Women stitching their lives through cloth

What a treat! We launched the first “Travelling Sewing Box” in partnership with ALAC. It was so fantastic to meet these courageous Latin American immigrant women who spent the day sharing their immigration stories with me, we smiled together, we laughed together, we were sad together and we certainly stitched together.  What a fantastic experience for us all.

A big thank you to our sponsors Ingrid Starnes for donating their workroom waste and Fabric Merchants/Drapers for donating the backing fabric. Also, a big thanks to the Fashion Department at Whitecliffe  College of Arts and Design for donating their own studio waste. We are re purposing all the textile waste by giving it another lease of life, treating each little piece of fabric with respect and love and definitely saving it from landfill. We couldn’t do it without you!!!!!

How to tell a story through fashion, craft and textiles

A very clever lady called Mandy, told me yesterday that we teach best what we most need to learn. This really resonated with me since I have a passion to help people tell their stories through fashion, textiles and crafts but I feel that for the last many years I haven’t been telling mine.

Flowers, marigold and dyers chamomile

The need to document my physical existence in this world has been a burning driving force behind my creative practice since I emigrated from my home country more than twenty years ago.  However, this has taken many different formats in terms of output. For a while there, I decided to stay home and look after my children and as I fell in love with the spontaneous and creative ways of  children’s inner world I  got immersed in children’s literature. The Saffron series  was a very happy experience which allowed me to work in different schools around New Zealand drawing,  writing, sharing stories and creating imaginary scenarios with little minds.

Sketch book, Victoria Martinez Azaro

My illustrations were obviously very much embedded of my fashion style of drawing and because I was mainly collaging and composing through mixed media I started doing the same with textiles. It was then that I became passionate in using waste to collage my everyday life with meaningful objects. The love of natural dyeing and repurposed waste expanded as the years went by and as I became more and more aware of fashion sustainability issues.

Naturally dyed yarn and work in progress, Victoria Martinez Azaro

So, as I am about to launch the first pilot of the “Travelling Sewing Box Project” in association with ALAC, in which we will create a community textile piece which will depict social narratives and memories of immigrant women in Aotearoa New Zealand, I will also be narrating my own personal stories through my textiles and will be sharing them through this blog.

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

 

 

 

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 (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com)
Recycling is defined as: Convert (waste) into reusable material; ‘car hulks were recycled into new steel’. Oxford Dictionaries (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com)
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

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   CircularFashion.com,  ‘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

 

 

 

 

 

Blooming Dyers Chamomile

Dyers Chamomile growing beautifully in my garden – 9 weeks growth

 

My son gifted me this dyer chamomile flower this morning…it went straight into my workroom table and already can see what I am going to do with the dyed yarn I will obtain from this beautiful plant. Watch this space in “on creative process”… Purple yarn which is a mix of wool and silk has been dyed with Logwood extract. Bobbin, button and thimble belonged to my grandmas.