Gilda Midani

I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t have a soft spot for clothing, especially when it’s hand made from natural fibres…linen, cotton and wool. It has a lovely rawness to it compared to all those fast fashion ‘made-in-china’ clothes stuffed onto racks at any big box retailer. And yes, I know natural textiles are hard on the ol’ wallet but a $10 t-shirt also comes at a cost that’s often less visible; in human and environmental terms.

Now, as someone who spends 98% of the week in jeans, t-shirts and sweaters I can only dream of owning pieces by Gilda Midani. From her website…

‘I strongly believe that comfort makes the body peaceful. And that elegance and beauty are the natural outgrowth of that feeling. Our pieces are made entirely by hand, many loving hands, for a single purpose: to make you feel as free as possible’

‘I’ve always sought inspiration in folk and primitive cultures, in utilitarian garments of modern times. Much more than in the world of fashion, which I respect and admire, but it’s not where I belong. Materials are cottons, linens, silks, woven, in all their different forms, textures and threads; sometimes even synthetics, just for fun. I focus on varying the scale, the proportions, and the finishing of those basic forms which I consider insuperable, and above all working the textile with the most exquisite manual techniques, from the primitive beeswax batik to the ancient shibori of Japan, with pigments ranging from the traditional plant-based to silicone, plaster and even iron oxide. The only rules are to maintain quality, guarantee comfort and create beauty. To achieve this, anything goes!’


Midani’s path to making clothes is a meandering one that spans decades beginning in the 90’s when when she designed costumes for theatre and opera. Photography and set design also shaped that path and in 2014 she launched her first clothing collection.

This ain’t rocket science I know but I’d rather support a maker like Midani if it means limiting the thousands of pounds of t-shirts and jeans churned out every year by invisible owners of poorly ventilated factories and the hundreds of kilometres of shipping required to fill those overstuffed racks at Joe Fresh (see the silent costs of the shipping industry here). As challenging as it is I’d rather support hand-made when possible. And oh my, those hands are what make her clothing worth it…

You can find out more about this talented maker on her website here or follow her on Instagram here.

Gilda Midani. Photo courtesy of Murilo Meirelles / JP Magazine




Miriam Verbeek

It’s a sunny 5 degrees outside today so no wonder I’m drawn to the warm softness of artist and teacher Miriam Verbeek’s jewellery and objects. Wool, for life and death, is felted along with fibre and fabric at her home studio using traditional techniques of water, soap and friction to create beautiful, comforting tactile forms.

‘Nature is astonishing, moved, changed, destroyed and an inexhaustible source of inspiration for Miriam. Also things that present themselves in her personal life and events that touch her like the changing landscape play a role in her work.’

You can find out more about this maker on her website here.

Kantate. Wool, Silk
Ice Flow, 2015. Wool, Silk



Farewell Cocoon, Merino Wool
Mourning Ring, 1993. Silver, Silk, Utility
Seeds, 2009. Jewellery Object, Wool, Silk, Linen
Pearl Necklace, 2003. Wool, Rubber

India Flint – Eucalyptus Ecoprinting

I bought a pair jeans recently that I can safely say we’re dyed using industrial strength chemicals, some of which are considered poisonous, hormone disruptive and carcinogenic. So I want to travel down a lesser known road of makers today into the world of ecoprinting (an ecologically sustainable contact print that transfers leaf dyes to cloth, clay, wood, stone or paper ;  now widely adopted by makers in almost every country”. Welcome to the “whirled” as she calls it, of India Flint.

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Destiny seems to have led this woman to begin printing leaves and other organic materials onto textiles. As a child she watched and learned from both her mother and maternal grandmother about the wonders of stitching, knitting and embroidery. She recalls her grandmother soaking pieces of clothing in various combinations of tea leaves, onion skins and calendulas (marigolds) to enrich their faded colours, maybe as much for practicality as artistic motive. She remembers her own chance discovery of felting when she happened to rub collected clumps of wool from her family’s grazing sheep on the barbed wire that fenced their property. Much later, living on her own farm in South Australia she might’ve had a deja vu moment when she looked into the nest of one of her broody hens and noticed a leaf image had been transferred onto one of the eggs there…

“By the grace of the broody hen, whose eggs had been laid in a rain-dampened nest of sun-toasted eucalyptus windfalls, and bore evidence of leaf prints after three days warmed by her body in that damp environment;  I decided to bundle eucalyptus leaves in silk cloth, and discovered pure magic…washfast leaf prints of incredible detail, no mordant required (in case you’re wondering as I was, a mordant is a substance added to a dye that fixes the dye to the fabric).7SyCyCLlTG620ToG8MwDvQ

