Category Archives: recycling

Kantha – Vintage Quilts – recycling fabrics the time honoured way

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I hadn’t known anything about the history of quilt making with recycled fabrics in India, until I chanced on an advert for an exhibition of KANTHA textiles at the Mingei International Museum, California, last September.

see https://julzcrafts.com/2017/09/06/kantha-exhibition-of-textiles-of-bengal/.

“Kantha is a term used across the Indian sub-continent to denote decorative stitched quilting. In Gujarat, hangings patterned with concentric circles or squares in running stitch are known as kanthas, while in Bengal, kanthas are stitched for a variety of purposes, such as winter quilts, covers and wraps for books and valuables or as mats for ceremonial purposes.

They are most often given to daughters on the occasion of their marriage, as a token of love, or as a gift for a new-born child or grown son. They are often, as tradition has it, made up of old cast off saris or dhotis. They can be the work of two or more generations of women and are treasured as family heirlooms.”

You can also find out more about Kantha HERE

fullsizeoutput_34bOne of the people who saw the post was Manish, who was doing research on this ancient tradition, and he has recently set up a small business to collect and recycle old quilts, and to make new ones for sale worldwide.

He asked if I could give his website a mention, and sent me a bit more information about Kantha.  So I checked him out!  I have edited his contribution to fit the style of this blog – which is ‘to inspire and educate’ my readers – and myself! – in various aspects of crafts, whether you make anything yourself – or just appreciate!

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PHOTO-2018-05-17-17-32-33” The term ‘Kantha’ can be understood in Sanskrit as ‘rags’.

 

The origin of Kantha can be dated back to the age of Vedic period, which has a profound background in India. Chaitanya Charitamrita is a very popular age old book written by Krishnadas Kaviraj, some 500 years ago. The recurring patterns, designs and other beautiful elements are most celebrated part, which the book talks about.

The historic art and motifs are incorporated in modern works with the depiction of nature, sun, trees, people, culture and many more through the finest play of thread over a piece of cloth.

In the region of West Bengal, Kantha is seen as a very auspicious symbol in weddings and birth ceremonies.

Being a Bengali man, I never really got an opportunity to peek inside and know more about this form of art, which is being transferred from generation to generation. 

When I was a kid, I saw my grandmother would sit with a piece of cloth in her lap and different colours of thread lying all around her. She used to be very keen and generous with her work. She would move her hands very slowly and firmly with a needle and thread across the cloth and a very beautiful design would come up. 

The clothes on which she used to weave would tell stories of trees, people, lakes and animals.

vintage kantha quilt by makkiWhen I moved to eastern Bengal, I saw old and young women still so engrossed in the stitching kantha handkerchiefs, quilts and bed sheets. I was mesmerized by the beauty in their eyes and the passion in their attitude while they were busy doing the embroidery.

I was so inspired and motivated to continue this tradition in other parts of India that I started my own business, selling Kantha quilts and, hopefully creating a world class platform for customers from every corner of the world to know more about India, its tradition and history of India, through the quilts.

vintagekanthaquiltThe Kantha quilts have been made with finest threads, and will last long longer than your life, so that you can pass down this historical piece to many upcoming generations. India is best reflected within the dimensions of quilt.”

He tells me that the “quilts are made in West Bengal by artisans, and they are paid fairly”.

Do have a look at his site – vintagekanthaquilt.com – the prices are reasonable and he is currently running a special discount offer.

NB:  I do not normally ‘advertise’ other businesses on this site, but he asked nicely – smile – and I like what he is doing.  No fee has been charged and I have no other knowledge of how he works, and do not take any responsibility for the quality of the products.

Recycling Paper – into yarns for weaving!

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I found this post on YOURSTORY – about a woman in India who is making items from paper yarn – and have just copied it here.  Its a great idea!

She’s weaving a sustainable future with yarn made from paper

Teja Lele Desai     posted on 17th April 2018

pic1Neerja Palisetty’s Sutrakaar Creations combines paper with post-consumer waste to promote fair trade, craft empowerment, zero-waste, and ethical fashion.

 

Neerja Palisetty has always been passionate about paper.

