monz, Make up: Hisa Quian, Photo by: Colin Chatfield

Click here to shop Viahera

Upcycling textile waste…through recycled old jumpers

Upcycling is defined as : Reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original; ‘the opportunity to upcycle trash, or turn it into new products…’. Oxford Dictionaries (
Recycling is defined as: Convert (waste) into reusable material; ‘car hulks were recycled into new steel’. Oxford Dictionaries (
Upcycling old jumpers through recycling wool is exactly what Sue Reed does through her business The Woolly Pedlar. A former school teacher, Sue has devoted the last few years to creating this wonderful brand which is an opportunity for exploring ways of repurposing fabric waste. Her creative process involves working with the material and allowing the quality of the wool to define how she uses it within the final garment. Armed with an over locker machine and a lot of passion to sustain a better way of producing and creating, Sue works from her studio in beautiful Northumberland, England creating beautiful one of a kind pieces.

Fashion and Heart had the opportunity to interview Sue Reed and here is what she told us…

Sue Reed

Mapuche weaving, warping lives.

Urdimbre de peinecilla, flotaciones alternadas, doble faz.

A recount of my personal experience in Mapuche weaving during some very cold days of July 2017 in Buenos Aires.

Part of my fascination with Mapuche weaving is engrained in its inherent complexity both in the finished product and in its process. I have always admired Mapuche textiles mainly through its cultural significance but I never had a good understanding of its process. Understanding the sacred quality of these textiles meant that I needed to weave my way through the process of weaving, feeling the threads in my hands, touching and discriminating a warp end from another. The way the warp ends alternate creates a rhythm, a cycle in the weaving process. There is an order, a hierarchy to be respected. An ancient knowledge and tradition that comes through by the understanding of the technique and which brought tears to my eyes by the simple act of weaving my understanding through the wool yarns.

A very simple loom is used (witral) which is a big rectangle made by two vertical sticks (wuicha wuichawe) and two horizontal (quilwos). These sticks are the ones holding the warp. Smaller round sticks are also used in the process of warping and the upper one (raninelhue) will remain throughout the weaving process to separate different layers in the warp.

Betty Taranto and Jorge Mari are two wonderful teachers who have devoted their careers to learning and teaching Mapuche weaving techniques. They have been passionate enough to recover long lost techniques by studying old textiles, and they have been playing an important social role in promoting Mapuche knowledge, appreciation and understanding. They are currently working with Artesanias Neuquen in a series of workshops which aims to help Mapuche weavers to recover traditional techniques which haven’t been passed on from older to younger generations.

I spent three six hour days with Betty Taranto and Jorge Mari in a wonderful warm environment in which I was able to discover not only the techniques I was craving to learn but also I was able to discuss some aspects of the Mapuche weavers daily lives.

I learnt three techniques: Urdido circular suplementaria, Nimin laboreo forzado con base de peinecilla and tubular doble tela.

As a weaver myself I was able to judge the level of difficulty of these techniques. Mapuche weaving knowledge is engrained in its own culture, its own way of being and living. It became apparent when I sat in front of a witral that time needed to slow down, that my intuition needed to be engaged and that my mind/body coordination needed to be in the present moment. As part of the tubular doble tela I was challenged with the many cruzes needed for a weft pass as well as struggling with the warp ends to discriminate which ones needed to be in front to be able to draw. When I was able to brake down the technique into understandable meaningful steps I was half way through the faja. I found that this weaving knowledge could only be acquired by observation of the process and by the actual process itself. It confirmed that Mapuche weaving is a language in itself, with its linguistic characteristics that need to be understood within the context of the process…

It opened my eyes to what is yet to come. We need to sustain what has been in order to imagine what will be.

Urdimbre suplementaria, doble faz aparente.


For more information about how to learn Mapuche weaving please click here

and click here





















Luca Broccolini celebrates sustainability through a circular design modus operandi…

Beanie, deadstock organic cotton, lined with deadstock NZ merino NZ$ 46. Scarf , deadstock 100% NZ merino NZ$45.

For sustainable brand Luca Broccolini’s owners Jenni Scoble and Jodi Soni, circular design is at the heart of their philosophy. Empathy for the process, empathy for the makers and the wearers is evident when you step into their whimsical world of beautiful wools and playful deigns which evoke a sense of nostalgia and connection with our planet.

As explained by Dr. Anna Brismar in  2017,  ‘Circular fashion’ can be defined as clothes, shoes or accessories that are designed, sourced, produced, and provided with the intention to be used and circulated responsibly and effectively in society for as long as possible in their most valuable form, and hereafter return safely to the biosphere when no longer of human use.’

This way of designing can be challenging but can also provide a mindset which has the potential for truly magical and transparent results. This is the case of New Zealand childrenswear brand, Luca Broccolini…and this is what happened when Fashion and Heart sat with owners Jenni Scoble and Jodi Soni to find a bit more about their brand:


Fashion and Heart: “ Where does the drive to create a brand devoted to a circular fashion system come from?”

Jenni and Jodi: “We care about our Earth a lot. We ride bikes, grow as many vegies, herbs, berries and fruit as we can, buy second hand and sew many of our own clothes.  In general, we try to step lightly on our planet.  Our personal values have formed the foundation on which our business is built.”

Co founder Jenni Scoble

Fashion and Heart: “What materials do you use and why?”

Jeni and Jodi: “We only use deadstock, salvaged, vintage, and pre-loved fabrics. This is because we believe there is more than enough fabric in circulation already and we don’t want to support the production of new textiles, contributing to an already overloaded industry.”