Now a mother and grandmother, India describes herself as a botanical alchemist, dreamer, writer + author of the eucalyptus ecoprint, dyeing for a living in the Great Southland :: and on the nomad trail. She coined the word hapazome which she gave to “the process of beating fresh leaf matter into cloth, after four days of doing exactly that, on the floor of the Green Room at the Yamaguchi Centre for Performing Arts in 2006, creating a 6 x 6 metre floorcloth that was to “resemble a forest floor” for the production ‘Wanderlust’ by Leigh Warren + Dancers in collaboration with the late and marvellous dancer/choreographer UnoMan. And she adds – Hilariously, this “kitchen-Japanese” is now regularly cited by academics as in “the ancient Japanese technique of Hapazome. Which it is not.”

Flint shares her knowledge about ecoprinting by researching and lecturing at the South Australian School of Art. She offers workshops and writes books on textile dyeing and when she’s not doing all that she finds time to play tenor saxophone and of course run her farm which happens to be the source for most of the plants and materials she uses for printing. Now, feast your eyes on the luscious hues, textures and designs of her stunning work…

P.S. I highly recommend following her on instagram  @prophet_of_bloom. Her images and words are magic.TheShibusaWay

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silkshawl

An example of India's work

 

 

 

 

 

Brooke Marks-Swanson

When I say ‘knitting’ what comes to your mind? For me it conjures up images of women knitting stubbly woolen socks, sweaters and hats, of snow drifts and long dark winters, years before the invention of department stores, acrylic yarns and internet shopping.

Growing up in Midwest USA, Brooke Marks-Swanson has probably experienced her share of long winters so I’m not surprised some of her work is expressed with knitting. From her artist statement on Klimt02…

Born from the human need to protect ourselves from the elements, knitting quickly became a common thread throughout Europe and the Middle East early in the common era. To me, it represents the human need, artistry in its variations, and a universal language. Accumulation of singularly hand knit material worked en mass, proves great satisfaction for me. Fantastical and surreal landscapes emerge through wistful color combinations describing visceral feelings of the season, change, and uncertainty. The tended and wild materializes to describe the vastness and flatness of my beloved landscape but one that proves universal to us all’.

Check out her website here or follow her on Instagram here.

Brooke Marks-Swanson
Brooch : ‘Close’ 2012, copper, acrylic, 18k gold, 22k gold leaf, aquamarine

Necklace - Basket #10 leather, silver 18k gold, 22k goldleaf
Necklace : Basket #10, leather, silver, 18k gold, 22k gold leaf

Necklace ; fantastical winter landscape:snow drift, 2018 hand knit leather, sterling silver
Necklace : Fantastical Winter Landscape/Snow Drift, 2018, hand-knit leather, sterling silver

Neckpiece- Basket #11 leather, silver
Neckpiece : Basket #11, leather, sterling silver

Neckpiece: Basket Collar #3 2016 Hand knie leather, vinyl, oxidized silver rare earth magnet
Neckpiece : Basket Collar #3, 2016, hand knit leather, vinyl, oxidized silver, rare earth magnet

Jo Deeley

I don’t consider myself a textile person thanks to my grade 8 Home Ec. teacher, Mrs. Talerico. I wasn’t good at matching up pattern pieces on the sewing machine and was too anxious about getting to the end product to fully concentrate on the process, so grade 8 and two or 3 pillow covers later I moved on. This isn’t to say that I don’t appreciate clothing and furniture fabric, it’s that I don’t know a lot about it. In fact, there’s a whole universe of knowledge about textile if you look, it’s development throughout human history, it’s terminology and it’s ever-changing technical advancements, not to forget it’s effects on the planet (here).

I guess Jo Deeley never met Mrs. Talerico.  Ironically though, she’s a high school teacher herself and I’ll bet she has endless amounts of patience, as her work shows…

L1149 Invented Layers, Continuous Structures 2013
L1149 Invented Layers, Continuous Structures 2013

LSEM1S1732 Folding 2013
LSEM1S1732 Folding, 2013

LDSCN0746 Knotting, Tying and Layering 2013
LDSCN0746 Knotting, Tying and Layering 2013

 

LSEM2SO48 Knotting, 2013
LSEM2S048 Knotting 2013

And from her website…’I work with different textures and methods to create sculptural shapes and designs. I am particularly interested in making three dimensional fabrics using traditional methods, weaving, knitting, plaiting and knotting as well as more untraditional methods by folding and pressing fabric.

My ideas develop and change over different projects and are reactions to images seen and research built up in my sketchbooks. Pieces are often driven by the process or technique I am using, but I am also inspired by patterns and structures in nature as well as man-made buildings and constructions. I also use museums as a great source of information and learning which informs my work’.