“Paper is considered to be very fragile by the common man and I want to change that perception. Once woven, paper has immense potential; it’s a very strong and versatile material,” she says.

“But,” she adds, “Pulp (and paper) is the third largest industrial polluter of air, water and soil and I wanted to help avoid this,” she says.

That’s the reason she started Jaipur-based Sutrakaar Creations, which focuses on eco-textile creations made from paper and natural materials as a step towards a sustainable future.

But perhaps it was destined to be. For Neerja was born into a family of weavers in a small village in Srikakulam district, Andhra Pradesh. Ponduru is known for its fine khadi and cotton weaves, and almost every other house had a loom.

Growing up, it was no surprise that she gravitated towards weaving: she wove her first piece of yarn when a teenager. “I was in Class VII or VIII when I first wove jute and cotton into yarn for a school project. I ended up making a small pouch for pencils,” she says.

Neerja says her father, who had graduated as a textile designer from the first batch of NID Ahmedabad, was a huge influence on her life. “Influenced by him, I studied clothing and textiles during my graduate course at MSU Baroda. Later, I pursued a post-graduation course in higher education from Nottingham Trent University. Now, I have an experience of over 17 years working in the fashion industry and education sectors. But I owe all the textile design knowledge I have to my father,” she says.

 

After her education, Neerja did various jobs – she worked as a merchandiser at Tirupur in Tamil Nadu and as a design professor in Coimbatore and later Jaipur.

But Neerja lets on that through it all she remained fascinated by the art and technique of paper weaving. “There are references to paper weaving in Japanese legends. I wanted to emulate these techniques in the Indian context to promote our traditions and create livelihood opportunities for weavers,” she says.

Her own weaving studio was always a dream, even while she presented research papers on sustainable design and sustainable textiles at various international conferences. “I had the weaving studio on my mind from the time I graduated. However, life had different plans and my dreams took a backseat,” Neerja recalls.

But two years back, the experience she had garnered in these fields gave her enough confidence to pursue her dream. And Sutrakaar Creations was born.

It is a studio focused on eco-textile creations made from waste paper, recycled paper, and natural materials.

“Our products are 100 percent handmade and handcrafted, and with minimal use of electrically operated machines,” she says.

“It is also an open space for experimental weaving and I have collaborated with a few international artists and designers to create artworks and installations,” she adds.

At Sutrakaar, her weavers cut waste paper into strips of 2-4mm, twist and hand-spin them over the charkha to make thread-like strings using adhesive. This is used as the weft; the warp is either cotton or Ahimsa silk, both recycled industrial waste.

Palisetty works with weavers, four looms (two big pedal looms and two smaller ones), and women for cutting and trimming, at her studio in Jaipur. “I get more weavers if needed,” she says.

Most raw material is sourced from paper export houses and kabadiwalas.

 

The “80 percent upcycled” waste yarn is fashioned into accessories like pouches and handbags, gifting items such as diary covers and photo frames, and home decor accents such as lampshades and room dividers. Prices range between Rs 850 and Rs 10,000.

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“The idea is to juxtapose crafts with post-consumer waste so that we promote fair trade, craft empowerment, zero-waste and ethical fashion,” Neerja says.

Neerja now takes orders over Facebook and worldartcommunity.com, a peer-to-peer online marketplace. She also displays and sells Sutrakaar products at exhibitions.

Speaking about how Sutrakaar Creations has grown over the past year, she says the growth has not been tremendous, but it has been steady. “I am able to provide employment to housewives and local weavers. I started with one weaver and today I have three weavers and five housewives. People in India and abroad have heard about our products and are keen to understand the process,” she says.

She says the experience has been very positive. “When I explain to people on how we create what we create with an entirely unheard-of raw material, people are keen to understand and learn more.

The recycling and upcycling of paper

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With people – especially millennials – becoming environmentally conscious and keen to help save the earth, interest in environmentally relevant brands is at an all-time high.

“Our brand provides a one-of-a-kind solution; not just our products, our process is also eco-friendly and sustainable,” she says.

