Archives for posts with tag: DIY

A few weeks ago, we were approached by a nice Irish man working for Japanese TV. He was working on a segment that highlighted the “craft wave” in and around NYC and Brooklyn. In particular he was interested in highlighting our weaving and shoe making classes, and he discussed with us the various ways in which we felt this “craft wave” was growing, affecting individuals, as well as the economy.

I feel like we’ve been having this conversation a lot, through several interviews happening around the same time (EcoSalon, Brooklyn Based), and it’s really actually helped in how we run things here. For the most part, we are doing what we believe in and what we think will make people happy. But when you are asked specific questions, it forces you to wrap your mind around what you’re actually doing — what is going on in a larger picture. And rather than just feeling it, you can talk about it in a more concrete way. I like that.

Alisa, one of our wonderful previous interns, shows up on the video as a weaver. She is Japanese, and her father still lives there. So when he randomly saw her on TV one night, he sent her the clip through Youtube:

Now I only wish I could understand Japanese and know what it says under my face while I’m speaking..

(photo courtesy EcoSalon)

Advertisements

I am using part of my time while a resident artist at TAC this spring to explore the multitude of ways in which artists/designers/crafters use our processes of making textiles to engage in social change (part of my masters thesis at NYU). As I do so, I’ll also share some of what I am thinking about here on the TAC blog, discussing artists, events, projects, books, social movements, and resources.

Textiles and garments—through their production, circulation, consumption, and use— have played a central role in social change for centuries. I’m sure I don’t need to tell any of you reading this that not unlike food, textiles are a consistent part of our lives: a fundamental human need and an important marker and driver of culture. The farms on which fibers are grown and the factories in which textiles and garments are produced have been sites of terrible abuses but also sites for important moments in the history of labor activism. This makes it a particularly rich place from which to ask questions about what is happening in the world today. If you have suggestions for anyone or anything you think I should look into, by all means send them my way! I value all of your comments and contributions.

Movie Nights:

While helping out at TAC’s mending circle this past Sunday, Owyn, Isa and I were contemplating organizing movie nights at TAC. So I thought for this first post I would share some of my favorite textile-related films that also offer a precursor to themes for future posts. Please do add your movie recommendations in the comments.

Daughters of the Dust, 1991

film still from Daughters of the Dust

A powerful film about the women of a family descended from slaves who worked on the plantations that grew indigo, cotton and rice. It takes place on the Sea Islands, where ships first dropped off slaves for quarantine before they were sold on the main land. In addition to a different view on an important part of textile history, the costumes themselves—the white dresses of the younger women and the deep indigo of the matriarch—are a striking part of the story telling.

Gabbeh, 1996

film still from "Gabbeh"

A Gabbeh is one kind of handwoven Persian rug, and in the film, Gabbeh is also the name of a young woman who mysteriously appears and becomes the protagonist in the film. The entire film is filled with images of the process of rug making, often used to tell part of the story of the human characters: collecting plants for dyeing, shearing goats, dyeing and spinning yarn, and weaving.

Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags, 2009

film still

A documentary on the history of the New York garment industry with a focus on its decline over the last 30 years in the context of global trade, the move of manufacturing overseas, and the continual search for cheaper labor.

Wool 100%, 1996

film still

A dream-like Japanese film of two junk-collecting women whose latest find are several balls of bright red wool. This acquisition also attracts a girl who spends the movie obsessively knitting a long sweater, then unraveling and re-knitting it again and again.

Gandhi, 1982

film still

Cloth played an integral role in India’s struggle for independence from Britain, something captured in great detail in this epic film, from the Indigo farmers who first tell Gandhi of their poverty to his promotion of Khadi cloth for both symbolic and economic reasons.

Norma Rae, 1979

film still

One of my favorite films about organizing, based on a true story, a single young mother and textile worker organizes a garment factory in Alabama.

Made in Dagenham. 2010

film still

I haven’t seen this yet but its getting great reviews and looks like an important comment on the classification of garment work as supposedly “unskilled.” Also based on a true story, this is about the 1968 strike of 187 sewing machinists that eventually led to the Equal Pay Act.

Craft in America, 2009

film still: Lucy Morgan at Penland School of Craft

Craft in America is a PBS series that covers much more than textile crafts and their first season is available to watch online. For those interested in fiber, I particularly love the first part of the third episode on quilting and community and about the creation of the Penland School in North Carolina.

* The title of this column is a play on “Bread and Roses,” a phrase taken from a poem and used to refer to the 1912 textile workers strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The call of women marchers, “We want bread, but we want roses too,” is said to be a call for dignity as well as fair wages, that life should be beautiful as well as just.

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)

 

Last winter I bought one of the ever-popular eternity scarves. I searched and searched on Etsy for the right thing (Of course it had to be unique. No H&M crap for me…) Finally, I came across Yokoo — who continues to be a fave Etsy seller for her product and styling.

And almost the same day that my new Nantucket Scarf arrived in the mail, I came across the NY Times article featuring the seller, talking about making the transition to turning her craft into a profit. Upon searching, I realized via Vice Magazine, that I’d been missing out on Yokoo all of 2009!

I took particular interest in this, as we had just gotten started with Textile Arts Center, and had a main goal of helping folks to make these kinds of transitions, whether they were sick of the office life or had lost their job, or maybe just needed a new creative outlet.

So, why the tangent back to Yokoo’s rise to popularity in 2009? Because we are having a Warm Weather Gear class, and her items are entirely classic, beautiful, relevant inspiration for Winter 2011!

(all photos courtesy Yokoo)

Join us for Crochet 101: Warm Weather Gear on Tuesdays, 6:30-9PM January 4 – 25.

When you make it yourself, it will last beyond seasonal trends.

Too busy? Then we support you supporting Yokoo. : )