“We also believe in encouraging kids to develop a respect and appreciation for slow fashion, as a way of helping to look after our planet – hence our tagline – ‘ Kids! Wear Your Greens’. A great place to help kids start, is by developing a connection to the clothes they wear.  The vintage wool we use for our jackets and bonnets was made here in New Zealand.  Most people had a few of these blankets in their linen cupboard and can conjure up stories of these familiar and nostalgic blankets.”

Co founder Jodi Soni

Fashion and Heart: “When did you start the brand Luca Broccolini?”

Jenni: “We talked about the idea for many years, but Jodi was living in Melbourne, and we couldn’t do much more than think about it. When Jodi moved back to Hawke’s Bay we bought the industrial machines, sourced the fabric and started sewing two years ago.”

Jodi: “The great thing about working with Mum is that we complement each other perfectly. She is the doer and I’m the thinker.  I had been sitting on the idea of starting my own business for about 15 years, but it wasn’t until I moved back to New Zealand, and Mum got on board, that it finally happened. Luckily all those years I spent thinking about aspects of the potential business weren’t wasted, as it gave us a clear vision of how our brand was going to look and operate.”


Fashion and Heart: “Why childrenswear?“

Jenni: “Jodi has a very active son who is extremely hard on clothes. He is forever going through the knees of his pants, splitting seams, and unravelling hems.  This is what inspired us to make durable, comfortable unisex kids clothes -sustainably.”

Jodi: “Having a son who thrashes his clothes highlighted for me the issue of durability. On our garments, knee and elbow patches come standard, we reinforce stress points, tape and top-stitch shoulder seams, and box stitch all binding joins, to name just a few areas we pay special attention to. We run our sizes big. We want kids to get as much wear as possible out of the clothes we make. We encourage our garments to be passed on to siblings or friends when they’re eventually grown out of.”

Tee, deadstock 100% cotton NZ$85. Bags from hand woven slaughter free NZ wool NZ$40

Fashion and Heart: “You process your own wool, what exactly do you do?

Jenni: “We used to live in the country, and I had five pet sheep – Amberly, Toto, Chocolate, Petal and Wild Thing (the strong-willed one).  As well as being great lawn mowers, they provided beautiful wool for my spinning and weaving. The girls lived long, happy lives with no fear of ending up in the deep freeze or on the dinner table as our family are all vegetarians.  Using wool from happy sheep who were not for slaughter is important to us. They were shorn twice a year, and the wool accumulated quickly.  We have bags of it stored in our loft studio, which I am working through. We also dye usin natural dyes. We love natural colours.  I have used bark, walnut shells, berries, and onion skins to get lovely earthy colours and we currently have weld plants growing in the garden, so next summer we can create a turmeric coloured dye to play with.”

Jodi: “The gentle sound of the spinning wheel was almost the soundtrack to my childhood. Mum would take her spinning wheel out into the garden while my brothers and I played. Now my little guy runs around outside while we work, and it’s a lovely feeling of something having come full circle. I still find it a very relaxing sound, and love working in the studio listening to the clickety clicks of mum on the spinning wheel.”

Fashion and Heart: “Where can we buy Luca Broccolini clothes?”

Jenni and Jodi: You can find us on Luca Broccolini

Bonnets, vintage NZ wool lined with vintage cotton blend NZ65. Jackets, vintage NZ wool lined with vintage cotton blend NZ$ 185






Profiling emerging jewellery designer Ximena Ferre

Ximena Ferre




For jewellery designer, Ximena Ferre, her pieces are all about questioning our perceptions of beauty and value. Through traditional jewellery processes she creates the illusion of socially accepted ideas of value while contrasting these with her choice of materials. Transforming the public’s perception of plastic is at the core of this collection and what has driven Ximena Ferre’s  work for the last year. This is how she does it.

Collection name: “From Rags to Riches”

Sustainable design strategy: Up-cycling, recycling, waste re-purposing.

Process and materials: By cutting, filling and embedding perspex recycled pieces, which were recovered from waste,  Ximena crafts them into contemporary jewellery pieces. Silver is cleverly utilized to create the desired illusion of fine and precious materials. Her fine craftsmanship results in pieces which challenges our associations with plastic by changing its appearance and associating it with valuable materials such as onyx and ebony.

Transparency: Ximena crafts all her pieces in her studio at home and enjoys showing her customers the development of each of her pieces. She outsources machinery and equipment within New Zealand as required. Her value chain is constantly expanding and improving as she develops links and contacts in terms of her material purchases.

Where to buy: e mail:

rings, silver and perspex

Rings, silver and perspex

Underside of brooch.

Brooch, silver and perspex

Solar dyeing process

In her book “Slow Stitch”, Claire Wellesley-Smith, talks about the process of slow solar dyeing. Part of my slow practice has always involved dyeing, printing and painting of the textile medium, however I had never tried using solar power as the medium to fix natural dye to the fibre. As I mentioned before, my process is becoming more and more sustainable as time passes. I am now growing my own dye garden which has become a very enjoyable part of my textile process. I felt it was time to try the solar dyeing method and this is what happened:

White yarn immersed in water and 1/2 a teaspoon of allum powder and two french marigolds.

White merino yarn immersed in water with 1/2 teaspoon of allum powder and coffee grounds









Yarn in coffee grounds after 5 days exposed to the sun

Yarn in French Marigold after 5 days exposed to the sun









Opening the jar with the marigolds for the first time after 5 days…








Opening the jar with coffee for the first time after 5 days…

Yarn in coffee before rinsing…

After a good rinse…marigold (left), coffee (right).