While visiting a recently established plant based fiber farm in Latvia (Barkava parish), I felt as if I’m in the past and in the future simultaneously. Nature is such a great teacher if we are open to listen to it. Nature can communicate about our past, present and our future at the same time.
The owner of the farm – Ritvars Točs is a hearty, energetic and kind man who let me experience the whole fairytale-like, ecological and unhurried plant fiber production process, starting from the harvest in the nearby forest (collecting bark layers from fallen trees and branches, plant stems and roots) till creating a medical nettle fiber wristband, aspen fiber back belt and aspen brew, shoe insoles and an oak fiber cat rug that apparently has some wound healing properties too. Possibilities to research, design and create with these fibers are endless. Ritvars knows how to produce fibers from about 20 plants, trees, shrubs and roots.
I am glad that I now have a chance to try out the healing power of nettle and aspen. Both fibers have a warming effect and feel pleasant, soft. American Indians and Balts are known to have used the bark of the aspen tree to brew a tea that would treat numerous ailments. Because the bark is rich in a substance called “salicin,” which is similar to the active ingredient in aspirin, it was used to provide pain relief and reduce fever. While we were in the forest, Ritvars showed me traces of teeth on aspen trees. This local competitor of Ritvars is elk for whom aspen bark is a tasty treat.
The nettle wristband we made is even more precious since the outside layer is a hand woven linen made in 1925 by a relative of Ritvars.
Oak rug for a cat, nettle plait and aspen insoles
I was surprised to learn that there is almost no interest from designers to work and experiment with these fibers, even though Ritvars has been actively promoting them for more than a year and is travelling around Latvia to give lectures about the history, tradition and usage of these natural fibers.
“LIVE AS IF YOU WERE TO DIE TOMORROW. LEARN AS IF YOU WERE TO LIVE FOREVER.” ―MAHATMA GANDHI
Garment’s life(cycle) is quite unpredictable but at the same time it’s something to take into account when developing a new design. As a maker I wish to establish a trialogue between me, the material and the wearer. I can’t assume that my creation will serve someone for 20 and more years. There are material and emotional aspects at play. I have made some experiments with making jewelry from old polyester briefs since I can’t wear them anymore. I’m not a jewelry designer but it would be nice to have a collaboration where we could create a circular approach to the lingerie design that is already implemented from the start. As a speculative design it means modeling a choice for the wearer and to stay open to possibilities and to a potential change in the future, even though it’s unpredictable.
“The material itself is full of suggestions for its use if we approach it unaggressively, receptively” Anny Albers.
Another great approach to the restoration of ‘the worn’ that I discovered while reading about conscious art/fashion projects in The Netherlands is the Golden Joynery project. It’s a practice inspired by the Japanese technique Kintsugi, where broken porcelain is visibly healed with gold. I decided to try to fix holes in my garments by darning, embroidering and stitching them with a golden thread, and I am hooked. I loved fixing lingerie this way. To expand my slow-sewing skillset I have joined the Common Threads community in Amsterdam with some amazing thread experts.
She’s an inspiring big-shiny-eyed dreamer and doer. A conscious, confident, self-sustaining and sensual woman. She is Life. By being herself Kristine inspires people to expand their minds and to spread their wings. She is a much-needed trailblazer at her job, a brave human who prepares a trail through unknown territories for others to follow. She’s a nature and animal lover and a friendly, compassionate soul for her community. This could go on and on.
Having Kristine as my best friend is a gift for life. Kristine found her home and her love midst crystal clear lakes, beautiful mountains and lush meadows in British Columbia, where a special and intimate celebration of love is going to take place this summer.
I feel so inspired and excited to design my first ecological wedding lingerie for this incredible sparkly and joyful kick-ass Woman! I can’t wait to see these babies coming together and starting their life in beautiful Canada. Here they are, rolling out…
This fast fashion cotton dress was hanging in my wardrobe for about 5 years without serving me. In her old format she created some negative emotions in me because I bought her around the time of my break up in 2015. Since then it remained an object that carries unpleasant memories.
