Archives for the month of: January, 2011

In his latest book, “At Home”, Bill Bryson has dedicated a whole, enormously entertaining and informative chapter to the dressing room. Through the recounting of the history of this room, Bryson discusses some of the most decidedly exotic fashion trends of the Victorian era and earlier.

In his lively and engaging way, Bryson suggests that, “it can seem as if the whole impulse of fashion has been to look maximally ridiculous. If one could be maximally uncomfortable as well, the triumph was all the greater.”

Because it is impossible to paraphrase Bryson in a way that is more witty or lovely, I will simply include an excerpt of this chapter starting with the discussion on the surprisingly irrational trend of male wig-wearing starting in the 1660’s that lasted for 150 years.

“Wigs might be made of almost anything- human hair, horsehair, cotton thread, goat hair, silk. One maker advertised a model made of fine wire. They came in many styles- bag, bob, campaign, grizzle, Ramillies, cauliflower, brown tie, riding bob, and more, all denoting some crucial difference in length of braid or bounciness of curl. Wigs were so valuable – a full one could cost 50 pounds – that they were left in wills. The more substantial the wig, the higher up the social echalon one stood- one became literally a bigwig. Wigs were also one of the first things snatched by robbers.

All wigs tended to be scratchy, uncomfortable, and hot, particularly in summer. To make them more bearable, many men shaved their heads, so we should be surprised to see many famous seventeenth- and eighteenth- century figures as their wives saw them first thing in the morning. It was an odd situation. For a century and a half, men got rid of their own hair which was perfectly comfortable, and instead covered their heads with something foreign and uncomfortable. Very often it was actually their own hair made into a wig. People who couldn’t afford wigs tried to make their own hair look like a wig”

This all sounds particularly funny because the victims of the fashion trend are men like Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, men who built the social and legal structure of this country. Men of gravity and importance who it seems, made time to fret about the beauty and trendiness of their hair. The susceptibility to follow an irrational trend makes them seem almost too human. It’s rattling to think that the founding fathers’ judgment is not beyond reproach, at least where hairstyle is concerned.

Although this sensitivity to the fashion of the times seems like a weakness, upon deeper consideration it shows a kind of personal commitment to social and cultural cohesion that is necessary to form a united whole, or social unit, like a country. After all, fashion trends often carry in them a political statement, and are by nature faithfully democratic.

Everyone that asks me about Portugal will get trapped in a long, detailed, complicated and uber-adjectivated monologue about food, weather, music, politics and people.
However, I normally fail on talking about of one of the things I love more about Portugal (and being Portuguese) which are the Portuguese textiles.

Recently, while browsing through some portuguese fiber-lover blogs, I came across with the fashion brand SENNES. SENNES means search of essence and it was the result of the collaboration between fashion designer Nele de Block and Pedro Franco, who introduced her to the traditional wool weaving of the Serra da Estrela region in Portugal.

Serra da Estrela is the highest point of Portugal, and the coldest one too. SENNES collection was inspired by a traditional super dense and water-proof blanket (or manta) produced in the region. Textile industry has been an intense activity on Serra da Estrela area since the 12th century, and its recognized by the extreme quality of the wool and woven work.

Portuguese shepherd blankets or mantas

(photos courtesy of ECOLA, one of the few remaining local textile industries)

SENNES collection is totally made in Portugal and only the wool from sheep that live in the mountains is used and it’s spun, carded and woven locally. The wool is not submitted to any after-treatment, to maintain its natural quality, and felting occurs by washing it in the cold, soft and non polluted water of the natural springs of the region. Colors are based on the natural range of color of the wool and no chemical dyes are used.

(photos courtesy of SENNES; more photos, catalog and info on their website)

If you are feeling inspired and would like to try portuguese Serra da Estrela wool on your fiber endeavors, you can get it from here. And look how soft and nice it looks!

Isa and I have been talking a ton about things we want to change in this coming year. I’m not a huge believer in “resolutions”, per se, but I do really enjoy the new year. It marks a very clear end and beginning for me, that mentally frees up space to suck it up and let some things go. Or take on new things

We talked yesterday about making the time again to go see gallery shows, and be even more involved in the arts community, particularly textiles. I mean, it’s out job. But the other thing I have avoided for some time are movies. I can’t really relate to award season for anything other than the dresses (totally fair) but I do feel I could be better when it comes to movies (haven’t ever seen any of the Godfather series..whoops) I generally shy away from having to sit in an uncomfortable chair with a group of strangers, unable to press pause and do something else for awhile.

