Wear Something Locally Made on Fridays

19 07 2011

I’m signed up to a number of newsletters, follow a lot of tweeters, and collect textile related blogs that I read intermittently. On any given day, I probably get plenty of inspiration for a blog post if I actually followed through on the possibilities, but I tend only to write a new post when the subjects of more than one of them intertwine in a way that really excites me. That happened today.

Ecoterre, a site devoted to  ecologically oriented clothing companies,


offered a discussion of why ecological clothing is so expensive. Just like a lot of you, I’d love to commit to wearing only ecologically and ethically made clothing, but my budget is so tight I often have to compromise or even abandon these ideas in favor of not walking around the world naked. I do this, even though I know very well that my favorite pieces in my wardrobe are the o nes I have accumulated one by one from individual makers over the years. A good number of these pieces were bought 20 years or more ago, now. They still look good. There’s absolutely no doubt at this point, given what they cost and the amount of wearings and compliments they have had, that they were some of the best bargains I have ever bought.

Yet I still have considerable resistance to buying new items like these beloved ones.

Why? It’s the resistance to that initial comparatively high price, however well justified that price may be.

Well, let’s put that aside and talk about the other story of interest.

I am sorry to say that I seem to have misplaces or forgotten to bookmark the page referenced, I think on Twitter, for this one, but you can google it for yourself using “batiks Indonesia Fridays”.

This is the idea. Indonesia’s people are encouraged to wear batiks on Fridays.

It’s a simple idea, supporting the products of a country’s own textile makers. Imagine that! Imagine if every single Friday, Americans wore something made by American textile makers. (I generally do every day. My handbag and shopping bag are both handmade, and generally one of my scarves is tied the handbag strap.) We’d all have taken advantage of some of those bargains I mentioned above, and we’d all be very well dressed on Fridays. All those skills that are disappearing offshore because the US’s textile industry can’t match the prices offered elsewhere, especially if they endeavor to pay US living wages, would be kept alive. And what a flowering of those skills there would be.

If you like this idea, feel free to spread it. If you want to act on it, allow me to suggest an investment at my ArtFire shop, PockTTorian Textiles (Note the 2 t’s):


I do accept commissions.


Think REALLY locally, like just barely beyond the borders of your own body

10 07 2011

When I began Pocktorian Textiles in the UK, I had two objectives. One was to provide a way for local textile graduates and artisans to start their own businesses and find a sufficient market for their work by sharing equipment, ideas, and selling space. The other was to provide locals a place where they could come to find the work of local designers and makers and providers of things like locally produced yarns.

I imagined the possibility of Norwichers being able to say that a large proportion of what they were wearing was made locally, as it would have been not that long ago. Even in the 1800’s, Norwich was known for its weaving, and I’m sure that a large proportion of the cloth used locally would have come from local weavers. I could be wrong, of course.

Perhaps I was thinking on too large a scale. Perhaps I should have been thinking on a scale not much larger than my own body, as Rebecca Burgess, of Marin County, California did when she decided that for a whole year, she would wear only clothes spun, dyed, and knitted within 150 miles of her front door.


It’s an idea similar to the one I’ve toyed with every time I spent time with a Dharma Trading catalog, even more so since they began carrying yarn for you to dye or paint yourself.


I imagine using their blank clothing, fabric, and yarn to to create a wardrobe for myself. I’d keep the items I have in my wardrobe from other makers, and I’d be open to buying more such goods, perhaps even commission some since my hand-knitting is so blasted slow.

It’ll have to wait. So far, I’m too busy finding a way to earn my share of the household funds to do that, and it’s not happening by my selling the things I make.

I know that my Dharma idea isn’t nearly as ecological as Ms. Burgess’ one, but I tend to choose skills other than sewing at least at the moment. I also wouldn’t really like to give up all silk and most or all cotton. I doubt I could find either being grown or spun, other than handspun, within 150 miles of my home, though I think alpaca is a possibility.

What about you? If you thought just beyond the borders of your own body, and set yourself to construct a locally produced wardrobe, how would you go about it? What restrictions would you place on yourself? What dispensations? (I would not attempt to find a locally made bra that satisfied my requrements.)



Collaboration between a Fabric Painter and a Scientist

23 06 2011

I have to start by thanking @FashionHistoria for mentioning this site on Twitter.


Then I have to thank the artist and the scientist whose collaboration resulted in thebatik on silk fabric paintings covered at the website. They are

Mary Edna Fraser (the artist)     http://maryedna.com/

and Orrin Pilkey (the scientist)      


Then I have to tell anyone who happens to be in North Carolina or near the North Carolina Natural Science Museum and is interested inbatik or in fabric painting in general (I wish I was among you.) to go see the exhibit of the paintings. It’s called “Our Expanding Oceans. The Blending of Art and Science”.

Now, I’ll confess that I am a former research biochemist turned textile artist with one of my own concentrations being fabric painting, so I’m anything but unbiased, BUT I just love the paintings that have been made available on the web. I’m going to borrow just one of the images for this blog, so you can see why I’m so enthusiastic about all this.

