I listen to podcasts often. This American Life and Alternative Radio are my favorites. It is enjoyable to learn current events without the pace and need for filter that other ‘news’ sources require. Lately, it has become crystal clear, that the MOST important issue we all face is the dire situation with our environment. Without clean air and water – our BASIC human requirements – nothing else can really matter. Seeing the gravity of our headlong dash toward human species ruin is daunting. Terrifying. I feel uplifted when I hear David Suzuki speak on how we have the ability to create a new way and he makes me aware that I HAVE to take a positive role – present solutions, teach perspective options, lead. It is our duty as truth seers to share our visions. No judgment, no us vs. them just a new way to see things – ReConsumerEyes.
Recycling Cotton T-Shirts with Peek-A-Boo Embroidery
Have you seen the things that I make from recycled wool sweaters? I started doing that in 1987 while a student at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Back then it was my mission to introduce the idea of recycling. There were no blue bins on any curbside and recycling was not a household word. The ‘bottle bill’ had been introduced in Massachusetts in 1983 and all the talk about that piqued my interest in environmental affairs.
Since the 1980s things have changed in so many ways – most people in our culture have curbside recycling available to them. Maybe, even, most people actively recycle their household waste. A movement of crafters creating from all manner of discarded materials has certainly developed. In this span of time, I have learned a whole bunch about our solid waste habits, and specifically, textile waste stream.
Since the advent of Polar Fleece, the growth of our cultural turn toward reuse, the number of wool sweaters has dwindled - few, and far between at most thrift shops. What was once a true waste material, wool sweaters (or wool knits, as they are known in the ‘rag’ trade), have become a sought after commodity.
So what do I say to that?
I say FRICKEN YAY!
There are so many people recycling wool sweaters that I don’t need to do that any more!
(Some days, I have to confess, I say Fricken YIKES !! – EVERYONE seems to be wearing plastic clothing without out even a thought of the environmental or health impact/s)
Next, I head to the thrift shop and see what is prevalent – and cheap. What are people discarding that is prolific and nice to work with – (to me that means it is natural fiber)?
T-Shirts! Sweatshirts! Corduroys! Oh My!
Took me a little while to configure design and structural elements to enhance these new non-wool elements. Peek-A-Boo Embroidery is the best yet! Amazing possibilities come to mind! From detailed panels that add flair (and structure) to simply constructed handmade garments, to intricate all over embellishment establishing regal richness, the quality of the finished product will blow your mind! There is something quite magical about turning common cotton t-shirts that we all have WAY too many of, into fantastic art to wear.
It is so much fun and garners such a sense of accomplishment, to witness such transition, I have drawn up a day-long lesson, teaching my process. On June 15, in my studio – located at 40 Melville Street in Pittsfield, MA I will be holding a Peek-A-Boo Embroidery workshop. Students will choose to make a simple long sleeved pullover, skirt, or cute Dixie Dress in whatever size/color they want. Garments are completely handsewn. There is no experience necessary. Hop off your screen, sign up at Crispinaffrench@gmail.com or 413-236-9600 and learn to stitch magic into your wardrobe.
The workshop runs from 10-4:30pm on June 15th. The cost is $195 which covers tuition as well as the use of all tools and materials. Students are asked to bring a bag lunch.
Thank you to Jane Feldman for the center image of Bridget Conry wearing a Peek-A-Boo top I made. Thank you Bridget too!