But with all the free films in the summer time, and interesting independent projects going on, I want to promise to see more. I can allow myself some time to relax, sit in a dark room, and absorb new information that takes me outside of my general little world. And there is no excuse for not cuddling up on the couch in the comfort of my own home with a remote control.

So, been meaning to post this trailer for some time, but as I stopped at Rite Aid this morning and was given a double-shopping-bag for my pack of gum, I decided it was time:

I know, I missed the NY screening by a long shot (resolution fail) but I’m hoping it comes back around soon!

(courtesy Bag It Movie)

Last Friday I went to MoMA. I haven’t been there in a while and there’re a couple of exhibitions I wanted to see, like  the exhibition “On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century”.

Julie Mehretu. Rising Down. 2008. Ink and acrylic on canvas, 96 x 144″ (243.8 x 365.8 cm). Collection Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, New York. Photo by Tim Thayer. © 2010 Julie Mehretu

This exhibition “explores the radical transformation of the medium of drawing throughout the twentieth century, a period when numerous artists subjected the traditional concepts of drawing to a critical examination and expanded the medium’s definition in relation to gesture and form”. ( in MoMA website)

One of the mediums explored by several artists was fiber and thread. No surprises here, if we think that embroidering can be seen as drawing with a needle and thread, and the first examples of embroidered work date back to a couple of centuries BC.

However, the way the following artists used a fiber medium to draw, either two and tri-dimentionally, it’s nothing but amazing.

 

Susan Hefuna (German, born 1962)

Untitled, Mixed media, embroidery on tracing paper, 2008

 

Cildo Meireles (Brazilian, born 1948)

Malhas da Liberdade (Meshes of Freedom), Cotton rope, 1976

 

Anna Maria Maiolino (Brazilian, born Italy 1942)

Desde A até M (From A to M) From the series “Mapas Mentais” (Mental Maps), Thread, synthetic polymer paint, ink, transfer type, and pencil on paper,         1972-1999

 

Ranjani Shettar (Indian, born 1977)

Just a bit more, Hand-molded beeswax, pigments, and thread dyed in tea, 2005-2006

(photo courtesy of http://artinthestudio.blogspot.com/)

The exhibition will be on view until February 7th. Well-known-and-renowed artists like Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Alexander Calder, Vassily Kandinsky and Eva Hesse are featured, as well as the highlighted artists and many many more.

Make sure you don’t miss it!

On Line: Drawing Through The Twentieth Century is organized by Connie Butler, The Robert Lehman Foundation Chief Curator of Drawings, The Museum of Modern Art, and Catherine de Zegher, former director, The Drawing Center, New York.


 

 

Good ideas usually do, and thanks to Maya at Sewing Rebellion we’ve now started the Mending Circle as a new monthly gathering. Last night was the first!

We weren’t sure what to expect — we’ve had many sorts of free workshops, and other open houses. We hadn’t had the time to promote it properly, so didn’t expect a large crowd.

It was the loveliest group! 10 or so people, who brought their own projects, chatting about life, textiles, and what-not — just a completely fun and mellow vibe. (Though I was stuck working in the office, it was so nice to hear and see it going on)

In particular, this kind of workshop suits our mission precisely. We will be able to bring in monthly guests, focus on specific mending skills, and aim to share and teach as much as possible to both those who know how and those who want to know how. However, this was a new vibe — a group of people who genuinely wanted the company while getting back to left projects or fix that sweater that got tossed in back of the closet.

(sorry — no images of our own yet)

While educating will always be part of the mission, the other part is fostering a community. This was such a perfect example of what we hoped would happen without forcing it — bringing together many, or few, people who want to meet, and both give and take within the situation. Everyone had something to share, whether a new skill, a story, or just advice. We look forward to this continuing throughout the year.

Ecouterre’s recent article on sustainable fashion predictions for 2011 went through a ton of great ideas and thoughts from a fantastic set of people. One idea that stands out to us continuously is that if anything is to change in the fashion industry, it is very much in the hands of the consumer. Designers and producers have their job, too, but there is only so far that can go. As consumers, if we want to talk the talk, we must walk the walk (annoying-but-true phrase). Buying quality items, being creative and making things for ourselves, simply mending old things, or transforming them into something new and exciting. It’s a mindset of appreciating what we have and, with the money we do decide to treat ourselves with, buy something beautiful from a designer that we believe in. And then mend it, and make it work forever.

Thanks to everyone who came out! Though Mending Circle will normally be the first Thursday of each  month, join us next in February for a special on during NY Fashion Week. More info to come..