Therefore I decided to experiment and try to give her a new life. I learned the craft of making paper with an inspirig teacher Marieke de Hoop in Papiermakerij de Hoop who showed me how to turn onion peel, plants, food by-products, textiles and also my dress into paper, however the real bounding with the new form of my old dress started when I got my hands in the pulp mass itself, while shaping little stones and pearls with my fingers. This way I slowly got to reconnected with my material in a new way. The initial negative emotion towards this garment was gone. The color was different, the shape was different. Something new appeared in my hands.
Even though I think that it’s better to inspire people to buy less and to buy high quality items, to avoid giving away or recycling if possible, I will continue discovering the potential surfaces and shapes of this transformed cotton material and the possibility to create new textures that can help, support, assist in new designs.
The hidden, invisible, unknown and not yet seen have always allured me more than the obvious. I think that generally the invisible is more important than the visible, however one can’t exist without the other and part of the magic of such hidden layer as lingerie for example, is that it’s underneath the visible layers of garments. The closest, most intimate layer to our body, the tactile sensuality of simultaneously being dressed and undressed.
What I often encounter in lingerie stores and sewing workshops is an extreme shortage of environmentally aware approach in the choice of textiles, as if there is no choice. We live amongst abundance of material resources and by-products of various industries, but we are still so old fashioned when it comes to lingerie. We are supporting production of synthetic fibers, as polyester, made from a non-renewable resource, that requires an energy intensive production process and won’t decompose for up to 200 years. A fiber that was invented for the protective purposes due to the war. Or cotton – one of the thirstiest fibres in fashion, a global, hard to trace commodity. Or virgin silk with it’s questionable ethical aspects, when we are living in the context of growing population of vegetarians and vegans.
What does it actually mean and how would that feel to consciously come a step closer to my ability as a designer to be in touch with my sensual and soft self and my inner allure through a conscious material surface? I am certainly a dreamer and idealist but todays dreams is our future world.
Finally after long preparations and many brainstorms with my dear colleague and friend Valters Palaps we were at our first day of filming. A warm and sunny autumn day turned into a dark and obscure evening, revealing things that stay hidden on an ordinary day. Just the way we like it. I have been working very slowly on this project, including the storyline and each detail of the bear costume, and in the meanwhile realizing that this creative process would like to become a neverending story. It does not want to be rushed, it doesn’t want to say too much at once. It wants to unfold step by step. This work is about the slightly scary but at the same time highly exciting unknown. It’s about surrendering and trusting the unknown, allowing oneself that space to accept and settle with the things we don’t know or don’t understand.
I have some great news. This summer me and Valters Palaps are working on a series of short films that are falling in the realm of fantasy. Some serious poetry involving a bear and a fairy-girl and a dinner. An alluring mystery, one of a kind.
At the moment I am busy creating costumes for the film. The story is already written, so we are entering the last stages of preparation. Loking forward to seeing these films come together!
2017 (November) The Mountain, live performance & video, Museum night, de Appel, Broedplaats Lely. The work comprises of the live performance and the performative video.
The narrative takes place on the pile of sand at the construction site in Amsterdam. Its’ form changed rapidly and loudly each day during building of the road. And in the evening it was inhabited silently by Dorota, Arta and Yulia. Every day it was becoming smaller and their bodies were becoming bigger. They were moving though the liminal moment of the sand, element of nature before being suppressed under the masses of asphalt. A possibility to catch the rapid changes of the urban scenery that are not dependant on the artists keep the unpredictability of the outcome.
We are continuing with DAY’s upcycling workshops where together with kids we are making sculptural objects from mostly domestic single use plastic bottles and raising awareness about the plastic pollution. This initiative is part of De Kolenkit Centrale project initiated by Cascoland and is based on three whales: farming (food production), cooking (food preparation) and the value of waste. These workshops are part of “Maak je Stad” program, organised by Waag Society and Pakhuis de Zwijger that develops the idea of De Gezonde Stad (the Healthy City).