In an article on an online portal, she wrote: ”My dream is to educate more people globally to follow a sustainable lifestyle. My husband has now joined me in my work. This is our contribution to saving the earth for future generations.”

Neerja states she and Sutrakaar remain committed to driving change by designing socially and environmentally conscious products that embody vibrant, edgy, and smart sophistication.

“We ensure that we protect traditional techniques by incorporating them in contemporary designs. A few of our products are 90 percent biodegradable. And through our creations I can see we have created a small ripple in this ocean and hope to create a gigantic wave,” she says.

Kantha: Exhibition of Textiles of Bengal

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Mingei International Museum
Kantha: Recycled and Embroidered Textiles of Bengal
October 28, 2017– March 25, 2018
San Diego, California  Learn More

I came across this Exhibition, from one of the mailing lists I am on – yes, I’m still talking about mailing lists.

The image is very striking, and I’d never heard of Kantha before, so I looked up the link above, and this is how it described it.

This exhibition features approximately 40 kantha

from Mingei’s permanent collection.

Kantha is a term used across the Indian sub-continent to denote decorative stitched quilting. In Gujarat, hangings patterned with concentric circles or squares in running stitch are known as kanthas, while in Bengal, kanthas are stitched for a variety of purposes, such as winter quilts, covers and wraps for books and valuables or as mats for ceremonial purposes. They are most often given to daughters on the occasion of their marriage, as a token of love, or as a gift for a new-born child or grown son. They are often, as tradition has it, made up of old cast off saris or dhotis. They can be the work of two or more generations of women and are treasured as family heirlooms.

I’d love to go to the exhibition, but its in California – so if anyone does go there, especially if prompted by this blog, do let us know what you think of it!

COME TO THINK OF IT –
IF ANYONE WOULD LIKE TO WRITE A SHORT PIECE
ABOUT ANY CRAFT EVENT OR EXHIBITION THEY HAVE BEEN TO,
I’D BE HAPPY TO PUBLISH IT ON THIS BLOG FOR YOU!
ANY ONE, FROM ANYWHERE, ABOUT ANY EVENT THAT’S LINKED TO ANY CRAFT

 

DON’T BE SHY, IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A MASTERPIECE

BUT YOU DO NEED TO HAVE TAKEN SOME DECENT PHOTOS OF IT!

WHO’S GOING TO BE FIRST?  

PLEASE GO TO THE CONTACT ME PAGE AND SEND ME A MESSAGE!

LET’S SEE IF WE CAN GET THIS IDEA OFF THE GROUND!

Make An Upcycled Napkin Curtain – copied from Etsy

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laurafenton

Laura Fenton is a New York City-based writer and editor whose work has appeared in many publications, including Country LivingGood HousekeepingKinfolk and Parents. She is also the author of The Little House In The City.

After living for years in a top-floor apartment where curtains were unnecessary, I recently landed in a ground-floor unit that, despite its many selling points, happens to look directly into my new neighbors’ windows. Suddenly, attractive window coverings became a high priority — but one that, I quickly learned, cost a pretty penny. Instead of investing in off-the-shelf window dressings, I decided to make my own from an excess of beloved but rarely-used vintage napkins, amassed over a decade of digging in flea markets and secondhand shops. With a little bit of stitching, my incomplete and mismatched sets of dinner napkins became a charming patchwork curtain that’s sheer enough to let in lots of natural light, while still affording (priceless!) privacy.

To make your own, you’ll need a stash of napkins (tea towels and other vintage linens will work, too), a sewing machine, a few basic craft supplies, and the Tetris-like skills to piece your design together. Here’s how.

Etsy_Napkins_Materials

You will need: 

  • Napkins
  • Iron
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon
  • Measuring Tape

Rough-out-design

First, launder and dry your napkins. Then, rough out your curtain design by positioning the napkins in a pattern on the floor or across a large work surface. Make sure you have enough pieces to create a varied patchwork; when you reach an arrangement you like, snap a pic to refer to as you sew — or better yet, leave the napkins laid out as they are.

Etsy_Napkins_Iron

Iron napkins to remove any creases (and make them easier to pin and sew).