Terribly sorry for the serious/lecture post, but just a reminder that you can count on TAC if you are looking for the skills or the community. : )

I’ll leave you on a snowy Friday with this awesome video about Michael Swaine, who years ago turned an ice cream cart into a portable sewing table in Tenderloin area of San Fran, and has since made quite an impact. Make sure you watch — totally worth it.

 

(courtesty SFGate)

 

Aude-Marie Franjou is a fiber artist based in Château Landon, a small town nearby Paris. Aude studied Art History and Tapestry in Paris, before starting exploring the sculptural possibilities of linen threads and ropes.

Artist in her studio

Aude Franjou creates organic tri-dimensional forms, made of hemp fiber wrapped with linen threads, which are often a part of a open dialogue with Nature. Her works can normally be found in parks and gardens, wrapping trees and houses.

 

” I start with a clear idea and then I just follow and react to what the material wants, to its reactions and movements. Sometimes I constrain this. Other times I just let myself go.”

(translated from artist statement in http://lesgrigrisdesophie.blogspot.com)

And sometimes, as super organic forms indoors..

You can see more of the beautiful work of Aude-Marie Franjou in her website.

 

 

 

 

Our shoemaking class starts today and I couldn’t be more excited for being part of it. During 4 weeks we’ll be learning how to design and construct our own leather moccasins with Mark Schuyer.

While I was dreaming about the shoes I’ll make, I came across with this ones, via unconsumption:
They are made by unu-life, a London-based design company that “hopes to inspire a greater appreciation of our physical surroundings” and “raise awareness of environmental and social issues and to create things that enrich our material lives”.

These slippers are made from a single sheet of recycled leather, using neither glue or stitching. They come to you flat-packed and ready to be assembled by simply folding the leather according to the instructions:

“The design stems from deconstructing the physical concept of footwear into its component parts, taking one of those elements – pattern making – and rebuilding it in its purest form. The result is a simple, understandable product that engages consumers in the act of assembly and enhances their sense of ownership.” (in unu-life)

unu-footwear also aims to call the consumers attention and appreciation of the physical quality in the products that surround us.

Living in a society that generally promotes fast, blind and massive consumption, it’s really wonderful to see more and more design companies working towards creating products that force you to stop and think about them, their materials, and their impact the environment and in our lives.And that maybe will inspire us to go to our homes, studios or classes and create/re-create something way more meaningful and conscientious than what you’d normally get by impulse in store.

We at TAC, and I personally, don’t totally agree with New York Times’ Worn Out Fashion Terms List– DIY is not dead(!) and the question if either it’s worthy to make your own instead of spending a couple of dollars buying it from a chain store, it’s not even a real question if you think about the pleasure of making time for design and constructing exactly what you dreamed of.

 

 

 

We’ve been consistently (and happily) surprised by the many different creative businesses that have joined us at 505 Carroll St/540 President St. The management has done an amazing job.

We noticed a few weeks ago that strange stuff was happening the 10,000 sq ft space right below us. It is sort of a basement, and you can see through a few windows from Carroll St. Slowly chairs, and dishes, and desks, and odd things were popping up and being arranged in peculiar groupings. Not a typical office.

Last week we needed to check out the basement ceiling. And to our shock and amazement, we find the treasure of all treasures — 10,000 sq ft of antiques, thrift finds, and other salvaged goodies!

And while this thrilled me to have at my fingertips, it was speaking with founder and president, Eva Radke, that really drew me in. Film Biz Recycling says the following about itself:

Film Biz Recycling (FBR) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping the entertainment industry address the triple bottom line: profit, people and planet. We encourage every production to think about the wrap during prep and shoot, consider the impact of on and off-screen activities and donate every unwanted, useful and re-useable item to Film Biz Recycling or another re-use organization.

FBR also aims to research and introduce new ideas and methods for filmmaking by doing the research, making the contacts and disseminating the information to the community. Moreover, we aim to get everyone involved in a project to think and to act in a way that teaches the next generation and establishes new industry standards.

We are committed to prove that making future-friendly changes will not cost more, but in fact are less expensive than traditional methods.

We are committed to see every re-useable building material, prop and set dressing either make its way to charity or help fund the efforts of Film Biz Recycling.

We are committed to never have another dumpster full of perfectly good materials tossed to create green house gasses in a landfill.

Film Biz Recycling also seeks to connect the industry with other industries, communities and planet via collaboration, lateral thinking and volunteerism. Our materials can change lives. Our unique skills can move mountains so let’s be a shining light to the rest of the world!

Whether you need something new for your apartment, or just want to support a good cause, stop by Film Biz Recycling at 540 President St!