Here’s one:

It depicts the gulf oil spill, and it boggles my mind with its beauty. I can pretty much analyze what procedures were necessary to paint it. I can even analyze (and very much approve) the color choices made. The scientist in me can see how such a piece of art could be used to present more clearly the scientist’s ideas. (After all, I once said during a scientific presentation that the microtubules of platelets were where the windows are in a spaceship, and also hatched the idea that doing a protein or DNA sequence as a string of beads might make it easier to see functional patterns.)  [I never got arround to putting that idea into effect, but maybe I should. ]

And my mind still boggles at its beauty.

And now that your aesthetic tastebuds have been activated, here’s where those of you not in North Carolina can see the rest.


Should you happen to be inspired by these to take up fabric painting yourself, I’m hoping to have enough students sign up to be teaching it at Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC) in the fall, and I’m also available for private lessons.



PVCC Registration for Fabric Painting and Weaving on a Rigid Heddle Loom

21 06 2011

Now that PVCC (Piedmont Virginia Community College) registration for the fall has begun, I would like to let the world know that I am offering two courses there.

One is weaving on a rigid heddle loom. This is the simplest loom, relatively cheap, easy to set up, easy to use, portable, an excellent starting point for weaving. It is also very versatile. It is possible to use a rigid heddle loom to do a wide variety of fabrics including some lace weaves. In my course, I will teach the students to warp the loom and to weave a variety of fabrics. I will also teach how to plan fabrics, some of which will change drastically when washed after weaving. Students might be interested to know that Piedmont also owns two four-harness floor looms, so it will be possible to move beyond the rigid heddle to more complicated weaves. The cost of the class will include a loom to be used in the class and sold back to me when the class is over if you decide not to keep it.

I am also offering a course in painting on fabric. We will be using fabric paints and resists to create a variety of fabric designs, some of which will very much resemble batiks. To see some samples of my work, you should look at previous pages on this blog, on ArtFire at PockTTorian Textile, or on the Fabric Painting page of this blog. All materials will be provided aside from a stretcher frame.

I invite anyone intersted in learning either of these to contact me. If you are unavailable to take either course at Piedmont, private lessons can be arranged.

Testing the Publicize Feature

20 06 2011

This is a test to see how what I just set up is working.

My newest fabric painting

20 06 2011

Goin’ Freelance

3 06 2011

I guess I need to qualify that. I’m still working as a tutor, but I mostly love that, especially when I’m tutoring one-on-one one of my textile skills or helping someone with a subject they find daunting. In that vein, I think I’m especially good at tutoring math, in case anyone happens to need a math tutor.

But when it comes to textiles, to making in general, I’ve gone freelance. No more working retail. I’ll miss using what I know to help customers. Heck, I only finished on Friday and this week I was e-mailing a former customer about a book on 30’s style ribbon work. I have a book on practically everything in my collection, fashion illustration, blackwork, bobbin lace, needle lace, embroidery stitches, crazy quilting,  etc., etc. etc.

Today, I turned over an old quilt, 4 generations in the family, that I had repaired to a freelance customer. When I got it, it actually a hole in one arm of a pieces star, a couple of very worn corners, a “bite” over an inch deep and about 3 inches wide out of one side, and a bad section of binding. I found fabrics to match the background and backing / binding very closely; searched vintage shops to hunt for vintage fabrics close enough to the other fabrics that had been used next to the hole in the star, and some batting for the holes as well. I repaired the edge areas and the corners, replaced the missing hole fabrics pretty closely, and re-did the quilting on the areas I worked on. Overall, I was proud of my work. There’s more that could be done, a whole new binding, for example, but since the original binding was wrapped around from the backing, that would change the structure of the quilt, so I didn’t want to do that unless and until it was absolutely necessary. Having met a quilt appraiser and discussed quilt restoration with her, I’m hoping for referrals in the future. In this, too, if you know someone who needs some quilt restoration done, refer them to tme.

In short, I’m open to all sorts of possibilities, especially things that involve embellishment or creating something that exists only in your mind, like the crocheted butterfly shawls I did for Mara Hoffmann that are on my crochet page.

These last few days, I’ve been doing some beading and I’m planning to put in an order to Dharma for ties to paint (on sale!), leggings  and maybe a leotard (I’ve been wanting to paint some ever since I saw Cirque du Soliel for a second time a few months ago.), maybe a shawl or two, a few smaller items so I’ll have some lesser price items to sell. I’m even tempted by their yarns and ribbons prepared for painting and dyeing (as if I didn’t have enough of a stash already).

I’ve got so many plans, but I need enough income from one source or another to let me do these great plans. Income and time. I’m good at what I do. I know that. Income and time and marketing efforts.

No, I won’t start writing about those just now. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a tagging service that for a few pennies would well-tag a post.  I know I’ve got to do it, but somehow it frustrates me, the same as writing up my results did. I knew the results and that was enough for me. Maybe it’s the same thing here. I know what I wrote about. Hmm, sounds like my undiagnosed high-functioning possible Aspergers might be involved in that. Ya think?

I won’t write about the writing possibilities, either.