Etsy_Napkins_Pin

Begin pinning napkins together with straight pins, starting with the napkins in the center. Rather than lining up their edges precisely, you’ll want the napkins to overlap each other slightly, as shown.

Etsy_Napkins_Sew1

Use a zigzag stitch to sew along the overlapped edges. The zigzag stitch will add extra visual interest to the curtain (and it’s also a forgiving stitch for less-than-professional seamstresses). After you complete the center section, pin a few more loose napkins from your laid-out design to the edges of the sewn pieces and use the zigzag stitch to secure. Keep sewing and pinning until you have created one full curtain panel.

Tip: If your napkins don’t create a perfect rectangle, you may need to trim some of the perimeter napkins. (Just be sure to leave a bit of seam allowance so that you can still hem those cut edges.)

Etsy_Napkins_Ties

Next, cut several 20-inch pieces of ribbon to act as curtain ties. (Ties should be spaced about five to seven inches apart. We used nine ties for our 48-inch wide panel; measure to determine how many you will need.)

Etsy_Napkins_Ties_pinned

Fold each piece of ribbon in half, measure to determine to its position at the top of the panel, and pin to the back side of the curtain.

Etsy_Napkins_Sew

Next, sew one continuous zigzag stitch across the top hem of the curtain panel and each of the ribbon ties. Use the ties to hang the panel from your curtain rod.

Make-an-Upcycled-Napkin-Curtain

Photos and styling by Laura Fenton.

Some thoughts on “A Gallery of Your Work”

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This is a follow up to the GALLERY OF YOUR WORK, that appeared on 31 May 2015.

this beautiful summer dress was made for Val's holiday - we had a bit of a panic, because it seems Royal Mail lost her package - so I sent her another 4m of this very popular red poppy material - listed in julzcrafts supplies shop on etsy - and on the 85solway account on ebay.

this beautiful summer dress was made for Val’s holiday – we had a bit of a panic, because it seems Royal Mail lost her package – so I sent her another 4m of this very popular red poppy material – listed in julzcrafts supplies shop on etsy – and on the 85solway account on ebay.

I have just updated it to include this lovely dress that a customer of mine made out of one of the fabrics that I sell.

This was the first GALLERY  that I have tried putting together, and it has given rise to various comments from readers, and the information from the POLL I put up, has been useful.

I have been mulling over the idea, and the problems with it – smile.

It takes quite a lot for people to send it photos of their work, and actually, I am as shy about showing some of mine, especially when I don’t think I’ve got it quite right!  I’m not sure I would immediately think – oh what a great idea, I’ll send a picture to this blog – and if I didn’t know the writer – I’d be uncertain about how they would use the pictures.

So, let me try and reassure you – smile.

My intentions are nothing but honourable!

The idea was simply to give people a place to showcase their work, to give encouragement and to perhaps inspire others.  You see a great idea and it creates a spark that leads to you using some element of it to improve the work you do yourself.  It may not even be in the same medium, or directly comparable!

Now, a long time ago, I briefly started degree in Photography – this was after I had already been working as a Photographer for quite a while, and had initially trained with a quite well known commercial advertising photographer in London, so I was a mature student, and joined to see if I could improve my work – and well, to be honest, to get my hands on the large format cameras the college had, which I couldn’t afford!

Not for the first time I was subjected, along with the others on the course, to the vicious system of ‘crits’ – supposedly creative criticism of your work by the tutors.  With everyone else standing by and watching, and waiting for their turn.

I don’t know why these supposed ‘teachers’ thought it was fun to rip people’s work apart – the same happens in art colleges and other creative courses.  At best it might give you some idea of how others view what you have done – at worst – it totally destroys your enthusiasm for the subject!  Makes you feel worthless, and want to give up – even if you are incredibly talented!  And all abilities should be nurtured and encouraged by tutors – that’s what their job is supposed to be about.

this is a standard advertising still life I took years ago!

this is a standard advertising still life I took years ago!

Well I might not have been the best photographer around, but I knew that the course wasn’t going to give me what I wanted after the first term – so I left!  (OK – the courses were free at the time and I didn’t need the degree.)

