“The travelling sewing box project ” has another fabulous day. I am speechless at the talent, the dedication, the passion and the respect that these women have towards each other’s journeys and the commitment to make their dreams come true in their new adopted land!
It’s with utmost respect that I share these images!
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: [email protected]
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:
- 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.
- Removal of thorns- the sides of the leaves are manually sliced off, leaving just the middle part.
- 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
- Flattening/ pounding manually using flat sticks- the dried leaves are manually pounded and flattened using logs of wood in order to prepare for weaving
- Drying- 2nd drying process that can take 2-7 days depending on the weather
- Plant based dyeing process- the dried leaves are submerged in dye. This can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
- Drying- Dyed leaves are sun dried for the third time
- 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
- Weaving- Once the weavers have lined up the dried and dyed leaves, the make the designs according to Viahera’s requirement
- Plant based dyes are manually planted in a local farm in the Philippines such as indigo, turmeric, mahogany and cogon grass
- Dye is extracted by boiling the leaves, barks of trees or the plant itself
- Natural yarns made from pineapple fibers or organic Philippine cotton is soaked in the dye- detailed ikat dyeing discussed below
- Yarns are air dried
- “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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
For more information about how to learn Mapuche weaving please click here
and click here
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!!!!!
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…