It’s been years now; that I have been traveling, living in news places, and thus collecting fabric for Florida Scarf. It is this ability, to use fabrics from far-off lands or fabrics with former-lives and make unique scarves from them, that continues to invigorate my work.
I read a quote recently that I enjoyed. It came from a snowboard magazine. In it Forrest Shearer says, “Art’s like a power outlet; it’s good to plug in from time to time. It helps get the creative juices flowing.”
This is exactly how I feel about fabric from foreign cultures. Their color, pattern, and texture are things I am (usually) not familiar to working with. The look and design of these new articles, coupled with aspects of the cultures from which they came, harness a power that really lights a fire in me. It is in these uncharted territories that I feel most at home on my sewing machine; making a scarf that is surely one of a kind.
I’ve made some recent acquisitions that I am eager to share with you. My congregation now contains fabric from some of the farthest reaches of the world. Before I began sewing (and having my small business) I never gave much thought to fabric as an aspect of culture. (Not that I know why. Now it is so obvious.) Now that I am in a position to constantly be searching for new and interesting textiles I am overwhelmed by the abundance of options afforded to me through travel and exploration of other lands. When I create a scarf with these special fabrics I feel as though they can be enjoyed in two separate contexts. They celebrate me as an artist, where I’ve been, and treasures I’ve found; and I don’t feel as though they need to be a statement about a specific ethnic group. They can exist as a small, insulating fashion accessory that has interesting colors and prints; a smart composition. On the other hand; they are an ethnic statement. It would be difficult to see a scarf with fabric made in Ghana and not be transported on a daydream of a bustling, colorful, open-air African market on a sunny day. It could be said that wearing a scarf of fabric from a particular country is akin to wearing your heart on your sleeve. You are someone who is excited and attracted to the diverse cultures of the world. I like to see the scarves as allowing for both options.
In this first photo you can see some fabric that my husband picked up for me while he was in Afghanistan. (He’s a soldier in the U.S. Army) He bought them in a market in Kabul. Not a public market obviously, but a market on the American base. I do not consider anyone that must fight, or make war, particularly lucky; but I do consider Phil lucky for his opportunity to live in a country that so few others have the chance to experience. Phil brought back a quite a few beautiful handmade items from his time spent there, a leather journal, tea, embroidered clothing, hand carved coasters and jewelry boxes; but my favorite items (of course) are these scarves. They are souvenirs that I can enjoy and share further; beyond our front door. I hope that his purchases, however small and significant, supported an entrepreneur and his continued efforts at a sustaining income and career.
This next photo of fabric is what I have to show for Germany. We’ve been living here over a year now. I’m actually surprised that I do not have more, but its taken me a while to find the appropriate stores to shop in. I live in Bavaria. The fabric below features their traditional print. I wasn’t sure which size I was going to enjoy using more, so I bought both. I am excited to use this fabric in combination with other popular Bavarian themes and create scarves that would be perfect for wearing at a Beer Festival. The pretzels are going to make awesome buttons…Doesn’t that sound fun? These next two fabrics were actually given to me by another Army Wife. She is from the Philippines and these fabrics are used to create beautiful everyday clothing. The ash-purple and gold would be something for a lady; and the off white embroidered print would be a fabric used to make button-up shirts for men. I think the hues of both fabrics are delightful. I can hear the light breeze winding it’s way through the palms now…This Summer we took a trip to Bali, in Indonesia. It was amazing. I have written quite a few blog posts about the trip at www.globetrotting.floridascarf.com. Stop by and read them sometime, if you have not already. In Bali, batik is quite popular. I bought two batik prints. They are the blue/tan print and the brown/tan print below. I also bought some hand woven, hand died IKAT print fabrics. All of the material from Bali is incredibly soft and brilliantly colored.
The IKAT I bought while shopping in Ubud after a hike through the Monkey Forest. The Batiks I bought in a fabric shop called CV. Dewi Mas, in Denpasar. The man that ran the shop, Rayyis Aljaidi, was wonderful and gave me a complete history of the process of batik in Bali. He was quite friendly. In his lecture over the process of material-making in Indonesia he also told us a bit of the history of his own life and gave my husband and I a few words of wisdom. It was a fulfilling afternoon, for sure. One that I will treasure; it’s rewards are like tiers of a massive wedding cake. The bottom layer consists of the awesomeness that is having a creative business and shopping for it. The second layer, slightly smaller, is an opportunity to spend two weeks in Bali. The third layer is finding “fabric row” in the city of Denpasar, a city that does not rank high on the list of “must-sees in Bali.” The fourth layer of my cake, much smaller than the diameter of the initial layer but still just as sweet, is choosing to enter the most beautiful fabric shop on the street to find out that it is run by an unbelievably nice man. The final layer of my cake is being able to purchase delightful supplies from the man and spend a couple of hours in the afternoon enjoying his company. The cake topper is going home and translating all of that into Florida Scarves. Irresistably charming is the phrase I would use to describe these Coya Worry Dolls. They are tiny but not delicate, roughly handmade but full of charm, the supplies are simple but the colors and patterns bold; they command attention and exude passion for life and love….(maybe I just took it too far)…I adore these tchotchky. I bought a sack of these little guys (and gals) from an Etsy shop in Argentina. They’re handmade…and I found them irresistible. They are traditionally dressed as indigenous peoples of the Andean mountains. Peruvian children believe that if you tell one of your worries to each doll and then sleep with it under your pillow, your worries will be gone in the morning. I hope to buddy them up and turn them into pins, or buttons, and adorn some scarves (or hoods) with them. I think they’re lure will bring greater pleasure to my work. The Etsy shop is Sweet Llama Supplies, and I purchased the dolls along with a packet of samples of aguayo fabric. Aguayo fabrics are originally used in South America in the Andean culture (in countries such as Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Argentina) for women to carry children and take products to the market. The fabrics feature colorful stripes often with symbols representing native values. My life, in general, is motivated by Artistic themes and illustrations from the Latin Americas. It would not be right if my work was any different. Since it has been too long since I have visited any of these countries (and it will be a while before I get to South America) I decided to purchase some supplies online. Etsy is the perfect marketplace for such a purchase; shipping is (way) less expensive than plane tickets. Like the others, this fabric is handmade. It is a nice loose weave, with fabulous color, and a medium weight. It’s characteristics will work out beautifully for my accessories. I am also pleases to have supported another craftsman (small businessman) in the process.Thanks for reading. I hope you are as excited about next year’s line of Florida Scarf as I am.