The point is – besides me having a chance to show off some of my old work – smile – (you can see a selection of some of my other photos on “the spare“)

– that, if you were subjected to that kind of criticism in the past, you probably don’t want to put up a photo on a GALLERY HERE!

On the other hand, if you want to promote the work you sell, you might well be interested in getting some FREE PUBLICITY!

But the idea of the Gallery is not just for those few who, rightly, take any opportunity to publicise their work – it is for EVERYONE!

I am just as interested in seeing your first attempt at something, with all its faults, as the work with the professional finish that comes with years of experience.

You may find that someone who sees it can help you out with any problems you are having – and certainly, anyone who puts up their work here is not going to get ‘pulled to pieces’ – I moderate all comments, and will not allow any nasty ones to see the light of day!

It also seems that I have not made myself clear enough about what kind of work I will put up in a GALLERY.

THE ONLY STIPULATION IS THAT IT IS CRAFT RELATED – ANY CRAFT –

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A TEXTILE CRAFT.

There are too many crafts to mention, but I will mention a few, just to make it obvious – there’s pottery, sculpture, glass work, ironwork, jewellery work, leatherwork, paperwork (not your accounts tho – smile), woodwork, re-cycling projects, mixed media etc etc – and of course anything to do with fabric, fibres and yarns.

What doesn’t qualify as a craft for the purposes of this exercise, is art work as in paintings etc (there are plenty of other places to show those) and videos – simply because they take up too much of my storage allowance!

And talking about storage space – please just send in ONE PHOT0. 

If you do send in more, I can, if I think it will show your work better, create a grid to put the other shots into the format of one image.  If you are not sure which photo will be best, you can send in more and let me choose which one to use.

THE PHOTOGRAPH CAN BE OF WORK YOU HAVE DONE IN THE PAST OR JUST RECENTLY.

NB:  If you would like to be featured in a SHOW & TELL you can send in as many photos as you like!

If you look at the bottom of the current GALLERY OF YOUR WORK, you will see that there is a note about copyright.  You own the copyright of the work and the photograph.  By sending the picture to me, you are only allowing me to use it in the Gallery, and I will ask your permission if I want to use it in any other way – as should anyone else that sees the blog – I strongly disagree with the idea of ‘stealing someone else’s work’.  However, it happens, so please don’t blame me if your picture appears elsewhere.  See my copyright info at the end of the blogroll on the right hand side of this page – and all pages!

this useful widget at the end of the said blogroll shows where the viewers come from

this useful widget at the end of the said blogroll shows where the viewers come from

The joy of the internet is that people from all over the world can see this blog and do! – I just took a snapshot of the latest figures for this blog – the widget here tells me where you all come from – and if you click on the actual widget at the end of my blogroll – you can see the that you are a truly INTERNATIONAL lot!

So – of course – the offer to host a picture of your work is open to anyone who reads this blog, or is a customer of mine and doesn’t bother to read it (smile), all over the world.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS IDEA?

How about I keep this GALLERY IDEA GOING?

I am thinking about having constant open submission, without any deadlines.

(Open submission means that anyone can send in a photo of their work – and anything you send in gets published, unless we have agreed that this photo is not suitable for any reason)

However, the current gallery is now closedBUT as soon as I have at least 10 photos waiting to be published, I will create a new gallery and then the next set of photos will form the basis of the next gallery – with any luck this could run & run!

Your comments & ‘likes’ would be greatly appreciated – I am not on twitter or facebook, but would be happy if you would spread the word for me!  I will direct my mailing list of customers – who are several hundred in number – to this blog in my next “newz from julz” – so hopefully we will find that there are enough people interested in this idea to start the ball rolling!

(If you would like to join the mailing list – please fill in the form at the bottom of the SHOP TALK PAGE)

I LOOK FORWARD TO RECEIVING YOUR PICTURES!

If you don’t have my email address – I took it off the site because I was getting too much spam – please either fill in the form on the SHOP TALK PAGE or the one on the CONTACT ME PAGE – and I will reply to your email address so that you can send me some pictures!

