Tuesday, June 26, 2007

ways to be political: #42


FELTING!

I really meant to write this last night but I had a good excuse!
I was lucky enough to attend a felting workshop at the local ‘Spinners and Weavers’ guild in Prince George. WOW. If you want to get political, refuse to buy anymore underwear and shirts (and everything else) that are made in Bangladesh, Taiwan etc. etc. I’ve been increasingly more involved in the DIY (“do it yourself”, don’t laugh, I didn’t know what it meant for a long time) craft revolution and felting is my new love. Did you know that it is the OLDEST fabric of all time? This is because you don’t need any tools, just wool, your hands, and a bit of water (basically you work animal fibers down with water and friction and the fibers mat with eachother). Felting came out of Mongolia originally (apparently they used to/still insulate their yurts with it and use it for lots of clothing) but there are many eastern European techniques as well. There are some pretty interesting legends about how felt was started (such as that Noah’s ark was lined with fleece and the combination of urine and the trampling of the animals left behind a felted wool carpet—from Wikipedia ‘felt’) Yum!

The reason I am going on and on about felt is that women and textiles have been often involved with each other since humans have existed. I’m really enjoying reconnecting with this old art. Each time I make something, it feels more ‘REAL’ than anything I’ve bought at a store that is made overseas. As leaders and feminists, I think we have to question what we are buying and indirectly supporting (don’t drive yourself crazy because it’s easy to feel hopeless!). Just start thinking about it. What clothes are you wearing right now? Where were they made? Where did the materials come from?

I would highly recommend checking out a textile guild or catching a workshop. It’s pretty neat to realize how much effort can go into clothing. I could talk about art for hours and hours and I haven’t even touched on the women activists that are doing radical things with traditional mediums such as quilting and knitting.

Happy crafting!
Edith

(the easiest way to find workshops is to google it, or you can check out the BC Crafter’s guild) (in Vancouver, a super place to start for all things wool is www.birkelandwool.com)

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