THANKS

julz signature

Handmade Felt Transforms Lives in Nepal

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logo  This article was published on 14 May on the Cloth Roads blog 

I thought you might like to read it as its very topical


This is a story of transformation that began before the earth shook Nepal twice in a few weeks, when women artisans were transforming scraps of saris, silk, and wool through a hand, wet-felting process into fashionable, felted art-to-wear scarves for the U.S.-based company, The Red Sari. It’s a story of what women can co-create when a vision is shared, changing lives of isolation and financial insecurity to ones of enhanced self-worth, status, and independence.

Taking a Leap 
Sometimes it’s best not knowing something. This is how Julie West felt when leaving a career in healthcare to pursue graduate school at the University of Arkansas, Clinton School of Public Service. It was while working on an international public service project in Nepal, when she became inspired by the country and its artisans.

Julie remembers, “I returned to Nepal after graduation for a four-month stay, working side-by-side with the women artisans in the Kathmandu Valley. It was through a collaborative process of testing, failing, and testing again that we designed our signature product, the felted vintage sari scarf. After that, we continued to collaborate on many other products.  In the fall of 2009, I launched The Red Sari.” Prior to working with Julie, this artisan group of fifty women did outsource work for many people so they’re thrilled to be working with only her, being paid a fair trade, living wage.

 

 

 

 

 

Returning to Nepal at least annually, Julie works directly with the women on product development. When she’s not there, she’ll send photos or sketches and the women will riff off of them or come up with designs on their own. Making felted scarves is a time-consuming process of bonding fabric with fiber, one which requires hand scrubbing, rubbing, and rinsing layers of materials with hot, soapy water until disparate elements transform into one colorfully rich scarf.  The use of repurposed old saris is really important for the environment as well as using natural material. And while some products veer away from the old saris, the artisanry and uniqueness of the products make a fashionable statement.

Why Red

In the Nepalese culture, the color red is both auspicious as well as a symbol of transformation. It’s a color in constant view of daily life. From the painting of household portals to applying a tika (a red dot) to a married woman’s forehead, red conveys protection, purity, dignity, and honor. For women, the wearing of red begins at marriage, an outward symbol conveying their cherished status, and ceases upon the death of a husband, no longer cherished but abandoned to the restrictive life of widowhood.

A married Nepali woman wearing red sari, vermillion hair stripe, and tika dot (red nails too.)

A married Nepali woman wearing red sari, vermillion hair stripe, and tika dot.

Widows are many, having lost husbands during the ten-year civil war which ended in 2006. And now, with lucrative industries beckoning able-bodied men elsewhere, both widowed and married women are carrying on the work of family and community. Constitutional changes are beginning to address long-needed provisions for widows.

Shortly before the first earthquake, Julie was working on a humanitarian project of establishing a short-term living and training center for women in transition. The center would offer basic education in reading and math, to teaching skills such as machine sewing and hand embroidery. The training would prepare them for living on their own. This project is now on hold due to the earthquakes.

Triaging From a Distance

The felting group couldn’t be reached for three days after the first earthquake. Julie’s on-the-ground coordinator, Bishnu, skypes with her regularly and she finally heard from him, learning that her group was fine, although some of their village housing wasn’t.

Julie said, “We had just gotten the factory back into full production and felt like we were doing really well until the second earthquake hit. The factory was hit this time–the pillars cracked and the aftershocks will continue. The factory is shuttered until engineers can assess the safety.  This work is the only livelihood for over 50 women and families.  The rebuilding and recovery phase is long. Everyone is looking for space, and the monsoon season is coming soon.” But Bishnu assures her that temporary space is being set up and things will move forward. Julie says a common saying is, “Don’t quit us. We’ll figure this out.” Her response is, “Why would I quit? This is a partnership and we’ll work together to figure it out.”

What You Can Do 

Can you help rebuild The Red Sari factory and help fund the costs of lost wages for the women and their families and the price tag associated with relocation? The link to The Red Sari’s crowdfunding campaign is www.gofundme.com/theredsari. No donation is too small. It all adds up.

Thanks to Julie West for providing information and images for this blog. But most of all, for her efforts to not quit. Pass it on.